Do you need a building warrant?

PortavadieWith the recent increase in home renovation projects or adaptions made through more people working from home, the importance of ensuring that these are done safely has never been more important. The Council building standards team have received numerous requests for advice (e.g. can I use or build a garden shed / summerhouse to use as an office?). This guidance provides an overview and quick guide to owners or occupiers of domestic residential properties on works requiring building warrant approval prior to works commencing.

This guidance is purely for domestic use only and is not relevant to any commercial or other non-domestic applications. If in doubt please ask your local building standards area team for further advice or call 01546 605518. Separate advice should be obtained from the Councils’ planning section on their requirements.

You can also download a copy of this guidance - 

In this guidance:

Works that will require Building Warrant approval

Please note that this list is purely for illustration purposes and is in no way definitive. If in doubt contact your local area Building Standards team on 01546-605518.

  1. The conversion of your existing garage into a room
  2. Renewing your existing conservatory roof and replacing it with a solid roof i.e. not like for like.
  3. Installing a door or window into an external wall of the house (Unless it is a replacement window or door within the existing opening)
  4. Increasing or reducing the opening size of a door or window opening in an external wall
  5. The conversion of an attic/loft space into a room or rooms
  6. The conversion of an attic space into storage room (altering roof timbers, altering loft hatch)
  7. Installing a roof light where you will be altering the roof timbers/trusses
  8. Altering/removing loadbearing internal walls (Please note this can be timber construction as well as masonry)
  9. Forming a door opening between your house and attached  garage
  10. The installation of external wall insulation  (EWI) to your property.

Works that are exempt from requiring a building warrant - General guidance on exemptions

It is important that you read this guidance carefully. The technical standards and the terminology used can be rather complex. Particular attention is drawn to definitions which are clarified in detail below:

You can read the full lists of exemptions which are contained in Schedule 1 and Schedule 3 which are within Section 0 General Technical Handbook.

(Please remember the rules relating to planning approval differ from building standards so please don't assume planning consent is not required).

Definitions

Carport

  • Means a roofed building for vehicle storage which is open on at least two sides except for roof supports

Conservatory

  • A building attached to and having an entrance from the house, which is thermally divided* from the house, which either has at least 75% of its roof and 50% its external walls made of glass or other translucent material or at least 95% of its roof and 35% of its wall area made of glass or other translucent material.
    *Thermal division requires exterior grade windows/doors having the appropriate thermal u-value.

Covered area

  • A roofed building, open on at least 2 sides, except for any roof supports

Greenhouse

  • A building used mainly for growing plants, which is either detached from the house or attached, but not entered from the house

House

  • In this part means either a detached, semi-detached or terraced dwelling, not a flat or a maisonette

Porch

  • A building attached to and providing a covered entrance to a house 

Flat

  • Means a dwelling on one storey forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally

Maisonette

  • Means a dwelling on more than one storey, forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally

Detached buildings within the curtilage (garden ground) of a house

If you propose to build any of the following single storey buildings, within the curtilage of your house, you will not, subject to the specified conditions, require a building warrant. Separate rules apply if you stay in a flat, (see heading below)

  1. Garage
  2. Garden hut or store
  3. Building used for keeping animals, birds or other livestock for domestic purposes
  4. Carport or a covered area – as 1 above
  5. Greenhouse
  6. Summerhouse

Specified Conditions

The following conditions apply to both the detached buildings listed above.

  1. In the case of detached buildings 1,2,3 and 6 above, the proposed building must be at least one metre from the boundary unless it is located more than one metre from the house.
  2. The area of the proposed building must not exceed 30m2
  3. The proposed building must not contain a flue or a combustion appliance i.e. a stove, boiler, etc.
  4. The proposed building must not contain sanitary accommodation i.e. bathroom, shower- room, wc, etc.
  5. If the building is over 8m2, it must be constructed to comply with the building regulations
  6. It is advisable to check with building standards in relation to the installation of a summerhouse/garage or other building as there are various technical standards that determine whether the building complies or not with the regulations i.e. boundary distance, fire resistance, drainage, u-values etc. If in doubt ask. 

Buildings attached to a house (not a flat or maisonette)

If you propose to build any of the following single storey buildings attached to your house, you will not, subject to the specified conditions, require a building warrant.

  1. Small conservatory (Not exceeding 8m2)
  2. Small porch (Not exceeding 8m2)
  3. Greenhouse (not exceeding 30m2
  4. Carport or a covered area (Not exceeding 30m2)

Specified Conditions

The following conditions apply to both the detached and attached buildings listed above.

  1. A greenhouse must only be accessed externally (No door between dwelling and greenhouse)
  2. The proposed building must not contain a flue or a combustion appliance i.e. a stove, boiler, etc.
  3. The proposed building must not contain sanitary accommodation i.e. bathroom, shower-room, wc, etc.
  4. In the case of a porch or a conservatory, it must be at least one metre from the boundary
  5. If the building is over 8m2, it must be constructed to comply with the building regulations

Detached buildings within the curtilage (garden ground) of a flat or maisonette

If you propose to build any single storey building next to a flat or maisonette, you will not, subject to the following specified conditions, require a building warrant.

  1. The building must not have an area of more than 30m2
  2. The building must be at least 1m from the flat or maisonette or 3m from any other part of the building containing the flat or maisonette
  3. The proposed building must not contain a flue or a combustion appliance i.e. a stove, boiler, etc.
  4. The proposed building must not contain sanitary accommodation i.e. bathroom, shower-room, wc, etc.
  5. If the building is in excess of 8m2, it must be constructed to comply with the building regulations

Internal alterations to houses

A building warrant is not required for alterations within a house (not a flat or maisonette) subject to the following conditions:

  1. The floor area of the house is not increased (extension)
  2. There must be no alteration to an external wall, a separating wall, a loadbearing wall. the roof or any other element of structure
  3. The house being altered must have no more than 2 storeys.
  4. Erection, demolition or alteration of non-loadbearing partitions
  5. Electrical work to a single or two storey dwelling including fire detection*
  6. An en-suite bathroom or shower room (including associated drainage)*
  7. A central heating system

*Building Warrant is required for a mains operated fire alarm system in a flat, maisonette or a 3 storey or greater house.

Note, many timber framed walls are in fact loadbearing. If unsure, please seek advice from a suitably qualified construction professional such as a chartered building surveyor or structural engineer etc.

Internal alterations to flats and maisonettes

No exemptions apply to flats and maisonettes. A building warrant is required in all instances.

Installation of solar thermal or Photovoltaic Panels

A building warrant is not required for the installation of solar or PV panels on the roof of a single or two storey house, provided that the existing roof structure is capable of taking the additional loading. If, however the roof structure does require strengthening then a building warrant is required.

Other general works not requiring a building warrant

You do not require a building warrant to carry out the following:

  • A wall - provided it is not more than 1.2 metres in height.
  • A fence - provided it is not greater than 2 metres in height.
  • General repair work to replace, by material of the same general type, defective render, cladding linings or coverings or involving the replacement of a fixture or appliance, by another of the same general type.
  • Work external to, but immediately adjoining the house* (e.g. patio, decking, steps or ramp up to 5m in length).
  • Small penetrations through the external walls or roof (e.g. balanced flue from a boiler, sanitary pipework, mechanical extract ducts or pipe vents)
  • Small attachments to the external walls (eg, canopies, micro-renewables)

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Contact us

If you have any further question, please contact the Building Standards Team