Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about Building Control. If you do not find the information you require or have additional questions, please contact the Building Control team for more information,

Frequently asked questions

Q1. What are the Building Regulations?

Performance standards, laid down by law, dealing with the construction of buildings and installation of some services.

Q2. Why are they made?

To improve the built environment; the regulations’ aim is to enhance the safety and health, welfare, and convenience of people in and around buildings, the protection of the environment and promotion of sustainable development. These standards include requirements on health, structural stability, fire safety, energy conservation and accessibility.

Q3. When may I start work?

Once you have submitted a Building Notice Application or a Full Plans Application, you may commence work, but you are required to give the Council two working days’ notice before you start, and other notices are required as the work progresses. So that things run smoothly you should ensure that all relevant works are agreed and, where required, inspected by building control.

Check whether Planning or any other statutory approval is required before starting work.

Q4. What work requires a Building Regulations application?

Most alterations to buildings do. If you want to put up a new building or extend or alter an existing one, the Building Regulations will probably apply. They will often also apply if you put a building to a differing use. Even some minor works including the installation/ replacement of a stove or boiler or installing or adding to the insulation in a wall, floor or roof require approval. Q5. gives more detail about work that requires Building Regulations approval. Building Regulations approval is completely different from Planning Permission, and it does not mean that if you get one you will automatically get the other.

For more information regarding Planning Permission see also Q16 – Q18.

Q5 Do I need Building Regulation Approval:

Q5 Do I need Building Regulation Approval:

i. To build an extension to my house?

Yes, but a porch, with a floor area of not more than 5m2, or a ground-level conservatory (with a transparent or translucent roof) used as such, with a floor area of not more than 30m2 , may be exempt.

ii. To convert my roofspace into a room?


iii. To make internal alterations within my house?

Yes, if the alterations are of a structural nature, involve the removal or part-removal of a wall, partition, joist, beam, chimney breast etc.

iv. To install new windows in my house?

No, provided the window opening is not enlarged and the openable area is maintained. If a larger opening is required, then a structural alteration will take place and approval will be required. Some bay windows are also load bearing so their replacement will need approval.

Even when an application is not required the work must comply with the relevant building regulations

v. To carry out repairs to my house?

Yes, if the work involves alterations to thermal elements of the house i.e.

  • Renewal of pitched or flat roof coverings - e.g. re-tiling, re-slating of pitched roofs or re-felting of flat roofs.
  • Renewal or replacement of ceilings under a roof space or flat roof (with or without the renewal of the supporting structure).
  • Renewal of a finish or cladding to an external wall area or elevation (render or other cladding) or applying a finish or cladding for the first time.
  • Renewal of internal wall finishes to an external wall (excluding decoration) or where you are applying a finish for the first time e.g. plastering or dry lining of walls.
  • Renovation or replacement of a solid or suspended floor, involving the replacement of screed or a timber floor deck.
  • Renewal of cladding to external walls or dormer cheeks.

No, if the repairs are of a minor nature and you are replacing like for like and the work does not affect the thermal envelope of the dwelling.

vi. To convert a house into flats, or flats into a house?


vii. To install fittings and appliances within my house that involve:

· The replacement of a WC, bath, shower, etc?

No, unless the work involves new drainage or plumbing.

viii. The installation or alteration of a heating boiler?

a. Gas: Yes,

b. Solid fuel: Yes,

c. Oil: Yes.

ix. The installation of a stove?


x. To install or replace electric wiring in a dwelling?

Not usually- however approval is required for the installation, or replacement of, mains wired fire alarm systems.

xi. To build a garage?

Yes, unless it is a detached, single storey garage, which contains no sleeping accommodation, has a floor area not exceeding 30m² and is either-

1. Constructed substantially of non-combustible material, or

2. At any point, further than 1m from any boundary and any dwelling.

xii. To install insulation into my roofspace or cavity wall?


Q6. How I do to obtain Building Regulations approval?

By making an application to the Council.

There are two types of application:

a. Building Notice application (only for some minor domestic work)

b. Full Plans application

For a Full Plans application, plans need to be submitted showing all constructional details. For the Building Notice procedure, fewer details are required. In both cases applications need to be made to the council in advance of the work starting on site.

