Building Regulations for wood burning stoves – who are Building Control and who polices?
Building Regulations for wood burning stoves – who are Building Control and who polices?
5 mins

Building regulations for wood burning stoves – who are building control and who polices?


Please do your own due-diligence and research on this subject.

Every year over one hundred thousand wood burning stoves are fitted in the UK.

Some are fitted by a registered “HETAS” tradesman (other organisations also have registered fitters but Hetas are the most high-profile. This is the easiest but most costly route as somebody else does all the work, follows all of the regulations and signs off the paperwork. Beware though - being registered does not mean they will provide quality work or service: training courses are mostly classroom-based and, like any industry, there are plenty of bodge merchants out there.

Others happily self-install using Building Control (part of your local council) to sign everything off. No special tools or testing equipment required but you will need to know your Building Regulations with regard to wood burning stoves. I have seen many very high quality installs by self-installers who often have the time and motivation to complete to a very high standard. To be fair I have also seen some poor work as well.

Many choose to do it themselves without involving any authority at all. In England and Wales this is very naughty.

Round DG Odin wood stove on a plinth with logs inside plinth

In Scotland (as of 2019) you often do not need anybody’s permission to fit a solid fuel stove or chimney flue. Try and work it out here.

Why is it considered safe for a person who lives in Scotland to self install with no checks required – but in England and Wales we all need to pay to have the boxes ticked because we are deemed less competent? - Julian Patrick

In England and Wales the installation of wood burning and multifuel stoves (or any solid fuel appliance) is “controlled” under the Building Regulations, as is the relining or installation of flues and chimneys associated with such heat producing appliances. Did you know that fitting a new loo is also “controlled”?
The rest of this article therefore applies to England and Wales (see here for rules in Scotland).

Saltfire Scout wood stove with kettle on top

Regarding permissions or certificates you do not need one if the property is not "habitable". Who defines whether something is "habitable"? We do not have an answer to this. As a general rule Building Control are not interested in garden rooms, sheds, garages, boats, vans and caravans etc. Of course if your garden shed is the size of a small bungalow with bedrooms and carpets then you might wish to talk to them :-)

See our shed garage small building chimney kits

This page is about Building Control, Hetas and Permissions. CLICK HERE for regulations regarding distances from combustible materials, heatshields etc.

Building Control (your local council)

Jo Bloggs, fitting her own stove, should she not wish to break Building Regulations, must submit an application to Building Control before starting such work. Applying to Building Control is usually an easy process. Find the website of your local Building Control (a council department) and look for something along the lines of a downloadable form: “building notice and full plans application”. You will be filling in the “building notice” section and not the full plans.

You will fill in the form and provide the fee. The fee is dependent on the value of the task and the form will say something like “jobs under £2,000 in value – fee £150”. In Conwy, North Wales I have always paid approx. £120 but the average is probably £150-£200.

Although qualifications are not mandatory, any person fitting a solid fuel stove must be competent to do so i.e. familiar with the correct procedures and associated regulatory requirements. I highlight the text on purpose – knowledge gained from this manual will assist you in showing yourself competent when talking to Building Control (you are not proving yourself a master, or guru – just competent).

Building Control shenanigans

Short twin wall chimney out of garage

Building Control shenanigans

Some councils are miserable and charge more than what is reasonable. Bear in mind that on a full chimney-liner-type-install costing “£2,000 plus stove” you will likely be saving £1000+ if you do it yourself so although it stings a little to pay Building Control it is still very well worth it.

Personal opinion (Julian): Any Building Control charging over £200 is, in my opinion, not acting in the interests of promoting safety. At the time of writing, two UK council charges far too much (Bolton & Wigan). I believe they do this just to price the job out of the market (they make the price so high that nobody will bother them). Who polices these people? I spoke to Bolton Building Control but all I really got was “that’s the cost and that’s it”. These costs and this behaviour will surely just ensure that a local Building Control rarely has to be bothered with the signing off of a stove, and local people who wish to self install will just ignore them and join the thousands out there who just go ahead and do it without notification. Not, in my opinion, the promotion of good standards by these Jobsworths.

