3 May 2024 by Sian Farrell

Building Regulations Explained

Building Regulations are in place to ensure new buildings, conversions, renovations and extensions are safe.  The regulations cover specific points such as structural integrity, fire protection, accessibility, energy performance, sound protection, protection against falls and electrical and gas safety.

How are Building Regulations governed?

Under Section 36 of the Building Act 1984, the local authority may serve a notice on the building owner requiring them to alter or remove work which has not been done in accordance with Building Regulations or without Building Regulations approval.  It is important to note here that it is the building owner who is liable, regardless of whether or not they carried out the works.

Prior to 1 October 2023, local authorities could not serve a Section 36 notice for any breach of Building Regulations after 12 months from the date of completion of the works.  The exception to this is where the works are deemed unsafe, in which case the enforcement period is indefinite.

What has changed and why?

The Building Safety Act 2022 was implemented following an independent review of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy to make sure building safety is a paramount concern on all projects.  As a result, from 1 October 2023, these were the key changes:-

  • Dutyholder responsibilities
  • New Building control systems
  • Transitional arrangements for higher risk buildings
  • Safety case for higher risk buildings
  • Mandatory Occurrence reporting
  • Registration for new high rise residential buildings
  • Amendments to fire safety regulations
  • Building Safety levy

In addition to this, the time limit for a local authority to take enforcement action for a breach of Building Regulations, or for works carried out without Building Regulations approval, was extended to 10 years.

What if you buy a property with works carried out in breach of Building Regulations or without Building Regulations approval?

There is the option of approaching the local authority for a ‘regularisation’ certificate.  However, this comes with a number of risks.  The local authority may deem the work unsatisfactory and, in order to grant retrospective approval, further works may be required which can both be costly and cause unexpected delays to the conveyancing transaction.  However, as mentioned above, the building owner is liable and not the party who carried out the works.

One of our main focuses, when acting for buyers, is to ensure that any works carried out to the property have had the relevant building control approvals.

For any queries on the recent changes to Building Regulations and how they affect you as a buyer or seller, please speak to a member of our Residential Real Estate team who will be happy to assist.

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