Building regulations are statutory instruments that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out and Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. Building regulations that apply across England and Wales are set out in the Building Act 1984 while those that apply across Scotland are set out in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.
Recent changes affecting England and Wales
From 1 January 2005 the term 'building work' includes work on household electrics.
The Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 makes provision for microgeneration be brought within the Building Regulations, and increases to two years the time limit for prosecuting contraventions of the regulations relating to energy use, energy conservation or carbon emissions. It also requires the Secretary of State to report on compliance with these aspects of the Building Regulations and steps proposed to increase compliance.
From 6 April 2006, the Building Regulations were extended by amendments (to incorporate some of the clauses of the European Directive [law] requiring Energy in Existing and New Buildings to be measured, etc.).
More simply the core term "Building Work" was once again amended. And extended in scope to include "renovation of thermal elements", and energy used by 'space cooling' systems as well as energy used by 'space heating' systems are NOW both subject to efficiency limits, energy use controls are now required, and 'energy metering', etc.
New Regulations were introduced to require the calculation of a building Carbon/Energy Targets and Carbon/Energy Emissions. A building's 'Airtightness' must now be tested and ideally limited to less than 10 m³/m²/s. New building ventilation provisions were introduced.
New additional "competent persons schemes" were proposed & authorised, in respect of Energy systems and energy efficient design. New 'Approved Documents' for Part L and Part F were issued. Along with specified '2nd tier' guidance documents.
A total rewrite of the 'Approved Document' for Part P "Electrical Works in Dwellings", was also issued. Please note that any electrical work in "exempt" buildings IS still controlled by Part P, when the electrical supply is from a nearby dwelling's electrical supply.
There are currently 14 sections to the buildings regulations and each is accompanied by an Approved Document. The Approved Documents usually take the form of firstly stating the legislation and then providing a number of means which are "deemed to satisfy" the regulations. The regulations themselves are actually rather brief; in common speech when architects talk of the "building regs" it is the Approved Documents to which they are referring.
The building regulations' objective in recent years has been to make people aware that they are not intended to stifle innovation, that compliance with the legislation is what is ultimately required and that there may be many ways of complying, other than just using those set out in the "deemed to satisfy" provisions within each of the Approved Documents. (see Agrément certificates).
Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on www.planningportal.gov.uk.  where General public users can now access simplified building regulations guidance and professional users have a better organised version of what was on the former DCLG building regulations website, including the full versions of the Approved Documents and associated guidance, previously held on the DCLG website.
Part A. Structure
Part A Structures
This Part requires buildings to be designed, constructed and altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and also so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings.
It stipulates design standards that should be adopted for use on all buildings and additionally gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings.
A2 Ground movement
A3 Disproportionate collapse
Note: TRADA  publish the Timber Span Tables document.
Part B. Fire Safety
The Regulations consider five aspects of fire safety in the construction of buildings:
B1 Means of escape
1. That sufficient provisions are made in design of the building so that in the event of fire the occupants can escape to a place of safety by their own efforts. This includes incorporating a suitable fire alarm system to give early warning of fire to the occupants and users of a building.
B2 Internal fire spread (linings)
2. That the internal linings of a building do not support a rapid spread of fire
B3 Internal fire spread (structure)
3. That the structure of the building should not collapse prematurely and should slow the spread of fire through the building and in unseen cavities and voids by providing fire resisting walls and partitions where necessary;
B4 External fire spread
4. That the spread of fire between buildings be discouraged by spacing them apart sufficiently and controlling the number and size of openings on boundaries;
B5 Access and facilities for the fire service
5. That the building (and the site layout & access roads) are designed in such a way as to aid the fire brigade fight fire and effect rescue of persons caught in a fire.
Part C. Site Preparation and resistance to moisture
Many subjects are embraced by this comprehensive part. These include the weather and water tightness of buildings, subsoil drainage, site preparation, and measures to deal with contaminated land, Radon, Methane, and all other site related hazardous and dangerous substances.
C1 Preparation of site
C2 Dangerous and offensive materials
C3 Subsoil drainage
C4 Resistance to weather and ground moisture
NOTE: There is a Government guide on "How to Avoid Risks from Flooding to your Building".
However, this is not controlled by the Building Regulations as yet.
Part D. Toxic Substances
This controls hazards from the toxic chemicals used in cavity fill insulation systems.
See Part C for controls on toxic hazards from ground contaminants and/or brownfield development.
Part E. Resistance to the Passage of Sound
Note. 'PCT' Pre Completion Sound Tests are now required to all new Flats and Dwellings, unless the Building plot is registered with "Robust Details Ltd." and that building plot is built using construction materials and methods in accordance with their 'robust details' documentation. Part E should be read in conjunction with supplemental document 'Robust Details Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound'- a priced document from Robust Details Ltd. 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
Standards for ventilation and air quality requirements for all buildings are included in this part.
NOTE: New Approved Document for Part F issued 6 April 2006
Part G. Hygiene
This part lays down standards for the provision of sanitary and washing facilities, bathrooms and hot water provision.
