What is a Building warrant, How long does it take to get one & How much does it cost?
Updated for 2024
What is a building warrant?
In Scotland, a building warrant is a legal document that gives official permission before starting most types of building work, including alterations, extensions, and demolitions. It ensures that the proposed work complies with the building regulations set out by the Scottish government.
These regulations are in place to ensure the health, safety, welfare, and convenience of people in and around buildings.
A building warrant is required for nearly every construction project, large or small however, there are some exceptions when a building warrant is not required.
To obtain a building warrant, you must submit an application to the local authority’s building standards department.
This application typically includes detailed plans and specifications of the proposed work.
Once the application is approved and the building warrant is granted, construction can begin. It’s also essential to note that once the work is completed, a completion certificate must be obtained to confirm that the work complies with the approved plans and relevant building regulations.
Building warrant process at a glance
- Preparation: Gather all necessary information about the proposed building work.
- Detailed Plans: Create detailed plans and specifications of the proposed work.
- Application Submission: Submit the building warrant application to the local authority’s building standards department.
- Payment: Pay the required fee associated with the building warrant application.
- Review: The local authority reviews the application to ensure it complies with building regulations.
- Feedback: During this phase, the local authority may approve the warrant, but they might also require further information or clarification on certain points.
- Revise Drawings and Resubmit: If there are issues or if more information is needed, revise the plans accordingly and resubmit. This process continues until building standards are satisfied and they have enough information to issue the building warrant.
- Commence Work: Once the building warrant is granted, you can start the construction or alteration work. However, building control requires at least 7 days’ notice before work begins.
- Inspections: During construction, building standards will issue a CCNP (Construction Compliance Notification Plan) that outlines specific stages when building control requires to be notified to ensure compliance.
- Completion: After finishing the work, apply for a completion certificate.
- Completion Certificate: The local authority reviews the finished work. If it complies with the approved plans and regulations, they issue a completion certificate
How Long does it take to get a Building warrant?
The information on some local authority websites can be misleading and may lead you to think that a building warrant can be granted within 20 days.
It’s very rare for a building warrant to be issued so quickly, even for a small project, for example removing a Load-bearing wall.
This first assessment normally takes around a month. (20 working days is the target set by the Scottish Government).
Building Standards may ask for additional information or require clarification of some points, Your Architect or designer will then provide Building Standards with the information that they require and adjust the drawings as required, a reassessment of the drawings and specifications will be made, if they are compliant with Building regulations your building warrant will be issued.
When it comes to Building warrants it’s not a one-size-fits-all – As you can imagine each project is unique hence it is not possible to say exactly how long this process will take for every job, so it’s best to prepare well in advance. For example, if you plan to build in the spring then it’s a good idea to get started at least 6-8 months before.
Although every local authority in Scotland is required to comply with Building (Scotland) Regulations they each have their own systems and administrative processes in place for doing this.
The time it takes to obtain a building warrant in Scotland can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the proposed work, the completeness and accuracy of the submitted application, and the workload of the local authority’s building standards department.
Typically, for straightforward domestic projects, the local authority aims to process building warrant applications within 6 to 8 weeks. However, for more complex projects or during busy periods, will take longer, (often significantly longer) If the local authority requires additional information or if there are issues with the application, this can also extend the processing time.
It’s always a good idea to check with your specific local authority or a local architect familiar with the process in your area for a more accurate estimate.
Structural engineers and Building warrants
On most of the projects that we do a Structural engineer is required as part of the design team
When a structural engineer is involved in the building warrant application process, it can sometimes lead to extended processing times.
One primary reason is the busy schedules of structural engineers.
Given the critical nature of their work in ensuring the safety and stability of structures, they are often in high demand and juggle multiple projects simultaneously. As a result, there can be delays in producing detailed calculations, responding to queries, or making necessary revisions to the design.
Their meticulous attention to detail, while essential, combined with their packed schedules, can contribute to longer wait times for building warrant approvals.
How Much Does a Building Warrant Cost?
The cost of a building warrant in Scotland is determined by the estimated value of the proposed building work.
The cost of a building warrant is directly related to the cost of the construction works, so the greater the cost of a project the higher the fee for the Building warrant, this fee is payable directly to the local authority by the client.
The Scottish Government sets out a table of fees for building warrant applications, and this can be subject to change.
A ‘Ready reckoner’ is available to work out the building warrant fee for your project.
The minimum Building Warrant fee is £150 which covers works up to the value of £5000.00.
The charge by the local authority for a building warrant serves several purposes:
- Administrative Costs: The fee helps cover the administrative costs associated with processing the building warrant application. This includes the time spent by the building standards department in reviewing the plans, calculations and other documentation submitted.
- Inspection Costs: Part of the building warrant process involves inspections by the local authority to ensure that the work complies with the approved plans and building regulations. The fee contributes to the costs of these inspections.
- Expertise and Resources: The local authority often employs professionals, such as building surveyors and technical experts, to assess applications. Their expertise ensures that the proposed work meets safety and quality standards. The fee helps cover their salaries and other associated costs.
