The following are some of the frequently asked questions in relation to drainage, house plans, foundations, extensions, approved documents, completion certificates, public sewers, Building Control inspections, fees, getting plans drawn, garden shed consent etc...
See the drainage plans for my house?
The Council may have plans of your original house which include a drainage layout. It may be possible for the original plans to be extracted from the archives, dependent largely on how old the house is. It cannot be guaranteed that what is shown on any plan is what you will find on site. You may be charged an administration fee. Searching for old records takes a while whether or not they can be found.
A better way to determine the drainage layout is to either employ a surveyor to investigate or lift manholes in your garden and do your own survey.
Remember there may be surface water as well as foul drains on your property, you must not connect foul water to a surface water system or vice versa. You will also need to remember that other people may have rights of drainage and therefore use of the sewers passing through your land.
You have a right to see plans deposited for any planning application for your house and these may contain drainage plans.
See the plans for my house?
You have a right to see plans deposited for any planning application for your house.
However, Building Control documents are not public records and access is restricted to the owner. If you wish to see documents produced by the Council, such as approval notices and Completion Certificates, these may be viewed on request as long as they are accompanied by proof of ownership.
Have copies of the plans for my house?
Building Control documents are not public records and access is restricted to the owner. The copyright remains with the architect/engineer who drew the original plans and in the first instance you will be referred to them.
Will the foundations of my extension be OK to take another storey?
Generally the design for foundations of a single storey building is the same as that for a two storey extension. The important aspects include:
- depth to the bottom of the foundations above ground level
- depth of concrete in the foundations
- width of the foundation concrete
- location of the wall within the width of the foundation and
- probably even more important, the nature of the ground under the foundation
Unless the original foundations were laid within the last two or three years, it is advisable to expose the existing foundation in one or two locations so that the above aspects can be assessed by a structural engineer or the Building Control Surveyor before planning a first floor extension on an existing single storey part of the building.
Other important aspects to consider are:
- suitability of existing roof structure to act as a floor
- suitability of existing lintels over ground floor openings and
- suitability of existing walls.
My neighbour has extended over the boundary, what can I do?
Boundary disputes are a private matter between neighbours, the Council cannot be party to any such disputes, unless of course they are the landowners involved. Neither the planning consent nor the Building Regulation approval confers a right to build over a boundary onto neighbours land.
Such disputes are best resolved, initially by consultation and if necessary negotiation. If necessary both parties can agree to go to arbitration. You may also care to try the Citizens Advice Bureau. Parties may have to resort to solicitors advice and even formal legal action.
The Council cannot give you any information about the location of boundaries. Some information may be available from the Land Registry about the approximate size of a particular plot but they are not able to confirm the exact location of boundary lines.
You should plan work so that foundations, walls, roofs eaves and gutters do not encroach over boundaries except when this is done by negotiation. Remember that an informal agreement between you and your present neighbour may not be enforceable on any future neighbour. Ensure that you get negotiated agreements properly and formally agreed and any necessary changes made to deeds.
What are Approved Documents?
The Building Regulations generally lay down performance requirements in relation to various aspects of building work.
The Approved Documents, in simple terms, set out the ways in which you can ensure that you comply with the performance requirements of the Regulations. You can use another way of complying but you will have to demonstrate to the Council how you will comply with the performance requirement of the Regulations.
I need a Completion Certificate, how do I get one?
When the Council has made all necessary inspections and is satisfied that the works you have carried out comply with the Regulations it will issue a Completion Certificate.
If there are minor items outstanding a conditioned Completion Certificate will be issued at the Council's discretion.
If major issues remain outstanding it is possible that formal enforcement action will be taken.
When the works you have undertaken are substantially complete and you are required to notify us so that we can carry a completion inspection. A Completion Certificate will be issued following a completion inspection.
I am selling my house and need a Completion Certificate, how do I get one?
These are only available for works carried out after June 1996.
