Building regulations are laid down by parliament and are supported by separate documents containing practical and technical guidance on compliance, which are known as 'approved documents'.
The regulations have three purposes:
- to ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings
- the conservation of energy
- to ensure access and facilities for disabled people.
Here are the legal requirements along with practical and technical guidance on how to meet them:
Part A - structural safety
- The weight of the building from the walls, furniture and people in the building will be transmitted to the ground, so as not to cause instability to the building or other buildings.
- Buildings must be built in such a way that no collapse will occur disproportionate to its cause.
- Ground movement such as freezing of subsoil will not impair the stability of the building.
Part B - fire safety
- Requires safe means of escape from the building.
- Requires the stability of a building to be maintained in a fire, both internally and externally.
- If on fire, the wall lining (plaster, plasterboard or wooden boards on the walls and ceiling) will resist the spread of flames and give off reasonable levels of heat.
- Internal stability will be maintained during fire and fire spread will be prohibited.
- Fire and smoke will be prohibited from spreading to concealed spaces in a building's structure.
- The external walls and roof will resist spread of fire to walls and roofs of other buildings.
- The building will be easily accessible for fire fighters and their equipment.
Part C - site preparation and damp proofing
- Nothing should be growing on the ground covered by the building.
- Precautions must be taken to stop gases and dangerous substances from previous land use from entering the building and endangering the health and safety of occupants.
- Subsoil drainage will be in place, if needed, to stop the passage of ground moisture to the interior of the building and to prevent damage to the fabric of the building.
- The walls, floors and roof of the building must prevent moisture passing to the inside of the building.
Part D - toxic substances
- Insulating materials inserted into cavity walls can give off fumes. Steps must be taken to stop these fumes reaching occupants of the building.
Part E - soundproofing
- Floors and walls between domestic buildings should have a certain resistance to the passage of sound.
- Sound insulation requirements also apply to floors and certain walls within individual dwellings and new schools.
Part F - ventilation
- The building must have adequate ventilation and provision to prevent condensation in the roof structure.
Part G - hygiene
- Adequate sanitation facilities - for example, a toilet.
- A house must have either a bath or shower with the ability to heat hot water.
- Unvented hot water storage systems - restrictions apply to who can install the system.
Part H - drainage and waste disposal
- An adequate system to carry water used for cooking, washing, toilet, bath or shower to a sewer, cesspool or settlement tank must be in place.
- A cesspool or settlement tank must be impermeable to liquids and have adequate ventilation. It must also have means of access for emptying, not harm the health of any person and not contaminate water or water supply.
- There needs to be an adequate system to carry rainwater away from the roof of a building, such as guttering carrying water to a sewer.
- There must be a place to put a wheelie bin or dustbin. The place must not harm anyone's health.
Part J - heating appliances
- The building must have an adequate air supply for combustion and for efficient working of a fluepipe or chimney.
- Appliances should discharge the products of combustion to the outside.
- The appliances, fireplace and chimney must reduce the risk of the building catching fire.
Part K - stairs, ramps and guards
- Stairs, ramps and ladders should provide safety for people when moving between different levels of a building.
- Stairs, ramps, floors and balconies should be adequately guarded.
- Safety should be provided for people using vehicle ramps and loading bays.
Part L - conservation of fuel and power
- Provision must be made for the conservation of fuel and power in a building.
- The fabric of the building must limit heat loss.
- There must be controls to operate the heating of the building and heating of water.
- Steps should be taken to limit heat loss from hot water tanks and hot water pipes.
- Lighting systems in buildings should use no more energy than needed and have adequate controls.
Part M - access and facilities for people with disabilities
In part M, 'people with disabilities' means people who have an impairment that limits their ability to walk or requires them to use a wheelchair for mobility or have impaired hearing or sight.
Reasonable provision should be made for people with disabilities at entrances to and within new dwellings and buildings.
An existing building should have reasonable provision for people with disabilities:
- to gain access and use the building
- to access toilets, if provided
- to access audience or spectator seating, if applicable.
Part N - glazing materials and protection
- Glazing that people come into contact with whilst in a building, should, if broken, break in a way unlikely to cause injury, resist impact without breaking or be shielded or protected from impact.
- If the building (other than dwellings) has transparent glazing which people come into contact with while moving around a building, it must have features to make this apparent.
- Windows that can be opened must be operated safely and provision made for safe accessible cleaning.