- Maintaining Standards: The fee supports the local authority’s role in upholding building standards in the community. This ensures that all construction and renovation work meets a consistent and safe standard, benefiting the wider community.
- Infrastructure and Systems: The fee also contributes to the maintenance and upgrading of the infrastructure and systems used by the building standards department, including software, databases, and other tools.
In essence, the charge for a building warrant is a way to ensure that the local authority can effectively and efficiently oversee and regulate building work in their jurisdiction, ensuring safety, compliance, and quality for all residents.
Amendment to the Building warrant
An “amendment to the warrant” refers to a formal change or modification to an already approved building warrant. After obtaining a building warrant, there might be situations where the original plans or specifications need to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances, design changes, or other reasons. Instead of starting the application process from scratch, an amendment allows for these changes to be reviewed and approved by the local authority.
Here’s a breakdown of what it entails:
- Submission of Changes: The applicant submits the proposed changes to the local authority’s building standards department. This often includes updated plans, drawings, and any other relevant documentation that reflects the amendments.
- Review: Just like the initial building warrant application, the amendment is reviewed to ensure it complies with building regulations and standards.
- Approval or Rejection: If the proposed changes meet the necessary criteria, the amendment is approved, and the building work can proceed based on the updated plans. If not, the amendment might be rejected, and the applicant may need to make further revisions.
- Fees: There might be an associated fee for submitting an amendment to the warrant, depending on the local authority and the extent of the changes.
- Completion: Once the work is completed, it must align with the amended plans. The final construction will be assessed against the latest approved version when applying for a completion certificate.
In essence, an amendment to the warrant provides a mechanism to accommodate changes to building projects without compromising the oversight and regulatory functions of the building standards department.
Completion Inspection/Completion Certificate
The completion inspection is a crucial step in the building warrant process, It ensures that the completed building work complies with the approved plans and meets the required building regulations and standards. Here’s a breakdown of what the completion inspection entails:
- Notification: Once the building work is completed, or nearing completion, the applicant (or their agent) must notify the local authority’s building standards department. This is to request an inspection to verify that the work aligns with the approved plans and complies with building regulations.
- CCNP (Construction Compliance Notification Plan): During the building process, the local authority provides a CCNP, which outlines specific stages or aspects of the work that they need to be notified about. The completion inspection is one of these key stages.
- Inspection: A building standards surveyor or officer from the local authority will visit the site to inspect the completed work. They will check various aspects, such as structural integrity, safety features, insulation, ventilation, and other elements, to ensure they match the approved plans and meet the required standards.
- Feedback: After the inspection, the local authority will provide feedback. If everything is in order, they’ll proceed to the next step. If there are discrepancies or issues, they will highlight these, and the applicant might need to make corrections or provide further information.
- Completion Certificate: If the local authority is satisfied with the completed work, they will accept the “completion certificate submission,” which is a declaration by the applicant that the work complies with the approved plans and regulations. This certificate signifies the formal conclusion of the building warrant process and confirms that the work is compliant and safe for its intended use.
- Record Keeping: The local authority will keep a record of the completion certificate, which can be crucial for future property transactions or any subsequent work on the property.
It’s essential to note that failing to obtain a completion certificate can lead to legal complications. It’s a confirmation that the building work has been carried out correctly, safely, and in line with the approved plans and building regulations.
How long is a Building warrant valid for?
A building warrant in Scotland is valid for three years from the date of its issuance. This means that the building work authorized by the warrant must commence within this three-year period. If the work hasn’t started within these three years, the building warrant will lapse, and a new application will be required to undertake the work.
Additionally, if the work has started but is not completed within the three-year validity period, an extension to the building warrant can be requested from the local authority before it expires. It’s essential to be proactive in such situations to avoid potential complications or the need to reapply.
It may be possible to get a time extension to the Building warrant.
In conclusion, obtaining a building warrant in Scotland is a crucial step in ensuring that construction projects comply with safety and regulatory standards. While the process may vary in duration and cost, understanding the key takeaways is essential for a smooth and compliant project journey. Here are the key takeaways:
- A building warrant is necessary for most construction projects in Scotland, and it ensures compliance with building regulations.
- The approval process varies in time, often taking 6 to 8 weeks for straightforward projects, but complexities and additional information can extend it significantly.
- Costs for building warrants are determined by the project’s estimated value and cover administrative, inspection, and expertise-related expenses.
- Amendments to building warrants and completion inspections are crucial stages in the process.
- Building warrants are valid for three years, with the possibility of extensions when needed.
For any specific questions or assistance with your project, don’t hesitate to reach out to local authorities or professionals experienced in navigating the intricacies of building warrants in Scotland. Your careful planning and adherence to regulations will help ensure the success and safety of your construction endeavor.
Finally, if you would like to discuss your project further you can take up our offer to get your FREE 15-minute ‘Ask the Expert’ call.