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Frequently Asked Questions about Building Standards

We have compiled a list of FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Building Standards which will hopefully answer any questions you may have.

What is a Building Warrant?

A Building Warrant is the legal permission needed to commence building works. The Building Standards Service is responsible for granting Building Warrants.

In assessing your application for a Building Warrant we will apply the standards set by the Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations.

What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations are the legal requirements laid down by the Scottish Ministers and approved by the Scottish Parliament. The essential purpose is to safe guard people in and around buildings. They also cover the conservation of fuel and power and the provision of facilities for the disabled in and around buildings. To meet these regulations buildings must comply with Technical Standards.

How do I obtain a Building Warrant?

Having established that a Building Warrant is required, you will need to complete an application form and submit it and the necessary fee to the Council along with a minimum of two sets of plans clearly illustrating the proposed works.

The plans deposited are checked for compliance with the current Regulations and if these are satisfactory, a Building Warrant will be issued along with a documented set of plans.

What should be shown on the plans supporting my Warrant application and can I draw them myself?

The plans should give sufficient information to clearly indicate the location and nature of your proposals and how they relate to the rest of the building. The type of materials and products being used, the position of any appliances, and  the drainage details proposed are required.

There is nothing to prevent you from drawing the plans, but unless you are properly qualified, it is not recommended. The purpose of the plans is to convey to all parties concerned full details of the proposals, and apart from the minimum standard of draughtsmanship required doing this, the lack of technical knowledge of construction can also be a serious drawback.

Do I need to notify my neighbours?

No. It is assumed that, when the Building Warrant is issued, the work will comply with all legal obligations under the Building Regulations. It is good practice to inform any party where building work proposed is likely to affect or involve a mutual part of a building and indeed you may have other legal obligations to do so.

Neighbour notification is not part of the Building Warrant application procedure, but it is part of the Planning Permission process. The Building Standards Service will be able to advise you if you are unclear about what you need to do.

Are any building works or fixtures exempt from the need to obtain a Building Warrant?

There are exemptions for some types of buildings and fixtures in certain circumstances, but you are strongly advised to contact the Building Standards Service to confirm the status of your proposals before assuming an exemption. Your builder or contractor, may not be up-to-date with the current legislation therefore a simple phone call could prevent problems later.

How long is a Warrant valid?

A Building Warrant is valid for three years from the date of issue. If you have commenced but not completed the work within that time you can apply to the local authority for an extension of time to the warrant period. The application for extension must be made before the expiry of your warrant.

When can I start work on my building proposal?

You can start work immediately after the warrant has been granted. You are however required to tell us: 

  • When you are starting the work, 
  • When the work has been completed, and
  • When any work is done to the drainage system, as this work may require to be inspected and tested by Building Standards.

Is my building work subject to inspection whilst in progress?

Certain inspections and/or testing will be carried out to check that the warrant is being complied with. Please note: the Building Standards Service does not act as a clerk of works.

Supervision of the building work should be the responsibility of your architect or other person appointed by you for that purpose.

Is a charge made for the Building Warrant service?

Yes, the charge for a Building Warrant is based on the cost of the work and is set by the Scottish Government. The fee for your building warrant application will be payable based on the estimated value of your proposal.

In calculating the value of works you must consider market costs and must take into account a fair assessment of the value of the labour even if it is a self-build project.

If the Building Standards Service wishes to verify the estimated cost of the building work, they may refer to the cost index provided by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Please note that a fee may not be required for certain elements of building work, if that work is providing for disabled people. Building Standards staff will be able to advise you.

What happens if, after getting the Building Warrant, I want to change proposals?

You should discuss in advance with Building Standards any changes you want to make to your warrant proposals before carrying them out. A formal amendment to your warrant can be sought at any time during the period of validity of the warrant.

An amendment application follows the same procedures as the initial application. Once approved you can proceed to change your proposals on site. A fee is payable for an application for the amendment of a warrant and Building Standards will advise you of the amount.

Is it necessary to obtain a Certificate of Completion when my building work is finished?

Yes, you should complete and return to the Building Standards Service an application for a Certificate of Completion, together with a certificate of compliance for any electrical installations, when the warrant work is complete. No fees are payable.

These forms are usually sent out with your Building Warrant. If they are not, contact the Building Standards Service and arrangements will be made to send the relevant forms to you.

