0.4 Changes in the occupation or use of a building that cause the regulations to apply

Regulation 4

For the purposes of section 56(1) of the Act and these regulations, the changes in occupation or use of buildings set out in schedule 2 shall be conversions to the extent specified by regulation 12.

0.4.1 Explanation

The building regulations always apply where construction occurs, unless exempted by regulation 3, and construction includes alterations and extensions as well as entirely new buildings. When there is a conversion it will be necessary to seek a warrant and possibly to undertake works to improve the standards of the building, or part of the building, concerned.

Regulation 4 and schedule 2 set out what changes of occupation or use of a building are defined as conversions and for which the owner must obtain a warrant before making the change. The warrant for a conversion will only be granted if the standards set out in regulation 12 are achieved and this might well require building works.

Those changes of use or occupation listed in schedule 2 are those which are considered critical due to the risks involved. They relate to:

  1. domestic buildings, for example:

  2. residential buildings, for example:

    • use of a hotel as office (type 5)

    • use of a hotel as a residential care home (type 6)

    • use of offices as a backpackers hostel (type 7)

  3. whether a building falls within the exemptions of schedule 1, for example:

    • use of a railway signal box as a house (type 8)

  4. public access to buildings, for example:

    • development of a retail trade in a storage building (type 9)

  5. division of a building into different occupancies, for example:

    • use of a single shop to provide space for two different occupancies (type 10).

Type 6 in schedule 2 refers to the significant alterations in the type and the number of expected occupants. A significant alteration of type could be considered to occur when there was a significant change in the mobility, the familiarity with building, or the awareness of danger, of the occupants. For example, significantly different types would include:

  • patients receiving care and/or treatment in a residential care home/hospital

  • children in a residential institution or residential school

  • guest in a hotel

  • people held in lawful detention.

A significant alteration in number could be considered to occur where it amounted to an increase greater than 25%.

Type 9 in schedule 2 refers to allowing access by the general public where previously there was none. Access by the general public refers to permitting members of the general public to enter a building during opening hours and allowing them to access all parts of the building, other than those parts restricted to staff only.

For conversions it is the intention that the standards achieved in the converted building should be broadly similar to those achieved by entirely new buildings. Schedule 6 to regulation 12 guides the verifier as to where discretion is expected to be necessary. It identifies those standards where it is not expected to be reasonably practicable to have existing buildings fully comply. However for these standards improvement of the existing building is expected where it is reasonably practicable. This means that matters such as thermal insulation now have to be improved even if meeting the full standard is not practically achievable. Guidance on what is normally reasonably practicable is given in schedule 6 and in the individual sections. Guidance is also given on the treatment of historic buildings.

It is also relevant that the requirements of other legislation, for example regulations made under Health and Safety at Work or licensing legislation, will apply to changes of use, so that risk assessments of changed circumstances will provide protection to the occupants of buildings.

0.4.2 Schedule 2

Table 0.2. Conversions to which the regulations apply

Type Conversion
1. Changes in the occupation or use of a building to create a dwelling or dwellings or a part thereof.
2. Changes in the occupation or use of a building ancillary to a dwelling to increase the area of human occupation.
3. Changes in the occupation or use of a building which alters the number of dwellings in the building.
4. Changes in the occupation or use of a domestic building to any other type of building.
5. Changes in the occupation or use of a residential building to any other type of building.
6. Changes in the occupation or use of a residential building which involve a significant alteration to the characteristics of the persons who occupy, or who will occupy, the building, or which significantly increase the number of people occupying, or expected to occupy, the building.
7. Changes in the occupation or use of a building so that it becomes a residential building.
8. Changes in the occupation or use of an exempt building (in terms of schedule 1) to a building which is not so exempt.
9. Changes in the occupation or use of a building to allow access by the public where previously there was none.
10. Changes in the occupation or use of a building to accommodate parts in different occupation where previously it was not so occupied.