Q. I am thinking of knocking a wall down in my house as well as making some other alterations. I’m sure I won’t need planning permission for all the changes I intend to make but how can I be sure, and who should I speak to if planning permission is needed?

A. Certain types of changes can be made to your home without planning permission. These rights are called ‘permitted development rights’. Specific advice on your situation should be sought from your building surveyor or architect. General repairs, replacing like with like, without altering position, size, construction or materials used, are exempt. If in doubt about whether building regulations apply to the work you’re contemplating, check with your local building control office. If you decide that the work you’re considering falls under the remit of building regulations, there are two methods of applying for approval;

1. Major work will require the submission of fully detailed plans, specifications, calculations and other supporting details to enable the building control surveyor to ensure compliance with the regulations. The amount of detail depends on the size of the project. A formal notice of approval or rejection is issued within a legally set period of five weeks. The work is then inspected periodically as it progresses; there’s a legal requirement for certain stages of the work to meet approval before you may proceed. The approved plans give you a degree of protection provided the work is carried out in accordance with those plans. The inspectors are generally able to offer advice and help throughout the construction phase.

2. Building notice: This is generally less often used and relates to smaller projects. A full plan is not required. It’s used where only a very small amount of work you’re contemplating falls within the scope of the Building Control Office.