I get feedback from clients and one thing I also sometimes hear is that a tiny minority of Building Control Officers sometimes tell you to not bother them but to get a Hetas engineer in. This is likely an inspector “fobbing you off” because he does not certify stoves very often and is stressed because he will have to review the rules and he’s a bit busy. Be under no doubt – you are allowed to self install a solid fuel stove and your local Building Control must assist by providing the service they are paid to offer.

Also some Building Control do insist that a qualified person checks the installation at completion. They will usually cite you get one of the following to do this: Gas Safe, Hetas, Oftec, Nace, Nacs. If they must have this then I would get your local chimney sweep to sign the paperwork they give you. It will likely cost an extra £30-£50 but I believe it is well worth it. It is though unfair in my opinion – there is no reason why Building Control should make you do this as it not difficult and they have had their fee.

Building Control charges

Some Building Controls are not very switched on and will also insist on themselves employing an installer to check your install and its compliance with Building Regulations. This is very annoying as they will also likely want you to pay for it.

Unfortunately it appears that they can do this.

See here:

They do though have to follow a process - make sure they do so.

Take a look at this document. It says in here: “In the case of local authorities, which cannot refuse to undertake building control on a project if requested…”

Not all Building Controls

Most local Building Controls are much more financially realistic and friendly and helpful.

So what happens next after you fill your form in?

Somebody from Building Control will contact you (you may have to contact them to prompt them) and will arrange to visit you PRIOR to the job starting. At this visit you will tell them what you plan to do (e.g. “I am going to slide a liner down my chimney and fit model “X” stove as well as a closure plate and an air vent").

They will likely ask a couple of questions/provide advice then leave. Before leaving they will likely say that they want to check things over at a certain stage (e.g. when liner is in but before stove fitted). They might say they’ll see you at the end of the work or request you take stage photos. Each Building Control or individual officer will be different but all should assist you in finding the relevant building regulations.

Before I was Hetas-registered I put my stoves through Building Control and in all cases they came prior to start and then again at the end of the job. They were always fair and helpful.

Building Control are not there to “try to catch you out” (or they should not be). They are there to assist with building regulations for wood burning stoves if required and check the job is to regulations. The process sounds a little long winded but in practice it is likely to be fine. Some officers are knowledgeable, some are, shall we say, less so.

Ensure that you put your notice in at least ten days before you wish to start work and do not be afraid to call them to find out what to do or to arrange a site visit.

At the end of the process you will receive paperwork that states your stove install is legal.

What if I do not get it signed off?

“I believe that my install will be safe. What happens if I am in England or Wales and do not get the work certified by Hetas or Building Regulations?”

  1. When you come to sell your property you may be asked, by the purchaser’s solicitor, for evidence of compliance with Building Regulations and you will not have this. You will then have to apply for retrospective Building Control (a standard process), or uncouple the stove and state to the house buyer that it is not fitted and will require installation.
  2. Should your installation cause damage to property or person then you will likely find yourself in a spot of bother.

“Will a Hetas installer sign off my install?”

Some will, most will not. They are not supposed to sign off the work of another person but they can “turn up at the last and connect the stove” and charge you for this (e.g. you do all the building work, hearth etc.). Best to call and say “all building work is done and stove just needs connecting”. Some are happy if the liner is already in and some would rather fit it themselves.

If you want to employ a registered installer and save money then do the building work yourself- just leave them the actual stove fitting. Building work includes fitting a hearthopening up a fireplaceadding a lintel etc. Work that needs signing off includes lining a chimneybuilding a twin wall chimney and installing a stove.

Standard letter to Building Control (for the few Building Controls who do not play fair)

Dear Building Control,

I am notifying you that I am installing a solid fuel stove.

