Regulations are made by the Secretary of State for the Environment under powers delegated by parliament under the Building Act 1984. The level of safety and standards acceptable are set out as guidance in the approved documents. Compliance with the detailed guidance of the approved documents is evidence that the regulations themselves have been complied with. Alternative ways of achieving the same level of safety are also acceptable. Just because an approved document has not been complied with does not necessarily mean that the work is unsafe. The circumstances of each particular case are considered, when an application is made that adequate levels of safety will be achieved.

The approved documents can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website. This flexible approach means that the building regulations are adaptable to allow innovative design and the variation of circumstances of each particular building.

Alternatively you can buy the approved documents from the stationery office book store or from bookshops such as The Building Bookshop, Store Street, off Tottenham Court Road, London. (Nearest tube: Goodge Street).

Building Regulations 2010
These are a set of minimum requirements designed to secure the health, safety and welfare of people in and around buildings, and to conserve fuel and energy in England and Wales. It applies mainly to new building work, but there are some circumstances, such as a material change of use, which require improvements to be made to an existing building. The approved documents give guidance on how to meet the requirements of the regulations. They are in brief as follows:

Part A - structural stability

  • that all structural elements of a building can safely carry the loads expected to be placed on them 
  • that foundations be adequate for any movement of the ground, for example, through trees
  • that large buildings are sufficiently robust so that an explosion would not cause excessive collapse

    Part B - fire safety

    • that sufficient provisions are made in the design of the building so, that in the event of fire, the occupants can escape to a place of safety by their own efforts, and that adequate provisions are made to alert people of the presence of fire
    • that the internal linings of a building do not support a rapid spread of fire
    • 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
    • that the spread of fire between buildings be discouraged, by spacing them apart sufficiently, and controlling the number and size of openings on boundaries
    • that the building is designed in such a way to aid the fire brigade to fight fire and rescue persons caught in a fire

      Part C - site preparation and resistance to moisture

      • that before building work starts, all vegetation,topsoil and pre existing founations be removed
      • that any contaminated ground is either treated, naturalised or removed before a building is erected
      • that subsoil drainage is provided to waterlogged sites
      • that the roof, walls, and floor be adequately weatherproofed against damp,rain penetration and condensation

        Part D - toxic substances - cavity insulation

        • this part requires walls to be constructed in such a way so that cavity fill fumes are prevented from penetrating the building

        Part E - Resistance to passage of sound

        • that walls and floors in dwellings and rooms for residential purposes have reasonable resistance to sound. New houses/flats and flat conversions will require pre-completion testing
        • that walls and floors within dwellings and/or rooms for residential purposes have reasonable resistance to sound
        • the common parts of flats or rooms for residential purposes are constructed to prevent excessive reverberation
        • that schools are designed to limit disturbance by noise between rooms and other spaces

          Part F - ventilation

          • adequate ventilation must be provided to kitchens, bath and shower rooms, sanitary accommodation, and to other habitable rooms both domestic and non-domestic

          Part G - hygiene

          • buildings are required to have satisfactory sanitary conveniences and washing facilities
          • all dwellings are required to have a fixed bath or shower with hot and cold water
          • unvented hot water systems over a certain size are required to have safety provisions to prevent explosion

            Part H - drainage and waste disposal

            • new drains taking foul water from buildings are required to discharge to a foul water sewer, or other suitable outfall, and be watertight, and accessible for cleaning
            • where no public sewer is available, adequately designed holding tanks or sewage treatment plants, may be used instead
            • new drains, taking rainwater from roofs of buildings and paved areas around the building needed for access, are required to be watertight, accessible for cleaning, and discharge to an adequate soak away, or watercourse, or a sewer
            • a drain shown on the Sewer Authority 'map of sewers' must not be built over or have inadequate access for maintenance because of an erection or extension of a building or any underpinning 
            • a rainwater drain that connects to a sewer must be separate from a sewer connection for a foul water drain, where reasonably practicable
            • adequately sized storage facilities are required to be provided for refuse collection, reasonably close to buildings

