Building Control Overview
Planning Permission and Building Regulations are separate codes and have different purposes. Planning legislation relates to the external appearance of buildings, impact on the environment, the use of buildings, spatial policy and the safeguarding of amenities. Building Control legislation and Building Regulations deal with construction standards.
There are two aspects to Building Control legislation. The first aspect is the building regulations, which are the building standards themselves. The second aspect is the procedural requirements in relation to compliance, which are provided for in the Building Control Regulations. Most Councils are Building Control Authorities which simply means the council exercising its functions are Building Control regulator.
Building Regulations apply to build works, material alterations and material changes of use. They may also apply the provision of services, fittings and equipment in, or in connection with, buildings “Building work” includes the erection or extension of a building. A “material alteration” is one after which the building does not meet the requirements of the Building Regulations where it previously had, or make it less compliant.
.The Building Regulations require building work to be carried out in accordance with the construction principles set out in the regulations. These are supplemented by Technical Guidance documents which give guidance in relation to construction methods and standards so as to comply with Building Regulations.
The Regulations are divided into the following parts and deal with the following:-
- A Structures;
- B Fire Safety;
- C Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture;
- D Materials and Workmanship;
- E Sound;
- F Ventilation;
- G Hygiene;
- H Drainage & Waste Water Disposal;
- J Heat Producing Appliances;
- K Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards;
- L Conservation of Fuel and Energy;
- M Access for People with Disabilities
The Technical Guidance document are available on the internet. The documents are designed to give a considerable amount of flexibility and do not have to be followed if the requirements can be met in some other way. Failure to comply with the approved documents does not mean automatic breach. The failure to comply raises an onus to prove compliance with the requirements in another way.
Building Control Requirements I
Building Regulations must be complied with, whenever there is building work, a material alteration or a material change of use. Before Building Works are commenced, between 14 and 21 prior notice must be given to the Building Control Authority. This is to enable the building control authority to inspect the works and monitor compliance. The obligation to comply applies irrespective of whether any inspections are made.
Where it is not possible to comply with building regulations it is possible to apply for a dispensation or relaxation certificate. This may be required for older buildings. A full formal application is required to be made to the Building Control Authority.
An application to the Building Control Authority for a Fire Safety is required for most works to or the construction of a building other than single dwelling houses. It is also necessary to apply for a disability access certificate. Full plans and drawings must be lodged to show that works as provided for in the plans comply with Parts B in the case of A Fire Safety Certificate and Part M in the case of a Disability Access Certificate. It is, of course, necessary to comply with the plans in implementing the works.
There is provision for a revised fire safety certificate in relation to an application where a fire safety certificate is granted before planning permission, if required by the permission or where significant revision has been made to the design or works for building for which a fire safety certificate has already been granted.
There is provision for regularization certificate where a building has been commenced or completed without a fire safety certificate or submission of a seven-day notice. An application for a regularization certificate is made to the building control authority. It may be granted with or without the conditions. It will certify that in the opinion of the authority that the works has constructed comply with Part B of the building regulations [fire safety]. The relevant certificates must be — conditions must be complied with within four months.
The legislation allows for the requirement of submission of certificates of compliance after building works and for wider classes of prior approval of plans. The regulations had not, until 2014, implemented this possibility.
Building Control Requirements II
Prior to the recent 2014 Regulations, the principal obligations were to give a Commencement Notice, and where necessary, to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate and a Disabled Access Certificate (covering compliance with parts B and M of the Building Regulations). The form of Commencement Notice under the previous Building Control Regulations was signed by the person carrying out the works, on behalf of named persons, including the building owner.
The 2014 regulations prescribe the form of the Commencement Notice to be signed by the “building owner”. The notice is filed electronically, The building owner refers to the person with the major proprietary interest in the building.
The form of Certificate of Compliance in respect of design is to be signed by the appropriate designer, who will set out his professional qualifications and regulation number.The form of Notice of Assignment of the assigned certifier is to be signed by the building owner. The Undertaking by the assigned certifier is signed by the relevant professional who is so assigned.
The Assignment of the Builder is to be signed by the building owner. The form of certificate of compliance by the builder is to be signed by a principal or a director of the building company. The final form of Certificate of compliance is to be signed by the relevant professional.
The Local Authority is under a duty to enforce the Regulations. It is a question to decide whether or not to inspect building work in progress. Breach of the Regulations is an offence and the Local Authority can take enforcement action. Failure to comply with the Regulations is likely to cause a builder or developer to be civilly liable to a purchaser.
The Local Authority has powers to enforce Building Regulations by enforcement notice requiring the offending works to be removed or corrected. It also has powers to apply to court for Order from the High Court or the Circuit Court to stop work on buildings where there is a risk to health or safety of persons or to the construction or use of new buildings, the design of which has not been granted a Disability Access Certificate or Fire Safety Certificate or where an Enforcement Notice served by the authority has not been complied with.