From the 31st March 2010 a suite of new British Standards for structural design, based on European Standards often called Structural Eurocodes, replaced conflicting national structural design standards which have, from that date, been withdrawn by the British Standards Institution (BSI). The Department has now produced guidance on the application of Eurocodes to the building regulations.
On this website you will find information about the function of building regulations within Northern Ireland.
The Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) is responsible for the development and the implementation of policy and legislation relating to the Building Regulations for Northern Ireland.
Under Article 3 of the Building Regulations (NI) Order 1979, the Department is empowered to: “make regulations to be known as “building regulations” -
DFP publish Technical Booklets for guidance in support of the Building Regulations. There is no obligation to follow the methods or comply with the standards set out in the technical booklets. You may adopt any form of construction you wish, however you will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of district councils that the requirements of the building regulations have been met.
They allow the Department to set certain standards of performance and to provide a degree of predictability and certainty as to what methods and standards of building which, if followed, will satisfy the requirements of building regulations.
These booklets are specifically written for the use of individuals who have a sound knowledge of modern building techniques, terminology and practices.
All works that come within the remit of Building Regulations attract a fee. The scale of fees is prepared by the Department of Finance and Personnel. The fees are not subject to annual increase, but are revised periodically by the Department. The amount of fees payable to Building Control will be dependent on the nature of work undertaken. The fee tables available contained within this leaflet categorise the range of fees that correlate directly to the type / extent of work undertaken. The amount of plan fee to be paid depends on the proposal. There is a fixed rate for certain domestic extensions, detached domestic buildings such as garages, roofspace conversions and houses up to 250m2 in area. All of these have a fixed fee for assessment of plans. In small extensions under 20m2, the plan fee also covers any and all inspections subsequently carried out on site. Where works do not encompass small buildings, extensions or conversions the fee can be calculated on an “estimated cost of works” basis. The estimated cost should be based on a contractors cost to carry out such work. If part of the works are to be used solely for a person with a disability, those works are separated from the fee calculation and a fee applied to the remainder of the proposed works only. Full exemptions apply when the works are exclusively for a person with a disability or where the works are described as exempt.
The Regularisation Application procedure allows the Council to formally consider, as appropriate, works carried out and completed without the submission of a Full Plans or Building Notice application. This is called unauthorised work. The purpose of the Regularisation application is to ensure that the works are compliant with the Building Regulations that were in operation at the time the unauthorised work was carried out. A Regularisation form must be submitted to the Building Control Service by the person who is legally responsible for the works. The completed application must detail:
Once a Regularisation Application has been received, Building Control Services will arrange to survey the work. The Building Control Officer will assess compliance of the work with Building Regulations and advise of any necessary remedial work that needs to be carried out in order for a certificate to be issued. On occasion, plans of the work may be requested and should be submitted with the relevant fee. The Regularisation fee payable to the Council is based upon the estimated cost of the unauthorised works against a sliding scale costs. A copy of this can be obtained from Building Control Services or viewed on the Council website. Verification that work has been carried out to the required standard may involve opening up and exposure of certain critical areas for inspection or investigation. If remedial work is necessary to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations, the owner of the property has a responsibility to ensure that this work is undertaken. Building Control Services aims to assist applicants as best it can to ensure that any unauthorised work complies with the minimum standard relevant at the time the works were undertaken. In circumstances where an applicant takes the decision not to proceed with the additional or remedial work for reasons of expense or disruption, the Building Control Service is required to review the nature and seriousness of such a decision and act accordingly. This may mean the commencement of legal proceedings if appropriate. Applicants should be aware that once a Building Control Officer is invited onto a property on behalf of the Council, issues cannot be ignored that might be detrimental to the health and safety of the occupants of and visitors to the building. This also applies to viewed work that does not form part of the Regularisation Application. In certain circumstances, unauthorised building works can negate the conditions of home insurance contracts. The Regularisation process is not available for work completed prior to October 1973, as there is no legal mechanism for dealing with this work. If you require further information on Regularisation or would like to discuss any building work you suspect to have been carried out without the necessary Building Control Application having been made, please contact Building Control Services for advice.