Model: <DG Ivar 5kW>

Chimney liner spec: <Duraflue 904 grade 5">

I am providing ten days notice of beginning this work. I am happy to fill in any form you may have and pay your reasonable fees.

I have previously requested information on how I can obtain a certificate of compliance from you.

You said:

<Use a Hetas installer>

I am self installing and so a Hetas installer is not available to me as they are not allowed to sign off the work of another person.

<Your fee is £1000>

I feel your fee is unreasonable and is clearly designed to make the job financially unviable. Please provide a reasonable quote. Too high fees surely will promote unregistered and potentially dangerous installs.

<Other reason>

Talk to Julian

I am proceeding with the work and this letter inform you of my intentions.

Your name




Try and work it out:

Technical Handbook


See all FAQs

Costs correct as of April 2023:

Approx. costs if you have a chimney and fireplace ready to use: £750-£1,000 (save £500 by self-installing).

Approx. costs if you have a chimney but need the fireplace "opening up": £1,600-£2,200 (save £1200 by self-installing).

Approx. costs if you do not have a chimney and need a clip-together flue: Shed £475-£700. Bungalow £1500. 2-storey house £2500. Save £1,000-£1400 by self-installing.

Above figures include labour and materials but no appliance.

We, of course, advise you to purchase your stove and materials from Stovefitter's to ensure quality goods are installed (some installers use budget materials to increase margin). If you buy your stove from us (rather than your local small shop or installer) we have a lot more power when approaching manufacturer's with a warranty issue. Why is that? Because we buy many hundreds of stoves a year from these brands.

We do not fit stoves.

But we know a few who do!

Google: Hetas installers

Hetas are the trade body of registered UK installers.

Most installations will require that you slide a chimney liner down your chimney (flexible metal tube 5" or 6" in diameter). Do you have a narrow chimney and want to lessen the risk that a liner might not go down your chimney? Then make sure your chosen stove can use a 5" liner.

Must I line my chimney? Best read this article but most likely the answer is yes. Do I have to fit a chimney liner?

DEFRA-Exempt wood burning stoves with a 5″ collar can usually be fitted to a five inch liner rather than the usual 6″ minimum, making the installer's job much less stressful.


I seriously suggest any self installer fits a 5" liner unless they know their chimney is large enough for a 6"!

What is the best chimney liner? Silvacore 904 (we sell it so of course we will say that ;-). What is the best chimney liner?

Will your stove require an air vent within the room (some stone walls are very difficult to drill)?

5kW or under and wood burning stoves often do not require an air vent (new builds always require an air vent).

What is the maximum output in kW of your "5kW" wood burning stove? The majority of manufacturers just specify the “nominal output” and this figure means very little in real life. The nominal is a figure the manufacturer chooses to sell the stove at - the stove is capable of reaching at least this output with one fuel load. Nominal means "capable of". But it is not the maximum.

Check out the size of the area where the logs will go (firebox size) as this varies enormously. The kW output is completely dependant on the amount of logs burning at any one time - more logs burning equals more heat. If you can fit three logs in stove A and just two logs in stove B then stove A will be capable of throwing out 33% more heat.

DO NOT TRUST MANUFACTURERS’ kW RATINGS as manufacturers specify what output they desire to sell the stove at and testing allows for much “playing with the figures”. This is why you can get very small 5kW stoves (e.g. Aga Little Wenlock) and very large 5kW stoves (e.g. DG Ivar 5 by Dik Geurts which is actually rated 5kW but has a MUCH larger firebox than the Ekol Crystal 5 by Ekol Stoves). A Crystal 5k might get to 5kW and not be capable of any higher whilst a DG Ivar, despite being rated at 5kW, can get to 8kW with a full fuel load.

Note that, over time, one might damage the internal firebricks of a stove by running at a higher load than the manufacturer's suggest. Firebricks are easily replaceable.

