Advice and guidance

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between planning and building control?

Planning

This relates mainly to the correct use of land, the aesthetic appearance of the proposed building and the effect that the development will have on the general environment and neighbouring properties. Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas.

Building Control

This relates mainly to the structural stability of the proposals and the considerations towards fire safety, drainage, ventilation, energy performance and access. Building Control also deals with demolition and dangerous structures.

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When do I need approval from building regulations?

Building regulations approval will usually be required if you intend to carry out any of the following work:

  • construct a new house
  • build an extension
  • covert a loft space into a room
  • carry out structural alterations to an existing building (e.g. form a through lounge or remove chimney breast)
  • change the use of an existing building (e.g. converted a house into flats)
  • install, extend or alter drainage facilities (e.g. a new bathroom or toilet under the stairs)
  • re-cover a roof structure

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How can I get approval?

You will need to submit an application in order to get approval.
There are two types of application depending on the scale of work being carried out: 
  1. notice of your proposal (Building Notice)
  2. submission of plans for your proposal (Full Plans)

1. A Building Notice is most suitable when small works are to be done and detailed plans are unnecessary. As no formal approval is given, good liaison between the builder and the building control officer is essential to make sure that work is correct. This method is not allowed for work on commercial buildings or where a new building is to be constructed fronting onto a private street. The local authority can, if it thinks necessary, request details and calculations for the work. You should include a location plan showing where the building is relative to neighbouring streets.

Examples of works that maybe suitable for the Building Notice procedure:

  • removal of load bearing wall

  • small domestic extension

  • garage conversion

  • chimney breast removal

2. Full Plans means the submission of fully detailed plans, specifications, calculations and other supporting details to enable the building control officer and structural engineer to check compliance with the Building Regulations. The amount of detail depends on the size and type of building works proposed. You should include a location plan showing where the building is relative to neighbouring streets.

Examples of domestic works that maybe suitable for the Full Plans procedure:

  • large or two storey extension
  • loft conversion
  • construction of a new dwelling

 The advantages of using the Full Plans method of submission are:

  • a formal notice of approval or rejection must be issued within five weeks unless applicant agrees to extend this to two months;

  • the approved plans may be used for at least three years even if regulations change;

  • a completion certificate will be issued, free of charge, on satisfactory completion of work.  

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Can I submit my application online or by email?

Agents are advised that Bulding Control does accept digital submissions. 
Three simple steps should be followed:
  1. Download and fill out the relevant application form
  2. Complete the form - including the contact details for the payee - and scan the form into a pdf document
  3. Send an email to buildingcontrol@stalbans.gov.uk with the completed form attached - plus any supporting information* i.e. plans and calculations
When your email is received you will be sent an automatic response confirming receipt of your submission. We will then make arrangements to contact the highligted payee (or applaicant) for the application fee. This can be a card payment made over the telephone.
*email file sizes and attachments may be restricted at 10MB - please send in batches if 10MB is exceeded
If you are not sure whether your idea needs Building Regulation approval, please call Building Control on 01727 819289.

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What are the Building Regulation fees?

The council is obliged to make a charge for the work of administering the Building Regulations and is permitted to charge only an amount prescribed by the fee schedule. This is called the building regulation fee. Payment of the charge will differ depending on whether a Full Plans or a Building Notice is used. In the case of Full Plans a proportion of the charge is paid when the plans are submitted and the remainder when the work begins. In the case of a Building Notice, the full amount is paid when the application is submitted.

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Date of last review: 08 August 2016