Frequently asked questions

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1. What is the difference between planning and building control?

The main difference between planning and building control in general terms is that planning is a permission based service that sets out requirements to determine if you can proceed with your developments and building control over see building works to ensure minimum building standards are met to ensure the health safety and welfare of those in and around buildings.


2. Do I need planning permission or listed Building Consent?

Are you looking at carrying out building works to your home or business? Then visit the Cheltenham borough Council or Tewkesbury Borough Council planning website, depending which borough you are situated, to see if your works will require planning permission or listed building consent.

The interactive house that can be found on the planning portal provides advice on what will require planning permission, for further information please visit interactive.planningportal.co.uk .Please note that the interactive house also gives guidance on what works require building regulations.


3. What are exempt buildings and structures?

Please visit our technical and advice page for information on exempt buildings and structures.


4. Does my building work need building regulations approval?

The vast majority of building work is likely to require building regulations. Works that require an application to be submitted are:

  • The erection or extension of a building.

  • The provision or extension of a controlled service or fitting in connection with a building. This includes sanitary equipment, unvented hot water storage systems, foul and surface water drainage, and combustion appliances.

  • The replacement of a window (or a door with more than 50% of its area glazed).

  • The replacement of a heat-producing appliance or a hot water storage vessel.

  • The insertion of insulating material into the cavity wall of a building.

  • Work involving the underpinning of a building.

  • Any alteration to the building or part of a building if it affects the structure, fire safety, or the access and use of the building.

  • Any alteration to a controlled service or fitting.

  • A material change of use of a building (or part of a building) to:

    • A dwelling.

    • A flat or maisonette (including a change in the number of dwellings within a building).

    • A hotel or boarding house.

    • An institution (nursing home, hospital, etc).

    • A public building (theatre, school, place of public worship, etc).

    • Residential rooms (hotel rooms, student rooms, residential homes, etc) including a change in the number of rooms within a building.

    • A shop.

  • Work relating to the energy status of the building.

  • Work relating to thermal elements of the building - e.g. walls, floor and roof.

There are instances where an application would not be required and works may be carried out without notifying building control. These are works to exempt buildings and structures please see the technical and advice section for further information or contact the building control team direct.


5. How do I apply for building regulations?

There are numerous ways in which to apply for building regulations. Please go to our application page for further details.


6. How much will my application cost?

The fee for any building regulations application will depend on the type and complexity of work being carried out. Please contact us for a fee quote.


7. What happens if I have carried out building works without an application?

Where works have been carried out without an application you can apply for the works to be regularised. Please go to our application page to submit a regularisation application. Once the application has been accepted works will be inspected and it may be requested that parts of the works are uncovered. Once building control is satisfied that the building regulations has been satisfied a regularisation certificate may be issued.


8. How long does my application last for?

When a building regulations application is submitted and accepted you must start works within 3 years of that validation date. Once works have commenced and we have made an inspection to view an element of the building works your application will last indefinitely.


9. Do I need to submit drawings and specifications with my application?

You do not necessarily have to submit any drawings or specifications with your application it depends on the route you wish to submit. Please go to our application page for different application types. Please note that where a building notice is submitted building control may ask for any information that will satisfy requirements of the building regulations.


10. Can the council recommend any architects or builders to help me with my project?

Unfortunately as a Local Authority we are not able to provide recommendations. However we are able to provide a link to the Federation of Master Builders, Guide to extending your home and please see a list of architects and builders who are partnered with Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Building Control and use of services on a regular basis on our portfolio page.


11. What happens if I have started works and there are amendments made to the building regulations?

The building regulations that were in force at the time of when the application was submitted will apply.


12. Can I build over a drain?

If you are building within 3m of sewer that is shown on the Local Water Utilities mapping you will need to contact your Local Water Utility to gain an agreement. The water Authority that serves both Cheltenham and Tewkesbury is Severn Trent Water Ltd. Please also note that where an exempt structure is provided you may still require an agreement to build over/close to a sewer.


13. Do I need to submit an application to convert my garage or loft?

Yes an application is required to convert either your garage or loft area in to a room for habitable use. Please note planning permission may also be required.


14. When do I need a site inspection?

Depending on the type of work that has been applied for it will depend on what inspections are required. When an application has been accepted you will receive an acknowledgment letter which identifies when you should contact us for an inspection. Please note it is a legal requirement that you notify us at Commencement and Completion of works. The different inspection types are:

  • Commencement of works.

  • Foundations: before concreting any excavations.

  • Ground Floor/Oversite: before covering any damp proof course.

  • Drains: prior to backfilling or covering any drains.

  • Roof timbers, trusses and insulation.

  • Structural elements such as floor joists and steel work.

  • Completion: final sign off once work is complete.

Please note it is the responsibility of the home owner/responsible person to contact us for inspection and most notably when works have been completed.


15. When will I get a completion Certificate?

You will receive a completion certificate once all works have been completed and building control is satisfied that the requirements of the building regulations have been met.

Please keep the completion certificate and any approvals with the deeds of your property as these may be required when you come to sell.


16. What is a competent person’s scheme?

This is where you can employ people who can self-certify certain aspects of building works without the need to notify building control, as the installer will carry out the works and issue you with a certificate and will notify the Local Authority through the scheme. The person who carries out the building works must be registered with an approved scheme for such works to be carried out.

For details of schemes please visit www.gov.uk/guidance/competent-person-scheme-current-schemes-and-how-schemes-are-authorised#current-schemes


17. What is the Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall Act 1996 is separate legislation to that of Planning or Building Control. Any works that are being carried out to a party wall or within certain distances of a boundary you must notify your neighbour and get an agreement to carry out such works.