The Building Notice application allows work to be carried out without the submission of full plans, however in certain situations plans may be requested. This type of application can be used in the following instances:
The Building Notice procedure may only be used for domestic proposals and the application form requires the following information:
Other information that may be required:
The Full Plans application is required in order to obtain ‘Notice of Passing of Plans’ for the design shown on drawings. These maybe for the:
You can submit an application yourself or appoint someone to do it for you. Agents, such as Architects or Chartered Surveyors can handle all correspondence for you. This type of Building Control application must include the postal address of the property where the work is to be carried out, a description of the work and/or the use of the building, drawings for assessment together with the appropriate fee.
Building Regulations apply to most ‘building work’. This requires you to make an application before proceeding with the work. Building Control applications must be submitted to Building Control Services. Applications are required for new build, property extensions and also work of a minor nature; particularly, installing fittings, new heating appliances and systems, altering a building’s structure, changing the use of a building or building work affecting fire safety. In some instances, repair work to buildings will also require a Building Control application. Some work is exempt from Building Regulations but may require approval under other legislation, such as an application to the Planning Service. The best way to check that you are doing the right thing is to contact Building Control Services before starting your project. Getting good advice from the beginning will help you avoid problems later.
Examples of work that require an application are:
Note: This list is not exhaustive, other works also require an application to be made.
You can contact Building Control Services to receive advice on the appropriate application form and to discuss your project.
Contraventions of Building Regulations can generally be categorised as follows:
The Council has legal powers to deal with each type of contravention. Building Control will seek co-operation with the builder to rectify a contravention but failing this legal action will be taken. Legal action is usually taken only as a last resort, normally after all other avenues for resolving a contravention have been exhausted. Where the building work does not comply with the Building Regulations the Council is empowered to serve a Building Regulations Contravention Notice. The Notice will specify the contravention and the period of time, normally 28 days, within which work must be made good, altered or removed. On receipt of a Contravention Notice there are three courses of action open:
The address for submitting an appeal to the Department is:
You may appeal to the Department of the Finance and Personnel against a decision of the District Council to:
In respect of (a) an appeal must be lodged with the Department within 56 days of the date of notification of the decision. With respect to (b), Contravention Notices, the period for lodging an appeal is 28 days. The Building Control Department will advise you on the procedure to be followed in lodging an appeal or for further information you can check the Department of Finance and Personnel website. In our role of protecting people and the environment and ensuring access to buildings for everyone, it may be that on some occasions we will have to resort to legal action to enforce the Building Regulations. Usually these situations are quickly resolved by persuasion. There are instances where some people do not respond to this approach. In order to protect the interests of all people using the property – now and in the future – Building Control must ensure that Building Regulations are complied with. Enforcement will be carried out in an open, fair and equitable manner. Building Control personnel are open to innovative ideas and solutions and are flexible in their approach. Building Control will not compromise on health and safety issues. Many Councils and Groups in Northern Ireland have formally adopted the principles of the Enforcement Concordat published by the Home Office.
The Northern Ireland Building Regulations are legal requirements made by the Department of Finance and Personnel and administered by 26 District Councils. The Regulations are intended to ensure the safety, health, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings. They are also designed to further the conservation of fuel and energy.
If you are not sure whether you need to make a Building Control application ask your local Building Control Department. The Building Regulations exist so that all householders will have a safe and healthy home in which to live and a home which is energy efficient. If you have any concerns about a Building Regulation matter, Building Control will be only too pleased to advise. The following are some of the frequently asked questions:
Building owners have a duty to ensure that their buildings are properly maintained in a safe condition, so that members of the public using a highway, street of footpath are not put at risk. District Councils have responsibility to inspect dangerous buildings, walls and structures that are adjoining or abutting any street or public footpath. Read more In the event that the owners fail to maintain their building in a safe condition the Council will serve Notice on the owner specifying the nature of the danger and requesting that it be made safe. In the unlikely event that the Notice is not acted upon within the stated time period, the Council may carry out such works deemed necessary and recover the cost through the Courts. District Councils use the expertise of Building Control to identify, advise on and control the hazards presented by buildings which fall into disrepair due to neglect, storm or bomb damage. Read Less
District Councils are empowered to allocate postal numbers to houses and buildings in their district and to name any new road or street. Read more Every effort is made to include developers in this process by inviting the applicant to submit suggestions of preferred names and possible alternatives. Councils may have guidelines for this process and require that the name be based on, or derived from, names of adjoining roads, townland names or other local geographical or historical features. Only in exceptional circumstances will names that incorporate a person’s name be considered. Read Less
As with entertainment venues, cinemas bring large crowds of people into an enclosed space. Fire protection, means of raising alarm, means of escape, and good management procedures are all vitally important to ensure that cinemas are safe places for the public to enjoy. Building Control expertise in these fields justifies the authority given to them to carry out the administration of the legislation on behalf of the Council.
