Building control glossary: acronyms and technical terms
As with any industry, there are lots of technical terms and other jargon used in building control so this glossary should help get you up to speed.
Click a letter to jump to a section.
- The ability to physically move around an area, whether you're young, old, less abled or physically encumbered.
- Approved Document – A practical guide on ways to comply with the functional requirements in the Building Regulations. See the full series of Approved Documents for England and for Wales.
- Approved Inspector – A company or individual authorised to carry out building control work in England and Wales.
- See Building Notice.
- Apprenticeship Levy
- A levy on UK employers in all sectors to fund new apprenticeships. Employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year have to set aside 0.5% of their payroll for training. Introduced in April 2017, its objectives are to boost productivity by investing in human capital, develop vocational skills and increase the quality of training.
- A railing supported by balusters (pillars) which acts as a protective wall along the edge of a staircase, balcony, bridge or terrace.
- Building Act 1984
- The primary, enabling legislation that gives the government powers to make building regulations.
- Building control
- Building control body – A legal enforcer of building regulations.
- Building Regulations 2010
- The Building Regulations set out what qualifies as 'building work', what types of buildings are exempt (such as temporary buildings), procedures that you must follow when starting, carrying out, and completing building work, and requirements for building design and construction.
- Building Notice
- A building regulations application which doesn't require you to submit plans (like the Full Plans application) so it may be quicker to start building work. Work will be inspected as it progresses. Read more about this process.
- Chartered Association of Building Engineers
- Cavity wall
- A wall formed by an inner and outer wall (or 'skins') with a hollow space in-between them.
- Change of use
- A change to the main use of a building. The significance of the change and the resulting impact on the building or land around it will determine if something will be defined as a change of use.
- Construction Industry Council
- Chartered Institute Of Building
- Competent Person
- A person who has relevant, recognised qualifications, is a member of a relevant professional organisation. Some work can be carried out without notifying building control if work is done by a Competent Person. Read our article on the subject.
- Completion certificate
- Issued by surveyors once they are happy that work meets building regulations. Find out how to get a completion certificate in our guide.
- A change in function or use of a property so that it serves a different purpose.
- Continuing Professional Development
- Competent Persons Scheme – An installer registered with CPS is qualified to carry out specific types of work that complies with the building regulations. Find out more.
- Dangerous structure
- A building or part of a building or other structure which, because of its condition, could endanger the public. Examples here.
- Department of Communities and Local Government – Responsible for building regulations, housing, planning, urban policies, sustainable communities and delivering EPCs.
- Domestic Energy Assessor – A trained and qualified individual who can assess existing domestic dwellings and produce EPCs for use in property sales and rental markets.
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Formerly known as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
- Partial or complete demolition of a structure or building. You must notify the local council of any demolition and planning permission may be needed. Further information.
- Damp-proof course – Impermeable materials laid in the foundation walls/floor slab of buildings near the ground to prevent dampness from rising into the buildings.
- Damp-proof membrane – A thin layer of material applied to a surface to prevent moisture transmission.
- Part of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building.
- Energy efficiency
- Energy efficiency in buildings is aided by things like heating from renewable resources, insulation, draught-proofing, lighting and radiators.
- Energy Performance Certificate – Required for properties when constructed, sold or let. The EPC provides details on the property's energy performance and what you can do to improve it.
- Energy Performance Report – An EPC which is not officially lodged in the Government's central database.
- Federation of Master Builders
- Full Plans application
- With this type of building regulations application a building control team will check and 'approve' your plans before work starts. Read more about this process.
- Good Homes Alliance
- Ground heave
- Heave occurs when the ground, usually made up of clay soil, expands and swells when wet. The soil cannot expand downwards or sideways so it moves upwards and this can cause building foundations to move, potentially damaging structures.
- Home Condition Report – A report developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to provide a succinct overview of a residential property and highlight areas that may require varying degrees of attention.
- Home Inspector – A trained and qualified individual who can undertake a Home Condition Report (HCR) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPC).
- A house in multiple occupation, or a house of multiple occupancy. A HMO is a residential property which has at least 3 tenants, forming more than 1 household, who share facilities such as the kitchen, toilet and bathroom.
- High-rise residential building
- Health and Safety Executive – An independent regulator which helps employers manage risks correctly and helps workers understand how they can stay safe and well.
- An inspection (or site inspection) will be carried out at certain stages throughout your building works after a building control application has been approved. Read about the Building control approval process.
- Joint Competent Authority – One of the key recommendations from the Hackitt Review was the creation of a new Joint Competent Authority comprising of Local Authority Building Standards (LABS), fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to oversee management of safety risks in high-rise residential buildings (HRRB) across their entire life cycle.
- A length of timber or steel which supports part of the structure of a building, typically a floor or ceiling.
- Kilowatt-hour – A unit for electricity.
- LABC Warranty
- Their partnership with LABC (since 2007) means that they can provide building control and structural warranties throughout England and Wales using the combined technical expertise of over 3,700 surveyors. All of their policies are underwritten by 'A' rated global insurers, ensuring buyers are protected for the duration of the policy.
- Local Authority Building Standards Scotland – A not-for-profit membership organisation which represent Scotland's 32 local authority building standards services – the only appointed verifiers for their geographical area.
- The overlapping or projecting part of a roof panel.
- Low energy lighting – A building with LEL has a low energy demand. There are various types of low energy light bulbs available, such as LED and compact fluorescent.
- Load-bearing wall
- An active structural part of a building that supports the weight of the elements above it, a roof for example.
- Low to zero carbon – Energy sources which are increasingly being installed in buildings, for example: micro CHP, photovoltaic panels, solar panels and wind turbines.
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (previously known as DCLG).
- National House Building Council
- Party wall
- A wall which stands on the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners. Find out more about working with party walls.
- Professional Indemnity – Insurance that protects professional persons from costs they may have to pay as compensation to clients because of problems with work undertaken.
- Public liability – Insurance that covers against loss, or of damage to, third party property, or persons, arising from the activities of a business.
- Planning permission
- Formal permission from a local authority to erect or alter a building. Read What's the difference between planning permission and building regulations?
- Plasticity – How much soils or clay will change volume or transform depending on their water content. View Foundations on clay soil for examples of this
- Pressure Testing
- Tests which detect uncontrolled air leakage paths within the external envelope of the dwelling. The process is required in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to comply with Building Regulations.
- PhotoVoltaics – Modules which convert sunlight directly into DC electricity and can be integrated into buildings.
- Qualifications and Curriculum Authority work closely with government and other agencies to maintain and develop the national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations.
- A beam forming part of the internal framework of a roof.
- The process of making a retrospective application for building regs approval for unauthorised works carried out previously.
- The process of applying cement mixture to walls to achieve a smooth or textured surface. A similar technique to plastering.
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – A professional body promoting and enforcing international standards in the valuation, management and development of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.
- Registered Social Landlord – Government-funded, not-for-profit organisations that provide affordable housing for people in need.
- Standard Assessment Procedure – Methodology used by the Government to assess and compare the energy and environmental performance of dwellings.
- Site inspection
- See Inspection.
- A rod or bar which forms part of a framework, designed to resist compression.
- Stud wall
- An interior wall consisting of a frame of vertical timbers and covered with plasterboard.
- A framework, typically consisting of rafters, posts, and struts, supporting a roof or other structure.
- A solid foundation laid below ground level to support or strengthen a building.
- Unique Property Reference Number – Each building in the UK is given one by the government.
- Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency are covered under Approved Document G of the Building Regulations.
- Information on the resistance to water of roofs, walls and floors is contained within Approved Document C.