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Luton Borough Council

Building control - the basics

Building regulations are about the health and safety of people in and around buildings. We make sure they are built safely, meet energy conservation requirements and are suitable for the people using them.

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What is building control

All building work carried out should meet current building codes and regulation requirements. Our building control service ensures that buildings are designed and constructed in accordance with the building regulations and associated legislation.and associated legislation.

Please note: It is the responsibility of those carrying out the work to ensure that the provisions of the regulations are fully met. The role of building control is only to check that they do so.

It is the responsibility of those carrying out the work to ensure that the provisions of the regulations are fully met. The role of building control is only to check that they do so.

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  1. encourage innovation to produce energy efficient and sustainable buildings
  2. support local, regional and national businesses
  3. educate and inform building professionals, contractors and trades people
  4. defend vulnerable communities and householders
  5. drive out rogue traders
  6. safeguard the investments of individuals and companies
  7. enhance access for disabled, sick, young and old people
  8. protect the community from dangerous structures
  9. provide advice in support of the emergency services
  10. ensure sports grounds and public venues are safe for crowds

It is generally realised that a form of permission is required for building work or alterations of properties. However, it may not always be clear how the planning and building regulations approval regimes differ. Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the health and safety for people in or around those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and that facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes:

  • the use of land and buildings
  • the appearance of buildings
  • landscaping considerations
  • highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment

For more information about planning please see the planning pages.

For many types of building work, separate permission under both regimes (separate processes) will be required. For other building work, such as internal alterations, buildings regulations approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. You may also have responsibilities under the construction health and safety regulations.

Party Wall Act

The council is not involved in the Party Wall Act; this will be carried out by surveyors appointed by the person carrying out the work, or by each owner affected. Further information can be found here.

The council does not get involved in boundary disputes. Encroachment of a building including drainage, gutters, foundations etc. is not a Building Regulation matter and is not grounds for enforcement or rejection on plan or on site.

 

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Is building regulation approval required?

Building regulations approval

It is not always easy to determine whether building regulations approval is required for works that you are considering carrying out to your property.

Examples of work that will require building regulations approval:

  • building, extending or structurally altering a house or flat
  • changing the use of buildings to other uses
  • any work affecting means of escape or fire safety in a house or flat
  • replacing a heat producing appliance (boiler or wood burning stove for example)
  • adding to or altering certain electrics in a house, flat or building linked to a house or flat
  • renovation of external walls, roofs, ground bearing floors
  • replacement windows
  • loft conversions
  • new drainage or plumbing
  • installing a new bathroom, kitchen, or utility room (unless it is a re-fit of an existing bathroom, kitchen or utility room)
  • alterations to a chimney or flue
  • building, extending or structurally altering an office or commercial building
  • internal fit-out of an office or commercial building, where means of escape could be affected

If your project is not listed here, please contact building control for advice.

For these and many other types of works, you will need to make a building regulations application.

Work that may not require building regulations approval

In some cases you may use a Registered Competent Person from a recognised scheme in lieu of making a building regulations application. Examples include:

  • replacement of a roof covering
  • replacement windows and doors
  • injection of cavity wall insulation
  • installation of an air conditioning or ventilation system
  • installation of a boiler or other heat producing appliance
  • a new circuit or alterations to a domestic electrical system
  • installation of a micro generation system, for example, a wind turbine or solar panels

Work exempt from building regulations approval

In addition to competent person schemes, some works are specifically exempt from the building regulations, subject to certain criteria. Visit exemptions for more information on works not requiring building regulations approval.

Simple visual guide for house holders

You may wish to view a simple visual guide for householders using the planning portal . This outlines common household projects.

If you are uncertain about whether or not work that you are proposing to carry out requires building regulations approval, please contact Building Control.

Competent persons schemes

Certain works such as electrical alterations, installation of gas, solid fuel or oil appliances and ventilation systems can be self certified by a competent person, provided that person is registered on one of the many government approved schemes. A full list of the current competent person schemes can be found by using the contacts table (GOV.UK)

You can use a competent person either simply for the work that they are authorised to carry out, or as part of a large scheme such as the electrical works in an extension.

Exemptions

The following list includes examples of commonly occurring work that is exempt from the procedural requirements of the building regulations, and therefore does not need a building regulations application.

