Building Control News

 Building in cold weather - best practice guidance 


Take care when working with concrete in cold weather. If concrete cools too much below freezing it will become unfit for use. This is because the water in the concrete freezes and expands. This causes micro-cracking making it weak and not usable.

To avoid this happening the concrete needs to gain an initial strength while being kept warm. The concrete needs to be maintained at or above 5oc for the first 48 hours.

A concrete plant may be able to supply heated concrete. Ideally this should be supplied at a temperature of at least 10oc Check that when the concrete arrives on site the temperature is still above 5oc. The surfaces to be concreted must be free of ice and frost. The concrete needs to be kept warm after it has been placed.

Mineral wool quilts or foam mats are good at helping to keep the exposed concrete warm. These must be used when the temperature drops below freezing.  Polythene sheets do not have any insulation value, but they create an air gap that can help maintain the concrete temperature, and these are normally adequate when placing trench foundations.

It is also possible to speed up the hardening time of the concrete, and this will reduce the amount of time the concrete needs to be kept warm. This can be achieved by increasing the amount of cement in the concrete, increasing the strength of the concrete, or by using admixtures.

More information on concreting in cold weather can be found on the Concrete Society web-site at


Bricklaying should not be carried out when the temperature drops below 3oc or when frost is imminent. When starting work after an overnight frost, check that the partially completed brickwork is above freezing point. If the brickwork is frozen the mortar bed will freeze and no bond will form.

Mortar can be made more frost resistant by increasing its strength. The use of an accelerator, such as anti-freeze is not recommended. This is because the amount of cement relative to the amount of brickwork is relatively small, and the amount of heat generated is low and is not enough to keep the brickwork warm. Air entrained mortars can give some frost resistance, but always follow the manufacturers instructions on use.

Excess of water in materials is a problem when working in cold weather. Keep bricks covered to protect from rain or snow, and stacked clear of ground water. Keep sand and lime dry.

Cover the top of the wall to give protection in cold weather. Hessian can be used to insulate, but this must be kept dry by a polythene sheet. If Hessian becomes wet it can cause staining and efflorescence. Allow the brickwork to dry out by leaving an air gap between the cover and the wall. Secure the cover to prevent them being dislodged by wind.

More information on bricklaying in cold weather can be found on the Brick Development Association web-site at


Building regulations are still a must says LABC


The recent Government announcement to relax planning permission laws for home and business owners to extend their properties does not remove the need for compliance with building regulations says LABC.

Paul Everall, Chief Executive of LABC said "Whilst we welcome the Government's move to boost the economy through a programme of house building and the removal of planning red tape, we stress that this only addresses part of the problem and more needs to be done to improve the mortgage market so that people are able to buy."

Paul continued, "Changes in planning laws have not removed the requirement for property owners to follow building regulations which ensure buildings are safe and sustainable. Building regulations are separate from planning permission and our primary concern is that safety in and around buildings is maintained"

"There still needs to be an awareness that Building Regulations will still apply to many of these extensions where the property owner is looking to make structural changes to an existing property. A building notice will need to be submitted to the local building control department for approval to ensure building regulations are met. Our local authority building control teams are used to working quickly with developers and homeowners to help them through this process and ensure that construction work leads to healthy, safe and sustainable buildings.

Paul concluded, "The removal of planning law could impact the sustainability agenda as new buildings must be sustainable and energy efficient and the Government must not weaken in its desire to be the greenest Government ever."


Emailing Applications 

Did you know you could email your building control application form and any plans to  (Emails with attachments larger than 4MB should be sent to  Just click on the 'Email Form' button at the bottom of the PDF application form to send.  An invoice will then be sent to you the following week which can be conveniently paid for by cash, cheque, BACS, card or via the website (full details of how to pay will be enclosed with your invoice).  This process ensures we can start looking at your application as soon as possible and will not delay the registration of your application in any way.


 Changes to the ownership of some types of private sewers

Changes are being made to the ownership of some sewers and drains that are currently the responsibility of the householder. From 1st October 2011, ownership of these sewers and lateral drains transfered to Severn Trent Water. This however does not affect all sewers and drains.

For further information on which sewers and drains will be affected by this transfer of ownership please visit their website for further information.


Solar Panel Installations

 If you are planning to fit a solar panel to your property you will normally require building regulation approval.

 The issues requiring approval are:-

  • The increased loading on the roof and the ability of the existing structure to take the additional load. (Part A) In some cases additional strengthening may be required to the roof.
  • Any penetrations through the roof covering will need to comply with Part C of the building regulations (resistance to moisture).
  • Any alterations/additions to the heating or hot water system will need to be carried out by a competent person and certification will need to be provided.
  • All electrical work required to meet the requirements of Part P (Electrical Safety) must be designed, installed, inspected and tested by a person competent to do so. Prior to completion, the Council should be satisfied that Part P has been complied with.  This may require an appropriate BS7671 electrical installation certificate to be issued for the work by a person competent to do so.

Your installer should be in touch with the local authority before work starts to arrange for a building notice to be submitted and to arrange subsequent site inspections of the work as it is carried out. 

There are now a number of Competent Persons Schemes (CPS) in operation, if your installer is accredited with Parts A, C and P of the Building Regulations they should be able to self certify the work without the involvement of the local authority.  Some CPS schemes do not cover all building regulation requirements for this type of work.

Further information can be found on the websites of The Energy Saving Trust and The National Energy Foundation.



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