How to get it right: Building control exemptions (or when you DON'T need building regulations approval)

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Exempt sign image - building control exemptions - when you don't need building control approval

While we love to be involved, there are times when you won’t need a Building Regulations application. Whether you are carrying out building work yourself, or employing a builder, there are a number of building regulations exemptions to both work and buildings that don't need building control approval. 

The following is intended as a guide but you should always check with your local LABC team if you're in any doubt or need clarification. You can also view Planning Portal’s interactive guides for more information.

Remember, these exemptions only relate to building control applications and you may need to apply for planning permission separately, particularly if you live in, or are carrying out work, to a property that is listed or within a conservation area.

Work that does not need building control approval

  • Maintenance work
  • Minor repairs
  • Replacing less than 25 per cent of an item, like-for-like
  • Additional power or lighting points and switches (except around baths and showers)
  • Alterations to existing circuits (except around baths and showers)
  • Like-for-like replacements of baths, toilets, basins or sinks
  • Boundary or garden walls, fences and gates
  • In some cases, works that are being carried out by competent registered persons (check details for this with your local LABC team)

Buildings that do not need building control approval

  • Greenhouses (providing they are not used for retail, packing or exhibiting)
  • Some agricultural buildings (check with your local LABC team)
  • Temporary buildings (erected for less than 28 days)
  • Some ancillary buildings such as estate sales buildings and building site offices without sleeping accommodation
  • Some small detached buildings (check with your local LABC team)
  • Buildings that are not frequented by people (check with your local LABC team)
  • Detached single storey buildings, including garages, that are less than 30m2 floor area and at least one metre from any boundary unless constructed of non-combustible materials. 
  • Detached single storey buildings that are less than 15m2 floor area
  • An extension to a building at ground level consisting of a porch of less than 30m2 floor area and separated from the house by an external type door
  • A carport open on at least two sides
  • A covered yard or covered way less than 30m2
  • A conservatory or porch that is less than 30m2, with a significant proportion of the roof and walls glazed (no % given), it must be at ground level, it must comply with relevant sections of Part K (glazing), be thermally separated from the dwelling by external quality windows and/or doors and the buildings heating system must not be extended into the conservatory or porch.
  • Crown property
  • Buildings subject to the Explosives Act
  • Buildings other than houses or offices erected on a site licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act
  • Buildings included in the Schedule to Section 1 of the Ancients Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act

Don’t forget that you might still need approval for any enabling works. For example creating a wider opening into an exempt conservatory would still need approval for the structural alteration to widen the opening.

Further information

For further guidance on getting building control approval visit the Planning Portal’s free guide.


Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the user’s professional judgement. It is the responsibility of the dutyholder or person carrying out the work to ensure compliance with relevant building regulations or applicable technical standards.


Loft boards

Submitted 1 year 3 months ago

I'm planning on boarding out my loft with standard chipboard loft boards, supported on loft legs to ensure the insulation isn't impeded. Whilst the loft would simply be used for storage of the usual "stuff" - suitcases, kids toys etc, I was wondering whether or not it would be safe to use some of the space to install my model railway. Assuming the laying of the boards was done correctly, would this be safe and OK? The house is detached dwelling built in 1999. Thanks


Submitted 1 year 3 months ago

Hello there - thanks for leaving your comment.

The use of loft flooring and raisers is a sensible way to store items infrequently used.

However a model railway installation would bring the loft space into the classification of a habitable space and require a building regulation application. The application ensures that the space meets the necessary requirements for fire protection, thermal insulation, structural loading as a floor, a new staircase etc. Fire safety in particular is needed because the new room is vulnerable as it is at the top of the house and likely to be smoke logged quickly with the furthest distance to travel to the front door. You should discuss this with your local building control team.

Kind regards,
David, LABC

Retrospective Approval?

Submitted 1 year 3 months ago

Hello, I have recently moved into a house that has a attached Double Garage that was added in the 1990's, but has planning approval but no Building Regulations, I was wondering do I need retrospective approval for this, and how do I go about it, or does it not because of the age of it?

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 3 months ago

Hello there,

Thanks for getting in touch with LABC.

Certain detached buildings are considered exempt under the provisions of the building regulations and so it may be the garage did not require building control consent.

You have stated it's a double garage and so it's assumed this would be over 15m2 internal floor area. This being the case and providing the garage is single storey and under 30m2, it would be considered exempt if it was sited at least 1.0m from any boundary or if closer the garage would need to be constructed of substantially non-combustible material (brick/block walls with a timber felted or tiled roof).

If the garage is over 30m2 then building regulation consent would be required irrespective of the construction, and retrospective consent could be sought through your local council’s building control section. You can find their direct contact details using the postcode search in the top righthand corner of this web page.

Hope this response answers your query!

Kind regards
Richard, LABC

Converting a small detached garage into storage and an office

Submitted 1 year 3 months ago


I’ve got a small single story detached garage with a concrete floor that’s less than 15m2 floor space. It’s got a new warm flat roof and power installed, both by a competent person.

I’d like to divide it into some storage and office space for occasional use, keeping the up and over door at one end. I don’t intend to change the structure of the building.

I’d like to get a stud wall added, plaster board, insulation on the office walls, and a damp proof and insulated new floor added for what would be the office space.

Base on comments here, government legislation and the planning portal sites, my understanding is that this work would be both permitted development and exempt from building regulations. This is because I don’t intend to change the building’s structure, use it as sleeping accommodation or add a story, and the floor space is less than 15m2 in a detached outbuilding. The work needs to be of a “reasonable standard” and, of course, it would be.

Is that right?
Thank you.


E.g. see questions here...

Exempt garage?

Submitted 1 year 3 months ago

I have a garage under 30m2 within 1m of the boundary. It’s has concrete tiles on a timber truss roof, brick walls and concrete floor slab. Is this exempt?

Sunken Garden Room

Submitted 1 year 2 months ago

Does a garden store that is built partially underground with a grass roof that is walkable require building control approval?
The structure is all concrete, and it is a cut and fill style project where the steeply sloping ground is cut out and the walls of the structure retain the remaining earth.


Submitted 1 year 2 months ago

Hello there - thanks for getting in touch with LABC.

For your reference, exemption criteria is given in Schedule 2 of the Building Regulations 2010.

I would suggest you prepare a sketch of the building and confirm the construction, floor area, use and proximity to boundaries/adjacent properties and submit this to your local council’s building control department so that they can give you a definitive response.

Kind regards
Richard, LABC

Front porch extension with toilet

Submitted 1 year 2 months ago

Hi there
We want to extend our front porch by 3sqm and include a small WC - have a disability which makes me go to the bathroom frequently. Do I need to provide building notice / building regulations ? And if so, am I exempt from the fee?


Submitted 1 year 2 months ago

I have a garage under 30m2 but over 15m2 and within 1m of the boundary. It has concrete tiles on a timber truss roof, brick walls and concrete floor slab. Is this exempt?

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