# Strong Hand



Building regulations in the United Kingdom are statutory instruments or statutory regulations that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out. Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. Building regulations that apply across England and Wales were set out in the Building Act 1984. The Act in England and Wales permits detailed regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. The regulations made under the Act have been periodically updated, rewritten or consolidated, with the Building Regulations 2010 having recently been superseded by the Building Safety Act 2022.

The UK Government (at Westminster) is responsible for the relevant legislation and administration in England, the Welsh Government (at Cardiff) is the responsible body in Wales, the Scottish Government (at Edinburgh) is responsible for the issue in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Executive (at Belfast) has responsibility within its jurisdiction. There are very similar (and technically very comparable) Building Regulations in the Republic of Ireland.


The detailed requirements of the Building Regulations in England and Wales are scheduled within 18 separate headings, each designated by a letter (Part A to Part R), and covering aspects such as workmanship, adequate materials, structure, waterproofing and weatherisation, fire safety and means of escape, sound isolation, ventilation, safe (potable) water, protection from falling, drainage, sanitary facilities, accessibility and facilities for the disabled, electrical safety, security of a building, and high-speed broadband infrastructure.

For each Part, detailed specifications are available free online (in the English and Welsh governments’ “approved documents”) describing the matters to be taken into account. The approved documents are not literally legally binding in how the requirements must be met; rather, they present the expectation of the Secretary of State concerning the minimum appropriate standards required for compliance with the Building Regulations, and the common methods and materials used to achieve these. The use of appropriate British Standards and/or European Standards is also accepted as one way of complying with the Building Regulations requirements.

The application of Building Regulations is separate and distinct from ‘Town Planning’ and ‘planning permission‘; the Building Regulations control how buildings are to be designed or modified on the public grounds of safety and sustainability while ‘planning permission’ is concerned with appropriate development, the nature of land usage, and the appearance of neighbourhoods. Therefore, both must be considered when building works are to be undertaken.


There are currently sixteen parts (sections) to the building regulations (for England and Wales) and each is lettered as Part A to Part S (however there are no Parts I or O) accompanied by an approved document for that Part X. The approved documents usually take the form of firstly stating the legislation and then providing several methods or ways which are deemed to satisfy the regulations.

The building regulations do not aim to stifle innovation, and the introduction of each Approved Document re-states this Government Aim. Compliance with the legislation is what is ultimately required and there may be many ways of complying, other than just using the ways set out in the recommended provisions within each of the approved documents. In reality, innovative solutions may be hard to validate, and for much building work the tendency is to follow the guidance of the approved documents literally.

For example, bathroom manufacturers produce a ‘Doc M Pack’ for disabled toilets, which reproduces exactly the diagram in Part M, and most public disabled toilets are now designed around this layout.

Many manufactured products have agrément certificates issued by the British Board of Agrément (BBA, a construction products certification service), certifying compliance with relevant standards. However, the BBA and other bodies (TRADA, BRE, Exova Warrington, etc.) may be able to test and certify to “CE” harmonised EU standards. “CE” marking of all construction materials and products is now a legal requirement since 1 July 2013.

Most of the detailed information on the Building Regulations is now available on http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/

where general public users can access simplified building regulations guidance, and professional users have access to a reorganised version of what was on the former DCLG building regulations website, including the full versions of the Approved documents and associated guidance, held on the DCLG website (now a constituent part of the gov.uk website).

This Part requires buildings to be designed, constructed and altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and also so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings.

It stipulates design standards that should be adopted for use on all buildings and additionally gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings.

The weight of the building from the walls, furniture and people in the building will be transmitted to the ground, so as not to cause instability to the building or other buildings.

Requires buildings to be built in a way ensuring no collapse will occur disproportionately to its cause.

Ground movement such as freezing of subsoil will not impair the stability of the building.

The Party Wall, etc. Act 1996 also controls walls and foundations being built near to existing buildings. However, it is "civil law" and is not enforced by Building Control Bodies.

