Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings. Their aim is to ensure the safety and health of people in or about those buildings, they require that fuel and power is conserved, and that facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside them.
Planning and compliance
The people who check compliance with Building Regulations are Building Control Surveyors. By law, most construction work will need building control approval whether a client has applied for planning permission or not. It will almost certainly be required for the vast majority of BTR schemes.
Whereas planning can often be subjective, building regulations are largely objective given the amount of legislation and guidance involved. An application for Building Regulations either conforms and meets those regulations and is accepted, or it fails and is rejected.
Complying with the Building Regulations is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission. Similarly, receiving planning permission is not the same as taking action to ensure your scheme complies with the Building Regulations.
Build To Rent will often have its own requirements and challenges, especially with large scale projects in high-density areas with multiple occupancies.
Building Control and Design
An experienced architect should be capable of producing detailed construction drawings which will meet the vast majority of building regulations and ensure serious problems occurring further down the line are minimised.
After achieving planning permission, the focus needs to shift to proving that the design ticks all the right technical boxes.
The advantage of early engagement with Building Control is that the project will have been reviewed and appraised at early technical workshops and will be ‘in the system’ with trackers recording various correspondence, certifications and conditional approvals.
The Approved Documents of the Building Regulations comprise a series of detailed guidance manuals (ranging from A to R) covering everything from structure and fire safety through to security and electronic communications.
Areas of Compliance
The Regulations are very detailed, and can be read in full on the UK Government website.
In brief, the project will have to comply with the following areas:
Part A – Structure
Part B–Fire Safety
Part C – Contamination and damp
Part D – Toxicity
Part E– Sound
Part F –Ventilation
Part G – Hygiene
Part H – Drainage
Part J – Fuel
Part K – On-site Safety
Part L– Conservation of Fuel and Power
Part M – Access
Part N – Glazing
Part P –Electrics
Impact on the customer: Building Regulations compliance means customers can feel their homes have been built to a safe standard.
Impact on the investor: Ticking technical boxes may add to construction costs but it means the finished project can be occupied, or sold.
Those with current or anticipated responsibilities under the Building Regulations should also be aware of future changes under the Building Safety Bill, and its implications for record keeping and transfer of information to new building owners.