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These are detached buildings, into which persons do not normally go or only go intermittently to inspect plant and machinery. The exemption applies only if the building is sited at least one and a half times its height either from the boundary or from any point of a building into which people can or normally go.

Greenhouses are exempt provided they are not used for retailing, packing or exhibiting. Hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building) and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) must comply with the applicable building regulations requirements. Agricultural buildings and buildings principally for keeping animals are exempt if they are not used as a dwelling, are at least one and a half times their height from any building where there is sleeping accommodation and have a fire exit not more than 30 metres from any point in a building.

Those which remain erected for less than 28 days.

  • building site offices containing no sleeping accommodation
  • Buildings other than dwellings or offices used in connection with a mine or quarry
  • Single storey buildings where the floor area does not exceed 30 square metres, containing no sleeping accommodation and is constructed substantially of non-combustible material or sited at least one metre from the boundary (for example, detached single garage or shed)
  • a detached building where the floor area does not exceed 15 square metres, with no sleeping accommodation, can be constructed of any material
  • hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building) and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) must comply with the applicable building regulations requirements
  • floor area must be less than 30 square metres
  • hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building) and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) must comply with the applicable building regulations requirements
  • must be open on at least two sides
  • the ends can be counted as sides and doors/windows are allowed between the house and carport
  • floor area must not exceed 30 square metres
  • hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building) and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) must comply with the applicable building regulations requirements

A conservatory is exempt from building regulations as long as:

  • the floor area is less than 30 square metres
  • it is built at ground level
  • it is separated from the habitable parts of the dwelling by external quality windows/doors
  • any heating or cooling systems have independent controls/thermostat
  • hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building), glazing and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) comply with the applicable building regulations requirements

For a porch to be exempt from building regulations:

  • its floor area must not exceed 30 square metres
  • it must be separated from the habitable parts of the dwelling by external quality windows / doors
  • it must have independent controls / thermostat for any heating or cooling systems
  • hot and cold water supplies (when shared with or located in a non-exempt building), glazing and any fixed electrical installations (from a source shared with or located within a dwelling) must comply with the applicable building regulations requirements

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How do I apply for building regulations?

Although we do accept paper applications we prefer for you to submit your application on line so we can use and communicate through the application processing software. You can do this through one of the methods below :

Please visit forms and fees for further information on applying for building regulations.

What application do I need to submit?

There are two methods of obtaining approval for building regulations, full plans and building notice:

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The Full Plans application is the most common type of application local authorities receive for building works. It requires detailed drawings to be submitted together with the relevant fee for the work being undertaken. The plans are checked and an approval notice is issued before work commences.

This process can take up to eight weeks dependent on the project, but in most cases it will be completed well before this.

The building notice is a simpler procedure generally used for minor works such as the removal of an internal load bearing wall, but cannot be used for commercial developments. A big advantage is that it allows work to start 48 hours after submission of the application as there is no plan checking involved before work begins.

For clarification on which application type would be suitable for your project and for information on the fees to be paid, speak to your local building control office.

Forgot to make an application- Regularisation Certificate

The lack of a completion certificate can affect your ability to use or sell a property. It may also affect your insurance and may put you at risk of legal action. However, if you have carried out work without a Building Regulations application you can apply to your local authority for a Regularisation Certificate.

Regularisation applications (applied to work carried out after 11 November 1985) can be a lengthy process, especially if extensive work is required to bring a building back up to standard. A Regularisation application must be made to the local authority where the work was carried out. You will need to provide full details and plans showing the work that was carried out along with payment of the relevant charge.

Once this information has been provided you may be required to open up and uncover the work so that it can be inspected and checked by the building control surveyor. Provided that the work is satisfactory a Regularisation Certificate will be issued.

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Why use Luton building control - our team

Local authority building control and approved inspectors

Everyone knows that it is important to choose the right builder to carry out work on your property. It is equally important that you are careful in your choice of building control service provider.

Building control services are now available from two sources:

  • Local Authority Building Control (LABC) - the traditional and long established route
  • Approved Inspectors - companies operating private sector businesses and licensed by the government to offer a building control service

There are some differences between the level of service you will receive.

So why choose local authority building control?

