Building Control Legislation
The first building control legislation within England dates back to the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666 when fire had spread rapidly between buildings. Shortly afterwards in 1667, the London Building Act was introduced which sought to achieve some degree of fire resistance in buildings.
During the period of the Industrial Revolution towns expanded quickly facing similar problems and over the next 150 years towns and cities introduced their own controls. As a result, the scope of legislation increased to address issues such as party wall construction, drainage, sanitary and so on. With so many local acts in force, standards varied greatly across the country which led to legislation became confusing and out of step throughout the country.
The Public Health Act 1875
To introduce consistency The Public Health Act came into force in 1875.
The Act required urban authorities to make byelaws for new streets and to give regard to: the structure of buildings, ensuring stability and prevention of fires the drainage and provision of air space around buildings, to ensure health considerations.
In response, the Local Government Board issued the first model byelaws for new streets and buildings as a guide for urban authorities making their own byelaws. These byelaws were further extended in 1905 to cover the whole of the country.
The Public Health Act 1936
The Public Health Act 1936 introduced a single model series of controls regarding the construction and condition of buildings, together with the use of British Standards to indicate satisfactory compliance. This was a major step forward towards the legislation we have today but as with all previous byelaws, was adoptive and not mandatory. Hence many local authorities still had their own local byelaws in force, which again led to varying standards across the country.
The above unsatisfactory situation eventually led to the introduction in 1966 of the first national building regulations for England and Wales. For the first time the requirements they contained were mandatory and therefore local authorities had no choice but to enforce them.
Up until 1980 the cost of providing the Building Control Service was met wholly by the ratepayers. The government of the time considered this to be unfair and introduced the payment of fees by the applicants.
The Building Act 1984
In 1984 the Building Act came into force and consolidated a number of acts that were applicable to building control.
The Building Regulations 1985 to date
The Building Regulations 1985 introduced the concept of Approved Documents, which gave greater flexibility in the design of buildings.
Today's standards, Building Regulations 2000 which came into operation in January 2001. These are made under The Building Act 1984.
The building regulations continue to be reissued and revised. Current regulations include measures of addressing more recent issues such as energy conservation and improved access and facilities for people with disabilities.