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There are currently sixteen parts (sections) to the building regulations (E & W) and each is lettered as Part A to Part Q (however there is no Part I or N) accompanied by an approved document for that Part X. The approved documents usually take the form of firstly stating the legislation and then providing a number of methods or ways which are deemed to satisfy the regulations.

The building regulations do not aim to stifle innovation, and each Approved Document's introduction states this Government Aim. Compliance with the legislation is what is ultimately required and there may be many ways of complying, other than just using the ways set out in the recommended provisions within each of the approved documents. In reality, an innovative solution may be hard to validate, and for most building work the tendency is to take the regulations literally.

For example, bathroom manufacturers produce a 'Doc M Pack' for disabled toilets, which reproduces exactly the diagram in Part M,[1] and most public disabled toilets are now designed around this layout.

Many manufactured products have agrément certificates issued by the British Board of Agrément (BBA, a construction products certification service), certifying compliance with relevant standards. However, the BBA and other bodies (TRADA, BRE, Exova Warrington, etc.) may be able to test and certify to "CE" harmonised EU standards. "CE" marking of all construction materials and products is now a legal requirement, since 1 July 2013.

Most of the detailed information on the Building Regulations is now available on where general public users can access simplified building regulations guidance, and professional users have a better organised version of what was on the former DCLG building regulations website, including the full versions of the Approved dDcuments and associated guidance, held on the DCLG website (now a constituent part of the website).