Each local authority has a building control department which acts as an independent assessor of your project and proposals. They ensure that the plans of your new home, together with the materials and workmanship which go to into the construction, comply with the legal requirements lay down by Parliament and which are expressed as Building Regulations. Virtually all self build projects will be dealt with by the local authority building control office. Building Regulations apply to new homes without exceptions, specifying a minimum standard of performance which must be achieved. Self builders may therefore consider that they can improve on the minimum standards required and this can be done in a manner of means which will enhance the value and efficiency of the house – for example larger floor joists, improved levels of heating and ventilation.
The main purpose of Building Regulations is to secure health and safety of the people in the buildings but they also deal with energy conservation, providing access and other matters. Detailed plans must be prepared showing all constructional details and should be submitted well in advance of commencement of work on site. There is a fee involved and the local authority must pass or reject your plans within a certain time limit or they may, with your agreement, add conditions to their approval. They must, if satisfied with your proposals, issue an approval notice within five weeks, or, if you agree to an extension, no longer than two months.
If the plans are rejected then there is a procedure for a review. Building Control will also act in regular inspections of the work as it goes along and you should treat your Building Control officer as an additional and impartial pair of eyes to inspect work in progress. Once the local authority are satisfied that the works have been carried out and meet the Building Regulations a Certificate of Completion can be issued. This is a valuable document which should be retained safely, probably with your title deeds.