Current Legislation

There are a number of pieces of legislation that relate to the standards of premises or construction and, depending on the type of premises and whether any building work is being carried one or more could apply at any given time.

New or Altered Premises

If building work is being carried out, the Building Regulations are likely to apply and will require certain standards to be met. The Building Regulations are made under powers in the Building Act. Separate Planning Permission may also be required for the work.

Checking that the Building Regulations have been complied with is done by Building Control Bodies – either based in the Building Control department of the local authority or established as an “Approved Inspector” in the private sector. Certain types of building work close to or directly affecting the boundary or party wall of a premises may also be covered by the “Party Wall Act” which places obligations on people carrying out work.

The recently introduced “Sustainable & Secure Buildings Act” also has powers that could affect new and altered premises. Some non-domestic premises may also be subject to Local Acts.

Existing Premises

Existing domestic premises (housing) may well be covered by the Housing Act, enforced typically by the local housing authority. You can find out more from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) website.

Existing non-domestic premises are likely to be covered by general fire safety law, enforced typically by the local Fire and Rescue Service. You can find out more from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) website. There will also be requirements of general health & safety legislation which should be met in non-domestic premises. Further information is available from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Construction Sites

Certain types of construction sites will be subject to the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations, which are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can find out more about construction site safety from the HSE website.

Building Act 1984 birds-eye-plan

The Building Act 1984 is the enabling Act under which the Building Regulations have been made. The Secretary of State, under the power given in the Building Act 1984, may for any purposes of:

  • securing the health, safety, welfare and convenience of persons in or about buildings and of others who may be affected by buildings or matters connected with buildings;
  • furthering the conservation of fuel and power
  • preventing waste, undue consumption, misuse or contamination of water
  • furthering the protection or enhancement of the enviornment
  • facilitating sustainable development, or
  • furthering the prevention or detection of crime
  • make regulations with respect to the design and construction of buildings, demolition of buildings, and the provision of services, fittings and equipment in or in connection with buildings.

Copies of the Building Act 1984 and its amending legislation are available from TSO. The current regulations governing these are the Building Regulations 2000 SI 2000/2531 (as amended).

Building Regulations and Approved Inspectors Regulations

The Building Regulations 2000 and Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2000, are made under The Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales. They set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

The Department has published The Building Regulations Explanatory Booklet which provides an introduction to the Building Regulations in England and Wales only and is intended for anyone proposing to carry out building projects.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Some kinds of work carried out to a property may not be controlled by the Building Regulations, but may be work which is covered by the The Party Wall etc Act 1996. This is a separate piece of legislation with different requirements to the Building Regulations. The Party Wall etc. Act makes provision in respect of party walls and excavation and construction in proximity to certain buildings or structures. There will be some instances where both the Party Wall etc. Act and the Building Regulations apply to the work being carried out.

The Department has produced The Party Wall etc Act 1996: explanatory booklet that explains in simple terms how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act (the Building Owner), or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work (the Adjoining Owner).

The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998

The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 enable local authorities in England and Wales to charge for carrying out their statutory building control functions relating to the Building Regulations.

The Construction Products Regulations 1991

The Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC), which introduced CE marking for construction products, is implemented in the UK through the Construction Products Regulations (SI 1991/1620) (external link). These state that products must be fit for their intended purpose, and that a correctly carried out CE marking is one way of demonstrating this. There is no legal requirement under the UK Regulations for products to be CE marked before they can be put on the UK market or used in construction works.