Here are some steps you will need to take before carrying out internal alterations. Not all of these will require Building Regulations approval – the basic rule of thumb is that if the work involves load-bearing walls, chimneys, fireplaces or walls around staircases then any alteration will require inspection and approval from your local building control team. So talk to them as soon as you can.
If you are carrying out minor alterations such as replacing roofing tiles with the same type and weight of tile; replacing the felt to a flat roof; re-pointing brickwork; or replacing floorboards you will not need the work signed off by your local building control team. (Find their contact details.)
Find out more by watching our video on internal alterations to the layout or structure of your home:
Building, removing or altering walls
- Internal walls have a number of functions: some keep the ceiling and upper floors up, some are there to help you escape from your home if there was a fire and others simply divide up space.
- Load bearing walls – these are fundamental to the structure of your home and you should get expert advice from an architect or structural engineer before they are altered, built or removed. When removing a load bearing wall a structural engineer considers the loads on the wall and will design a beam and other supporting structures to safely transmit the loads to the ground.
- Fire protection – walls around staircases offer protection to allow you to escape in the event of a fire, so altering these walls will mean you will probably need to take other measures such as fitting smoke alarms or upstairs windows suitable for fire escape to compensate.
Generally window repairs such as replacing broken glass, fogged double-glazing, rotten sashes and rotten sections of the frame can be done without seeking building regulation approval. But if you live in a conservation area, area of outstanding natural beauty or if your home is listed then you will need to get building regulation approval (and possibly planning permission too) for almost any glazing work – so check with your local building control team.
Fully replacing windows would usually require building regulation approval, but most work can be carried out using a FENSA registered installer. They will carry out the work to the correct standards and provide you with all the relevant certificates on completion. More information can be found in our section on Competent Persons Schemes.
Bay windows and chimneys
Bay windows and chimneys are usually load-bearing, so any alterations to them will need building regulation approval and you should seek expert advice from a structural engineer or builder before carrying out work. If you want to remove a chimney breast, a structural engineer or architect will be able to assess the strength of the party or gable wall, chimney flue thickness and height to work out what kind of supporting measures to install in its place.
Working chimneys may require a flue liner or renovating to prevent smoke leaking into rooms and should be swept regularly to keep them working efficiently. If you plan to install a new wood burning stove it is important you follow the correct installation procedures. More information on chimney repairs along with a register of competent contractors can be found at the National Association of Chimney Engineers.