How Long Do Building Plans Need To Be Approved?



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 lots of permissions. There is a difference between building regulations and planning permissions and in this article we will look at both.

Building Regulations in the UK

Building plans must be approved before construction is started on a new property and before you begin changes to an existing building. You can apply for the approval yourself or use someone who is registered with the Competent Persons Scheme. 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 corrective work.

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 regulation approval includes replacing fuse boxes, installing air conditioning units, replacement of windows and doors and installing a new heating system.

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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.

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.

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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 will also vary if the architect is doing more work than just drawing up plans. So, if you engage someone to draw plans, assess the site, submit the application and supervise the work, the costs will be higher.

Is There A Time Limit On 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.

Building Plans FAQ

Who Is Responsible For Complying With Building Regulations?

If you have employed a builder to complete an extension or other work that requires building regulations, the person you employ is usually responsible. However, this should be confirmed before the works starts. As the owner of a building that falls foul of regulations you could ultimately be issued with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with regulations.

How Can I Be Sure I Will Get Planning Permission?

Hiring a skilled consultant is one way of ensuring that planning permission is granted. Investing in the services of a professional can save you money in the long run and will assist in achieving the necessary consent. Other factors are good quality designs, an effective relationship with the planning officer and diligent research.

Can I Make Changes To A Planning Application?

Yes, you can make changes to a planning application but the changes must comply with current building regulations. If the changes are extensive or if the planning officer has suggested it could be refused it may be better to withdraw the application and submit a new one. There is no guarantee that a new planning application will be granted.


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 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 buffer amount.

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.

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 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.

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