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Starting and completing building work

Once you have got a building warrant, you can start work. This page looks at what you should do if your plans change during the building process, and what you need to do once the work is completed in order to get a completion certificate accepted. It also explains what to do if work in your home has been carried out in the past without a warrant.

How long is a building warrant valid?

A building warrant remains valid for three years after the issue date. If the work is going to take longer than three years, you can apply for an extension, but you must do this before the warrant expires.

Will the building standards department check up on me?

A surveyor from the council's building standards department may inspect the work while it's in progress, although they don't have to. They will only check that the work complies with building regulations - they won't ensure that it's constructed as you would want. This is up to you and/or the architect or surveyor in charge.

What if I need to change the plans?

If during the building process you need to alter the plans, you must discuss this with the building standards department first. You will need to apply for an amendment to the warrant by submitting your amended plans for assessment. Provided the new plans comply with building standards, the building standards department will grant an amended warrant. You can then carry on with the work.

What do I do when the work's finished?

Once the work is finished, you'll need to submit a completion certificate (sometimes known as a habitation certificate) and, if appropriate, a certificate of compliance for any electrical installations. The relevant forms should be included with the warrant - if not, you can pick them up from the building standards department or possibly download them from your council's website.

The building standards department will make reasonable enquiries regarding the work and must either accept or reject the certificate within 14 days. If the work doesn't comply with building standards, you'll need to make any necessary changes and then get the work re-inspected.

You must get a completion certificate accepted before you can move into or use the newly built home or extension. In certain circumstances, it is possible to get permission for temporary occupation before the completion certificate is accepted.

What is a Completion (Habitation) Certificate?

A completion certificate is a mandatory legal document certifying that a new building complies to all the safety norms and regulations of the Buildings Act. This is issued by your local authority after they inspect your newly constructed  premises.

What if work's already been completed without a warrant?

If you're unsure whether building work carried out in your home in the past meets building standards, you can call the building standards department to find out whether a warrant or completion certificate was issued. The council will probably charge a fee for this service.

If you don't have a warrant for work that's been completed, you could run into difficulties if you want to sell your home and the buyer wants to see a completion certificate for the work. In this case, you must submit a completion certificate. The building standards department will check the plans and inspect the work and, if satisfied, accept the certificate. Again, there'll probably be a charge for this. If the work isn't compliant, you'll need to carry out changes before you'll be able to get a certificate.

Where work has been completed without a warrant, it is important to discuss the matter with the building standards department as soon as possible.

Where can I get help and advice?

Staff at the council's building standards department will be able to help you with your application, so it's a good idea to go in and talk to them first. They can:

  • tell you whether your project needs a building warrant
  • give you guidance on complying with building standards
  • possibly offer advice on hiring an architect, surveyor or builder.

Further information, including guidance, legislation, technical handbooks, fees, forms and certification are available from Scottish Government Scottish Building Standards.

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The important points

  • A building warrant remains valid for three years.
  • A surveyor from the council's building standards department may inspect the work while it's in progress, although they don't have to.
  • If during the building process you need to alter the plans, you must discuss this with the building standards department first.
  • Once the work is finished, you'll need to submit a completion certificate and, if appropriate, a certificate of compliance for any electrical installations.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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