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An explanation of how "building regulations" differs from "planning permission", what the regulations cover and what happens if you don’t comply.

What is the difference between Planning Permission and Building Regulations?

Planning relates mainly to the correct use of land, the aesthetic appearance of the proposed building and the effect that the development will have on the general environment and neighboring properties. Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas.

Building Regulations are concerned with the way in which the building is constructed, its structural stability, means of escape and fire precautions, weather resistance, energy conservation, sound insulation, access and facilities for people with disabilities. If you are unsure you are advised to contact your local planning authority or Building Control Body.

What do the Building Regulations cover?

The regulations cover:

  • new buildings
  • extending or altering existing buildings
  • adding controlled services or fittings (e.g. drainage, heat producing appliances).
The regulations can also apply when the use of a building changes. There are some minor building works that do not require approval. If you are unsure whether you require Building Regulations consent you are advised to contact your Building Control Body.

The Regulations are accompanied by a series of Approved Documents.

These Approved Documents are provided for guidance on meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations but they do not have to be adopted if you wish to design and construct your building work in some other way, providing that you can comply with the requirements of the regulations. 

This guidance will be taken into account when considering whether your plans of proposed work or work in progress comply with the regulations. There is a legal presumption that if you have followed the guidance in the documents, this is evidence that your work has complied with the Building Regulations.

What happens if I don't comply with the regulations?

If work is carried out without having been approved by a Building Control Body it is classed as unauthorised. The Local Authority may take enforcement action, require you to submit a building regulation application and/or request that work is opened up work so it can be checked. You could also be fined for failing to comply with the Building Regulations and pay to have offending work altered. In extreme cases you may be required to take the work down.

Further information can be obtained on the Planning Portal (external link) and the Local Authority Building Control website (external link).

Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) review questions

This document provides frequently asked questions and answers about the Building Regulations, Part L review. It is intended to give an overview of the new requirements for builders, home owners, landlords etc.

Fire Safety Wales Measure questions

This document provides frequently asked questions and answers about the proposed new law to introduce fire suppression systems (sprinklers) in domestic residences in Wales. It is intended to give an overview of the new requirements for builders, home owners, landlords etc.