Building standards - legislation and guidance changes for March 2021: letter to local authority verifiers - 3 December 2020

Guidance for local authority verifiers on changes to building standards legislation and guidance coming into force on 1 March 2021.

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Dear Chief Executive

Changes to legislation and guidance for March 2021  

Building (Scotland) Act 2003: Sections 4(2) and 4(4) notice relating to guidance documents  

I am writing to advise you that the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020 will come into force on 1 March 2021. There are also significant changes to the Building Standards Technical Handbooks that come into force on 1 March 2021. A summary of the changes is attached in Annex A.    

The Technical Handbooks are currently only available electronically in html format. A pdf version will be made available when access to centralised IT equipment becomes available.  Full details of the changes to legislation and guidance are published on our website.

 The 2020 Technical Handbooks for domestic and non-domestic buildings apply from 1 March 2021 and the notice issued by the Scottish Ministers under sections 4(2) and 4(4) of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 is attached in Annex B.  

Verifiers should consider the receipt of applications for building warrant carefully to avoid incomplete applications being submitted to circumvent compliance with the revised standards and guidance.   

Yours faithfully

Dr Stephen Garvin

Head of Building Standards

Annex A

Summary of changes to legislation and guidance applicable from 1 March 2021


The Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020 No. 275).

These Regulations amend the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 which set out functional standards for buildings.

The purpose of this instrument is to extend the application of mandatory functional standard 2.15 which requires buildings to be designed and constructed in such a way that, in the event of an outbreak of fire within the building, fire growth will be inhibited by the operation of an automatic fire suppression system.

Amendment of standard 2.15 extends the requirement for automatic fire suppression systems to be installed on construction of new flats and maisonettes, new social housing dwellings and new shared multi-occupancy residential buildings.


Guidance (new/updated)


Building Standards Technical Handbook – Domestic 2020

Revised and updated 2020 handbook.   

Building Standards Technical Handbook – Non-Domestic 2020

Revised and updated 2020 handbook.   

Building Standards Technical Handbook – Summary of March 2021 Changes

Summary of the changes made in the 2020 Technical Handbooks and information on planned events.


Annex B 

Building (Scotland) Act 2003: Sections 4(2) and 4(4) notice relating to guidance documents

Issue of guidance documents

The Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2019 (SSI 2020 No. 275) come into force on 1 March 2021.  

Under the provisions of Section 4(1) of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act), which came into force on 1 May 2005, Scottish Ministers may issue guidance documents for the purposes of providing practical guidance with respect to the requirements of any provision of building regulations and may issue revisions of the whole or any part of any guidance document.  

Guidance documents issued under Section 4(1) of the Act take effect in accordance with a notice issued by Scottish Ministers under Section 4(2) of the Act. 

This letter, issued on behalf of Scottish Ministers, constitutes such a notice.

 From 1 March 2021, the following revised documents are guidance documents for the purpose of building regulations:

  • The Scottish Building Standards Technical Handbooks – Domestic 2020; and
  • The Scottish Building Standards Technical Handbooks – Non-Domestic 2020  

The guidance documents are issued with respect to the provisions of the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004, as amended to 9 September 2020.  

Withdrawal of guidance documents

As provided for by Section 4(3) and 4(4) of the Act, the previous 2019 Technical Handbooks, Domestic and Non-Domestic, shall cease to have effect in relation to building warrant applications made under section 9 of the Act and completion certificates submitted under section 17(4) of the Act after 28 February 2021.



Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scottish Government
Building Standards Division
Almondvale Business Park
Denholm House
West Lothian
EH54 6GA

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