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.



Submitted 10 months 2 weeks ago

Hello there

Thank you for getting in touch with LABC.

The key issue with your proposal appears to be the design of the foundations, which need to take into account the presence of a nearby tree, which you state is to remain. Because the garage is constructed of pre-cast concrete units, it would probably be easier to take the garage down and re-build off a suitably designed foundation, rather than attempting to remedy the existing defective slab. The actual foundation design would need to be determined, based on the specific type and age of the tree within influence, it may therefore be prudent to seek professional advice from a structural engineer in this instance, who may well refer to NHBC or other similar guidance.

I trust you find this response helpful.

Kind regards
Richard, LABC

Garden room close to boundary

Submitted 10 months 3 weeks ago

Hi. I'm considering a self build garden games room and shed combination that would be approx. 25m2 and 2.5m high. Plan was to do a timber base on brick/cement posts, timber frame and roof with cedar cladding on walls and rubber lining on OSB for the room. Probably ply for the internal walls as I can't plaster. I'd like to build 0.5m2 from the side and rear boundaries (neighbours' gardens on either side, rear boundary backs onto park). Intend only to have simple electrics installed by qualified electrician.

I understand that to be exempt from building regulations I would need to build this from 'substantially non-combustible material'. Is there a clear definition of what this constitutes? I've seen different LAs advise differently.

If I replace the cedar cladding with cement board will this be sufficient?



Submitted 10 months 2 weeks ago

Hello there - thanks for getting in touch.

As you describe, local authorities, understandably, can interpret this legislation differently. We would therefore recommend that you discuss your proposals directly with your local authority. You can find contact details for your local authority building control team via the postcode search facility within our website. Receiving written confirmation from your local authority that your proposals are exempt may assist you in the future should you come to sell your property.

Kind regards
Martin, LABC

Garden Room

Submitted 10 months 1 week ago


We are proposing to have a garden room constructed for a home office during the day time and somewhere to be used in the evening time ( but not to sleep ) and it will be heated with a plug in appliance. The room will be detached 18 sqm internal floor area and will be within 1m of 3 boundaries and will also be constructed of non-combustible materials. I understand that it will require Building Regulation Approval.

My question is with it being heated will i have to satisfy the criteria for thermal performance? Whilst i intend to insulate it i was not going to insulate it to current guidelines - i have read in Part L that buildings under 50sq m can be exempt from Part L, Will that apply to my proposded building even though i plan to heat it?

Thank yoiu

Garden Room

Submitted 10 months 1 week ago

sorry - a correction to my question submitted a few minutes ago - the garden room is to be constructed out of combustible materials as opposed to non-combustible materials

Lean-to "renewed" and enclosed - is it still exempt?

Submitted 10 months 1 week ago

Hello LABC,

We are buying a house which is advertised as having a rear extension (6m2, with a small WC), which has no building control approvals. The current owner says that it is just a lean-to and hence exempt. It has been a timber-framed lean-to for decades, until the owner "renewed" it a few years ago and enclosed it with very basic plasterboard/PVC walls and a felt roof. There is still a (fairly large) window and a patio door. The structure is attached but still separated by the house through the original external wall and patio door - so no new opening.

Would it still be exempt under Schedule 2, Class 7? The glazing is probably covering around 25-30% of the wall surface at most. Is there a fixed limit to the glazing percentage, for it to be considered a lean-to?

Many thanks in advance for your kind help.

Garden Gym/Shipping Container

Submitted 10 months ago

I am considering installing a shipping container as a garden gym.
It would be single storey, under 15m2. Mostly made of metal. Height 2.1m.
From what I have said it wouldn’t require Building Control approval, is there anything I haven’t considered.
Many Thanks.

Buying a property that has been split into flats

Submitted 10 months ago

Hi there, I am looking at a property that has been split into flats and I’m wondering how I check whether the split has been done according to Building Regulations. I’m not sure when the work was done and by who but as it is existing would I have to do work retrospectively to make it comply if it doesn’t now? What is the best way forward here?
Thanks in advance!

external wall insulation

Submitted 9 months 4 weeks ago

We have applied and are successul in our application for the green grant for external wall insulation. I cannot find guidance for Enfield borough if this requires plannign permisission. It willnto change the external appearance as the areas ot be insualted are already rendered and the aim will be to render the external insualtion in the same colour.


Submitted 9 months 3 weeks ago

Hello there - thanks for getting in touch.

You should speak to your local council's planning department to find out if that's the case.

Kind regards
Julie, LABC

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