Understanding Building Regulations

Building regulations are different to planning permission, and are a complete entity on their own. Normally once planning permission is granted (see Ins and Outs of Planning Permmission you move on to the area of building regulations.

Simply, building regulations are made up of 14 separate mini-books (aka Parts), and each part is assigned a letter from the alphabet (A to P – omits letters I and O). The main parts and the kinds of areas that are covered in each part are shown below:

What are building regulations?

  • Part A – STRUCTURE: Covers – foundations, internal & external walls, ground & intermediate floors, joinery, roofs.
  • Part B – FIRE: Covers – internal & external walls, ground & intermediate floors, joinery, roofs, electrics.
  • Part C – WATERPROOFING: Covers – foundations, internal & external walls, ground & intermediate floors, joinery, roofs.
  • Part D – CAVITY INSULATION: Covers – external walls.
  • Part E – SOUND: Covers – internal & external walls, intermediate floors.
  • Part F – VENTILATION: Covers – foundations, joinery, roofs, plumbing, electrics.
  • Part G – HYGINE: Covers – plumbing.
  • Part H – DRAINS & FUEL: Covers – foundations, plumbing.
  • Part J – FLUES & CHIMNEYS: Covers – joinery, roofs, heating.
  • Part K – STAIRS: Covers – joinery.
  • Part L – ENERGY USE: Covers – external walls, ground floors, joinery, roofs, heating, electrics.
  • Part M – ACCESS: Covers – ground floors, joinery, plumbing, electrics.
  • Part N – GLAZING*: Covers – joinery.
  • Part P – ELECTRICS: Covers – plumbing, heating, electrics.

*Glazing is under review.

You can order a complete pack of these parts that contain all of the information you need for £60, but you are probably better off downloading them for free from the Planning Portal website. Note that Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations, although they are pretty similar to the ones for England, and while Wales currently follows these regulations they may soon be adopting their own.

Once building regulations have been drawn up they are inspected by specialist building inspectors, who then also visit the sites to ensure the plans are actually being followed.

Building Regulations images of parts

Building regulations are technical publications

Normally you (or even the builder if you have one) do not physically see the building regulations, instead it is normally left to your designer to take care of all of this for you. When a site inspector assesses your build they will address any regulatory issues that may not have been covered correctly.

You may see building regulations as a bit over the top, but they play an important role in ensuring all buildings meet certain standards. Originally they were put in place during Victorian times to stop slap-dash buildings being constructed by any Tom, Dick, or Harry, but in recent times regulations that address disabled access and other important considerations are included to form a sophisticated framework to ensure buildings are safe and accessible to all.

Who oversees building regulations

Each local council has a special department that employs building inspectors whose job it is to look over your building regulations and then visit your site to ensure you are complying with them. It is this building inspector that you need to satisfy in order to get your regulations approved, and the process is more straight forward than with Planning Permission.

For a long time the only place you could go for this was your local council, but more recently other (Private) organisations can be used for building control. There is the National House Builders Council (NHBC) who also offer a 10 year warranty, and the majority of house builders are members of the NHBC because of this 10 year warranty.

How much to building regulations cost?

If you use your local councils control department it costs around £700 (this is broken down into costs for plan approval and site inspections). This cost can vary depending on the square footage of the property. Using the NHBC is a bit cheaper, but they are aimed at professional builders and charge an initial one-off fee of £500 and then £250 per year. This cost varies depending on how many houses you build per year.

Warranties are seen as essential nowadays, especially if you are looking to get mortgage approval or you are looking to sell your property within 10 years. There are other private companies offering building inspections and warranties, such as SelfBuildZone, Premier Guarantee, and LABC. You can do a Google search for ‘approved building inspectors’ or browse through the Construction Industry Council’s website to get more choices.


Building regulations ensure that your building meets the necessary standards for modern living. The process is less painful than obtaining planning permission but it does require professionals to draw up (or write up) the plans and to get inspectors to verify them. There are many organisations that you can use to get your regulations inspected, and it is highly recommended that you get a 10 year warranty when you get your building inspected. This makes selling your house or getting finance much easier, and if you do not have a 10 years warranty you may need to obtain one prior to sale, and this can cost significantly more than if you did it at the time of initial inspection.

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