The Building Control application process explained


How do I apply for building regulation approval? 

There are generally two types of applications for building regulation approval.

Full plans (usually for larger work or where consultation with the Fire Brigade or Thames water is required) and building notices (usually for more minor residential works).

For both of these, you will have to pay a building regulation charge.

Can I submit an electronic version of my plans?

Yes. You can make an application online. You may upload plans, details, structural calculations and pay Building regulation charges very simply and quickly.

How long does it take to process an application?

For an application by building notice, there may be no detailed plans to inspect and formally approve so you can start work as soon as the notice is accepted - usually within 48 hours.

With a Full Plans Application the plans have to be thoroughly examined before being approved and by law a council must give a decision on an application within five weeks of receiving it (unless it is extended with your written consent), but usually it is  much less than this time.

Work may still commence prior to approval of the submitted plans and details but there may be risks or additional costs incurred if the design is not correct and in accordance with Building Regulations.

Approval of building plans lasts for three years and if you don’t start work in that time the local authority may serve you with a notice declaring your plans “of no effect”– meaning you will need to submit a fresh application.

How much will it cost?

That will depend on the nature of the project, the type of application and the anticipated workload involved in checking and inspecting the project.

We produce a schedule of charges for standard works such as new dwellings, extensions and loft conversions.

Other works may be based on the estimated cost of the works and major works are individually assessed to take account of the building control input required.

All local council building control teams are only permitted to recover the cost of the work they carry out, they do not make a profit on their services.

What should the estimated cost of work include?

The estimated cost of the works should be based on the cost of all building work involved.

The cost should not include VAT or any professional fees paid in association with the work.

A written breakdown of the cost of the works could help us calculate our charges and may be required to verify the amount submitted.

When are the building regulations charges paid?

Building regulation charges generally comprise two parts.

A submission (plan) charge covering registration, vetting of technical details and issue of decision notice and an inspection charge covering inspections and certification of completion of the project.

In some cases these charges are combined but the overall charge or a building notice and full plans application is the same for similar works. Regularisation charges are generally higher.

(A) For a full plans application, the plan charge must accompany your application; without it your application may be considered invalid. Please make the cheque payable to the 'Brent Council – Building Control'. Inspection charges are generally invoiced following the first inspection after commencement of work on site.

(B) For a building notice and regularisation applications, the charge must accompany your application; without it your application is invalid. Building Notice charges are subject to VAT but not regularisation charges.

Please make the cheque payable to the 'Brent Council – Building Control'.

How does the approval process work?

When your application is approved by your local council building control team, you will usually be provided with an ‘Inspection Service Plan’ before you start work.

This outlines the stages of work that require inspection. It will vary depending on the size and complexity of your project, age of your home, the construction type, ground conditions and your builder’s experience.

You’ll need to inform your local council building control team when you start and when you reach the stages outlined in your inspection service plan so the surveyors can carry out site visits.

Once the work has been completed to the satisfaction of your local building control team, you will be issued with a completion certificate to show all the work is up to standard.

Who should sign the application form?

The applicant where there is no agent acting. Otherwise application forms are generally signed by the architect, surveyor, managing agent or contractor undertaking the works.

Whose names and addresses should be provided?

Details of the applicant, the owner or occupier and the person to whom the inspection charge invoice is to be sent (if not the owner or occupier) should be provided.

Brent's Building Regulations Charges Scheme makes the person 'who carries out the building work or on whose behalf the building work is carried out' liable to pay the charges.

What should be shown on the plans?

(A) For a full plans application, as much detail as possible should be included on the plans. This will help to reduce the time spent we spend contacting you for more information.

(B) For a building notice application, the plans should clearly indicate the scope of the works covered by the building notice and the way in which the requirements of the building regulations will be satisfied.

These plans will not receive formal approval but help to identify proposed work which will be inspected on site.

How long will passing the plans take?

Section 16 of the Building Act 1984 requires us to deal with your application within five weeks, unless you agree to extend the time limit, from the date of your plans were deposited, up to a maximum of two months.

For more complicated applications this extension of time will help to avoid your application being rejected by allowing further time for discussion and/or possible amendment of your drawings.

All full plans applications are determined within these time limits with the vast majority in less than four weeks.

Can I appeal if my full plans application is rejected?

Plans can only be rejected because they do not meet the technical requirements of the building regulations. If so, we will let you know and give you the chance to resubmit amended plans.

If you do not agree with the council’s interpretation of the regulations, you can appeal to the Secretary of State for a ‘determination’.  However, this is rare and building control will consider alternative proposals and discuss possible options to ensure compliance before appeal becomes necessary.

What is a conditional approval?

If your plans need minor amendments a conditional approval can be issued with your consent, which will list the modifications needed to comply with the regulations. Without your consent the application may have to be rejected.

With a major project, it may not be possible to submit all the details (e.g. structural calculations) with the application.

A conditional approval can be issued requiring these details to be submitted before the relevant work is started.

What should I do when the work is due to start?

It is important that your or your builder notify building control when works commence and arrange an inspection of the works.

Please contact 020 8937 5210 to arrange an inspection.

Regulation 15(1) of the Building Regulations requires you to give us notice two days before work starts.

What should I do when the work is complete?

You must notify building control when works are complete otherwise we will not be able to issue a completion certificate and this will impact on any future sale of your premises and make also affect potential insurance of the property.

Regulation 15(4) and (5) of the building regulations requires you to give us notice not more than five days after the work is finished or not less than five days before the building (or any part of it) is to be occupied before completion of the work.

How do I obtain a completion certificate?

You will be sent a completion certificate when the work subject to the applicable requirements of schedule 1 to the building regulations has been satisfactorily completed.

Where you require a copy of a completion certificate or decision notice relating to an historic record charges will apply. Building Control miscellaneous charges

What happens if I do work without first obtaining approval?

If unauthorised building work has been carried out you may apply retrospectively for a regularisation certificate. However, you should always submit an application prior to commencing work as this enables inspections during the construction and is generally easier and simpler.

In some case, the local authority could consider taking formal enforcement action.

Your application must be accompanied by the regularisation charge.

Can Brent Building Control deal with projects in other boroughs?

Yes. The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Partnership scheme allows developers, architects and contractors to “Partner” with Brent Building Control and therefore Full Plans applications may be submitted to Brent in relation to projects regardless of where they are located.

In most situations, Brent would undertake the Plan vetting only and would advise the host authority (where the building is located) of its decision and recommendation to approve, conditionally approve or reject the application.

There is always a presumption to approve / conditionally approve wherever possible.

The host borough would then issue the formal (legal) decision and would undertake site inspections following commencement of work on site. They would also issue a completion certificate to the applicant on satisfactory completion of the works.

A recent development, under a London District Surveyors Association (LDSA) Memorandum of Understanding means that Brent may undertake both plan vetting and site inspections for projects located in other boroughs.

This can only be done in respect of applications submitted by registered Partners this requires the specific agreement off the Head of Building Control in the host authority and this may not be forthcoming. They are still responsible for issuing formal decision notices and completion certificates based upon our recommendations.

Building Control charges are individually assessed and will take into account additional travel time / costs to service the project. Building Control are required, in law, to recover its costs but this scheme can provide advantages in some circumstances.