We are determined to provide you with the very best service in building control. Whether you are a large developer undertaking a multi-million pound project or a homeowner carrying out alterations to your home, we are totally committed to assisting you in any way we can.

We recognise that all our customers have different needs and it will not be possible to satisfy all of these via a visit to this site. However, to make your Building Control experience as simple and easy as possible we will continually update and improve these pages to assist you.

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We provide extensive pre-application advice at any stage to suit your needs.

  • Most useful in agreement of issues such as fire safety design, means of escape in case of fire and access issues
  • Facilitation of meetings between you, other departments and Beds Fire and Rescue Service
  • full technical assessment of your scheme within 15 days from validation
  • highly competitive fees
  • receipt of electronic applications/plans
  • formal decision notice issued
  • qualified in-house structural engineer will check any structural details and calculations
  • full formal consultation process with external bodies - Beds Fire and Rescue Service, Thames/Anglian Water Ltd, etc.
  • Inspection requests made by 10am will be carried out on the same day. If you require a timed visit then you are advised to speak to the surveyor directly
  • Inspection notification framework available for each individual project
  • Qualified Building Control surveyors who will constantly be looking for cost effective solutions to regulatory challenges and who act with complete impartiality and flexibility
  • Extensive and unrivalled experience on every conceivable type of project
  • Issue of formal completion certificate when your project satisfies building regulation standards

Luton Borough Council Building Control complies with this government initiative to regulate standards within the profession.

Our Building Control Team is aiming to register under ISO 9001 2015 through LABC, which means that we will be constantly audited to ensure that we meet the service standards which are set out in our Customer Charter [pdf] 21KB

  • All our building control surveyors are either professionally qualified and/or possess extensive experience. They regularly attend training seminars to ensure that they are up to date with modern methods of construction and ever-changing legislation
  • We have a progressive approach to new materials and methods of construction and therefore can help you obtain the best possible value for money
  • We make maximum use of modern technology
  • We can guarantee that we will be at your service for many years to come
  • We welcome and encourage customer feedback

We also offer additional consultancy services beyond the usual building control function, including:

  • fire risk assessments
  • disabled access audits
  • design and project management
  • energy/ environmental consulting:
  • iSBEM (Simplified Building Energy Method) assessments
  • certified BREEAM assessments
  • SAP 2009 (Standard Assessment Procedure)
  • review your designs and advise on how to achieve compliance with the minimum standards
  • required in Part L of the building regulations
  • domestic and commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
  • display Energy Certificates (DEC)
  • area-weighted u-value calculations

 

Our team

Our team of building control surveyors are professional, qualified, and experienced. Their contact details are as follows:

  • Karen Amos
    Service Manager – Building Control Consultancy
    T: 07864 940952
  • Tim Parrett
    Specialist Technical Consultant
    T: 07595 318780
  • Dimitrios Chatzopolous
    Area Building Control Surveyor
    T: 07523 943434
  • Danny Anderson
    Area Building Control Surveyor
    T: 07920 086788
  • Adam Nicholls
    Area Building Control Surveyor
    T: 07928 573752

Additional contact information:

 

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How we charge

Building Control Fees

Luton Building Regulation fees are non-profit making and are only set to recover the cost of the service being provided.

Where possible we use standard charges for domestic projects which are detailed below. However, we often have to provide a bespoke quote due to complexity of design or because there is more than one element being constructed; for example, two extensions or an extension and a loft conversion.

Detailed information of what is and what is not covered in our service is contained in the Terms and Conditions.

Fees helpline

If you cannot find the answer to your question below and require any help regarding fees, please contact the building control office on 015842 546530, or email Building Control who will be happy to assist you.

Standard charges

There are standard charges for:

  • garages
  • extensions
  • loft conversions
  • alterations
  • certain non-domestic work

These are detailed in the fees guides. However, please note that we offer bespoke quotations on request. Please contact the office direct:

  1. T: 01582 546530
    E: [email protected]

Download standard charges as from the 1 April 2021.

Find out more about methods of payment.

New housing and flats

A standard charge for a single house up to 300m² is included in standard charges below. For projects of more than one dwelling or flats, please contact the office for a bespoke quotation.

What do the charges cover

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This is payable when making application is deposited.

