Building control FAQs

Do I need approval to build an extension to my house?

Yes, please contact the Building Control section for advice.

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Do I need approval to build a porch or conservatory?

Most porches and conservatories are exempt from Building Regulation approval if they meet the following basic criteria:

  • Separated from the dwelling by walls, doors and/or windows
  • Built at ground level
  • Under 30m² in floor area
  • Glazing complies with the safety glazing requirements of the Building Regulations [Part N]
  • The existing heating system is not extended into the  conservatory

Please note

  • A conservatory requires a glazed or translucent roof to satisfy this exemption.
  • You may need Building regulation approval for any electrical installations within these exempt structures if Part P (electrical installations in domestic buildings) is applicable.

It is advisable to ensure that a conservatory is not constructed, so that it restricts ladder access to windows serving a room in the roof space or a loft conversion, particularly if that window is needed as an emergency means of escape in the case of fire.

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Do I need approval to build a garage extension to my house, shop or office?

Yes, but a car port extension built at ground level, open on at least two sides and under 30m2 in floor area, is exempt.

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Do I need approval to build a detached garage?

Most standard size detached garages are exempt from Building Regulation approval providing they meet the following criteria:-

  • a single storey garage built at ground level,
  • under 30m² in floor area and with no sleeping accommodation,
  • and either:

    • it is built substantially of non-combustible material; or
    • when built it has a clear space of 1 metre from the boundary of the property.

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Do I need approval for a loft conversion?

Yes, in all cases. Approval may also be required for loft storage. Please seek further clarification. Dwellings that have an open plan ground floor layout are not usually suitable for loft conversions unless the fire safety risks can be overcome.

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Do I need approval for a new or replacement central heating boiler and/or hot water system?

Yes. However, some registered installers may be able to 'self-certify' that their work complies with the Building Regulations. Boilers require Commissioning Certificates. Guidance is available in the new Approved Documents for Part L1 and L2. See Planning Portal: Part L

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Do I need approval for (opening up and) re-using or building a chimney and/or fireplace?

Yes. An old masonry chimney may require relining. Guidance with constructional details is available in the Approved Document for Part J. See Planning Portal: Part J

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Do I need approval to install, alter or replace my shop front?

Yes. Altering a shop front is classed as building work and as such approval is required, You will need to consider specifically the thermal performance of the new structure, fire safety particularly in relation to means of escape and access for all requirements. Please contact Building Control for advice.

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Do I need approval for external insulation fixed to the existing walls?

Yes. In all cases as this alters the thermal performance of the building.

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Do I need approval for renewable energy projects?

Renewable energy projects concerning the production of electricity, heat or cooling by means of microgeneration. ie. Active solar technology, biomass or combined heat and power (CHP) flues, ground or water sourced heat pumps, wind turbines, etc.

In most cases you will need approval unless the work is done by an installer who is registered with a government approved 'Competent Persons Scheme' and the work is certified under the scheme (Building Regulations 2010, Schedule 3, Item 17). Where applicable (active solar technology & wind turbines), make sure that the terms of their authorisation includes all relevant structural aspects.

If this does not apply to you then you will need to submit a Building Notice application, including manufacturers details and all other relevant technical information.

For further guidance see Renewable energy planning advice 

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Do I need BR approval to install a gas, solid fuel, wood or multi-fuel burning appliance?

Yes, unless the work is done by an installer who is registered with a government approved 'Competent Persons Scheme' and the work is certified under such a scheme.

If this is not the case, you will need to submit a Building Notice application, including manufacturers details for the appliance, chimney / flue details, room ventilation details, proximity of combustible materials, etc.

For solid fuel / wood / multi-fuel burning appliances, an existing flue must be tested, & spillage & flue smoke tests must be carried out, by a member of a suitable trade association. A carbon monoxide detector will also be required adjacent to the appliance.

Additionally, you should bear in mind that almost all of South Tyneside is covered by smoke control orders that prohibit the emission of smoke from chimneys, other than in certain specific circumstances. You should establish whether the appliance is suitable for use in a Smoke Control Area, and the supplier should be able to provide that information. Some appliances are exempt (because they minimise smoke emissions) and some fuels are approved for use.

For more information see:

Guidance on smoke control areas

Guidance on woodburning stoves in smoke control areas

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Do I need approval to build or alter a garden wall or boundary wall?

No. However you should make sure that the work is done safely to avoid its collapse or any accidents. For more information see the Guide to Safer Garden Walls[pdf - 4Mb].

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Do I need approval to carry out repairs to my house, shop or office?

Repairs of a minor nature, such as replacing only the felt to a flat roof, repointing brickwork, replacing a few floorboards, or piecing in of wood to replace rotten wood do not require building regulation approval.

