What are Building Regs?

Matthew Griffiths

March 18th, 2022
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Whether you appoint a contractor for some construction work on a development or purchase a new property, you want to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

And when it comes to property, much of what you pay for is to ensure you get to live in a safe, well-made environment built out of quality materials.

Step forward Building Regulations. These are set of building and construction standards introduced into legislation to ensure that’s precisely what happens. First, a qualified inspector approves the designs for the construction works. Secondly, the inspection then inspects and approves what has been built on the ground.

But what are the Building Regulations made up of?

What are Building Regulations

Building regulations are a set of minimum standards and requirements for how construction works must be designed and built.

Implemented by the UK Government, Building Regulations consist of ten ‘Parts’ and six schedules.

Whilst building regulation standards are imposed across many construction works, the project may also require planning approval.

Building Regulations are periodically updated to reflect new technologies, revised emission targets, or increase the standard of designs after studies or incidents, such as the Grenfell disaster.

The design and works will need to be approved by the local authority’s building department for where the project is located or by an approved Building Inspector.

The most recent Building Regulations are the 2010 edition.

This legislation covers structures, fire safety, site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture, toxic substances, acoustics, ventilation, sanitation, drainage, installation and usage of heat-producing appliances, protection from falling, collision and impact, conservation of fuel and power, access, and use of a building, electrical, security, infrastructure, materials and workmanship.

More minor works may also require Building Control approval, such as replacing fuse boxes and connecting electrical works, bathroom replacement involving plumbing, works to electrics near a bath or shower, installing air-conditioning, works to replace a roof, installation of a heating system, adding more radiators.

What does Building Regs Cover?

Part A – Structure

Covers aspects of structural design relating to the stability and safety of the construction work, along with guidance on how to not impact the structural integrity of other buildings.

Includes:

  • Structural Loadings
  • Foundations
  • Disproportionate collapse
  • Ground movement
  • Roof frame details
  • Brick wall designs
  • Rules for traditional and timber frame construction

Part B – Fire Safety

Fire safety approved document provides adequate fire precautions and protection for occupants, the public and fire firefighters.

Includes:

  • Means of escape
  • Isolation and prevention of internal fire spread
  • External fire spread
  • Access and facilities for firefighting crews
  • Fire detection and warning systems

Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Ensuring that buildings are protected from the weather, water and contaminants such as radon and methane.

Part C also deals with existing buildings, trees, root systems to mitigate against them damaging new build foundations.

Contamination must be cleared, and ground moisture prevented or removed.

Part D – Toxic Substances

Focuses on the prevention of harmful fumes from entering a property through the cavity wall insulation specification.

Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound

Sound insulation and what sound reductions or limits need to be achieved are detailed here, alongside details on preventing and reducing the spread of noise in domestic buildings, schools, and flats.

Mains areas covered include:

  • Windows
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings

Part F – Ventilation

The air within domestic buildings must be constantly circulated throughout the building. Within condensation areas like kitchens and bathrooms, extraction must be provided, whether through the opening of a window or a mechanical vent.

Non-domestic properties must have continuous clean air circulation.

These efforts prevent condensation build-up and minimise the risk of airborne illnesses and pollutants.

Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency

Part G covers several items relating to water, from the supply of water, hot water, sanitation, water safety and efficiency.

Efficiency aims to keep water wastage to a minimum.

Guidance is provided on:

  • Drinking water
  • Cold drinking water
  • Sanitary water
  • Hot water to wet rooms and WCs
  • Water to Kitchens and food preparation areas

Unvented hot water systems receive additional requirements and safety provisions.

Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal

Guidance for the installation and operation of foul water, surface water and rainwater. This guidance takes this further to include sanitary waste, including sewers and sewer maintenance.

Advice is provided on:

  • Refuse storage of solid waste materials for dwellings
  • Disposal of waste
  • Waste water treatment
  • Pollution prevention
  • The use of appropriate separate drainage systems
  • The building of hygienic pipework
  • Discharges
  • Cesspools
  • Guidelines for building over and around sewers.

Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems

Part J focuses on the safe installation of heating appliances and how they are used alongside recommendations on safely storing fuels.

In detail, it covers:

  • Boilers
  • Chimneys and flues, and offers
  • Advice on safe fuel storage installations, including: solid fuel, liquid oil fuels & gas-fired heating

The guidance deals with safe construction, the adequate provision of air, and warning systems like carbon monoxide detectors, pollution prevention, and the ventilation of combustible by-products, like smoke.

Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact

It makes the environment around people safe for those working on construction projects, occupants and building users, plus the building maintenance operatives once it is in operation.

Mitigating falls on staircases, windows, ramps and ladders through the use of balustrades.

Collisions and impact deals with vehicle barriers and the positioning of doors and low-level windows or walking into large areas of glazing.

Are you carrying out a loft conversion? Then, seek out Part K to construct a staircase to serve a converted space.

Part L – Conservation of fuel and power

Part L consists of four sections:

L1A – Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings, covering:

  • Insulation
  • Boiler productivity
  • Lighting
  • Hot water storage
  • Carbon Index rating standards
  • Solar emissions
  • Heating and ventilation systems
  • Space heating controls
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Other fuel and power systems.

L1B – Conversion of fuel and power in existing buildings.

L2A – Conservation of fuel and power for non-dwellings.

L2B – Conversion of fuel and power in existing non-dwelling buildings.

Part M – Access to and use of buildings

How to design a building for ease of access and to operate buildings safely whilst providing disabled facilities. Disabled access needs to consider access like level thresholds and ramps, rooms like W/C’s being large enough to manoeuvre in a wheelchair, and the movement of disabled individuals between floors.

Part P – Electrical Safety

Part P has guidance relating to the installation of electrical works in residential dwellings. This covers what procedures must be carried out and who, pertaining to professional electricians.

Part Q – Security

Covering the security and protection of buildings to prevent unauthorised access to houses and flats. This Approved Document sets out the standards for doors and windows.

Part R – Electronic communications

Keeping people connected to high-speed communication networks, using physical infrastructure to connect dwellings to the broadband network.

Summary

Building regulations are vital to ensure that properties are constructed or converted correctly, that the facilities can be used safely, are efficient, do not pollute and cater for disabled access.

They raise the standards of the built world we live in.

Photo by Luke Besley on Unsplash

About Matthew Griffiths

Matthew takes great pleasure in combining his two professions. One has seen him give two decades of service to the construction industry, from roles as an Estimator through to sitting on Boards. The second is his passion for the written word. He now has the best of both worlds, building homes and constructing written content.

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