  • when making a Full Plans Application and covers the technical checking of plans, calculations, certificates and specifications and the issuing of a formal decision notice
  • when making a Building Notice Application and covers the checking of any plans, calculations or details submitted or additional time on site or in the office ensuring compliance in the absence of full plans details

An inspection charge is payable on commencement of works:

  • Applicable to Full Plans and Building Notice applications for onsite spot checks of various stages of construction through to satisfactory completion including all office based work, travel, checking certificates and issue of completion certificate
  • Where multiple works are constructed at the same time reducing the number of inspections, the inspection charge may be reduced accordingly

Your Surveyor will determine the stages of construction they wish to see and will need notification from you the day before so a visit can be planned. Ordinarily these will include:

  • commencement and foundation excavations prior to concreting
  • oversite preparation prior to concreting and damp proof course
  • foul or surface water drainage before covering and tested
  • structural steel or timber
  • compliance’ inspections
  • completion

This applies mostly to commercial/non-domestic projects and projects not in our standard charges, however these can also be applied to domestic situations where the standard charge is considered to be unsuitable. There is an option to agree a fee which is bespoke and based on the anticipated work involved by building control. In order to provide a bespoke fee, it may be necessary to see the design. An individually determined charge will be required for applications involving more complex work such as multiple extensions, or a combination of work categories, or for work not listed in our standard charges.

If this is an option you would like to follow please contact the building control team:

Where gas or domestic electrical installations are not to be certified by an installer registered with one of the Government's Competent Persons Schemes, an additional charge will be required in respect of either installation for each unit. This is to enable checks and tests on the work to be made by the council's nominated contractor to establish that the work meets the requirements of approved documents J and P.

Where building work has been carried out without building regulation consent, a Regularisation application may be submitted seeking retrospective permission.

A fee at 175% of the NET building notice fee or an Individually determined fee shall be payable in full with the application. This extra cost covers the time in establishing if completed work complies, advising on opening up of the structure and the additional risk of certifying a structure where elements cannot be fully inspected.

When you re-submit a previously refused application there will be no additional plan fee to pay if it is essentially for the same work and no additional checking is required.

Minor changes to an already approved application can usually be accommodated. Our priority is ensuring finished work on site complies with the Building Regulations not on burdening customers with reapplications. If the amendment results in us having to spend more time checking details or additional time on site then we may request an additional fee to cover the extra work.

Where work is being carried out solely for the benefit of a disabled person, e.g. providing medical facilities accommodation or access/facilities in a dwelling a fee may not be required. Please contact the fees help line for further guidance.

Methods of payment accepted for building regulation applications

  1. credit/debit card at the Council Offices or online at Luton building control fees
  2. cheque. You can pay by cheque made payable to Luton Borough Council
  3. cash is accepted via the scan coin machines located at the Town Hall reception
  4. by phone on 01582 546530
  5. BACS transfer. Details upon written request (including email)

 

  1. Building Control inspections are not a substitute for Clerk of Works or Architect Supervision. It is essentially a series of third party spot checks intended to provide reasonable confidence that work complies with the Building Regulations but not definitive proof.
  2. Responsibility for constructing in compliance with the Building Regulations rests with the owner who should carefully select contractors, designers, engineers and other professionals
  3. Structural calculations submitted as part of the application will be risk assessed to determine the level of checking required. Where an engineer is professionally qualified, has indemnity insurance and is using established design methods, these calculations may receive just a cursory check or simply be accepted
  4. Every effort will be made to ensure that the estimated hours for charging is consistent with the actual hours spent. Further payment may be requested should the actual service hours exceed the original estimated hours. For the purposes of this calculation, the first hour will be disregarded. This may arise where:
    • The project turns out to be more complex than anticipated and additional time is needed to check construction details, e.g. structural foundation design once soil condition fully established
    • The project is changed after initial plans check requiring addition checking time of details or calculations
    • Calculations not produced to recognised methods require additional checking/consultant input
    • The customer has requested a higher service level than quoted for
    • After risk assessment of the professionals/individuals/company involved it is decided that the design or construction requires additional checking time to ensure compliance
    • Additional inspections are requested due to site conditions or the contractor splitting the work into stages or phases
  5. Where the actual service hours are less than originally estimated, the council may make an appropriate refund of part of the charge on satisfactory completion of the application. For the purposes of this calculation, the first hour will be disregarded
  6. Charges assume work will continue at a reasonable speed through to satisfactory completion. Where no visit has been requested for a period in excess of 12 months we will automatically archive the file as 'non active' for the purposes of Building Controls Standards. If reactivated, it may be necessary to re-estimate the charge for remaining inspections to reflect current costs/hourly rate
  7. Charges assume that the building work uses standard materials and construction techniques and that supporting details and calculations have been prepared using recognised industry standard processes
  8. The council is tasked with ensuring continued improvement in the standards of building for health and safety and the conservation of fuel and power. Where a project has been dormant for a period where the Building Regulations have changed, the Building Control and Quality Place Making Manager reserves the right to apply new regulations particularly in respect of life safety
  9. Refund of charges on cancellation of an application is at the discretion of the Building Control Manager. Any refund will take into account hours spent by surveyors and administration to the point of cancellations and a minimum of £40 will be retained
  10. Applications remain invalid and of no effect until the plans fee has been received in full or where the fee cannot be agreed upon. We will write or contact you to advise that the application is invalid and what you need to do to validate it. If an application remains invalid for more than 28 days we may return it and refund fees paid minus any cost we have incurred (see i)
  11. For certain work under the Building Regulations you will also need to apply for planning permission under the Planning Acts (You may have to pay extra for this). For more information, please phone the Development Control Team on 01582 546317

