What Are The Building Regulations?

A Brief History

The Great Fire of London in 1666 was the single most significant event to shape today’s building legislation. The rapid growth of the fire through timber buildings highlighted the need to consider the possible spread of fire between properties when the rebuilding work was done. The first building construction legislation was the London Buildings Act 1667, which imposed minimum distances and other fire related restrictions. Two hundred years on, the Industrial Revolution resulted in poor living and working conditions in ever expanding, densely populated urban areas. Outbreaks of cholera and other serious diseases, through poor sanitation, damp conditions and lack of ventilation, forced the Government to take action. Building Control took on the greater role of Health and Safety through the first Public Health Act in 1875. This Act had two major revisions in 1936 and 1961, leading to the first set of national building standards, The Building Regulations 1965. 

On 11 November 1985, the Building Act 1984 came into force, which introduced Approved Documents with their non-prescriptive requirements. Today’s Building Regulations came into operation in October 2010. The Regulations are constantly reviewed to meet the growing demand for better, safer and more accessible buildings. Any changes necessary are brought into operation after consultation with all interested parties. 

The Building Regulations

The Building Regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. They are developed by the Government and approved by Parliament.

The Building Regulations also contain a list of requirements (referred to as Schedule 1) that are designed to ensure minimum standards for health, safety, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency, sustainability and to prevent misuse, abuse or contamination of water supplies.

These regulations set national standards for building work, whether it be on a major new development or an extension or alterations to your home. They cover all aspects of construction, including foundations, damp-proofing, the overall stability of the building, insulation, ventilation, heating, fire protection and means of escape in case of fire. They also ensure that adequate facilities for people with disabilities are provided in certain types of building.

Building Regulations and related guidance are regularly being updated, and consist of parts A-Q. Below is a brief explanation of each.

A – Structure

This part is concerned with the structural stability of buildings. Areas covered include design of foundations, walls, floors and roof components and also in limiting the extent to which parts of the building may collapse if a major catastrophe, like a gas explosion occurs.

Approved Document A - Structural Safety 

B – Fire Safety

This part includes requirement for providing early warning of a developing fire, satisfactory escape routes, preventing fire spread both within and to other buildings and providing good access and fire fighting facilities for the Fire Services.

Approved Document B - Fire safety 

C – Site Preparation and Resistance to Contaminants and Moisture

This part contains the recommendations of making sure your property remains free from damp penetration, condensation, from any contamination that may be in the ground, and watertight.

Approved Document C - Site Preparation and Resistance to Contaminates and Moisture 

D – Toxic Substances.

This part provides guidance on the prevention of toxic substances permeating into the building when inserting insulation into cavity walls.

Approved Document D - Toxic Substances 

E – Resistance to the Passage of Sound.

This part includes requirement aimed at reducing sound transference between dwellings, flats, from certain types of rooms and between communal areas and dwellings.

Approved Document E - Resistance to the Passage of Sound 

F – Ventilation.

This part provides for adequate levels of ventilation to buildings and prevention of condensation forming in roof voids.

Approved Document F - Ventilation 

G – Hygiene.

This part is concerned with providing sanitary conveniences and adequate washing facilities. It also includes requirements associated with unvented hot water storage installations.

Approved Document G - Hygiene 

H – Drainage and Waste Disposal.

This part deals with the disposal of sewerage, waste water and storm water drainage together with details for solid waste storage (household refuse).

Approved Document H - Drainage and Waste Disposal 

J – Combustion Appliances and Fuel Storage Systems.

This part covers safety requirements when installing either solid fuel, gas or oil heating appliances.

Approved Document J - Combustion Appliance and Fuel Storage Systems 

K – Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact.

This part is concerned with staircase design, headroom, handrails, balustrading and guarding of landings, balconies and other raised areas.

Approved Document K - Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact 

L – Conservation of Fuel and Power.

This part provides minimum standards of energy efficiency to all parts of the building. This section also provides design criteria for space heating and hot water storage.

Approved Document L - Conservation of Fuel and Power 

M – Access to and Use of Buildings.

This part deals with the design of buildings to enable all people to gain access, and be able to use the facilities of the building. It also includes requirements to help people with sight, hearing and mobility impairments use buildings.

Approved Document M - Access to and Use of Buildings 

N – Glazing Safety in relation to Impact, Opening and Cleaning.



P – Electrical Safety.

This part applies to electrical installation work in dwellings, common parts to dwellings and associated gardens.

This section came into effect on 1 January 2006 and applies in buildings or parts of buildings comprising:

  • Dwelling houses and flats;
  • Dwelling and business premises that have a common supply – for example shops and public houses with a flat above;
  • Shared amenities of blocks of flats such as laundries and gymnastics.

Part P applies also to parts of the above electrical installations:

  • In or on land associated with the buildings – for example Part P applies to fixed lighting and
  • Pond pumps in gardens;
  • In outbuildings such as sheds, detached garages and greenhouses.

This means that new electrical installations carried out either on their own or as part of, for example a loft conversion or extension need to be certified by a qualified person. The certificate is then sent to us for our records.

If you cannot do this you will need to notify us so that we can inspect the work.

Approved Document P - Electrical Safety

Q - Security in Dwellings

This edition covers the standards for doors and windows to resist physical attack by a burglar. It includes standards on being both sufficiently robust and fitted with appropriate hardware.

Approved Document Q - Security in Dwellings


Regulation 7.

Approved Document for Regulation 7 - Material and Workmanship