Grand Designs: Building Control Surveying and Building Your Own Home

Building Control must be considered when building your own house and making alterations.

It has become increasingly difficult to take the first leap onto the property ladder and building your own home is becoming a very appealing alternative to many. The dream of having your own house designed exactly the way you want it is very exciting, however, building regulations must be at the forefront of your mind.

Planning permission must be sought and the house must be built to the regulations set by the Government to protect the safety of you and others.

Why Involve Building Control Surveyors?

Building control surveyors must be involved in the process of designing and building your new home to guarantee it is built safely and to the government's regulations.

They will ensure the proposed plans for your new house meet the required standards, checking points like fire safety and structure stability. The surveyor will make sure that the way in which the architect has designed the structure of your house is stable - you don't want your house to start collapsing around you!

Building control will work alongside the architects and builders, running inspections and checking that the work is carried out to their guidelines.

Once the house is finished and all inspections have been carried out, the building control surveyor will issue you with a certificate of compliance with the building regulations which is essentially a record stating your new house complies with building regulations – you will need this when it comes to selling your home.

If you do not involve building control when building your new house the work carried out will not be legal and you could be looking at a £5000 fine - best just to follow the regulations which are there for your safety.

The Process

Now you understand the reasons why involving building control is an integral part of building your new house, what next?

The process to involving building control with your plans is fairly straight-forward. You will need to send through Building Regulation applications which you can pick up from your local authority. With these applications you must include detailed plans of your project and how you intend to meet all regulations, for example, implementing a firewall in the loft to cover fire safety.

This application is sent to your local authority and a building control surveyor will review your plans and either approve them or send back changes which need to be implemented. Once your plan has been approved the surveyor will carry out a number of inspections whilst the work is being carried out and once it is finished, to check all work has been done correctly. Once the build is completed and the building control surveyor is happy you will be issued a certificate.

You will now have your dream house which has been designed the way you want, and with the knowledge that it has been built legally following all stipulated regulations, so all that is left to do is enjoy your new house!

House Alterations Requiring Building Control

Although it would be ideal to have the ability to build your own home, it is not always a realistic goal. There is another option to up scale a property without buying another house; carrying out alterations to your existing home.

Again, it is intrinsic to remember that Building control professionals must be involved in the process of various alterations to your property to guarantee it is built safely and to the government's regulations.

So, which improvements require building regulations?

A few home improvements require a building control surveyor to ensure they have met the required building regulations: any alterations which make changes to the structure of your house, installing new windows, re-roofing, extensions over 30m2, but the main ones that must be paid close attention to are conversions.

Garage Conversion

If you are looking to convert your garage into a spare room then you will need to follow building regulations. The reason being is that if you are to convert a garage to make it habitual there are strict changes that must be carried out to ensure it is converted safely.

You will need to input thermal insulation and ventilation into the roof so that it is safe for people to stay in and these alterations comply with building regulations.

Or maybe you do not have a garage and would like to build one to increase the value of your property? For this, you will also need to follow building regulations - if you are attaching the garage to your house it is classed as an extension.

Loft Conversion

Converting your loft is a great way to expand your house and increase its value, however, it is more complicated than it sounds.

Converting your loft into another habitable room requires building control surveying under all circumstances, due to several important reasons.
The structure of your loft will need to be altered quite significantly as most lofts are designed to hold light storage and if left with no changes to structure, would be unsafe to use it for anything else.

It is imperative that the structure of your loft is changed to ensure it is safe for people to stay in. In many cases there will be significant changes that must be implemented to ensure the floor can support the extra weight, the structure is stable and the roof is weather tight and appropriate ventilation is added to avoid excessive condensation.

Extensions and conversions are a great way to create more space in your home and, of course, increase the value of your property, just ensure you check all regulations thoroughly and submit plans to your local authority.