How Building Regulations are enforced and your right to appeal

You should always make sure that Building Regulations are met as they are intended to make sure the safety, health, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings. They are also designed to further the conservation of fuel and power, protect and enhance the environment and promote sustainable development.

Contravention of the Building Regulations

Contravention of the Building Regulations can generally be categorised as one of the following:

  • failure to deposit plans before commencing building works
  • failure by the builder to give the required notice at specific stages of the work
  • failure to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations in carrying out work on site

Council powers

The local council has legal powers to deal with each type of contravention.

Building Control will seek co-operation with the builder to rectify a contravention but failing this legal action will be taken. Legal action is usually taken only as a last resort, normally after all other avenues for resolution have been exhausted.

Where the building work does not meet the Building Regulations, a council is empowered to serve a Building Regulations Contravention Notice.

The Notice will specify the contravention and the period of time, normally 28 days, within which work must be made good, altered or removed.

When you receive a Contravention Notice there are three courses of action open:

  • compliance with the Notice – making good or removing the defective work
  • challenging the Notice – obtaining a report from a suitably qualified person who will set out reasons why the Notice should not have been served - this should be submitted to the council and if it refuses to accept the report, there is a right of appeal
  • appealing to the Department of Finance(DoF) - this is a direct appeal  against the serving of the Notice of Contravention

The address for submitting an appeal to DoF is:

Department of Finance
Building Regulations Unit
Level 3, Northland House
3 - 5A Fredrick Street
Belfast
BT1 2NR

You may appeal to DoF against a council's decision to:

  • reject plans
  • serve a Contravention Notice for defective work
  • refuse to relax Building Regulations
  • deem that your plans include materials unsuitable for permanent buildings

For rejected plans, an appeal must be lodged with DoF within 56 days of the date of notification of the decision. With Contravention Notices, the period for lodging an appeal is 28 days.

The council's Building Control office can explain how to lodge an appeal.

To protect people using the property, Building Control must enforce Building Regulations .  They can take legal action to enforce Building Regulations. 

Many councils and groups in Northern Ireland accept the Enforcement Concordat. For more information, contact the council in your area:

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