Regulations

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There are various Regulations affecting DIY work in the UK.

Many of the following regulations apply specifically to England and Wales.

  • Planning Law affects certain building projects including new houses and some extensions.
  • Building Regulations control how many types of building work (including plumbing, heating, ventilation, electrical etc) are carried out. Some types of work are "notifiable" meaning the Local Authority's Building Control Department must be notified before the work is carried out, and a Building Inspector from the department will inspect the work. A fee is charged for this service. If the work is carried out by a professional they may be qualified to self-certify the work, avoiding the need for notification. Guidance on meeting the building regulations is set out in a series of Approved Documents (ADs).

The Department for Communities and Local Government website carries information about Planning, Building and Environmental regulations.

The Planning Portal website carries guidance about how regulations affect the public, references to the legislation affecting building work and the Approved Documents.

  • The Party Wall Act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls (but not timber fences) and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Failing to follow the measures outlined in the Act can leave a DIYer liable for significant costs, and in extremis criminal prosecution for a minor offence. Following the letter of the Act can incur significant costs if the two owners proceeed without agreeing on the work. Many repairs and replacements are done on the basis of verbal agreement. However this exposes the DIYer to the risks of costs of reinstatement, legal fees, and in extremis criminal prosecution for this minor offence. It is thus generally best to carry out work only after written agreement has been obtained in line with the Act: [1].
  • The Building Regulations frequently refer to, and sometimes include material from, British Standards. (These increasingly are merging with European standards.) British Standards are not freely (and legally) available but must be purchased from the British Standards Institution. Most are available for purchase online as PDF files (electronically "watermarked" with the name of the purchaser). One notable exception is BS7671, the regulations covering Electrical installations, published by the IET (formerly IEE: Institute of Electrical Engineers). This is only available as a paper document.

    Some public and University libraries carry copies of British Standards or have subscriptions to allow users access to electronic versions online. Academics with Athens accounts can also access online standards.
  • Wiring regulations - all new electrical installations started after 1 July 2008 must comply with the 17th Edition of the wiring regulations. Unless exempt from Part P as "minor works", DIY electrical work will need to be covered by a local authority building notice.
  • Gardens and boundaries are subject to various regulations. A useful source of guidance is at the Garden Law website. The site gives as examples of the issues it addresses:
    • Do I own my fence?
    • Can my neighbour make me pay for the repair of the boundary wall?
    • Do I need planning permission for decking?
    • The neighbours' trees overhang my garden what can I do?
    • The roots are causing cracking in my conservatory can I have the tree removed?
    • A Tree Preservation Order is being broken.
    • Adverse possession of some land - how do I claim it?
    • Cats dig up my plants, dogs bark all night, neighbours make my life a misery with their music.


Statutory Instruments

  • The The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 regulate work (including general building work) affecting gas installations and appliances. One aspect of these regulations which comes up frequently in the context of DIY work is whether DIY gas work is legal. This is covered in detail elsewhere but in a nutshell if work is carried out for profit or reward or in the course of business then the person doing it must be Gas Safe (formerly CORGI) registered. If it is purely DIY work done for oneself then the person doing it must be "competent": a term which is not defined by the regulations.
  • Various other laws and regulations may apply in specific circumstances such as relating to the use of water from streams or rivers, disposal of wastes, causing nuisance etc.