Unfortunately many people neglect to notify the Council that works are complete. Therefore, no formal Completion Inspection is made, so no Completion Certificate is issued. Often, in the final stages of selling a property, the absence of a Completion Certificate becomes an issue and we are requested to issue one quickly. Given the inevitable delay organising a completion inspection, putting right any outstanding items and re-inspection of the works, a sale can be lost.
We will do all we can within reason to co-operate in these circumstances, but cannot issue a Completion Certificate on works that have not been subject to a completion inspection or where outstanding issues remain unresolved.
When can I start to build?
Not before you have obtained planning permission, if it is necessary.
48 hours after depositing all the information and the fee necessary for a Building Notice application.
You should avoid commencement of works until plans deposited under the Full Plans procedure have been approved. If you choose to start works before a Full Plans application is approved, you have to understand that formal notices must be given and the work you do is done at your own risk until plans are approved.
Work which is exempt from building Control can be commenced once you have obtained any necessary planning consent.
How can I find out whether there is a public sewer on my property?
Generally the deeds of your house will advise you of the fact. Your solicitor will probably have advised you at the time of purchase.
Severn Trent Water have provided us with records showing the location of public sewers throughout the Borough. You can view this information, free of charge, at the Civic Centre.
You will need the specific consent of Severn Trent Water to build over or within 3m of a public sewer. If they are not happy for you to build over, they will refuse permission and instruct the Council to refuse the Building Regulation application.
When you deposit a Building Notice application or Full Plans application you are required to show the location of any public sewer on your land.
How often will the Building Control Surveyor make inspections?
There are a number of statutory inspections from commencement, through damp proof courses and drains, to completion. Usually other inspections are made at floor joist and roof level. How many and how often he calls is very dependent on the size, type and nature of the project, however, as a general rule the above is a good guide. Sometimes two or three inspections can be made at one call, ie drains, hardcore and dpc.
Clearly for internal alterations or rooms in the roof space a lot of these will not apply.
We endeavour to supply with an approval notice, or at commencement, an inspection profile for the particular job.
In all cases it is very important that you ensure that notice of commencement and completion is given, as well as all other statutory inspection stages where they apply. A Completion Certificate may not be issued and enforcement may result if you cover up work without an inspection.
Do I have to pay a fee each time the inspector calls?
For a particular Full Plans application the inspection charge becomes payable after the Building Control Surveyor has made the first inspection. We will invoice you for the fee shortly after you start work. The amount you pay was determined when you made the application based on the Charge Scheme criteria for the nature of the work involved. This part of the total fee covers all inspections, however few or many.
If you made a Building Notice application, the total charge included the fee for all inspections, again however few or many.
I need to get some plans drawn, can you recommend anyone?
No. The Council cannot recommend any architect, surveyor or draughtsman. You could contact the Royal Institute of British Architects or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Alternatively, your builder may have his own preferred plan smith or may indeed do the drawing work himself. You could consider searching the Trade Register.
I want to put up a garden shed, do I need consent?
You may need planning consent, but for Building Regulation purposes a garden shed may be exempt.
If it is located at least 1m from any boundary of your property then it is exempt if it is:
- under 30m2 in internal floor area
- single storey and detached and
- contains no sleeping accommodation
If it is within 1m of your boundaries then it may still be exempt if it is, in addition to the above, constructed substantially of materials of limited combustibility.
If a shed is under 15m in internal floor area and contains no sleeping accommodation it is exempt.
I have not got consent for some work that has been done, what do I do?
On the sale of property much more attention is being paid now to what has been done to properties and whether Planning and Building Regulation consent has been obtained. Often sight is required of a Completion Certificate.
If the work in question is unauthorised and was carried out after 11 November 1985, you can apply for a Regularisation Certificate.
I need to get a builder, can the Council recommend one?
No. The Council cannot recommend any builder. You can look through Yellow Pages or a local directory to obtain quotes for the work. You should obtain a number of quotations for your work and seek the services of a private surveyor to advise you on the suitability of a particular quote. The person who draws your plans may offer this service. You could consider searching the Trade Register.
Last Updated: 23/08/2023