What are Building Regulations?

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings. They ensure that facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

Regulations apply to all types of building, whether domestic, commercial or industrial, although there are some exemptions. Meeting the requirements of the building regulations is the responsibility of the person carrying out the building work and, if they are not the same person, the owner of the building.

The Building Regulations 2010

The Building Regulations 2010 apply to the construction and extension of buildings in England and Wales including:

-      The erection or extension of a building.

-      The installation, extension of or alteration to a controlled service or fitting.

-      A material change of use of the whole building.

-      Inserting insulation into a cavity wall

-      Underpinning a building.

-      A change of energy status including thermal elements and consequential improvements to energy performance.

Examples of work for which building regulation approval is needed include:

-      replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics

-      installing a bathroom that will involve plumbing

-      putting in a fixed air-conditioning system

-      replacing windows and doors

 -      replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs

-      installing or replacing a heating system                                            

-      adding extra radiators to a heating system

You do not require building regulations approval for some exempt projects including:

-      most repairs, replacements and maintenance work (except heating systems, oil tanks and glazing units).

-      new power and lighting points, or changes to existing circuits (except around baths and showers).

-      like-for-like replacements of baths, toilets, basins and sinks.

Enforcement options

If you carry out building work that contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority building control service may do one or more of the following:

1.      Serve an enforcement notice – This would be served on a building owner to require the removal or alteration of work that does not comply with the Building Regulations. The enforcement notice gives the building owner 28 days to carry out the required work.

2.      Apply for a Court Order – forcing the building owner to remove or alter any work.

3.      Prosecution– A local authority may prosecute you through proceedings in the magistrates' court.

Even if a local authority does not prosecute or take enforcement action, it will not issue a completion certificate to confirm compliance with the Building Regulations. This may cause problems when it comes to sell the property.


The Grenfell Tower fire raised concerns about the adequacy of the Building Regulations 2010, particularly in relation to high rise buildings and situations where a local authority is both the building owner and the building control body. The government has set up an independent review looking at current Building Regulations and fire safety, with a particular focus on high-rise residential buildings. The review will present an interim report by the end of 2017 and a final report no later than spring 2018.



The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.