Yes. Legislation now requires most replacement windows and doors to comply with certain minimum standards.
To enable work to be monitored it is also a requirement to apply for permissionfrom the council before carrying out any work. For domestic premises however, instead of using the council to approve and inspect your proposals, you can employ the services of an appropriate competent persons scheme registered installer.
Competent persons scheme members do not have to apply to the council for permission as the standard of their work is monitored by an independent body but they do still need to notify building control of the works through the competent persons scheme.
Replacement doors only require consent if they contain over 50% glazing.
For many years, it has not been necessary to apply for building regulation consent when replacing windows in existing dwellings unless a structural alteration was involved. This usually only occurred when the existing opening was being made wider (which made the installation of a new support lintel necessary), or where the windows were part of a structural bay. All owners replacing windows need to obtain consent, and the new windows themselves will have to fully meet the requirements of the building regulations. Even if you are replacing only one window with one brought from a local DIY centre you still need to follow the guidance below.
It is important that householders obtain the necessary consent as solicitors will make a specific check for this when the property is sold.
You can either:
- use an installer registered under a competent person scheme, in which case you do not need to make a building regulations application to the council. Your installer should then ensure your windows comply fully with the regulations and will supply you with a certificate confirming this when the installation is complete. You will also be offered the option of taking an insurance-backed guarantee. Please ensure that your installer is properly registered under the scheme before placing an order; or
- make a building regulations applicationto your local authority, and in most cases the simplest way of doing this will be to submit a building notice. You should complete a replacement windows building notice form and return it to your local authority together with the appropriate charge at least two working days before removing the old window(s). If all is found to be satisfactory your local authority will approve the work. This may involve an officer calling at your property to check the installation of the new windows. You are likely to be asked by your solicitor to produce evidence of this approval if you sell your property, so please follow carefully the guidance given by your local authority to ensure a completion certificate can be issued for your work
If you use a contractor registered under a competent person scheme the cost should be built into the quotation for the works you are given. In all other cases the council will make a set charge for dealing with your building notice application.
There are certain regulations that the replacement windows and doors must comply with. Owners of listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas may not need to satisfy these requirements in all cases. However, it is still necessary to apply for consent through the local authority or a competent person scheme.
Please remember that separate planning permission may be required from the local authority for these works.
The replacement windows will need to meet the new thermal insulation requirements of the regulations. Please refer to Part L1B.
Please note: these values are very difficult to achieve and many double glazing units currently on sale will not meet these new standards.
Take great care when ordering new windows that your supplier can prove the glazing units used will satisfy the requirements, as the building control officer will need to see this proof before issuing a completion certificate. We would particularly recommend that you leave any labels on the glazing in place until after a satisfactory inspection has been carried out by the building control officer.
In some cases it may be permissible to use glazing units which do not meet the above specifications, but to do so you (or your supplier) would have to submit calculations to prove that the overall insulation requirements of the regulations would still be met. This may be possible if other insulation measures are undertaken at the same time as the window replacement - for example; installing cavity wall insulation or "topping up" loft insulation. The benefits gained by installing this extra insulation can be used to offset the higher losses through the glazing, but this should not be undertaken lightly. We would strongly advise you get any such calculations checked by the building control officer well before the replacement windows are installed, so that expensive mistakes can be avoided.
Means of escape
All first floor windows in dwellings should ideally have opening lights large enough to allow you to escape through them if you were trapped in the room by a fire. This also applies to rooms in bungalows, which open into a hall (unless the hall itself has an external door through which you could escape).
To meet this requirement all such windows should have an unobstructed openable area of at least 0.33m2 and be not less than 450mm high and 450mm wide (the route through the window may be at an angle rather than straight through). The bottom of the openable area should be less than 1100mm above the floor.
If your existing windows do not have opening lights which meet the above requirements, we would strongly recommend for your own safety, that you take the opportunity to provide them in the replacement windows. This is not, however, a requirement of the regulations, which simply state that the replacement windows must be no worse than those they replace in this respect. Where the existing windows already have opening lights which are larger than the above requirements, those in the new windows can be reduced in size provided they are not reduced to less than that shown in the attached diagram below.
Means of escape (pdf 24kb opens in new window)
Low level glazing (glazed areas within 800mm of floor level) and glazing in doors within 1500mm of floor level should generally be of a type so that if broken, it will break safely. In practice this means such glazing should be either laminated or toughened. Ordinary glazing can still be used in small pane sizes, however, provided the glass is sufficiently strong to resist breakage. The approved document to part N of the building regulations gives maximum sizes according to the thickness of glass - for example, in a single pane less than 1.1m square - 8mm glass would be satisfactory.
If the replacement windows are wider than those they replace, or involve the replacement of bay windows, then proper structural support is required above the window. In older buildings, the timber frame of the window was often sufficiently strong to carry the load of a wall or roof above it without a lintel. Obviously in these cases either a lintel needs to be installed when the window is replaced, or the new frame carefully reinforced to carry the load. Further advice on structural stability can be obtained from your local authority or from any member of a competent person scheme.
The building regulations require that adequate ventilation is provided for people in the building and this should be considered when deciding on the size of opening lights in the replacement windows. For most rooms, one or more opening windows totaling 5% of the floor area, with background "trickle" vents totaling 8000mm2 will be adequate. For kitchens, utility rooms and bathrooms an extract fan is also normally required. In some cases the existing windows may contain a permanent vent to supply combustion air to a heating appliance, although this is now rare. If this is the case, however, you should ensure that either the replacement window contains a similar permanent vent or that some other means of providing the required ventilation is installed at the same time.
Application Forms and Fee Sheet page.