For more detailed advice on making an application you can access the Applications page by the link below.

Q7. What is the difference between a Full Plans application and a Building Notice application?

With Full Plans application, the Council will assess the plans as well as carrying out site inspections. If the plans comply with the relevant Building Regulations, you will receive notice that they have been passed. If the Council is not satisfied, you may be asked to make amendments or provide more details. If your plans are rejected, the reasons will be stated in the notice.

With a Building Notice, the work will be inspected but you will not receive a notice indicating whether your proposal has been passed or rejected. On satisfactory completion of the work on site a Completion Certificate will be issued by the Council. In a Building Notice application any documents that are submitted are for information only. If while work is in progress the local authority requires further information or a plan, you must supply the details requested.

The total cost is the same whether a Full Plans or Building Notice application is made. With a Building Notice the whole fee is payable at the time of application, while with a Full Plans application a proportion of the fee is payable at application with the balance being due after the first inspection.

Q8. Where can I obtain information on the standards to which I must build?

The Stationary Office - The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 are available in hard copy from The Stationary Office or Online

Technical Booklets, published by The Stationery Office, giving practical guidance on meeting the requirements of the regulations are also available online

You are not obliged to use any particular solution but are required meet the requirement of the Regulations.

Q9. Do I have to pay when making an application

Yes. A fee is generally payable to the Council unless the work is exempt. See the Building Control Northern Ireland on-line Fee Calculator.

The Building Control department can also be contacted for advice concerning fees.

Q10. What can I do if my plans are rejected?

You can resubmit them with amendments to make them comply with Building Regulations. Alternatively, if you think the decision to reject is not justified, you can refer the matter to the Department of Finance for a determination

Q11. What if I carry out work without a Building Regulations application?

You may be unaware but carrying out work that requires Building Control approval, before making an application, is a criminal offence. It If such work comes to light, it is likely that you will have difficulty selling the property, it may affect your house insurance, and your ability to secure a mortgage. If the work does not comply, you may be asked to alter or remove it. If you fail to do this, the Council may serve a contravention notice requiring you to do so.

If you find that work has been carried out to your property without a Building Control application, it is possible to apply retrospectively. A Regularisation application may be made and if you can demonstrate that the work complies, with the Building Regulations that applied at the time the work was carried out, a Regularisation Certificate may be issued. If you have work that you would like to have regularised, you can apply online through the link the Council Direct portal.

If you would like to speak to one of our staff about the Regularisation process, please phone: 02891 278015

Q12. What happens if I disagree with a contravention notice?

You have the right to appeal to the Department of Finance - Normally the notice will give you 28 days to rectify the work. If you do not agree with a contravention notice, you have the right to appeal to the Department of Finance. For further information on appeals contact Building Control or the Department of Finance.

Q13. Are there penalties for contravening Building Regulations?

Our department aims to assist in facilitating compliance with Building Regulations, rather than administering fines or criminalising anyone. Where work has been undertaken, in contravention of building regulations, the Council may commence proceedings, which may could lead to a fine, and ultimately a criminal record.

If you find that work has been carried out to your property without a Building Control application, it is possible to apply retrospectively. A Regularisation application may be made, and if you can demonstrate that the work complies, with the Building Regulations that applied at the time the work was carried out, a Regularisation Certificate may be issued. If you have work that you would like to have regularised, you can apply online through the link the Council Direct portal.

Where work has wilfully been undertaken, without a suitable application having been made to Building Control, the Council may take such enforcement action as is deemed appropriate against any party involved.

If you would like to speak to one of our staff about the Regularisation process, please phone: 02891 278015

Q14. Can I apply for a building control certificate for work that was carried out without an application?

Yes - It is now possible to apply retrospectively for certification of unauthorised building work which was commenced on or after October 1973. To apply for a Regularisation certificate, you should fill in the appropriate form, and submit it along with the prescribed fee to the Council. If you can demonstrate that the work meets the substantive requirements of The Building Regulations that were in force when the work was carried out a Regularisation certificate may be issued. If the work does not appear to comply you will be advised of what you can do.

