Building Warrants (Scotland)

Q&A – What is a Building Warrant (Scotland)?

Q: What is a building warrant?

A: A building warrant is the legal permission required to commence building work, conversion, or demolition of a building. Commencing work classified as warrantable without an approved building warrant is considered an offense, and legal action may be taken against you.

Q: What is the difference between planning permission and a building warrant?

A: While planning permission primarily pertains to the aesthetics and appearance of your house, a building warrant focuses on whether the construction complies with the Scottish Building Regulations.

Q: What are the Scottish Building Regulations?

A: The Scottish Building Regulations specify the technical requirements that must be met in building work to safeguard the public interest. These regulations encompass various aspects, including structure, fire, environment, safety noise, energy, sustainability, and more.

Q: How long does it take to get a building warrant?

A: Typically, a Council aims to respond to a submission within 20 days if they have the capacity to do so. The time taken to process an application can vary due to several factors, and it is important to understand that approval may not be granted on the first attempt. The standard procedure often involves multiple rounds of submissions in which your architect addresses Building Control queries. It is advisable to anticipate the full process taking approximately 2 to 3 months in total.

Q: How much does a building warrant cost?

A: The fee for a building warrant is determined based on the value of the construction work you are undertaking. Your Local Authority may refer to the BCIS Guide to estimate the value of the works per square meter (£/m²).

Q: I have an approved building warrant, so what now?

A: The next steps depend on whether you are overseeing the construction phase yourself or if you have a project manager or contract administrator, such as an architect.

Assuming you are managing the construction works:

  • Begin by thoroughly reviewing all the information provided with your approved warrant documentation, as it will contain written instructions on your responsibilities.
  • Compliance with these instructions is the responsibility of either yourself or a principal contractor, depending on who is overseeing the works.
  • Notify your Local Authority of your intention to commence work at least 7 days in advance, using the provided notice to start work form.
  • Arrange for multiple site inspections by a Building Control officer at various stages of the build, followed by one final inspection upon completion.
  • After completing the work in accordance with the approved warrant, you must apply for a Completion Certificate.
  • As part of the completion certificate submission, you will need to upload certification from your installers (e.g., an electrical certificate). The extent of certification required depends on the scale of the development.

Q: What happens if I deviate away from the approved design?

A: It is advisable to seek prior permission for any deviations from the approved documents, as making changes without approval can lead to complications later on. In cases where changes are necessary and unavoidable, you will need to apply for an amendment to the building warrant.

Q: Anything else I should be aware of?

A: An approved building warrant remains valid for a period of 3 years. If you do not commence your proposed construction within this timeframe, you will need to submit a new application.

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