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Unauthorised building work

Where building work has been carried out, and proper notices were not given to the council at the time, a contravention of the building regulations has taken place and the council may wish to take legal proceedings.

However an alternative process may be available to the building owner, whereby the council can issue a certificate confirming that as far as it is possible to tell, the work complies with the applicable building regulations, that is the regulations that were in operation when the work was carried out. However the process is not the same as getting retrospective approval of the plans and the work on site, and does not relate to any other legislation, such as planning permission or listed building consent.

The process for obtaining the certificate, called a regularisation certificate, can for example involve opening up foundations, walls, floors and drains and then carrying out remedial work, in order to get the work to comply. This can be very disruptive and ultimately very expensive. The application for the regularisation certificate should therefore only be made if the owner is prepared to comply with the requirements necessary and carry out all necessary work.

This option is only available where the work has been carried out since 11 November 1985, and is a service only the council can provide.

Once the need for a regularisation certificate has been identified, the first step is to contact the Building Control Surveyor for the area. At the discretion of the surveyor, the work will be inspected and the application forms handed to the owner, or alternatively the forms will be posted to the building owner. If the surveyor does visit the site at this time, any immediately apparent contraventions of the regulations will be identified, and also where work needs to be exposed in order that hidden work can be checked for compliance.

The completed application forms must be returned accompanied by the appropriate fee (which the surveyor will be able to advise on) together with the following:

  • a description of the unauthorised work
  • as far as is reasonably practicable, plans and details of the work that was carried out
  • plans and details of the intended remedial work

Section 21 (3) of the Building Regulations 2000 identifies the information that is required. It may be necessary for the owner to obtain third party professional advice by way of preparing drawings, specifications and structural calculations.

Following receipt of the application the surveyor will need to visit the site, if this has not already been done, to identify contraventions and work to be exposed. Where there is work to expose, this needs to be done and the surveyor notified to inspect. Further remedial work may be identified at this point. The remedial work will need to be inspected by the Building Control Surveyor at various stages. Where there is no remedial work to be carried out, the surveyor will still need to inspect the work, to confirm that the work complies with the regulations.

When the surveyor is satisfied, after taking all reasonable steps, that the work complies with the building regulations, a regularisation certificate will be issued.