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Approved Documents (England)

The Approved documents are ‘standard’ ways of getting Building Regulations approval. If you follow the principles and rules given in the documents you can be sure that they will be approved.

The full list is on the GOV.UK web site

Sometimes they can also be very useful as a design aid for constructional details as they are based on sound practice. They are split into several parts and the following pages have notes which may be useful to a self builder:


Of course you don’t have to use the Approved Documents, as the Regulations make clear:

Approved Documents are intended to provide guidance for some of the more common building situations. However, there may well be alternative ways of achieving compliance with the requirements.   Thus there is no obligation to adopt any particular solution contained in an Approved Document if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement in some other way

In fact the Approved Documents are a bit of a mishmash of ‘rules of thumb’ and technical standards and they have gaping holes in them. Whereas, for instance, there are many pages on how to construct traditional masonry walls, there is nothing about timber frame construction except the odd reference to British standards.

They are also struggling to keep up with the times. If zero energy new house building is introduced by 2021 (as planned by the EU) then whole swathes of the Approved Documents will need rewriting because many of the diagrams are based on quite low levels of insulation.

There are other ways of satisfying the regulations. For instance the regulations make copious references to BS, BS EN and BS EN ISO standards which may be another way of fulfilling the criteria. It is even possible in some very rare cases to prove that something works by building it first and then testing it afterwards (though this is not for the faint hearted).

During a self build project you may want to make changes to the design of the house or its method of construction. Bear in mind that almost any change will involve providing details to Building Control and this can be expensive and time consuming.

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