Unauthorised Works

Where building work is carried out without complying with the requirements of the Building Regulations it is known as a contravention.

The following decision stages take effect from 1 April 2021 and any prior unauthorised works decision statuses will be updated as and when they are encountered.

Stages of investigation

We investigate each complaint in up to 6 stages.

Please note:  We protect the anonymity of members of the public who lodge the complaint.  If a complainant is someone acting in an official capacity, for instance they represent another council service, that service may be named (e.g. planning enforcement).

Stage 1 – acknowledgement
We prioritise each complaint we receive and aim to send an acknowledgement (where details are provided) within 3 working days.

Stage 2 – initial desktop investigation
The first stage of investigation is called a 'desktop' investigation. For this, we will:
· check the building regulations, compliance and building control history of the site
· identify the main building regulation considerations relevant to the complaint
· check relevant legislation – whether the alleged unauthorised work constitutes "structural work", or could be "exempt ", and what needs to be checked on site
· write to the property owner/occupier requesting access (if required)

If it's not clear to us how building regulations may have been breached, we may contact the person who made the complaint and ask for more information.

If we believe the complaint is not a building regulation matter, no action will be taken, and the case will be closed. Non-building regulations matters include:
· disputes over boundary walls
· driveways

Details of non-building regulation complaints will be passed to other departments, where relevant.

We will write to the complainant if the work does not require a building regulation application or an application has been submitted advising them of the fact.

Stage 3 – initial site visit
Our surveyor will visit the site of the alleged unauthorised work. This involves:
· a considerate and sensitive approach, recognising there may be no breach or that the breach is unintentional
· surveyor identifying themselves when on site and explaining the reason for their visit – if they believe an offence has been committed
· finding out the identities of the owner, occupier, and persons responsible for the activity or development taking place
· recording names and addresses of all persons who have an ownership or tenancy interest
· detailing whether building work has/is taking place
· taking photographs
· recording a brief description of the site, including the alleged unauthorised development
· finding out which neighbouring properties may be affected by the activity or development

Please note:  Building Regulations have no powers to stop building work.

Stage 4 – action after the initial site visit
Following their initial site visit, our surveyor will contact the owner, occupier, or person responsible for the alleged unauthorised development, to either:
· advise them of our intended action or options available to resolve the matter
· ask for more further information to help us find out whether a breach has occurred
· notify the owner that any further work carried out will be entirely at their own risk and may be subject to enforcement action

We will write to the complainant, telling them of the initial findings and any proposed action.

Stage 5 – further investigation
Depending upon the outcome of Stage 4, the surveyor may have to:
· monitor activity on site to collect more information or evidence about the alleged breach
· carry out a Land Registry search to find out who owns the land
· carry out a council tax and business rates search to find the responsible person or company

Stage 6 - action following investigation
After investigations have been completed, STG will take no further action if:
· activities, building or operational works do not constitute "structural work" or are exempt works under the Building Act 1984

If we find there has been unauthorised work, then we may invite an application to regularise the building work. 

Although there are provisions within the regulations for a local authority to accept applications to regularise work carried out without approval, there is no obligation on a local authority to accept such application.  Also, the greater the length of time since work was completed, the less likely this would provide a satisfactory solution.

If we find the unauthorised work presents a life risk, we may:
· begin formal enforcement action

Under the provisions of Section 36(6), Building Act 1984, the council can seek a High Court injunction to require the alteration or removal of work that doesn't comply.

We will inform the complainant of our decision if this has an impact on their property.


Prioritising complaints

Each building regulation enforcement case will be given a priority.

Serious breaches – require immediate investigation
We prioritise cases as 'serious' if they concern:
· development that causes concern for public safety
· significant unauthorised building works or structures

Urgent complaints – investigation begins
We prioritise cases as 'urgent' if they concern:
· changes of use that significantly affect public safety

We also prioritise cases as 'urgent' if the opportunity to take enforcement action will end shortly due to immunity.

Non-urgent complaints – investigation begins
We prioritise cases as 'non-urgent' if they concern:
· other changes of use
· other building works

No specific priority – investigation is undertaken as needed
Even if no complaint has been received, we will check name and numbering reports that have addresses where properties are formed but no building regulation application has been submitted.

Report unauthorised work:

Click on Contact STG , phone us on 01634 331133 or email us at building@stgbc.org.uk to report any unauthorised building work.

Please ensure you provide sufficient information regarding the exact property address and works being undertaken.

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