The building regulations consider five aspects of fire safety in the construction of buildings:

  • Requirement B1- Means of early warning of fire and adequate means of escape from the building (including emergency lighting and fire exit signage).
  • Requirement B2- Control of Internally fire spread (linings). The wall lining i.e. plaster, plasterboard or wooden boards on the walls and ceiling will resist the spread of flames and give off only reasonable levels of heat, if on fire.
  • Requirement B3- Control of Internal fire spread (structure) will be maintained during a fire, and fire spread will be prevented. Fire and smoke will be prevented from spreading to concealed spaces in a building's structure by Fire Stopping and Fire Cavity Barriers.
  • Requirement B4External fire spread – The external walls and roof will resist spread of fire to walls and roofs of other buildings. However, not all buildings are required to have non-combustible exterior finishes.
  • Requirement B5The building will be accessible for firefighters and their equipment, without delay. Tall and Large buildings to have Fire Lifts and Fire Mains (Dry or Wet riser pipes), etc.
  • Regulation 7Guidance relating to compliance with regulation 7(2) and 7(3) are include with Approved Document B following the 2018 amendments since these regulations are in relation to the specification of the fire performance of external wall construction and specific attachments. Regulation 7(1) continues to be covered by Approved Document 7.

Alternative means to comply.

  • Using BS9999: 2017 for non-residential buildings
  • Using BS9991: 2015 for dwellings and other residential buildings

The use of a 'Fire Engineer' to computer model the building layout and smoke behavior in such a building.

Nothing should be growing on the ground covered by the building.

Precautions must be taken to stop gases and dangerous substances from previous land use from entering the building and endangering the health and safety of occupants.

Subsoil drainage will be in place, if needed, to stop the passage of ground moisture to the interior of the building and to prevent damage to the fabric of the building.

The walls, floors and roof of the building shall prevent moisture passing to the inside of the building.

The building must have provision to prevent condensation occurring in the roof structure.

Complaints arose in the Bristol area after Storm Emma in February 2018 that the attics of more than 50 newly built homes had filled up with snow. Barratt Developments and Redrow plc denied any liability, saying that “Lofts in modern homes are designed to act as home ventilators and to eradicate moisture and condensation issues. The vents are installed in order to comply with building regulations and as such the homes affected by the snow were not defective in any way.”

The legal requirement is:

D1 If insulating material is inserted into a cavity in a cavity wall, reasonable precautions shall be taken to prevent the subsequent permeation of any toxic fumes from that material into any part of the building occupied by people.

Some insulating materials inserted into (existing) cavity walls can give off toxic fumes. Preventative measures must be taken to stop these fumes reaching occupants of the building. However this requirement is now largely of historical interest as injected materials are now mostly blown chopped fiber and not mixed on-site "chemical reaction" based methods - in the past 2 part mix urea formaldehyde was common, and if ventilation is not correct, and/or the mixing was not well controlled, then this can give off irritating fumes into the building.

Approved Document E 2003 plus amendments 2004[16] should be read in conjunction with supplemental document 'Robust Details Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound'.

Separating floors and walls between domestic dwellings are required to meet a minimum sound insulation performance standard. This applies to both new 'purpose built' and converted 'material change of use' properties.

  • Purpose-built – the sound insulation value for each individual airborne test should be equal to or greater than 45 dB DnTw+Ctr. Each individual impact test should be equal to or less than 62 dB LnTw.
  • Material change of use – the sound insulation value for each individual airborne test should be equal to or greater than 43 dB DnTw+Ctr. Each individual impact test should be equal to or less than 64 dB LnTw.

New internal walls and floors within dwelling-houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes, whether purpose built or formed by material change of use should achieve a minimum performance of Rw 40 dB when tested in a laboratory. Test data is to be taken from a UKAS accredited laboratory.

Pre-completion sound tests have been required since July 2003 to ensure compliance with Approved Document E, unless the Robust Details approach is adopted, see Part L below. Testing is to be undertaken by a UKAS registered test organisation or European equivalent (e.g. ANC). A list of preferred UKAS accredited companies can be found at UKAS Organisation Search. A list of preferred ANC accredited companies can be found at www.association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk.

Care should be taken to ensure site conditions are appropriate before testing commences to ensure tests can be completed and that the best results are achieved.

