Understanding Building Regulations and Approved Documents

Building regulations are a set of rules and standards established by governments or other regulatory bodies to ensure safety, health, energy efficiency, and accessibility in the construction and use of  buildings. Compliance with building regulations minimises risks, prevents accidents, supports sustainability, and ensures a consistent quality of construction.

The Building Act 1984

The primary legislation which introduces the Building Regulations in England and Wales is The Building Act 1984 (In Scotland, it is the Building (Scotland) Act 2003). This Act gives power to the Secretary of State to make detailed regulations. The regulations made under this Act are known as Building Regulations and are regularly amended, updated or consolidated.

The Building Regulations 2010

The latest and current regulations are The Building Regulations 2010. The Building regulations are a national set of standards that seek to ensure the safety, health, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings.

The Building Regulations cover all aspects of building work including foundations, damp proofing, the overall stability of the building, insulation, ventilation, heating, fire protection and means of escape in case of fire. They also ensure that adequate facilities for people with disabilities are provided in certain types of building. The Building Regulations will generally apply all building works including the construction of new buildings, extensions and alterations to existing buildings.

Table of Contents of Building Regulations 2010 listed below:

  • PART 1: General
  • PART 2: Control of Building Work
  • PART 2A: Dutyholders and competence
    • CHAPTER 1: Client
    • CHAPTER 2: Appointment of principal designer and principal contractor etc
    • CHAPTER 3: Competence
    • CHAPTER 4: Duties of dutyholders
    • CHAPTER 5: General
  • PART 3: Notices, Plans and Certificates
  • PART 4: Supervision of Building Work Otherwise than by Local Authorities
  • PART 5: Self-certification schemes and third party certification schemes
  • PART 6: Energy Efficiency Requirements
  • PART 7: Water Efficiency
  • PART 7A: Automatic fire suppression systems
  • PART 8: Information to be Provided by the Person Carrying Out Work
  • PART 9: Testing and Commissioning
  • PART 9A: Infrastructure for electronic communications
  • PART 9B: Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles
  • PART 10: Miscellaneous
  • SCHEDULE 1: Requirements
  • SCHEDULE 2: Exempt Buildings and Work
  • SCHEDULE 3: Self-certification Schemes and Exemptions from Requirement to Give Building Notice or an application for building control approval with full plans
  • SCHEDULE 3A: Third Party Certification Schemes and Exemptions from Requirement to Give Building Notice or an application for building control approval with full plans
  • SCHEDULE 4: Descriptions of Work where no Building Notice or an application for building control approval with full plans Required
  • SCHEDULE 4A: Green deal information
  • SCHEDULE 5: Revocation of Regulations
  • SCHEDULE 6: Consequential Amendments

Approved Documents

The Building Regulations are supported by statutory Approved Documents which provide detailed practical guidance on ways to comply with the technical requirements stated in the regulations. Approved documents set out the typical approaches for compliance with technical requirements stated on each of the Parts of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations.

Approved Documents are listed below: 

Part A – Structure

Part B – Fire Safety

Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Part D – Toxic Substances

Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound

Part F – Ventilation

Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency

Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal

Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems

Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact

Part L – Conservation of fuel and power

This document provides guidance on how to comply with Part L of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010 and the energy efficiency requirements for dwellings and buildings other than dwellings.

Approved Document L contains two separate parts; 

  • Approved Document L, Volume 1: Dwellings, 
  • Approved Document L, Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings.

Each section covers specific regulations and requirements.


Part M – Access to and use of buildings

Part N – Glazing Safety (Withdrawn and contained to PART K)

Part O – Overheating

This Approved Document covers the overheating mitigation requirements of the building regulations as set out in Part O of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations and in a number of specific building regulations. Technical guidance is contained in Approved Document O. Approved Document O applies to new residential buildings.


Part P – Electrical Safety

Part Q – Security-Dwellings

Part R – Physical infrastructure for high speed electronic communications networks.

Part S – Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles

Regulation 7 – Materials and workmanship

Each Approved Document contains:

  • general guidance on the expected performance of materials and building work in order to comply with the building regulations
  • practical examples and solutions on how to achieve compliance for some of the more common building situations

The guidance within the Approved Documents will be taken into account when the building control body is considering whether your plans of proposed building work, work in progress or completed works, comply with the applicable requirements of the Building Regulations.

Approved documents are for guidance purposes only and they are not legally binding. So you are free to use other ways of complying with the requirements of the Building Regulations.



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