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When does a replacement kitchen or bathroom need Building Regulations approval?

Replacement kitchen - Building Regulations application

The majority of domestic like for like replacement kitchens or bathrooms won’t need any form of Building Regulations approval, but if you’re modifying the existing layout then approval may be needed.

This might be due to (from the Building Regulations):

"3(b) the provision or extension of a controlled service or fitting in or in connection with a building;
3(c) the material alteration of a building, or a controlled service or fitting;
3(d) work required by regulation 6 (requirements relating to material change of use);"

A "controlled service or fitting" means;
"A service or fitting in relation to which Part G (Sanitation, hot water safety & water efficiency), H (Drainage & Waste Disposal), J (Combustion appliances & fuel storage systems), L (Conservation of fuel & power) or P (Electrical safety) of Schedule 1 imposes a requirement."

"None of the work, or any part of it, should at any stage result in not complying with or being more unsatisfactory with a relevant requirement where previously it did."

Confused?!

So what does it mean and just how is it relevant to replacement kitchens and bathrooms?

Are you undertaking the provision or extension of a controlled service or fitting? Does this require Building Regulations approval?
If you move the boiler to another location. Yes (Part J)
If you leave the boiler where it is but extend the flue.  Yes (Part J)

If you install a new gas appliance. 

Yes (Part J)

If you relocate the sink. 

Yes, if the installation of the fitting or fittings will involve alterations to, or new connections to, a drainage stack or an underground drain, the above ground wastes and drains are controllable (Part H). So is the installation of hot water and wholesome water to the sink (Part G).

If you relocate the bathroom appliances. 

Yes, if the installation of the fitting or fittings will involve alterations to, or new connections to, a drainage stack or an underground drain, the above ground wastes and drains are controllable (Part H). So is the installation of hot water and wholesome water to the bath, shower, wash basin and bidet (Part G).
If you replace a window or external door.  Yes, this is a renovation of a thermal element (Part L1B)
If you install a new window or external door.  Yes (Part L1B)
If you install an electrical circuit. 

Yes (Part P)
 

If you install or alter fixed electrical equipment in the kitchen. Yes, if the circuit is within the ‘special location’ measured 2.25m vertically from the floor or shower head (if higher) and within 600mm of any bath tub or shower tray (Part P).
If you install or alter fixed electrical equipment in the kitchen. No, this is non-notifiable work unless a new circuit is provided e.g. installing a new built-in cooker or prefabricated modular lighting is non-notifiable unless a new circuit is required. The work still falls within the scope of (Part P) and should be certificated in accordance with BS7671 and local authorities can still take enforcement action if they consider the work non-compliant and unsafe.
If you install an extract fan.  Yes, if it requires a new electrical circuit, the extract should go to outside where possible (Part P).

Are you carrying out a material alteration ?

Removing load bearing walls to accommodate a new layout is a structural alteration. Design and fire resistance will be needed for the new lintel, bearings and foundations may need to be examined for suitability.

Removing doors (or non-load bearing walls) between the kitchen and other rooms, particularly to a staircase, will affect means of escape (B1). Additional precautions in other parts of the property may be needed such as escape windows, interlinked smoke and heat detection, and additional fire resistance (B3). Alternatively you may need to retain the door(s) so it is no worse than before. (Both in Part B.)

Are you carrying out a material change of use?

This classification involves the creation of a dwelling, subdivision to create more than one dwelling or flat or room for residential purposes. The installation of a second kitchen would indicate this likely use and Building Regulations approval would be required and possibly planning permission.

Could alterations alter the status of a building?

Other than change of use (above), a request may also be received to install a kitchen in a conservatory. Some conservatories are exempt from the requirement for a Building Regulations application unless the external doors are being removed or the opening widened to open it up to the main house. This removes the exemption status enjoyed by the conservatory and approval is needed.

If that happens, it reverts to an extension of the main house and thermal compliance will be difficult to achieve because of the excessive glazing. An open kitchen/dining space is a popular alteration to properties and care is needed to ensure compliance is possible.

If your building is listed in some way, for its architectural or historic interest and/or is located in a sensitive urban or rural environment (e.g. a conservation area or an area of outstanding natural beauty), then the alterations may require additional consent from the planning department. 

Remember the reference "Not complying with or being more unsatisfactory with a relevant requirement where previously it did"? This means that the works must not make fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they previously were – or dangerous.

For example, the provision of replacement double glazing must not worsen compliance in relation to: means of escape; air supply for combustion appliances and their flues; and ventilation for health.

Electrical installations must not worsen compliance in relation to:

  • structure (depth of chases in walls, notches in floor and roof joists)
  • fire safety (provision of detection systems, fire resistance of penetrations through floors and walls)
  • site preparation (resistance of service penetrations to rainwater and radon)
  • sound (service penetrations on party walls)
  • ventilation
  • thermal (use of energy efficient lighting)
  • access (heights of sockets and switches)

If you’re in any doubt then speak to your Local Authority building control team who can offer advice and guidance on how to comply.

You can find your local authority’s contact details here.

Further information

Householders, find out much more about how the building regulations apply to your home extension, renovation or build.

Published May 2017