Building Standards will arrange to inspect the building work and

  • advise you within fourteen days of any matters requiring your attention, or
  • if the work is satisfactory grant the Certificate of Completion

You may need to show the Certificate of Completion to a Bank or Building Society. You may also need to show the Certificate of Completion to a future buyer or their Solicitor, before an agreement can be reached on the sale or lease of your property.

Can I obtain advice on compliance with Building Regulations prior to preparation of plans?

Yes, the Building Standards Service will give help and advice on matters concerning any changes you wish to consider making to your building, and the impact that Building Regulations are likely to have.

Where can I get a copy of the Building Regulations and Technical Standards?

A copy of the Building Regulations and Technical Standards are available from Her Majesty's Stationary Office and the Scottish Government.

What happens if I cannot comply with certain requirements of the Building Regulations?

You might be able to apply for an exemption of a particular building regulation with which you are unable to comply. Where you feel it is impracticable or unreasonable to comply with any of the Building Regulations you can discuss with the Building Standards Service whether or not an exemption of that requirement would be considered.

Please note that an exemption is only considered for exceptional circumstances and is not a means to evade the Building Regulations or to overcome mistakes on site. An application form for an exemption to the Building Regulations can be obtained from the Building Standards Service.

The issue of an exemption is at the discretion of the Council and is based on its interpretation of the Building Regulations and the merits of the case. If the Council refuses your application for exemption you can appeal to the Scottish Government.

What happens if I contravene the Building Regulations?

In cases where a Building Warrant is required you are committing an offence if you start work on site without first obtaining a Building Warrant.

You are also committing an offence if you occupy or use a new building without first having obtained either a Certificate of Completion/Acceptance or a Temporary Occupation/Use Certificate.

It is also an offence to contravene the requirements of the Building Regulations and the Council can take enforcement action. There are penalties, which can impose a maximum fine of £5,000 with an additional fine of £50 per day if the offence continues.

If work has been carried out to my property and I don't have a warrant what should I do?

You should contact the Building Standards Service to explain the building work about which you are concerned. The Building Standards Service may be able to check its records to determine if the building work described by you, is or has been the subject of a Building Warrant.

We have a system for dealing with such enquires, which is designed to help satisfy the answers expected by the legal profession in these circumstances particularly in matters of property conveyance.

If work has been carried out to my property at some time in the past, how do I know if a Building Warrant has been granted?

The Building Standards Service keeps a register of applications for Building Warrants. If there is no record of a Building Warrant having been granted, you will be advised on how to proceed.

When can I move into a new property?

Prior to occupation of a new property a 'habitation certificate' would need to be issued by Building Standards. This would take the form of either a Temporary Occupation/Use Certificate or Certificate of Completion.

You would be committing an offence if you occupy or use a new building without first having obtained either one of those certificates.

Does the Building Standards Service have any other responsibilities?

Yes. The Building Standards Service has a responsibility for the safety of the public and persons frequenting buildings. If a building is found to be dangerous or is reported to the Council as being dangerous, the Building Standards Service will immediately investigate the report and take appropriate action to safeguard the occupants and passers by.

All aspects of dangerous buildings are dealt with immediately, and whenever possible, the owner of the building is given the opportunity to make the building safe. In some emergency situations, however, work will have to be carried out immediately, and if the Building Standards Surveyors are unable to contact the owner of the building, the Council may carry out any work that is necessary to remove the immediate danger.

In all cases, where the Council has carried out the required work, the cost will be recovered from the owner of the building.

We also issue Permits to allow the erection of certain temporary stands for raised seating or standing accommodation.

Certain Safety at Sports Grounds Certificates and Grandstands Safety Certificates also fall within the remit of Building Standards.

Do I need any other types of permission when I am doing building work?

Although Dumfries Galloway Council issue both the Building Warrant and Planning Permission, it is important to note that a Building Warrant and Planning Permission are different types of approval and are granted under different legislation.

Many building operations require approval under both sets of legislation, while some will only require approval under one. Advice should be sought from Building Standards staff and Planning staff as early as possible. 

Related Information

Contact Details


Building Standards - Dumfries

Planning and Environment
English Street

Tel: 01387 260199
Email this contact

Building Standards - Stranraer

Planning and Environment
Ashwood House
Sun Street

Tel: 01776 888417
Email this contact

Contact Dumfries and Galloway Council T: 030 33 33 3000

Council Offices
English Street

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