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Approved Documents (Wales)

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

Wales is steadily developing its own set of Building Regulations. The full set of Approved documents is here

A major change so far has been the introduction of sprinkler systems into new housing. See more on sprinkler systems.

Of course you are not forced 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 combination of ‘rules of thumb’ and technical standards and they have gaping holes in them. While, for instance, there are many pages on how to construct traditional masonry, there is little about timber frame construction except the odd reference to British standards.

They could also be seen to be struggling to keep up with the times. If and when zero, or very low energy house building is introduced then whole swathes of the Approved documents will need to be rewritten because many of the diagrams and tables are based on very 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 may even be 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 building or its method of construction. Bear in mind that almost any change will require the providing of details of changes to Building Control and this can be expensive and time consuming.