Will your wood burning stove fit in your recess WITH the required air gaps around it? This is obviously not an issue if your stove will be freestanding.

Air gaps to non-combustible materials (brick, stone etc.) are usually "as close as you like" legally but manufacturers will sometimes specify a recommendation. This recommendation is there to allow heat to escape from the recess into the room - so you get the heat benefit rather than the heat soaking into the building structure and being lost. If no gap to non-combustibles recommended then we suggest 50-100mm air gap left and right of stove, 50mm behind and 100mm above.

Are you in a Smoke Control Area (usually built up areas)?

Choose your stove accordingly.

A stove must be DEFRA-Approved if you wish to burn wood in a smoke control area.


In simple terms if a stove has an efficiency rating of 70% then 30% of the heat from your logs goes up the chimney.

If a stove has an efficiency rating of 90% then only 10% goes up the chimney.

So think of this in terms of how many logs you have to chop/buy.

Example: A Saltfire Peanut 5 by Saltfire Stoves in Dorset has an efficiciency of 80%.

A tall chimney (6m or more) that is lined will be happy with an efficient stove.

Efficiency importance can be said to be overrated and anything between 75% and 85% is fine. Go much higher and performance can actually suffer (smoke in room when opening door to reload, blackening of glass).

Many modern stoves can go on 12mm thick hearths. Others require full, 5″ thick constructional hearths. All of the stoves we sell state whether or not a 12mm hearth is suitable.More about hearths for wood stoves here.

Can you can talk to somebody on the phone should you need to after the wood burning stove has been delivered, especially if you are self installing? Will the staff at “” be able to assist with any installation issues? What if there are any problems after install?

Do yourself a favour before ordering stoves or materials on the Internet: Go to Trustpilot and type in the company name before you buy. Some companies advertising at the top of search engines are not good news - check for yourself.

When striving to find thebest 5kW wood burning stovesyou will likely be bewildered by the choice. There are many to choose from. The question I get asked most in our shop is “why should I pay <£1,000> for this one when this other one is just <£500>?”. Here is the very simple answer:the cheaper wood stoves are made in Chinaor Eastern Europe whilst the more expensive are made in Western Europe (or sometimes the USA). Here are a few examples where a more expensive stove might excel over a cheaper stove:

  • Aesthetics (more time spent on design)
  • Hinges (sometimes hidden on more expensive stoves)
  • Better quality glass
  • Thicker steel (longer life)
  • Improved door locking mechanisms
  • Longer warranty
  • Improved controllabilty of flame due to more resource invested on design of air flow within stove
  • Brushed steel fittings instead of cheapy chrome look

Open and close the door on a cheap Chinese stove. Then open and close the door on a DG stoveArada stovesWoodford stovesHamlet stoves or Saltfire stoves. You’ll understand the difference.

Stove pricing reminds me of wine pricing. A £20 bottle of wine is not double the quality of a £10 bottle of wine (the drinking experience might be improved by 20% as an example). We are talking “the law of diminishing returns here. They are all “fire in a metal box” at the end of the day.

Yes. However, there are specific regulations and restrictions in place to address air pollution concerns, particularly in areas designated as Smoke Control Areas. In these areas, only approved "smokeless" fuels or exempt appliances, such as Defra-approved wood-burning stoves, can be used. These stoves are designed to burn wood more efficiently and produce fewer emissions.

All the stoves we sell are DEFRA approved and Eco-design approved and suitable for all areas of the UK.


View all Terminology

A stainless steel tube, slides down a brick/stone chimney to provide a smooth and safe route for smoke.

All of our stoves are approved by DEFRA to burn wood in all UK locations including Smoke Control Areas (towns and cities). Not all stoves are, so be careful if buying elsewhere.

All of our stoves are ECODESIGN approved to be sold in the UK. Not all stoves are, so be careful if buying elsewhere. ECODESIGN is mandatory by law since January 2022.

The base your stove sits on.

If the chimney is the polo mint then the flue is the hole.