There is a lot of misinformation about the Building Regulations surrounding tiled and solid roof conservatories. In this guide, we quash the myths surrounding permitted development and building control to help you confidently approach your project.
What are Building Regulations?
Building Regulations are codes that set standards for the design and construction of roofing systems, including conservatory roofs.
Not all conservatory roofs need to follow Building Regulations, but solid conservatory roofs do because they are classified as permanent fixtures.
This means a solid conservatory roof needs Building Regulations approval, but that does not necessarily mean a series of site inspections – you can bypass these with a system that has pre-approval from an Approved Building Control Inspector.
The Leka replacement conservatory roof is a prime example, approved by MFA Building Control and requiring only one post-completion inspection to get a certificate.
Do I need Building Regulations to replace a conservatory roof?
Conservatories with a 75% translucent roof and 50% glazed sides are exempt from Building Regulations. However, solid roofs are not exempt.
You must comply with Building Regulations when replacing a conservatory roof with a solid roof. Simply put, you need a Building Regulations certificate, and there are two ways to get it.
The first is to have the roof built and inspected by building control. The second is to install a prefabricated system with building control approval.
The second option is more attractive because it simplifies the construction and inspection stage. It involves an approved inspector of building control (e.g., MFA) approving a roofing system in line with Building Regulations.
For example, the Leka Solid Conservatory Roof is approved by MFA Building Control, one of the country’s oldest established Approved Building Control Inspectors. This enables Leka system sign-off without having to engage Building Control, with only one post-completion inspection necessary from an MFA representative.
By choosing the Leka Roof, you automatically comply with Building Regulations, with your replacement conservatory roof pre-approved by MFA.
The traditional route to demonstrating Building Regulation compliance involves planning site inspections. This overly burdensome process is banished with the Leka roof because it has MFA approval, requiring only one inspection.
Do not confuse planning permission and building regulations
You might have read that if you want to retrofit a solid tiled roof, you may do so without adhering to any building regulations if the conservatory meets the ‘permitted development’ criteria set out by the planning authority.
Please note THIS IS NOT TRUE because a solid roof changes the game. While some local authorities allow homeowners to go ahead and replace their conservatory roof without approval, MOST authorities do require it, and you should never go ahead without checking.
When you delve into why the reason is apparent – it is a structural consideration. The authority’s primary concern is whether the existing conservatory structure can support the new roof. That is a reasonable question when you consider it wasn’t originally designed to support the weight of a tiled roof. Health and safety also come into this.
We recommend consulting your local planning authority before going any further because the policy is sometimes set locally.
Suppose you are a trade customer or homeowner looking to change an existing glass, traditional or polycarbonate conservatory roof with a solid roofing system. In that case, Building Regulations apply and planning permission might too.
Wrap-over roofs are not a solution to Building regulations!
If the requirement for Building Regulations stems from replacing a conservatory roof with a solid roof, surely you can build a solid roof over an old roof to bypass Building regulations?
Wrapping – or building – a tiled conservatory roof over an existing installation does bypass Building Regs, so there is no argument there. However, cladding over, wrapping over, or build-over roofs are potentially dangerous because of added weight.
It is important to know that your conservatory roof is built to handle a specified weight load. No matter how lightweight a solid roofing system is, it can tip the weight load to dangerous levels and increase the risk of collapse.
Installers will tell you that they can add structural support to the existing structure to increase its weight-bearing ability. Still, it is rare for installers to be structural engineers qualified to make such modifications.
Clad over conservatory roof systems also rarely meet Building Regulations approval when tested due to poor thermal value and structural integrity.
However, the biggest problems with wrap-over roofs include condensation, heat loss, droughts, and creaking in adverse weather due to the two systems expanding and moving as separate systems rather than as a single, unified component.
System certification and building control
There are a lot of poor-quality solid roofing systems out there. The quality of a system can be guaranteed by looking for a system with LABC or MFA certification. For example, some conservatory roof panels have MFA approval.
Systems approved by the Local Authority Building Control, or MFA, are vetted for design, quality, and engineering, so they offer a stamp of approval from building control experts.
We recently received a question about LABC (Local Authority Building Control) approved systems and whether solid conservatory roofing systems with this stamp are exempt from building control or planning. The answer is NO, they are not, although this stamp of approval should provide the buyer with some quality assurance.
MFA certification, however, DOES render a solid conservatory roofing system exempt from traditional building control in that the system is pre-approved and only requires a post-installation inspection from MFA to ensure it is built correctly.
We’re hugely proud to have this certification for the Leka light conservatory roof system – probably the best lightweight tiled roofing system on the market.
However, if your local planning authority classes your conservatory as an extension, they will want to get involved in the construction work.
Being MFA-approved, the Leka System can be fast-tracked through building applications in most cases, and every installation gets a building control certificate. This will state the installation meets the technical requirements of the elements of the Building Regulations.
The above rules apply if you change your existing conservatory roof from a Polycarbonate/Glass roof to a traditional tiled roof or a lightweight roof such as the Leka Conservatory warm roof conversion System.
Lastly, we will touch on newly built conservatories because there are different building regulations and rules.
The building regulations for new conservatories
A newly built conservatory will usually be exempt from Building Regulations and granted as permitted development when built to three metres in height and 30 square metres in size.
However, if you intend to construct a solid roof conservatory, you must follow Building Regulations for the roof’s construction.
Regarding permitted development, your conservatory cannot be transformed into an extension of your home and must remain a separate outbuilding connected to it to meet permitted development criteria. It must be separated from the main house by external walls or windows and doors (for example, bi-fold doors) and have separate heating.
Building Regulation Control comes into play if your newly built conservatory does not meet permitted development criteria. If this is the case, you might need planning permission and must comply with Building Regulations. If in doubt, consult your local planning authority.
If you want to learn more about solid roofs and Building Regulations, call us on 0800 773 4040 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.