10 Questions on… Carrying out repairs, replacements and building work to your home or office

10-questions-on-carrying-out-repairs-replacements-and-building-work-to-your-home-or-officeIt is an extremely rare occurrence to come across owners of a property that have not, at any stage, adapted, repaired or improved it. In fact, the very nature of any building’s exposure to the elements, to strong winds and rain, UV radiation and changing temperatures, means that most are in an almost constant state of partial disrepair, however minor the damage might be.

It is therefore likely that you, the reader, will carry out repairs and/or extensions to your home or your workspace at some point, be it for maintenance, practicality or vanity reasons. This article aims to provide a concise resource to guide you through the process, with particular focus on local authorities and the law.

1. Which jobs might need me to notify the Local Authority Building Control?

Home development jobs such as:

–         Installing electricity to a shed

–         Replacing windows or door units.

–         Electrical work in special locations like kitchens, bathrooms and outdoors.

–         Installing a new or replacement boiler, of any fuel type.

–         Extension to central heating systems

–         New bathroom installations

–         Installation or replacement of an oil tank

–         Installation of additional radiators to an existing heating system.

Before doing any of these yourself, or anything similar, you need to get in touch with your Local Authority Building Control.

2. How do I get in touch with the Local Authorities?

You need to get hold of your Local Building Authority before you start work. You can find yours by visiting http://www.labc.co.uk and using the ‘find your local authority’ function. They will provide the details of your Local Building Authority and the forms you need to submit a Building Regulation application. Your Local Building Control Office will be best placed to advise you on precisely which type of application you need.

3. What happens if I forget to make the application?

The lack of a completion certificate can affect your ability to use or sell a property. It may also affect your insurance and may put you at risk of legal action. However, if you have previously carried out work without a Building Regulations application you can apply for a Regularisation Certificate.

4. What happens when I complete the Application process?

Once you are ready to start work on the project you will need to have various stages of construction inspected by the local building control surveyor. For clarification on what needs to be inspected on your project and how to arrange an inspection, you’ll need to contact your local building control office. Once all stages have been inspected and meet regulations, the project will be completed and a completion certificate will be issued.

5. What will happen if I do not comply with the Building Regulations?

The work will not be legal and you could be prosecuted, facing a possible fine of up to £5000. If the work is found to be faulty, you could also be forced by the Local Authority to correct it at your own expense.

The work done might not be safe, meaning that it has the potential to cause serious health problems and create health and safety hazards. When you come to sell the property, you will need to put together a Home Information Pack (HIP), but without the works being carried out by a registered installer of the Competent Person Scheme there will be no record that your works comply with building regulations. This could foreseeably be a deal breaker.

6. What is the Competent Person Scheme (CPS)?

The principles of self-certification, an integral part of the Competent Person Scheme, are based on giving people who are competent in their field the ability to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations. This is without the need to submit a building notice and thus incur local authority inspections or fees. It is hoped that self-certification will significantly enhance compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations, reduce costs for firms joining recognised schemes, and promote training and competence within the industry. It also helps tackle the problem of ‘cowboy builders’, and assists local authorities with enforcement of the Building Regulations.

7. What benefits does using a CPS installer bring me?

He or she will deal with building control issues for you and you will usually have access to insurance backed warranties and a robust complaints procedure to use in the unlikely event that work is found to be non compliant. The installer will notify the local authority on your behalf and will issue you with a certificate on completion that can be used as your compliance for the HIP. If you don’t use this type of installer, the process above will have to be followed (including submission of applications and registering to have Building Control inspect the property) which will inevitably lead to substantial extra fees.

8. How can I find a CPS installer?

Visit www.competentperson.co.uk and enter your postcode or the name of the installer in the relevant search box. Alternatively, you can contact the Competent Person Scheme directly by calling 02476 470626

9. For which works do I NOT need to notify my Local Building Authority?

–         Most repairs, replacements and maintenance work with the exception of those listed under question 1. This certainly does not include combustion appliances, oil tanks, electrical consumer units or glazing units, all of which you will need to contact your local authority about before proceeding.

–         Extra power points or lighting points or other alterations to existing circuits. (except in bathrooms, kitchens or outdoors)

–         Like for like replacement of baths, toilets, basins or sinks.

10. When would I need to also get Planning Permission?

Without going into a long explanation, the best way to determine whether you need planning permission is to follow the link below to the Government’s interactive house planning tool.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/WP/DG_WP194200

This explains what the criteria are for each aspect of expanding your home, beyond which you will need to apply for planning permission.

For more information on extending, repairing and maintaining your home, we have provided some useful links below:

–         The Government Planning Website

–         The Communities and Local Government Website

–         Local Authority Building Control Website

28th June 2011