Target : Building Regulations
"God is in the Details"
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe
Commercial clients continue to employ TCM to prepare and manage their Building Control Information, as we provide an efficient and careful service in a timely and considered fashion.
What are Building Regulations?
Not to be confused with planning applications, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are built to a quality standard for such things as
- structural integrity;
- fire regulations;
- energy efficiency
What types of Building Regulation Approval are there?
There are two ways to apply for approval under the Building Regulations: the Full Plans method or the Building Notice method (detailed below).
- Full Plans Method:
- To have plans checked and approved before the work starts, to avoid any costly errors and corrective work on site, we recommend applying using Full Plans form.
An application deposited under this procedure contains plans and other information showing all construction details, preferably well in advance of when work is to start on site.
The local authority will check the construction information and consult with any appropriate authorities.
If the construction information complies with the building regulations, we will receive a notice stating that they have been approved. If the local authority is not satisfied, we may be asked to make amendments or provide more details. Alternatively, a conditional approval may be issued. This will either specify modifications which must be made to the plans; or will specify further plans which must be deposited with your authority.
If your plans are rejected the reasons will be stated in the notice. A full plans approval notice is valid for three years from the date of deposit of the plans
- Building Notice Method:
- If the work is uncomplicated and your builder is happy to proceed with limited construction information and has a good understanding of the regulations, then you can use a Building Notice form. The advantage of the building notice procedure is that detailed drawings are not formally required for approval, although some details such as structural calculations may be required. You may start work 48 hours after your notice has been received by the local authority.
Construction information is not required with this process, so it’s quicker and less detailed than the full plans application. It is designed to enable some types of building work to get under way quickly; although it is perhaps best suited to small or basic work.
There are also specific exclusions in the regulations as to when building notices cannot be used in relation to domestic work, a building notice cannot be used:
- For work which will be built close to or over the top of rain water and foul drains shown on the 'map of sewers'
- Where a new building will front onto a private stree
A 'building notice' is valid for three years from the date the notice was given to the local authority, after which it will automatically lapse if the building work has not commenced.
What is a party wall agreement?
A Party Wall Agreement (technically called an “award”) is the document produced by two agreed surveyors acting for the respective owners of the party all.
It will usually consist of three parts:
- The award itself i.e. a set of guidelines governing how the proposed works should progress
- A “schedule of condition” of the adjoining property, often supported by a set of photographs
- Drawing(s) showing the details of the proposed works
The award will normally be based upon a draft document, which is then amended according to the details of the specific work. It should clearly state details of the two properties, their owners and their owners' addresses. It should also contain full details of the two surveyors (or agreed surveyor) and the “Third Surveyor” (if an “agreed surveyor” is used there will be no Third Surveyor).
Other items covered include:
- Brief details of the proposed works
- Working hours; normally 8am to 5.30pm weekdays only of residential work
- Assurances regarding the contractor’s public liability insurance
- Indemnities by the building owner in favour of the adjoining owner
- Access arrangement for the surveyors
- A time limit for commencement of the works, usually 12 months
- The adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fee
Once the award has been agreed between the two surveyors it is “published”. In practical terms this means that a signed and witnessed copy is sent to the two owners by their appointed surveyors. Although there is a 14 day right of appeal if either owner believes the award to have been improperly drawn up the award this is seldom observed.
An additional copy of the award is given to the building owner to be passed on to their contractor.
It is very common with alterations to domestic buildings (even for detached houses) that action under the Party Wall legislation will be necessary. Works that affect a wall, fence or any part of your neighbour’s structure, within certain specified distances will require notification to adjoining owners in accordance with the Party Wall Act 1996. TCM can act as a Party Wall surveyor on your behalf and be able to guide you through the process.
What drawings will I need for my builder?
The drawing package prepared by TCM for building regulations approval can also be used as a Tender package. A detailed tender package, inviting various builders to cost their services, helps them accurately price all constructing site works and may avoid spiraling costs when on site.
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