Standards for ventilation and air quality requirements for all buildings are included in this part of the building regulations.

Due to the increasing complexity of the Regulations, ventilation strategies and system design must be considered at the earliest stages of building design.

The Building Regulations consider three ventilation types:

  • "Whole building" (formerly referred to as "background") ventilation to provide fresh air to dilute and disperse low levels of water vapour and other pollutants, usually by the provision of background ventilators or mechanical supply ventilation.
  • "Local extract" (formerly referred to as "extract") ventilation in rooms where most water vapour or concentrated pollutants are released, usually by mechanical means such as extract fans.
  • "Purge" (formerly referred to as "rapid") ventilation for the rapid dilution and removal of high concentrations of pollutants from occasional activities, usually by opening windows. The requirements for purge ventilation are set out in Appendix B of Part F1.

The performance rates for each of the "system" approaches set out in Part F are the minimum requirements needed to ensure that adequate air quality is provided for people indoors. The occupants' health could be at risk if these ventilation rates are compromised.

To ensure that these performance rates are met, Part F requires that a flow rate test (also called an airflow test or Part F test) is performed on the installed system and the results submitted to Building Control via a Commissioning Notice.

The performance rates do not take account of summer overheating.

Most systems may be manually or automatically controlled (with manual override).

For each system to be effective, air must be able to flow through the dwelling. The regulations make provision for this via internal door undercuts to maintain a minimum gap of 10mm above the finished floor surface. This provides a 7600mm² permanent opening when a door is closed.

There are alternative methods to achieve compliance with Part F. The following explanations are simplified versions of the most common methods of interpreting the "Systems" approach set out in the provisions section of the Regulation.

Background ventilators are now measured in equivalent area (mm² EA) which is a better measure of performance but does not directly relate to the physical size of the opening through the ventilator.

  • System 1 - Intermittent extract fans and background ventilators
  • System 2 - Passive stack ventilation and background ventilators
  • System 3 - Continuous mechanical extract and background ventilators
  • System 4 - Continuous mechanical supply and extract with heat recovery

Adequate sanitation facilities i.e. toilet.

A house must have either a bath or shower with the ability to heat hot water.

Unvented hot water storage systems – restrictions apply to who can install the system.

An adequate system must be in place to carry water used for cooking, washing, toilet, bath or shower to a sewer, cesspool or settlement tank.

A cesspool or settlement tank must be impermeable to liquids and have adequate ventilation. It must also have means of access for emptying, not harm the health of any person and not contaminate water or water supply.

An adequate system to carry rainwater away from the roof of a building e.g. guttering carrying water to a sewer.

Wheelie bins are used for solid waste collection in the UK. A place to put a wheelie bin or dustbin. The place must not harm anyone's health.


Must have an adequate air supply for combustion and for efficient working of a flue pipe or chimney.

Appliances shall discharge the products of combustion to the outside.

The appliance, fireplace and chimney shall reduce the risk of the building catching fire.

See Part B for general fire safety.

Part K sets minimum standards for the safety of stairwaysramps and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling from floor edges, etc.

Glass and glazing safety is also covered. Also included are requirements for guarding where there is a risk of falling, pedestrian and vehicle barriers, and requirements to prevent injury from (opening) doors and windows.

Glazing that people come into contact with whilst in a building, should, if broken, break in a way unlikely to cause injury, resist impact without breaking or be shielded or protected from impact.

Buildings, other than dwellings that have transparent glazing which people come into contact with while moving around a building, must have features to make it apparent.

Windows that can be opened must be operated safely and provision made for safe accessible cleaning.

Part K also includes safety requirements relating to the use, operation, and cleaning of windows

Part K also includes safety requirements for automatic doors, barriers, shutters and gates.

Approved documents L1 is specific to dwellings and L2 relates to all buildings other than dwellings.

As of 6 April 2006 (2010) (2014) split into four sections:

  • L1A New dwellings
  • L1B Existing dwellings
  • L2A New buildings other than dwellings
  • L2B Existing buildings other than dwellings

Part L controls the insulation values of building elements, the allowable area of windows, doors and other openings, air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers and the insulation and controls for heating appliances and systems together with hot water storage and lighting efficiency. It also sets out the requirements for SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculations and carbon emission targets for dwellings.