If the 'repair work' is more substantial in nature, such as removing part of a wall and rebuilding it, replacing a structural element, underpinning a building or where carrying out works to more than 25% of a thermal element such as an external wall, roof, floor ceiling etc, you do need approval.

In the case of re-roofing, the details required will depend upon the type and extent of the work proposed, especially if the new roofing material is heavier or lighter than the original. You may be required to upgrade the thermal insulation as well as replacing the roof covering.

If you are converting a flat roof to a pitched roof then approval is required.

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Do I need approval to convert my house into flats or my flats back into a house?

Yes, even where little 'construction work' may be intended. This is necessary to check that adequate sound insulation, fire separation and a safe means of escape in case of fire is maintained or provided as necessary.

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Do I need approval to convert my house to a shop or office?

Yes. You will be expected to address fire safety, toilets and sanitary facilities, waste disposal, conservation of fuel and power and accessibility.

We will consult with Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade, for their input under the Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order 2005.

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Do I need approval to insert cavity wall insulation (in existing cavity walls)?

Yes. However, your approved installer should have type approval for the installation and they will submit the required paperwork to Building Control.

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Do I need approval to install fittings and appliances within my house, shop or office?

1. To install or alter the position of a toilet, shower, bath, basin, sink and its drainage, etc:

  • Yes in all cases where the work involves new or an extension of drainage or plumbing, unless the work is supervised by a registered installer or competent person, authorised under the building regulations.

2. To install or alter the position of a heating appliance:

  •  Gas: Yes, unless a GASAFE (or equivalent) registered installer under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations supervises the work
  •  Solid fuel: Yes. Unless the work is supervised by a HEATAS (or equivalent) registered installer, authorised under the Building Regulations
  •  Oil: Yes. Unless the work is supervised by an OFTEC (or equivalent) registered installer, authorised under the Building Regulations
  •  Electric: Yes, for domestic properties unless the work is carried out by a competent person, authorised under the Building Regulations

3. To alter in any way (re-using of old chimneys or closed fireplaces) the construction of chimneys, fireplaces, hearths or flues:

4. To install (new or replacement) hot water storage:

  • Yes in all cases, unless the work is supervised by a registered installer authorised under the building regulations

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Do I need approval to install new or replacement windows in my house, shop or office?

Yes, in all cases. However, if the proposals apply to a dwelling, certain competent installers authorised under the building regulations can self-certify compliance. If a larger opening is required, or if the existing frames are load bearing, then a structural alteration will take place and approval will also be required for a new lintel.

You must maintain or provide adequate opening ventilation. You must not remove those opening windows, which are necessary as a means of escape in case of fire. If you do not already have opening windows in your dwelling's bedrooms and other habitable rooms, we recommend that you consider taking this opportunity to provide them, in accordance with the guidance in Approved Document B1.

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Do I need approval to make internal alternations within my house, shop or office?

This largely depends on the extent and nature of the alterations. We would recommend you contact Building Control with any specific query, however generally:

  1. Within a dwelling, yes, if the alterations are to the structure of the dwelling such as the removal or part removal of a load bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney breast, or would affect fire safety or escape routes i.e. creating an open plan layout or inner rooms. You also need approval if, in altering a house, work is necessary to the drainage system.
  2. Within a shop or office, yes, if the works effect the building structure, internal finishes, fire safety measures or means of escape, alteration of any controlled service or fitting such as the heating system, hot water system, mechanical ventilation or air conditioning systems.

In both cases, approval is also needed for the renovation or replacement of any thermal element of a building, unless the work applies to less than 25% of that element, for example re-plastering an external wall.

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Do I need approval to install or replace electric wiring?

Yes, for domestic properties.

Part P - Electrical Safety was introduced in 2005 and mainly applies to dwelling houses, and flats, including their gardens and outbuildings such as sheds, garages and greenhouses, it even covers garden pond pumps!

Small installations such as extra sockets or lights on an existing circuit do not need to be notified to Building Control, although there are some exceptions for high risk areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

For further information see our guide to  extending your home.

There are two routes available to show compliance with the Building Regulations:

  1. Use an electrician or installer who is a competent person registered with a part P Self Certification Scheme. We would strongly encourage this approach and the use of electricians or installers who are registered with a competent Persons Scheme.
  2. Submit a Building Regulation application to the council. Where this approach is taken, Building Control will respond in one of two ways:
  • Where an electrician registered with a recognised trade body such as NICEIC, ECA or NAPIT etc, but who is not necessarily registered under a Competent Persons Scheme, tests the work and issues a design, installation and test certificate under BS 7671, in conjunction with Building Control carrying out inspections of the installation, Building Control will accept that the work complies with Part P.
  • Where work is carried out by an unregistered electrician, or is a DIY installation, the applicant is required to have the work inspected and tested by Building Control. Where it is known that this route will be taken the cost of testing will be included in the charges associated with the application.

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