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. 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?

Yes.

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?

Yes.

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?

Yes.

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?

Yes.

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.

https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/resident/building-control/applications

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

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2012/192/contents/made

Technical Booklets, published by The Stationery Office, giving practical guidance on meeting the requirements of the regulations are also available online
https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/articles/building-regulations-technical-booklets

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 have committed a criminal offence. It is likely that you will have difficulty when it comes to sell the property, it may affect your house insurance, and it may affect 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.

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?

Yes. The Council can commence proceedings, which may ultimately lead to a fine, and a criminal record.

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. https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/resident/planning

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.