Building Control is responsible for ensuring that the Building Regulations, a set of construction standards laid down by the UK Parliament, are enforced in your local Council.

There are 11 local councils in NI and they are part of the umbrella group Building Control Northern Ireland.

Building 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.

The Building Control department of your Local Authority will be keeping an eye on your project and you will need to notify them at the various stages of the build.

For a new build this will be before the work begins and at the Foundations, Sub-structure and hardcore, Damp proof courses, Drainage, Pre-occupation and Completion stages. For a smaller project, the timing of the intermediary stage inspections will depend on the type of work being carried out.

In all cases you must notify Building Control of start and end dates; upon the satisfactory completion of the project they will send you a Completion Certificate, an essential document if you intend to sell your home.

If you intend to build a dwelling, an extension over 10 sqm, undertake a roofspace conversion, or change the use of a building, you must make a ‘Full Plans’ application to gain Building Regulations approval. This involves a fee and two copies of drawings and specifications.

For smaller projects, including installing/altering your central heating or building an extension that’s less than 10 sqm, you can gain Building Regulations approval via a ‘Building Notice’ application. You will have to fill in an application form, including a detailed description of the work, submit the fee and a location map plus detailed site plan (two copies).

Note that it is not always necessary to submit plans on the Building Notice route but you may be asked for additional information in support of the application such as structural calculations or a SAP energy rating.

You can apply to Building Control at the same time as applying for planning permission.

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.

Building Regulations apply to most building work. This requires you to make an application before proceeding with the work. Work that has safety implications, e.g. fitting a new stove, also require a Building Control application.

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. And vice versa.

Contact Building Control Services before starting your project. Getting good advice from the beginning will help you avoid problems later.