              Part J - heat producing appliances

              • fixed heat-producing appliances must be provided with an adequate supply of fresh air, to prevent them overheating and carbon monoxide poisoning of a building's occupants from inadequate combustion
              • chimneys and flues need to be designed for safe discharge of smoke, and other products of combustion to the outside air
              • fireplaces, flue pipes and heat producing appliances should be designed and positioned, to avoid the buildings structure from igniting
              • durable notice with capacity information to be provided, for new or extended hearth, fireplace, flue or chimney, and fixed in a suitable position
              • certain new liquid fuel storage facilities, which serve fixed combustion appliances in a building and are located outside the building, need to be constructed in a way that separates them from buildings and premises boundary, and reduces the risk of the fuel igniting adjacent buildings or premises to a reasonable level
              • certain new oil storage tanks and pipes, which serve fixed combustion appliances in a building and are located above ground and outside the building, need to be constructed and protected in such a way that reduces the risk, of oil escaping and causing pollution, to a reasonable level, and has a durable notice, fixed in a prominent position, informing how to respond to a leak of oil

                Part K - stairs, ladders, ramps, guards, etc
                Protection from falling, collision and impact.

                • to avoid accidents on stairs ladders and ramps, the physical dimensions need to be suitable for the use of the building, (see also part B1 and M2 where other aspects have greater control)
                • stairwells, balconies, floors, some roofs, light wells and basements, connected to a building need to have suitable guarding
                • car park floors, ramps and other raised areas, need to have adequate vehicle barriers provided. Vehicle loading bays need to have escape routes
                • to avoid danger, barriers may need to be erected, for windows, skylights or ventilators
                • for power-sliding, or open-upwards doors and gates safety measures must be provided

                  Part L - conservation of fuel and power

                  • a dwelling's roofs, walls, windows, doors, floors and hot water tanks, hot water pipes, and hot air ducts used for space heating need to have adequate resistance to loss of heat. Dwellings should be designed to limit solar gains in the summer. Lighting systems, Boilers and heating systems are required to be energy efficient. The dwelling's external lighting is required to have appropriate lamps and sufficient controls for energy efficiency. Certain information to be provided to allow building occupiers to operate and maintain the services in an energy efficient way
                  • other (not dwellings) buildings roofs, walls, windows, doors, floors, hot water tanks, hot water pipes, and hot air ducts used for space heating need to have adequate resistance to loss of heat. Buildings should be designed to limit solar overheating  Certain Lighting systems, boilers and heating systems are required to be energy efficient. Mechanical ventilation and air conditioning together with associated air ducts refrigerant vessels and pipes need to be energy efficient. The efficieny of heating and cooling plant should be metered

                    Part M - access and facilities for disabled people

                    • buildings should be designed with disabled access. 
                    • new houses are required to have electrical switches and sockets between 450mm and 1,200mm above floor level. Houses and flats are required to have wider corridors, doors and stairs. 
                    • toilet facilities need to be of an adequate size and suitable to facilitate the disabled. For new houses this includes wheelchair access to a WC in the entrance if possible. 
                    • theatres, auditorium, sports grounds etc are required to have suitable facilities provided for the disabled.

                      Part N - glazing - materials and protection

                      • where people are at risk from colliding with glass windows etc the glass should be robust enough not to break or be constructed of safety glass, or have suitable guarding
                      • large sheets of glazing needs to be made obvious so that people do not collide with it
                      • to ensure safe operation, windows, skylights and ventilators need to have controls and limiters
                      • windows and skylights etc, over two metres high, need to have safe access for cleaning on both sides

                        Part P – electrical safety

                        • electrical installations in houses, flats and common areas should be designed, installed, inspected and tested to protect people from fire or injury
                        • sufficient information should be given to people so that they can operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation with reasonable safety