What are the Differences between English and Welsh Building Regulations?
In 2011, the powers on Building Regulations in Wales were devolved to their local authorities. This has meant, since then, a number of regulatory differences between English Building Regulations and Welsh Building Regulations have occurred.
Navigating these differences is both difficult and crucial for compliancy, so we at Cook Brown Building Control are here to help. We are Approved Inspectors, providing oversight for projects to ensure you’re compliant with regulations.
In this article we’ll discuss why there are differences between Building Regulations in England and Wales, and how you can manage these differences.
Are Building Regulations the Same in England and Wales?
The Building Act 1984 is the primary body of legislation governing the regulations on buildings within England and Wales. Over the years it has deployed many different sections and received amendments as new technologies, research, and requirements have come about.
While England and Wales do have a large number of similarities in their Building Regulations, they also have a fair number of differences.
Most legislation from 2010 and before that hasn’t received substantial amendments is shared between England and Wales. This is because in 2011, Wales’s Building Regulation powers were devolved to the newly established Building Regulations Advisory Committee for Wales (BRACW). This occurred under the Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions) (No. 2) Order 2009.
Due to this difference in regulatory body between England and Wales, there has been a resulting difference between the regulations that projects in each country must abide by.
What are the Different Building Regulations?
So, how do Building Regulations differ between England and Wales? We’ve outlined six regulations that are different in at least some way between the two countries, including: Approved Documents O, L, and F; Part P of the Building Regulations 2013 & 2014; the Building Safety Act 2023; and Section 33 of the Building Regulations 1984 (2023).
Overheating: Approved Document O
A part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) Approved Documents 2021, the Approved Document O was released to regulate overheating in buildings.
For new builds in particular, Document O ensures overheating is kept as minimal as possible. It does this through reference to aspects such as glazing, insulation, and ventilation. Document O is largely similar between England and Wales, with the Welsh regulations being somewhat more lenient.
The main difference between the two is in the Welsh Document O Requirement 01, which means the Welsh overheating regulations only apply to dwellings and institutions such as a school – meanwhile, the English version of the regulations sets out the same overheating-prevention standards for every type of building within England.
Conservation of Fuel and Power: Approved Document L
Another part of the DLUHC Approved Documents 2021, Approved Document L pertains to the conservation of fuel and power within buildings. This is in an effort to ensure energy efficiency is in line with sustainability efforts and regulations.
The key difference between Document L for England and Wales is the percentages involved. English Building Regulations require new and existing homes to produce 31% less carbon, while Welsh Building Regulations require 37% less.
This difference can lead to thresholds in carbon production being crossed, prompting changes to features like glazing and insulation.
Ventilation: Approved Document F
Thirdly within the Approved Documents 2021 is Approved Document F, centred around ventilation requirements. This are intended to prevent condensation build-up which could lead to possible damage to the structure of a property.
The Document F is a replacement for the English version from 2010. Wales had their own version of the regulations, Approved Document F (2010, incorporating 2010 and 2014 amendments), which have also been replaced.
Aside from the differences in what is being changed, the resulting Building Regulations have minimal differences between England and Wales.
The Building Safety Act (BSA) October 2023
Building Regulations (Approved Inspectors etc. and Review of Decisions) (England) 2023 came into effect on October 1, 2023. This amends the Building Regulations (Approved Inspectors etc.) 2010 to mean the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is the only valid supervisor for higher-risk buildings, and other approved inspectors or local authorities may no longer oversee higher-risk building projects.
Under the amendments, existing Building Control Advisors like local authorities and Approved Inspectors may still carry out supervision for higher-risk building projects by becoming Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCA), requiring registration with the BSR.
All new higher-risk buildings within England must be registered with the BSR – without this registration, they may not be occupied.
These new requirements also mean that developers must submit their design applications to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) for approval. Appropriate steps must also be taken, including:
- Site inspections at milestone dates
- Requirement reports
- Management changes
- Storage of “golden thread” information – golden thread being a tool consisting of safety information and management dutyholders and accountable persons must create to maintain a database for future stakeholders and building managers.
As this only applies to England, it is not currently part of the Welsh Building Regulations as of the time of publication.
The Building Act 1984 (Commencement No. 3) (England) Order 2023
Another part of the Building Act 1984 came into effect on October 1, 2023. These regulations, known as Section 33, are Building Regulations that apply only to England; this means the Welsh Building Regulations are not affected by the changes.
Section 33 of the Building Act 1984 extends the powers granted by regulations 45 and 46 of the Building Regulations 2010. This allows Building Control Authorities to sample and test work, supporting local authorities in assessing whether works and proposals comply with Building Regulations.
Inspections required under these regulations include elements such as soil, subsoil, components, and materials.
Building Regulations Part P: Electrical Safety for Dwellings
Electrical safety for English Building Regulations is governed under the Approved Document P 2013. This Document explains when notification of work is required and provides information on the design, installation, inspection, testing, and provision of information for electrical installations.
Wales, on the other hand, have their own regulations as laid out by the Building Regulations Guidance: Part P (Electrical Safety). These regulations were initially amended in 2014, causing them to diverge from the Building Regulations for electrical safety in English dwellings.
Under the Approved Document P for England, changes were implemented to reduce the range of electrical installation work that is notifiable. Under the regulations, an installer who isn’t a registered competent person may use a registered third party to certify notifiable electrical installation work – alternative, they can use a Building Control body.
Part P for Wales details notification of proposals to carry out electrical installation work must always be given to a Building Control body such as the local authority or Approved Inspector before work begins.
There are two exceptions to this:
- When the proposed work is undertaken by a person registered with an electrical self-certification scheme prescribed within the Part P Regulations.
- When the proposed electrical installation work is non-notifiable work described within the Regulations and does not include the provision of a new circuit.
Navigate the Differences in Regulations with Cook Brown
With so many different regulations between England and Wales, it can be hard to manage it all yourself. Make sure your building projects aligns with the Building Regulations of England or Wales by using an Approved Inspector registered under the BSR to oversee your proposed works.