See full fee scheme

  

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Frequently asked questions

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You can search for building control applications by:

  • keyword
  • application reference number
  • postcode
  • using a single line of an address

locate an application

 

  • the work will not be legal and it will be declared on your property records and may affect the sale of your property
  • you could be prosecuted and could face an unlimited fine
  • the work may not be safe or could cause health problems
  • it may also not meet energy efficiency standards
  • if work is found to be faulty, we could insist you put it right at your own expense
  • if the work has not been carried out by a registered installer from a competent person scheme, If you will have no record that the work complies with building regulations. This will be important when you come to sell your home as you will be asked to provide certificates of compliance with the building regulations

You can check online by visiting the Planning Portal.

If you are still unsure, please contact building control to see if your works require building regulations.

There are two methods of obtaining approval for building regulations:

  1. a full plans application
  2. a building notice application

View our guidance note for further information on these two types of applications.

When choosing a building contractor you should consider your choice very carefully and you are advised to check them out before employing them. If you employ a good reputable building contractor in terms of price, reliability and workmanship, the potential for problems will be greatly reduced.

Small detached single storey domestic buildings including greenhouses, sheds, garages and attached carports meeting the following conditions do not require building regulation approval:

  1. Carports open at least two sides attached or detached from the main building, with an internal floor area not exceeding 30 square metres that does not affect disabled access and contains no electrical supply are wholly exempt from Building Regulation approval
  2. Detached garages or structures with an internal floor area not exceeding 15 square metres and built of any type of construction that does not affect disabled access and contains no electrical supply are wholly exempt from building regulation approval
  3. Detached garages or structures with an internal floor area not exceeding 30 square metres, built of any type of construction and sited so as to be a minimum of 1 metre from any boundary line, that does not affect disabled access and contains no electrical supply are wholly exempt from building regulation approval
  4. Detached garages with an internal floor area not exceeding 30 square metres and built of substantially non-combustible materials, and does not affect disabled access and contains no electrical supply are wholly exempt from building regulation approval. Examples of what constitutes substantially non-combustible materials:
      • roof: non-combustible cement based sheeting fixed to steel roof trusses / tiled or slated roof on timber roof trusses or timbers / timber flat roof covered with felt with applied bitumen bedded 12.5mm limestone chippings
      • walls: brickwork / blockwork / concrete panels / steel frame clad in non-combustible cement based boarding
      • floors: concrete slab
  5. Additional notes

    It is a ‘material alteration’, requiring the submission of a building regulation application, if the works you are undertaking make access to or into the dwelling any worse than it is currently. Therefore the proposal must not obstruct access pathways up to the main dwelling entrance doors.

    If the small detached building is to have electricity supplied from a source shared with or located within the dwelling, then Part P of the building regulations apply to the electrical works.

    If electrical circuits are to be provided or adapted to provide light or power to your attached carports, then Part P of the building regulations may apply.

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© 2021 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