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Building Control & Planning Permission.

The Process Explained.

We often find the need to explain the process that one needs to go through, when having an extension or home alterations carried out.  Some architects, builders or professional service providers 'forget' to explain the whole picture and what is needed. So, in a nutshell, here is what you will need to do:

Hybrid Construction can provide all planning drawings, building regulation drawings, structural designs and structural calculations and party wall agreements.  We will make all planning and building control applications including Thames Water build over applications and obtain and provide landlord certificates for gas and electric, undertake surveys and provide certification on all work carried out as necessary. 

Planning Permission

Firstly you need to establish if your proposed works will require planning permission or not.  Planning Permission is often referred to simply as PP.  Your architect, surveyor or contractor should be able to tell you, but you should always check with your local authority if in doubt.  


Most properties benefit from 'Permitted Development Rights' which means if you build within a certain criteria and within a certain size, your project can use up these allowances before requiring planning permission. This is often referred to simply as 'PD'.


If your permitted development allowance has been used up or if your project falls outside of the criteria for 'PD', then it is likely that you will require 'Planning Permission'. It is common practice that your architect will produce a set of basic looking plans, to get you through this stage.  He may submit these plans to your local authority on your behalf and there is a Planning Application fee to pay. These plans are usually quite basic in appearance (in comparison to ones you will require to carry out the work in question later on) as they do not need to be covered in too many notes and technical details at this stage to enable Planning Permission to be obtained. A site plan, the correct dimensions, existing and proposed drawings showing the intended works and notes on external finishes are mostly what matters to the Planning Dept.  Once PP has been granted, you can start on the next stage.....'Building Regulations Approval'.  


Please note: There are some architectural or design businesses around that will only undertake planning drawings and in most cases this is not enough, you will need more.... so please ask your chosen architect or agent if he/she is capable and willing to undertake the 'Building Regulation' drawings as well? If they are not, it can be expensive to employ someone solely to undertake the Building Regulation element, as they will often need to re-draw the whole project again on their own system, so please be aware of entering into something that may not be what you need as it may be a costly mistake!

Building Regulation Approval

There are two routes for a 'Building Regulations Application', the first is a 'Building Notice' and the second a 'Full Plans Application'.

A Building Notice is designed for simple works or alterations, where plan checking and approval is not required prior to works commencing.  The 'Building Control Officer' (often referred to as a BCO) will visit site, check the works being undertaken and will issue the relevant paperwork when satisfied.

A Full Plans Application allows the 'Building Control Officer' to check the plans, approve or reject the application and confirm that all works detailed within the submitted plans are correct prior to works commencing.  This is a much safer way to undertake projects like extensions and loft conversions as the headache of exposing a potential problem once work has commenced, is not helpful to either party and can delay the project!

Some contractors will advise undertaking extensions under a 'Building Notice' and although this is perfectly legal, it can often lead to delays and unexpected additional costs (or a dispute over costs) between the two parties.

The end result of the two options are the same but the journey to get there can be very different.

This process of 'Building Regulation Approval' will usually follow the PP application, as there will be an additional cost from your architect to compile the necessary information required for building control or 'Building Regulations Approval' as it is known. Some will refer to it simply as 'Building Regs' or you may see it written as 'BR' or 'B'regs'.


A building control inspector is often referred to as a 'BCO' (Building Control Officer).


The process for the entire application for any project is usually broken down into two stages (the planning application and then the building regulation approval) to save money if the initial PP application is not granted? Therefore if the first stage/application for PP is not approved, you haven't spent money needlessly having the second stage/application (Building Regulations) drawn up. 

The building regulations application will be checked by building control (if a 'Full Plans Application' is made) and approval given if all the information contained on the drawings is correct and if all aspects necessary for the drawings to be approved, have been covered.  If not, then 'Conditional Approval' may be granted, whereby approval will be granted, provided the conditions (noted on the conditional approval letter) are adhered to or any additional information requested is submitted. On the other hand, the application may be rejected for one or more reasons.  This will be clearly explained on the rejection letter.

Building regulations cover the important aspects of the project, such as: Foundations, drainage, insulation, damp prevention, ventilation, fire safety, structural details and steel beam calculations, wall construction, floor and roof construction details, safety aspects, heat loss and thermal values of materials used, electrical and gas installation, material certification etc. etc.  

As you may have noticed, the paragraph above mentions 'Structural Details'.  These commonly apply to steel columns, supports and beams, timber supports and structural timber elements, lintels, foundations, steel posts, brickwork strengths etc. etc.


These 'Structural Calculations' and recommendations would need to be provided by a qualified 'Structural Engineer', capable and qualified to undertake the work required and would form part of the information required by building control, when considering a 'Building Regulations Application'. You may find that your chosen architect will recommend a Structural Engineer that he/she regularly works with.  Hybrid Construction employ two structural engineers, so we are able to incorporate their skills and knowledge into our projects whenever necessary.  The 'Structural Engineers' costs may be shown separately on any invoice you may receive from your architect, designer or adviser. Please do get in touch if you would like quotes on any structural design or calculations. We have an incredibly quick turnaround on Structural Design work, meaning your project 'doesn't have to be held up'.

Whereas PP will not usually be required for any internal works, Building Regs. may be required, as it will be necessary to cover works such as load bearing wall removals, any structural works, new drainage, ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens etc. Always check first with your local authority if in doubt? Failure to notify 'Building Control' of your project and failure to obtain the correct 'Completion Certificate' following an applicable project, can seriously affect selling your property in the future. Hybrid Construction will make all necessary applications and deal with all aspects of 'Building Control' on your behalf upon request.

The BCO will call in to the project at pre-determined stages to check on progress and ensure the work being undertaken conforms to the current regulations.  Failure to allow the BCO access to the project will affect the issue of a 'Completion Certificate' which can affect the sale of your property in the future and your home insurance in the case of a future claim.

Some contractors are not aware of the regulations regarding internal or structural works and may suggest that an application is NOT required.  Please make your own enquiries to see if an application is required. Hybrid Construction can assist on all applications and regulation issues through our 'Consultancy Service'.

Once all visits have been made by Building Control and the work has been overseen and passed at every stage, a 'Completion Certificate' will be issued by the building inspector to prove the work has been satisfactorily completed. This is an important document and should be kept safe with your property documents.

There are two types of 'Building Control Service' available to oversee your projects. The first is the Local Authority Building Control, who will usually operate from your borough's Town Hall and are employees of the local council.  The second is the 'Approved Inspector' who will be employed by a private company and offer the same service as the local authority.  Both do the same job and the end results are the same.  If an approved Inspector is used, he/she will notify the local authority that he/she is acting as the Building Control Officer overseeing the project in their area.

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