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D – Toxic substances

The Approved Documents are ‘standard’ ways of getting Building Regulations approval. There are other ways.   see more

If you follow the principles and rules given in the documents you can be sure that they will be approved. 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 traditional ‘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 the Passivhaus Standard or zero energy new house building is introduced at some point then whole swathes of the Approved Documents will need rewriting because many of the constructional principles are based on quite low levels of insulation.

There are other ways of satisfying the regulations. For instance they make copious references to  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).

Although a self builder cannot be expected to understand all the building regulations, it often pays to have a grasp of what is involved, especially if last minutes changes need to be made to construction details.


The full official set of Approved Documents is available HERE.

The Approved document D relating to structure is available HERE

Below is an edited copy of Approved Document, D : Toxic sustances with notes for self builders. The purpose is to draw attention to the main aspects of the document. If in doubt check the full Approved document D.

D1 Cavity Insulation

Urea formaldehyde (UF) foam

see our page on wall insulation

1.1    Insulating materials which give off formaldehyde fumes (either when used or later in normal use) may be used to insulate the cavity in a cavity wall where there is a continuous barrier which will minimise as far as practicable the passage of fumes to the occupiable parts.

Technical solution

1.2    A cavity wall may be insulated with UF foam where:

  1. the inner leaf of the wall is built of masonry (bricks or blocks); and
  2. the suitability of the wall for foam filling is assessed before the work is carried out in accordance with BS 8208-1:1985 Guide to assessment of suitability of external cavity walls for filling with thermal insulants. Existing traditional cavity construction; and
  3. the person carrying out the work holds (or operates under) a current Certificate of Registration of Assessed Capability for the work he is doing; and
  4. the material is in accordance with the relevant recommendations of BS 5617:1985 Specifications for urea formaldehyde (UF) foam systems suitable for thermal insulation of cavity walls with masonry or concrete inner and outer leaves; and
  5. the installation is in accordance with BS 5618:1985 Code of practice for thermal insulation of cavity walls (with masonry or concrete inner and outer leaves) by filling with urea formaldehyde (UF) foam systems.

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