How Do I Apply for Approval?
There are two alternative approaches: Full Plans or Building Notice.
If you use the Building Notice route, the Council may not check the plans and will not formally ‘approve’ them. Both types of application expire 3 years after the date they were made. The Building Notice process should only be used for minor work.
The Full Plans procedure is the tried and tested route that most people use. You must make the application before the work starts. One copy of the full plans application form should be completed and sent in with two copies of plans and particulars of the work you want to carry out. In the case of simple domestic projects with no structural engineering issues, one set of the plans and details is usually sufficient.
If the building is, or will be used as a hotel, boarding house, factory, office, shop or some other work place, or include common spaces between, for example, flats, one additional copy of the plans that deal with fire safety will also be needed so the Council can complete the mandatory consultation with the Fire Service. You can supply these extra drawings after they have carried out their initial check of the plans.
The Councils aim is to carry out a complete technical check of the application within three weeks of the date when they register it as a valid application. The Council has five weeks to decide if the plans and other information satisfy the requirements of the national Building Regulations. Most applicants agree to extend the five-week period to two months when they make the application.
Agreeing to the two-month period from the outset gives you more time to reply to any queries raised. It does not affect the priority given to your application!
If the application appears to satisfy the Building Regulations, they will pass the plans. If this is not the case, they will normally give you or your agent the opportunity to amend the application.
If at the end of week five or the two-month period, the application still does not satisfy the regulations, the Council will send you a formal rejection notice together with a letter that explains the reasons for rejection. When the Council receive further information to show that your project will comply with the Building Regulations, they will pass the plans. Often, they will pass the plans with some conditions attached – it is important that you deal with these conditions as soon as you can.
It is quite acceptable for building work to start once a valid application is made and you do not have to wait until the plans are formally passed, however this is always at your own risk.
Route 2 – Building Notice
You cannot use the BUILDING NOTICE procedure if the building:
- Is subject to the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 or put to or intended to be put to a use designated for the purpose of the Fire Precautions Act 1971:
- will be built over or within 3.0m of a public sewer; or
- is a new premises off a new street which one would expect the highway authority to adopt
One copy of the Building Notice form must be completed and sent to the Council. If the application is for a new building or an extension, you must provide an accurate site plan (to a scale not less that 1:1250). The site plan must show the new work in relation to existing buildings on the site and the site boundaries. Accurate address information is important as a lot of time is wasted locating sites due to poor addressing and this in turn detracts from the service that the Council can provide to you.
Council’s can request more information and plans during the project if they consider they need them; you must provide this information when asked, but they do try to keep these requests to a minimum.
The Building Notice procedure does not give you the protection that an approved Full Plans application does. The Building Notice procedure can be suitable for minor work, where you have already chosen not to have plans prepared and are confident of your contractor.
It is essential that both you and your builder are satisfied that any extra costs, which may be incurred during construction, if the work does not satisfy the Building Regulations, can be accommodated within your budget. We suggest that you write down and agree these arrangements with your contractor at the outset in case there is a dispute.
It is expected that further restrictions on the use of Building Notices will be implemented during the life of this handbook.