In Scotland, with the exception of all but a small number of cases, a building warrant is required where a building is being altered or a new building is to be erected.

At an early stage, we will establish the basic requirements for the type of project in hand, and will obtain information from the local authority or from the published standards, to establish the regulations framework within which the design work must proceed.

With the exception of certain classes of building, all building work must comply with the Building Standards. It is an offence for anyone to carry out building works, other than those exempted, without a building warrant from the local authority. It is the responsibility of the building owner to apply for and obtain the warrant. Building control officers employed by the council will advise on what drawings, specifications and other information are required to enable them to check for compliance with the regulations. For very minor work, only limited plans may be needed, but large projects require extensive information. A fee is payable at the time of application for a building warrant based on the estimated cost of the building works.

Typically, a building warrant requires the project to be taken to a level of detail where approximately 65% of the architectural services are provided. The project will be described in the form of plans, sections, elevations, and in many cases, by detailed construction drawings, also showing services and structure. Engineer’s drawings (where required) will have to be prepared and these elements integrated into the design. All elements of construction which impinge on the regulations will require to have specified. Where the final design varies from the approved warrant drawings, an amendment to warrant will be required, again requiring the same level of detail.

The local authority is responsible for the enforcement of the regulations and in most cases difficulties or disagreements over interpretation are resolved by discussion with the local authority. There is, however, a right of appeal to the Sheriff Court in the event of refusal to grant warrant and certain other actions of the local authority, we can advise further on this if the need arises.

The time required by the local authority for checking depends on the size or complexity of the project, and any adjustments required, so no time limit is set. Most authorities however operate targets for responding, and typically for standard domestic work a period of 8-10 weeks is sufficient. A warrant is valid for three years from issue, but this period can be extended if requested within that period. A warrant is also required for the demolition of a building. With each individual project we can usually indicate the timescale required for design and warrant application, but the time thenceforth required for approval will be dependent on the Authority’s workload at the time.

During construction building control staff inspect the works, and the local authority must be notified when building work begins and at specified stages during the works. Inspection of foundations, testing of drains, or other matters may be required to establish compliance with the regulations.

Before the building may be occupied a certificate of completion is required. This provides formal confirmation that the building work has been carried out in accordance with the building warrant and with the building regulations, so far as the local authority can ascertain from their inspection. Quite apart from the legal implications, failure to obtain warrants and completion certificates can have serious practical consequences, especially for householders seeking to sell their homes. Buyers’ solicitors and lending institutions often wish to see these documents in connection with property sales.

Where work has been carried out that does not comply with the regulations the local authority can require changes to be made to bring it up to standard. This can impose considerable additional expense on owners. Where within our powers we will attend to all such matters and ensure that all outstanding paperwork is completed before completing our appointment.