It also covers safety requirements in respect of unvented hot water systems.
G1 Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities
G3 Hot water storage
NOTE: Public consultation on including "water conservation measures" in the Building Regulations, is expected in late 2006.
Part H. Drainage and Waste Disposal
Part H requires that adequate drainage systems be provided and also deals with pollution prevention, sewage infrastructure issues, and maintenance and adoption regimes for sewers.
Technical design standards included in this Part cover the following: internal sanitary pipework, foul drainage, rainwater drainage and final disposal, wastewater treatment and discharges, cesspools, building over or close to 'public' and 'private' sewers and refuse storage.
NOTE: The total repair of a drainage system is 'controlled building work'.
H1 Foul water drainage
H2 Wastewater treatment systems and cesspools
H3 Rainwater drainage
H4 Building over sewers (public & private)
H5 Separate systems of drainage (Foul water and Surface water)
H6 Solid waste storage ("Bins" & "Recycling")
Part J. Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
This Part is concerned with the construction, installation and use of boilers, chimneys, flues, hearths and fuel storage installations.
They control against fire sources, burning, pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning, flue positions, etc.
Part K. Protection from falling, collision and impact
Part K sets minimum standards for the safety of stairways, ramps and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling, from floor edges, etc.
Also included are requirements for the guarding and warning of hazards from the use and position of (opening) doors and windows, around and about buildings.
NOTE: Also consult Part N for minimum Protection from falling against Glazing.
Part L. Conservation of Fuel and Power
Parts L1 is specific to dwellings.
As of 6 April 2006 split into:
- Part L1A - New dwellings
- Part L1B - Existing Dwellings
It controls the insulation values of building elements, the allowable area of windows, doors and other openings, air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers and the insulation and controls for heating appliances and systems together with hot water storage and lighting efficiency. It also sets out the requirements for SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculations and Carbon Emission Targets for dwellings.
Regulation 16 requires the advertising of the SAP rating, in all new dwellings.
Approved Document L1 is supported by a set of 'robust' construction details, now known as "Accredited Construction Details".
Part L2 relates to all building uses other than dwellings.
As of 6 April 2006 split into:
- Part L2A - New Buildings other than Dwellings
- Part L2B - Existing Buildings other than dwellings
In addition to insulation requirements and limitation of openings of the building fabric this part considers solar heating and heat gains to structures, it controls heating, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting efficiency, space heating controls, air permeability plus air tightness testing of larger buildings, solar emission, the certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters.
These Four Approved Documents must be read in conjunction with the supplemental official and industry documents (The so called '2nd Tier' guidance documents).
Part M. Access to and use of Buildings
Part M requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to and circulation within all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.
NOTE: The DDA Acts 1995 - 2006 impose legally binding duties on service providers, schools and public bodies, and these are separate from, and additional to, the Building Regulations 2000 minimum access and facilities requirements.
However, the Part M Approved Document is NOT written as a means of ensuring compliance with these legal duties. It is written to ensure that the design of a building does not create physical barriers to a building's inclusive use, over its lifetime.
For DDA advice - check out the DRC (Disability Rights Commission) websites 
Part N. Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
Minimum requirements for the provision of 'break safe' safety glazing to avoid impact hazard and for the suitable awareness and definition of glazed areas.
Part N also includes safety requirements relating to the use, operation, and cleaning of windows.
Part P. Electrical Safety
New rules for electrical safety in the home, the garden and its outbuildings.
NOTE: Several government approved "Competent Persons Schemes" support Part P.
- see also: wiring (UK)
Exempt buildings include (please refer to the statutory instrument for full conditions):-
Note: The Building Regulations 2000(the above link) have been amended five times since the original statutory instrument was published. Check with your Local Council for confirmation before building anything that you feel might be 'exempt'!
See the External links below - for the amending S.I.'s
- CLASS I Buildings controlled under other legislation eg. Any building the construction of which is subject to the Explosives Acts 1875 and 1923. Or Nuclear related buildings
- CLASS II Buildings not frequented by people (unless close to an existing building)
- CLASS III Greenhouses and agricultural buildings (Not used for Retail)
- CLASS IV Temporary buildings (Erected for less than 28 days)
- CLASS V Ancillary buildings
- CLASS VI Small detached buildings [Garages, garden storage sheds/huts] (less than 30 square metres floor area with NO sleeping accommodation therein.)
- CLASS VII Extensions - Porches, Covered Ways, Conservatories, (less than 30 square metres floor area)
It is good practice to have exemption confirmed by the local authority prior to construction.
Most of the detailed information on the building regulations is now available on www.planningportal.gov.uk.  where General public users can now access simplified building regulations guidance and professional users have a better organised version of what was on the former DCLG building regulations website, including the Approved Documents and associated guidance, previously held on the website.
- Planning Portal
- The Building and Approved Inspectors (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/652)
- The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/3335)
- The Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2532)
- Building Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2531)
- English Government Website - Building Regulations
- The LABC Building Control website (E&W)
- Scotland's Building Standards Agency
- British Board of Agrément Website