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Building regulations and failure to comply

This content applies to England

Building regulations basics and failure to comply.

Building regulations

Building regulations apply to 'building work', for example work involving the underpinning of a building or provision or extension of a controlled service, and 'material change of use' (eg a new building or a house being converted into flats).[1] Compliance with building regulations may also be required for alteration projects, such as:

  • replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics
  • installing a bathroom (when that involves plumbing work)
  • replacing windows and doors
  • adding extra radiators to a heating system

In other circumstances, repairs or renovations of property should meet the regulations that last applied to the property, ie the last time building work or material change of use took place.

Building regulations specify standards of work and materials and cover issues such as compliance with requirements for soundproofing, a flat roof being used as a garden, prevention of fire spread, and ventilation.

A person seeking building regulations approval for work done on her/his home can do so through LABC (the body representing local authority building control) or a private approved inspector. Sometimes the builder or installer (eg of a window or boiler) can self-certify the work if they are registered with the relevant Competent Person Scheme.

Breach of regulations

Occupiers who are concerned about breaches of the regulations should contact LABC or the local authority.

A person who is harmed by a failure to comply with the regulations may have an action in negligence, unless the regulations state otherwise.[2] This could occur where a landlord undertakes improvements to a tenant's property but does not comply with the building regulations, and this failure causes harm to the tenant.

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] Building Regulations 2010 SI 2010/2214, as amended.

[2] s.71 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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