Regulation 16 requires the advertising of the SAP rating in all new dwellings, and in the EPC document.

Approved Document L1 is supported by a set of 'robust' construction details, now known as "Accredited Construction Details",[18] which focus on ways of limiting air leakage and thermal bridging in construction. By using these tried and tested details, expensive on-site testing can be avoided.

In addition to insulation requirements and limitation of openings of the building fabric, this part considers solar heating and heat gains to structures, it controls heating, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting efficiency, space heating controls, air permeability, solar emission, the certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters.

Air permeability is measured by air tightness testing for new dwellings (based on a sampling regime), all new buildings other than dwellings and large extensions to buildings other than dwellings.

These four Approved Documents must be read in conjunction with the supplemental official and industry documents (the 'second tier' guidance documents).

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

All EPCs will be based on SAP 2009 calculations from 1 April 2011. It is highly unlikely that many dwellings built to Part L 2010 will be completed before 1 April 2011. However, in the event that any are, the EPC will need to be produced using SAP 2005.

Please note that all plots require a building control approval submission, and EPC regardless of how many identical properties are to be built in the same development.

Lighting, ventilation, solar heat gain and possible overheating will all impact on the potential to hit the 25% reduction target but until now have not really troubled the industry. As U-values falls (see table) and airtightness levels increases, heat loss through 'thermal bridges' becomes more significant. The new regulations give these issues more emphasis. They also require designs to avoid unwanted solar gains, leading to excessive summer temperatures. The need now exists to consider these issues at the design stage.

See also:

Part M requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to and circulation within all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.

Buildings should have reasonable provision:

  • For all people to gain access and use the building.
  • Toilets provision shall be made available for all.
  • If a building has seating such as audience or spectator seating, reasonable provision should be made for people with disabilities.

The Equality Act 2010 imposed duties on service providers, schools and public bodies in relation to access for people with disabilities. However, the Part M approved document is not written as a means of ensuring compliance with these legal duties. It is written to ensure that the design of a building does not create physical barriers to a building's inclusive use, over its lifetime.

Part M of the Building Regulations relates to the 'Access to and Use of Buildings' and draws largely on the legislation covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Discrimination (Employment) Regulations 1996.

This document is particularly relevant to new build where such properties must comply. If in any doubt as to whether your alterations are affected by this document, the local building control department will be able to assist further.[19] Later alterations of a building must not remove or reduce its accessibility features.

Part N was repealed in 2013 and these measures were moved into a new consolidated Part K in 2013 (See above).

In 2022, Part O came into force dealing with overheating mitigation. 

"Part P" redirects here. For the scientific journal, see Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P.

Main articles: BS 7671 and Electrical wiring in the United Kingdom

New rules for electrical safety in the home, the garden and its outbuildings. This part only applies to dwellings (in some cases, buildings that would be exempt, but which take their electrical supply from a dwelling). Several governments approved competent persons schemes support Part P.

Reasonable provision shall be made in the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to protect persons from fire or injury.

Sufficient information shall be provided so that persons wishing to operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation can do so with reasonable safety.

Certain types of work require notification to the local authority for building control. In England this is only work within 'Zone 1' of a bathroom, and new consumer units and complete new circuits. In Wales there are more 'notifiable works' including wiring in kitchens and gardens. Installers who are members of an approved "Competent Persons Scheme" may carry out such electrical work without the need to submit many such formal building regulations applications, instead notification is performed via their trade body.

In 2015 a new requirement, Part Q, came into force.

Part Q talks about security in a dwelling with reasonable provisions needing to have been made to resist unauthorised access to any dwelling or any part of a building from which access can be gained to a flat within the building.

Part R was introduced in 2016 and takes effect at the beginning of 2017. It requires "network termination points" in buildings to provide access to high-speed Internet via fibre or copper.

From July 2022 new buildings and significant modifications to existing ones will need provision to charge electric cars. The formal requirements are as follows