How Long Do Building Plans Need To Be Approved?

Share This UK Property Article:

Building plans approval process in the UK

How Long Do Building Plans Need To Be Approved?

Buying a plot and having a new property built or making substantial changes to an existing building involves different types of local authority permission.

There is a difference between building regulations and planning permission and in this article we will look at both of these terms.

UK Building Regulations

Building plans must be approved before construction is started on a new property and before you begin changes to an existing building. It is important to secure the services of a professional so that building regulations are not breached as this could result in a fine or expensive corrective building work.

Photo of a property being renovated
Before you start any kind of building work you should talk to your local authority. Photo © Ian Calderwood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Building regulations are different to planning permission although you may need both. Building regulations cover extensions to an existing property or construction of a new one.

Some work is exempt from building regulations so if you are doing maintenance work or changing a like for like bathroom or kitchen this does not need approval. The type of work that needs building regulations approval includes replacing fuse boxes, installing air conditioning units, replacement of windows and doors and installing a new heating system.

Photo of a house being renovated
Talking to a building control body or your local council planning department can help resolve any issues you are unsure of. Photo © Jonathan Hutchins (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Types Of Building Approval

An application for building regulations approval can be made through your local authority or through a private approved inspector who will contact the authority. You can expect a decision on full plans within 2 months and a completion certificate will be sent within 8 weeks of the work being finished.

Small projects require a building notice and work can commence 2 days after the submission of notice to the Building Control Body (BCB).

Regularisation can be applied for if the work has already been completed but alterations to the work may be required before you get a certificate. Fees are set by the local authority and will depend upon the type of work.

Photo of a new house being built
An architect can help you with new building plans and make sure they comply with all UK building regulations. Photo © David P Howard (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Where Can I Get Building Plans Drawn Up?

The best option for getting building plans for a large extension to an existing property is to engage an architect or an architectural technician. Most builders will require detailed drawings before offering a quotation for work. Another option is to engage a structural engineer to draw up a basic floor plan and then ask a builder for a quote.

If the work required is a smaller project then you can apply for building regulations approval and this is less costly. A building control officer from the council will visit the property before approval is granted.

Property Resources
UK Local Council List
UK Planning Permission Portal
What do you need for planning permission?
Image of a new build house with planning permission
An architect usually charges between 5% and 12% for full building plans which comply with building regulations, but costs can vary greatly. Photo © Andy Waddington (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How Much Do Building Plans Cost?

An architect will charge a percentage of the cost of building a new property. Depending upon the complexity of the property the fee could be between 5% and 12%. For changes to an existing structure the costs might be higher than those required for a new build. This is because adding an extension depends upon the state of the existing building structure.

The cost of an architect will also vary if the architect is doing more work than just drawing up the building plans. If you engage an architect to draw plans, assess the site, submit the application and supervise the work, the costs will be higher.

Is There A Time Limit On UK Building Regulations?

Approval for a full plan application lasts for 3 years so work must commence within that period otherwise a new application must be made. If an application has run out and the regulations have changed you may need to make substantial alterations to the plans to satisfy the new regulations.

Once work has begun the approval lasts indefinitely and when finished a completion certificate is issued within 8 weeks.

A building notice application also lasts for 3 years after which period it lapses if work has not been started. No certificate is issued for building notice plans.

Photo of a new building almost complete
A completion certificate is usually issued within 8 weeks of a building being finished. Photo © chris whitehouse (cc-by-sa/2.0

Planning Permission Applications

Planning permission is required for new builds and for any extensive extension project. This allows you to turn a piece of land into a usable building plot and it prevents unlawful development. Planning permission is also used to prevent property being built in inappropriate areas and to monitor changes to listed buildings.

How Do I Apply For Planning Permission?

You can contact your local planning authority to ascertain if planning permission is required for your project and then apply online. The application can be done by yourself or you can employ an agent. Decisions on planning applications are granted in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and policies set by your local authority.

The Cost Of A Planning Application

In England the cost of a planning application is currently set at £462 for a single dwelling and £206 for an extension. The cost in Wales is lower and is currently £190. These costs are purely for the application and do not includes design fees and property surveys.

It is possible you may need to submit more than one application before the council will consent so make sure that your budget includes a contingency fund.

Different Types Of Planning Application

There are two main types of planning permission. Full Planning Permission has all the details of a development proposal including the design, usage and position of buildings. Access, landscaping and materials are also shown. Change of use is included in full planning permission.

Outline Planning Permission is granted to developers who have not yet drawn up detailed plans. This cannot be used for change of use or a development that could affect a listed building or a conservation area.

Photo of a listed building which is to be renovated
If you are renovating a listed building the rules may be different depending on your part of the country and your building plans. Photo © M J Richardson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How Long Does Planning Permission Last?

Planning applications normally last 3 years from the date of consent being granted. This means you must commence the work within that time period. If it coming up to the expiry date and you are not ready to start the work it is sometimes best to reapply. Making what is known as a ‘material start’ and applying for permission in perpetuity allows you time to properly begin the work.

If you buy a plot with existing planning permission it is important to find out how long it has to run. Making a new application might involve changing the plans if regulations have changed in the intervening time period.

Conclusion About UK Building Regulations and Plans

There is a time limit for both building regulations and planning permission. The time limit for both applications is 3 years from the consent being granted. However, it is important to get professional assistance if you do not want to get into a situation where consent could be refused.

Back to UK Property Market blog

Homepage: UK Property Auctions | Property Auction List | Try our UK Mortgage Calculator