We’ve cleared the last official hurdle before we can start building. Our long suffering architect Andy Black  who not only designed the house but also acts as our agent with the local Council rang me this morning to let me know.
Building Control at the Scottish Borders Council have asked their last question and got their last reply, they’ve applied the rubber stamp to the building warrant and now there’s nothing to stop us going ahead.
We just have to let them know what date we plan to start and arrange with them when they want to visit to examine foundations, concrete pouring and drains, but otherwise we can get on with setting out the house, digging foundation trenches and building the foundations themselves. In the meantime, Andy is getting the workshop geared up to making the timber frame components that sit on the concrete slab, and getting them down to us from Dundee.
I love it when a plan comes together…
So what’s a Building Warrant?
We’ve already got planning permission from the Council, so why do we need another level of permission?
Planning Permission is just that, permission granted by the local Council to build something approaching the design you put in front of them. Usually the Council also puts conditions on the plans such as our requirement to use natural slate on the roof.
The Building Warrant (in Scotland; it’s called something else in England and Wales) is a different thing altogether. A Building Warrant is the legal permission to start building work. A verifier, currently the local council, is responsible for issuing building warrants. In assessing your application for a warrant, they must apply the standards set by the building regulations in force at the time.
What this translates into is the Council’s Building Control officer takes a close look at the plans your architect has drawn up, including all the technical structural engineering diagrams and plans for drains etc. They match these against “Building Regs” and throw back as queries anything that does not match the Regs, all 600 pages of them. And they can get pretty picky. They are the architectural equivalent of an accounting auditor and they keep house builders like us honest.
What they don’t do is ensure your house won’t fall over but they do make sure that new entrants to the housing stock meet some basic criteria across an enormous range of headings. They also stay in touch during the build, and they are responsible for issuing a completion certificate after which we get to live in the place.
And all before July. We’ll see!