Building regulations - uPVC windows

Am I allowed to replace the windows in my house without notifying the Council? e.g. if I buy uPVC windows from Wickes or even make up new hardwood frames myself and fit sealed double-glazing modules.
A neighbour recently had a double glazing firm replace his windows and doors with uPVC - a very standard job, and quite well done. Then he received a card from a trade organisation (whose name I forget) confirming the job had met the rules under the Building regulations 2000, and he should keep the card as proof. What's going on?
Regards George
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Hi George
All replacement windows now need Building Regs approval (since April 2002). There are various rules concerning U values, safety glazing, Low E glass, width of emergency exit windows and so on. Dispensation can be granted for special cases (Listed Buildings etc). You need to understand these rules and make your own Building Regs application to the council if you do the work yourself, and if you make your own frames you will need to prove they comply with Part L1 and have a U Value for wooden frames no greater than 2.0 W/mK. Your Building Control office will advise you and will have leaflets.
The trade organisation you mention is FENSA. They have a special self-certifying deal concerning Building Regulations - if you use a FENSA-registered company to do the work there is no need for you to make a Building Regs application yourself - they are supposed to be qualified to do the work according to the regs. (Hahaha)
It's honestly not worth the hassle - they've got you by the shorts.
Peter
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