Building control: what it is and how to navigate it

Building control will ensure your project is safe

Building an extension or making sizeable changes to your home comes with a whole long list of tasks, to dos, and absolute must knows. We set out to demystify one of the biggest ones.

One question that can leave you scratching your head when planning any renovation is whether you need building control approval.

This sign off from a registered inspector confirms whether your project complies with building regulations. It is different to applying for planning permission, which deals with land usage, appearance of your project, and the impact it will have on the area.

The government set building regulations as technical standards that cover the construction, extension and alteration of most buildings.

What is building control?

“It affects many different aspects of construction and home improvement, from electrics and plumbing to windows and roof coverings. Doing any work without building control approval is likely to land you with a fine,” warns Thomas Goodman, property and construction expert at “On top of that, you’ll need to pay to fix any defective building work. So, whatever you’re planning, check if you need building control approval.”

Working with a CPS-registered tradesperson could save you time and money getting approval elsewhere. You can double check if someone is registered online by visiting the Competent Person Register. They must ensure their work is carried out correctly and have the necessary paperwork. This includes a completion certificate they should provide to you at the end of the job. 

An illustration of building plans
Illustration: / Soloma_Poppystyle

How does it affect your project?

“Most building work and many types of home improvement work are notifiable. This means you, your builder, or agent must notify building control before work starts. However, installers registered with a Competent Person Scheme carry out the work can self-certify that their work is compliant,” explains Anna Thompson, head of engagement at Local Authority Building Control

“This is proof that your build or renovation work has been inspected and meets building regulations. You’ll need this for insurance and mortgage purposes and if you decide to sell your home,” adds Thomas.

There are two other routes you can take to apply for building control approval – via your local authority or by using a private approved inspector. You’ll find a directory of approved inspectors on the Planning Portal. It is also worth noting that the person carrying out the work has the choice of where to get approval. Ultimately, however, as the owner complying with building regulations is your responsibility. “Make sure you submit your application at least 48 hours before you start work, and longer if you want peace of mind,” advises Anna.

“Building control isn’t just there to make you jump through extra hoops. It’s there to protect you from unsafe work and cowboy builders,” adds Thomas. “Frequent site visits from building control will reassure you that every step of your build or extension is being done correctly and meets building regulations. Also building control surveyors can give you and your trades valuable advice to help things go smoothly. So, it’s worth creating a good rapport with your local authority’s building control team, right from the beginning of your project.

Enjoyed this post? Click here to find out more about planning permission

Featured image: Photography: / Iryna Melnyk

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