Inspection of building work
What is the purpose of the Building Regulations?
To secure reasonable standards of:
- health and safety for persons in or about buildings (and any others who may be affected by buildings, or matters connected with buildings);
- energy conservation;
- access and facilities for people with disabilities; and
- preventing waste, undue consumption, misuse and contamination of water.
What building work is controlled by the Building Regulations?
Examples of the type of work covered by Building Regulations include:
- the erection or extension of a building;
- the provision of a controlled service or fitting, for example, sanitary pipe work, drainage, heat producing appliances;
- the material alteration of a building, or a controlled service or fitting;
- work required to be undertaken as a result of a material change of use;
- the insertion of insulation material into the cavity wall of a building; and
- work involving the underpinning of a building.
The need for Building Control approval can only be measured by seeking advice from relevant building control authority (see contact details below).
Why is Building Work Inspected?
Building work must be inspected at various stages during its progress and you must give the Building Control authority enough notice to arrange their site visits.
There are 3 building control authorities on the Isle of Man. The Building Control Section within the Department of Environment, Food & Agriculture covers all areas except for Douglas and Onchan, with these 2 areas dealt with by the respective local authority.
The purpose of these inspections is to make sure that the person carrying out work complies with relevant Building Regulations. This is particularly important for work which is quickly covered up, which is why you need to give prior notice for inspection.
It is important to emphasise that the inspections we carry out are made to establish that the work satisfies relevant Building Regulations. They are not quality control inspections. The regulations are limited in their scope to matters of health, safety, energy conservation and access. Work, particularly finishes, can in fact be constructed to a rather poor standard of quality and still satisfy minimum Building Regulation requirements. We can require that work which does not satisfy the regulations is taken down. We do not have the same authority for work which is perhaps unsightly or otherwise of lesser quality. Details of the more common stages of inspection are given below.
Your building work is inspected at the key stages of construction. These stages can include:
- The commencement of work
- The excavation for foundations
- Prior to covering any reinforcing steel in foundations
- Prior to covering up any hardcore or damp proof membrane
- Prior to covering drains
- Prior to plastering or encasing walls, beams, columns or ceilings
- Prior to occupation (if prior to completion)
- On final completion
You can arrange inspections by the completion of pre-paid post cards supplied by the Department, or by fax. The Department can normally arrange a same-day inspection if notified by 10am. We can organise an inspection around your schedule.
We may also make additional inspections where we feel these are necessary.
We recommend that you take an interest in and have personal involvement with the work you are having carried out. Arrange to meet the builder and Building Control Officer together on site so that any Building Regulation problems can be resolved before the builder leaves the site.
When the work is completed please ensure that you notify the Building Control Officer who will then arrange a final inspection of the work.
If your inspections relate to Full Plans Applications, statutory inspection fees are payable after the first site inspection following commencement of work. For more information, see the Making a building control application section for fees.
As soon as all works are concluded and a final satisfactory inspection has been made, the Department will issue a Completion Certificate (providing that all the relevant fees have been paid and the work has satisfied the Regulations).
A completion certificate can be presented to financial institutions, solicitors, surveyors and so on, when they need evidence that building work has been completed to the satisfaction of the Building Control Authority. We always recommend that you obtain the completion certificate before settling your final account with your contractor. It can prove difficult to get contractors back to site to rectify defects once they have been paid.
An approval notice or completion certificate issued by the Building Control Authority should not be considered as a guarantee or warranty. The Building Control Authority is not liable for any economic loss due to defects or failure to meet minimum requirements of the regulations.
Letters of Comfort/Unauthorised Building Works
If your work was unauthorised and carried out before May 1993, we can issue a letter of comfort. If the final inspection of the building was carried out after someone moved in, before May 1993, then a letter of comfort can also be sent.
If your work was carried out after May 1993, but didn’t have Building Control Approval, then an application should be made so that you can get a regularisation certificate, in line with Section 18 of the Building Regulations 2007.
An application form for a regularisation certificate may be downloaded on the making a building control application page.
Building Regulation approval is not the same as planning permission
Building Regulation approval does not imply approval under the Planning legislation.
In many cases, planning permission will be required in addition to Building Regulations approval. Both are distinct and different areas of control. Quite often planning permission may be required without the need for Building Regulations approval and vice versa.
You should always check if a separate planning application is required.
Want to Know More?
The above provides advice on a particular aspect of the Building Regulations. It is not a statement of law, but is intended to help you to understand the system. Building Regulations are changed from time to time. You must check that the information is still current.
We are here to help. If you are in any doubt over the requirements of the Building Regulations, or if you need further information, please telephone or visit our office. Our details are:
Isle of Man
+44 1624 685902
If your site is within Douglas or Onchan local authority areas you should contact the following:
Douglas Council – Tel: +44 1624 696375
Onchan District Commissioners – Tel: +44 1624 624967