1. What’s the difference between planning permission and building control?
The planning process is designed to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. It covers the use of land and buildings, aesthetics, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.
Building Regulations, on the other hand, set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the health and safety of the people who use them and encourage energy efficiency and access for all.
For many types of work, both planning permission and building control approval will be needed. For other building work, such as internal alterations, Buildings Regulations approval will probably be needed but planning permission may not be. If in doubt, contact a local ACAI member for advice.
2. What are Building Regulations?
Building Regulations exist to ensure our buildings are safe, energy efficient and accessible for everyone who uses them or lives or works in and around them. Building Regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations of existing buildings, whether domestic, commercial or industrial.
In England and Wales Building Regulations are made under powers provided in Section 1 of The Buildings Act 1984 (as amended by the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004). The current regulations which set the building standards and requirements are contained in the Building Regulations 2000 (as amended). They contain various sections dealing with definitions, procedures and what is required in terms of technical performance of building work. These performance requirements are split into 14 parts in Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 2000 (as amended). These parts deal with individual aspects of building design and construction – from Part A (about structural matters) to Part P (about electrical safety in dwellings).
Building Regulations don’t tell you how to build – they set broad functional requirements. Official guidance on how the Building Regulations might be met is given in a series of Approved Documents, but there is also much more technical guidance published elsewhere which provides information on how the Building Regulations might be met. There is rarely, if ever, just one way to meet a regulation.
Click here to read more about Building Regulations
3. What is an Approved Inspector?
AI’s are an alternative to Local Authority building control. Today, both AI’s and LA building control are called ‘building control bodies’ – you can now choose which BCB you wish to use.
4. What’s the difference between an Approved Inspector and LA building control?
PVM Building Control Services, as an Approved Inspector, can work anywhere in England and Wales; this means we can offer you a standard approach no matter where you are, with the same surveyors for all your projects. PVM Building Control Services can certify all types of building work except that already carried out or commenced (which only LA’s can approve).
5. Who certifies the Approved Inspector?
Approved Inspectors are approved by the CIC on behalf of the Secretary of State and, unlike LA’s, are re-assessed every 5 years to ensure competency of our service.
6. Can Approved Inspectors approve planning?
No, at present only LA’s can do this.
7. Can PVM Building Control Services do lofts or domestic extensions or just commercial work?
PVM Building Control Services can approve all types of building work, both domestic and commercial.
8. What about work that has already been done?
Approved Inspectors cannot approve work that has already been commenced – this can only be done by the LA.
9. What about contraventions?
Only an LA has enforcement powers; this means that if the project is not completed to the satisfaction of the Approved Inspector, the council is informed and the site reverts to them to carry out enforcement as necessary.
10. Can PVM Building Control Services approve new houses and flats?
Yes, Previous restrictions requiring a linked warranty to be in place with these developments have now been revoked.
11. Who deals with the LA?
PVM Building Control Services notifies the council both before and at the end of the works. This is then recorded at the LA for future Land Searches and Enquiries such as during sales.
12. Who pays the LA?
The Approved Inspector is paid the fee. No fee is given to the council as they are not the building control authority for Approved Inspector projects and their inspectors should not enter an Approved Inspectors site.
13. What is the PVM Building Control Services fee?
Our fee is usually similar to the LA’s, depending upon the project.
14. Why haven’t we heard about Approved Inspectors or PVM Building Control Services before?
Most Approved Inspectors work on larger commercial projects. As well as working in the commercial area, PVM Building Control Services has been establishing a place in the market for smaller domestic work over the last few years.
15. Why PVM Building Control Services BC?
The company was formed with North Suffolk as the focus for our work with the majority of our surveyors and office serving this area, however we can work anywhere in England and Wales. We now cover most of Norfolk and Suffolk.
16. Are you insured?
PVM Building Control Services is insured under a Government controlled approved inspector scheme
17. Who is responsible for obtaining approvals?
With all building work the owner of the property (or land) is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and Building Regulations. Failure to comply with the relevant rules results in the owner being liable for any remedial action, which could go as far as demolition and/or restoration. The general advice to architects, clients and contractors is to discuss your proposals with your Approved Inspector before starting work.
18. When do I need to get Building Regulations approval?
If you’re planning to carry out ‘building work’ as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations, then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This normally means seeking approval of the work from a building control body like a local authority or an Approved Inspector. The following types of project are considered ‘building work’:
19. What is a Competent Persons scheme?
Competent Persons schemes were introduced by the Government to allow individuals and businesses to self-certify that their work complies fully with all relevant requirements in the Building Regulations. Competent Persons schemes are now major players in the building control market.
However, this concession is strictly limited to specific types of work such as electrical installations in homes, heating, hot water, air-conditioning and ventilation, replacement windows, toilets and showers – typically areas where the level and incidence of risk is low.
The works must meet current relevant technical standards in the Building Regulations and they must not make the building dangerous or less compliant than previously. For instance, replacement double-glazing must not lessen compliance with requirements for escape from the building, or prevent adequate air supply for combustion appliances and their flues and ventilation for health considerations.
Competent Persons schemes are run by organisations which can show they have the necessary technical, managerial and financial ability to secure compliance by their members, and can deliver robust monitoring and audit regimes.
20. How does an Approved Inspector satisfy him/herself that construction meets the required standards?
An Approved Inspector is required by law – regulation 11 of the Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2000 (as amended) – to take such steps as are reasonable, within the limits of professional skill and care, to ensure that regulations are met. What constitutes ‘reasonable steps’ is not specified in Part II of the Building Control Act 1984 but Building Control Performance Standards give a guideline. Inspections of work at identified stages are agreed at the outset when designs are approved.
21. Do Approved Inspectors inspect all the building work?
No. Building control is only about work covered by the Building Regulations. And even then, it is recognised that it is not practicable to examine every item of work covered by the Building Regulations. Approved Inspectors are required to use professional skill and judgement in their selection of priorities for inspection and avoid unnecessary inspections of low-risk stages. At present local authorities are not required to carry out any inspection at all, but the Government is encouraging all building control bodies to adopt this ‘risk-based approach’.
22. How much does it cost to use an Approved Inspector?
This is a matter for negotiation between the Approved Inspector and the client. Approved Inspectors recognise the need to offer a competitively priced service that represents value for money. Fees are based on the services the Approved Inspector carries out for you. You should contact PVM Building Control Services for a quote for your specific project.