Reports of tragedies throughout the world have heightened public awareness of the need for fire protection, safe means of escape and planned safety procedures for places that hold entertainment and attract large crowds. The Building Regulations provide for fire protection, means of raising alarm, and provision for means of escape in new buildings and in those that have changed from their original use. However, after the work is complete Building Regulations have no on going influence upon the management of the building. Read more Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) N.I. Order 1985, specified types of entertainment require to be licensed and responsibility for the administration lies with the Council. Annual inspections of premises are intended to ensure that fire safety provisions are maintained. ‘During-performance’ inspections are carried out periodically to ensure that management procedures are being adhered to. Read Less
Any person who wishes to keep petroleum spirits or mixtures in excess of three gallons must obtain a licence from the Local Authority in whose area the premises are located. Such spirits and mixtures are highly flammable and under certain conditions can be extremely hazardous. For this reason the Council strictly controls their storage and use. Some Councils use their Building Control Department to facilitate the administration and enforcement of the petroleum legislation.
With the introduction of the The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 2000 there is an obligation for each Local Authority to define and negate the risks associated with each property for which it is responsible. This involves carrying out a risk assessment, the purpose of which is to identify where fire may start and anyone who may be put at risk from that fire. Since the introduction of these regulations each Local Authority has taken steps to ensure that sufficient staff have been trained to carry out the assessments in order that customers and staff are protected.
With the emergence of such legislation as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 the Building Control Service plays its part by ensuring that the spirit of the legislation is complied with as fully as possible. Government has imposed a clear duty on service providers to ensure that sufficient measures are taken to provide access for all. The latest revisions of the Building Regulations embrace these principles and require the provision of equal access to buildings for everyone.
In the late 1960s, the Northern Ireland Government established a Committee chaired by the Rt Hon R W B McConnell to “examine the existing law for the general regulation of building in Northern Ireland in the light of recent changes in Scotland, England and Wales”.
The Committee’s report, published in March 1970, recommended that the existing control of building through bye-laws and local Acts should be replaced with a new Building Act and Regulations similar to those in place in England & Wales. The new system was established by the enactment of the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) Order 1972, which was subsequently amended in 1978, before being replaced by the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 (as amended 1990 and 2009).
Under the 1979 Order, the Department is empowered to write Building Regulations for certain matters set out in the Order. The current regulations are the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 ,which came into operation on 31st October 2012.
Building Regulations set requirements and standards for building that can reasonably be attained, having regard for the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people in or around buildings and others affected by buildings or building matters. They also further the conservation of fuel and power, and make provisions for access to buildings. In addition to our role in writing regulations, we are also the appeals body for all the current appeals procedures defined by the Order. We may also, on request from an applicant, decide to relax or dispense with certain requirements of the building regulations.
The 1979 Order assigns a number of duties and responsibilities to your district council (which are exercised by the council’s Building Control Officers):
Building Control Northern Ireland is a voluntary umbrella grouping of the Building Control Departments of the Eleven Local Councils.
Councils have a statutory duty to enforce the Building Regulations and the Group Units have a role, defined by statute, to monitor and co-ordinate the work of the Councils in their area, to ensure uniformity and consistency in the interpretation, application and enforcement of the Building Regulations within and between Groups across Northern Ireland.
Building Control is responsible for ensuring that the Building Regulations, a set of construction standards laid down by Parliament, are enforced in your local Council.
The standards include requirements on health, structural stability, fire safety, energy conservation and accessibility.
These standards are enforced through plan assessment and site inspection by impartial professionals with a thorough knowledge of The Building Regulations and other relevant British Standards, Codes of Practice and guidance.
When a building is completed Building Control will issue a Certificate of Completion once it is satisfied that all necessary Building Regulations have been adhered to.
Your local Building Control Department is there to offer you professional help and impartial advice on your project and to answer any queries you may have on regulatory issues.