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Failure to comply with the building regulations

If you do not follow the building control procedures set out for handling your building work or you carry out building work which does not comply with the requirements contained in the building regulations, you will have contravened the regulations.

Prosecution and enforcement notices

A local authority has a general duty to enforce the building regulations in its area and will seek to do so by informal means wherever possible. If informal enforcement does not achieve compliance with the regulations the local authority has multiple formal enforcement powers which it may use in appropriate cases.

If a person carrying out building work contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority may prosecute them in the Magistrates' Court where an unlimited fine may be imposed (sections 35 and 35A of the Building Act 1984). Prosecution is possible up to ten years after the completion of the offending work. This action will usually be taken against the person carrying out the work (builder, installer or main contractor).

Compliance and stop notices

Local authorities may issue a compliance notice within 12 months of a contravention taking place, requiring non-compliant building work to be remedied within a specified period of time. This involves the recipient taking prescribed steps to fix a contravention and can often be issued while work is ongoing.

If the contravention is deemed to create risk of serious harm unless fixed, then the authority will produce a stop notice. When a stop notice is issued, any work specified in the notice cannot be completed until the breach, or potential breach of building regulations is remedied.

Ignoring a compliance or stop notice may lead to a conviction and imprisonment.

Work without permission

If work is completed without the appropriate plans or application in place, the authority can require the owner pull down or remove the work by issuing a section 36 notice. Alternatively, the owner can make the necessary alterations to comply with regulations.

If the owner fails to comply with the notice within 28 days, or a longer period if agreed, the building control authority can remove or alter the work accordingly, with any costs incurred being recovered from the owner.

A section 36 notice can be issued up to 10 years after the completion of the building work. A local authority cannot take enforcement action under section 36 if the work which you have carried out is in accordance with a full plans application which the authority approved or failed to reject.

Appeals against notices

An appeal against a section 36 notice may be made to a Magistrates’ Court under section 102 of the Building Act.

Where a registered building control approver is providing the building control service, the responsibility for checking that the building regulations are complied with during the course of your building work will lie with that approver. They will usually do this by advising you.

However, registered building control approvers do not have formal enforcement powers. In a situation where the approver considers your building work does not comply with the building regulations and there is a refusal to bring it into compliance the approver will cancel the initial notice. If no other registered building control approver takes on the work, the building control function will automatically be taken on by your local authority. From this point on, your local authority will also have enforcement powers set out above where it considers this necessary.

Impact on Selling the Property

Notwithstanding the possibility of enforcement action, you should bear in mind that if the local authority or registered building control approver considers that building work carried out does not comply with the building regulations and it is not rectified, no completion/final certificate will be issued and this is likely to come to light through a local land search enquiry when you wish to sell your property.

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    The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.

    The Planning Portal is delivered by PortalPlanQuest Limited which is a joint venture between TerraQuest Solutions Limited and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). All content © 2024 Planning Portal.