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Building Regulations: Did You Know?

central heating system

Day 26: Everything You Need To Know About Buying and Selling a House or a Flat in 31 Daily Bite-Sized Chunks -"Building Regulations: Do You Know?" 

There have been many regulations brought in by the Government since 2000.

On your sale, your Conveyancing Solicitor will ask you to complete a Property Information Form asking you to detail any works you have had carried out to your property which might have required Building Regulation approval or a certificate from a qualified tradesman.

Such regulations govern situations where you have erected a new building, extended or altered an existing one, and include drains, “heat producing” appliances (normally central heating but may include other heating), washing and sanitary facilities and hot water storage.

Here is a list of some of the requirements, which you would not have required to apply for formal building regulations but would have needed a certificate:

Safety Glazing

Since 1st April 2002 any new or replacement windows, glazed doors and roof lights and windows require a FENSA (Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme) certificate.

Central Heating

Since 1st March 2003 any new central heating system has needed a registered Contractor’s “Certificate of installation.”

Electrical Wiring

Since 1st January 2005, newly installed electrical wiring (with a few exceptions) must carry a certificate from a registered electrician.

It may not surprise you that Building Regulation approval must be sought from your local Council Planning Department for amongst other works.

- Removal or part removal of a load bearing wall
- A loft conversion
- Conversion of a House into Flats
- Insertion of Cavity Wall Insulation.

Proof of Building Regulations

Where you are buying a property, your Conveyancing Solicitor will check whether formal building regulation was applied for or check to see there was a Final Certificate (from 1996 onwards) obtained from the Council confirming the works have been carried out in accordance with the Building Regulations.

Lack of Building Regulations

This would be regarded as a defect in title.

If the works were completed many years ago, your Conveyancing Solicitor should advise you that the works may have been carried out unsupervised and may not be up to standard. You should seek advice from your Surveyor in this circumstance.

You could apply retrospectively to the Council.

A Defective Title Indemnity Policy may also be suggested and should be paid for by the Seller. Some policies do not cover remedial work.

But, note that if you contact the Council, the indemnity policy route will not be open to you.

Enforcement of Building Regulations

It is fair to say that an enforcement notice issued by the council cannot be served more than 12 months from the date of completion of the works.

But, technically, there is currently no cut off time.

In practice, a Local Authority will only seek emergency injunction powers where the building is in imminent danger of collapse.

You can download "Building Regulations: An Explanatory Booklet" from the Government's website.

In all cases of doubt, you should contact your Conveyancing Solicitor.