Once any issues have been satisfactorily addressed a Regularisation certificate may be issued. If the work does not comply, and is deemed to be potentially dangerous, you may be asked to alter or remove it.

If you fail to do this, the Council may serve a contravention notice requiring you to do so.

Q15. Do my neighbours have the right to object to what is proposed in my Building Regulations application?

Not under building regulations. However, objections may be raised under separate legislation - for example, if the proposal is subject to approval under the Planning Acts.

Q16. Is Building Control Approval the same as Planning Approval?

No - planning deals with issues such as aesthetics, impact on the environment, traffic, neighbour notification etc. Building control is concerned with health and safety issues, energy conservation and disabled access and use of buildings.

Q17. How do I get planning permission?    

By making a Planning Application with the Council’s Planning department.

Q18. Do I need both approvals?

In many cases approval is required from both Building Control and Planning but some minor works may be permitted development under planning law and/or exempt from Building Regulations. It is advisable to check with both organisations before proceeding.

Q19. Who enforces the Building Regulations?

The local council’s Building Control department. Staff check plans for compliance with Building Regulations and carry out site inspections.

Q20. How can I give feedback about the Building Control Service?

Customer Feedback

We want to make it easy for you, our customers, to give us feedback, ask questions, raise issues, or make suggestions about our service. You can contact us by phone: 02891 278015 or email:

Tell us how we did via this link: Online Building Control Customer Satisfaction Survey - Ards and North Down Borough Council - Citizen Space

Unhappy with some aspect of the service

If our service has disappointed you, we will, where possible, provide an explanation and take steps to improve our service. Things can sometimes go wrong with our service, and there may be areas for improvement that we have not noticed. That is why we encourage our customers to give feedback which will help us improve.

If you believe that there are things that we could do better, please contact us directly.

We promise to take your comments and complaints seriously.

The quickest way to have any enquiry dealt with is by contacting a member of the Building Control team. If the query raised cannot be dealt with immediately then an appropriate officer will come back to you. If the issue relates to a member of our team, please try to resolve matters directly with them in first place. If this does not lead to a satisfactory outcome, please ask to speak to their line manager and if this still does not lead to a resolution you can ask for the Building Control manager’s assistance.

Our complaints procedure

Stage 1

If you have a complaint about this service, our aim is to address it as quickly and easily as possible. The person you first contact will aim to resolve your complaint. In most circumstances mistakes or misunderstandings can be resolved quickly and informally. If this is not possible or the matter is a complex one, you are advised to contact the Service Unit Manager or Head of Service or to complete and return a Compliments, Comments, and Complaint form, which will be referred to the appropriate officer for investigation.

If your complaint is in writing, or you ask for a written reply, a response will be sent to you within ten working days of us receiving your initial complaint (or sooner if possible). If the issue is more complex or we need to contact other organisations, it may take longer to investigate the matter fully. If this is the case, we will still respond to your complaint within five working days if your complaint is in person or by telephone, or within ten working days if your complaint is in writing. We will let you know:

• what action is being taken

• who is dealing with the matter

• when you can expect a full reply.

Stage 2

If you are still dissatisfied, you may write or ask for your complaint be forwarded to the head of service or director of the relevant department. They will then carry out a detailed investigation and respond in writing to your complaint within ten working days.

Stage 3

If the second response to your complaint is not satisfactory, you may write to the Chief Executive, or his nominee, at the City Hall, Bangor, who will review your case and respond to you in writing within 10 working days. If longer is required, we will write and explain why and advise you of a new date by which a response will be issued.

Taking your complaint further

If you are not happy with the final response that you receive from us, you may ask the Northern Ireland Ombudsman to investigate your complaint within 6 months. The Ombudsman will not normally initiate action until the Council has completed an investigation using its own complaints procedure.

The Ombudsman can be contacted at: Telephone: (028) 9023 3821 • Text phone: (028) 9089 7789 • Freephone 0800 34 34 24 Email:

Post: Freepost NIPSO,
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman,
Progressive House,
33 Wellington Place,

More information is available at: Welcome to the office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman (