Building regulations: what you need to know

Make sure your project follows minimum standards for design, construction and renovations.

By Jayne Dowle | 24 April 2020

Building standards ensure you follow minimum standards for design, construction and renovations in your project – here’s what you need to know as a homeowner.

penton architect sussex house main - grand designs - self build

Image: This East Sussex house by Penton Architects is insulated beyond building regulations standard and is triple glazed throughout

Building regulations ensure that your self-build or renovation is safe and comfortable to live in. They exist alongside planning permission or permitted development rights and it is absolutely essential to ensure your project complies with them. Local authority building control (LABC) teams or independent approved inspectors assist you in achieving compliance by giving feedback on your plans and making site inspections.

How it works

The regulations industry underwent a major shake-up in the 1980s. This was partly as a result of public-sector industrial action, which led to long waits for building projects to be handled. As a result, as well as LABC teams, there are now at least 100 registered independent approved inspectors in England and Wales. An independent inspector is not subcontracted to your local council, and can handle your project from start to finish.

In Scotland, building regulations are called building standards, and are still administered and enforced by local authorities only.

Going independent

Engaging an independent inspector may cost a little more than using the council – LABC fees cost between one and two per cent of the overall cost of a build – but they can be much more involved and hands-on with your project than a typically overstretched LABC inspector.

However, only LABC has powers of enforcement. An independent inspector must hand the project over to the council department if there are problems that can’t be resolved informally.