Frequently Asked Questions
BCS Approved Inspectors
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1. When approved inspectors are appointed, who monitors their competence or qualifications to ensure their ability to undertake their roles correctly?
Approved Inspectors have to demonstrate competence, good business practice and a commitment to professional and ethical standards before being allowed to operate as Approved Inspectors. This process is administered by CICAIR Ltd, who also enforce a code of conduct. Approved Inspectors are recognised by the Government and others as having an important positive impact on efficiency and higher standards of service.
2. Likewise who checks the competence of Local Authority Building Control?
Approved Inspectors must have their qualifications checked and must prove competence before they can be licensed to operate. Their competence is independently checked every five years, and they must file annual returns to confirm adequacy of resources, maintained training, and expertise - Local Authorities are not compelled to do so.
Although Local Authorities have a duty to enforce the Building Regulations and as employers seek to ensure that staff engaged in Building Control are capable of carrying out that duty. Local Authorities usually seek qualified members of CABE, RICS or CIOB when making these appointments. Local authority based building control bodies have unfortunately seen their resources deminish over the past decade due to council planned austerity measures.
3. How is it for example building control do not enforce or pick up on say a loft conversion going higher than the roof ridge tiles?
The Building Control function is limited to ensuring compliance with the minimum standards of Building Regulations. Whilst issues such as this may be equally important to the client, designer and neighbours they are not fundamentally matters addressed by the Building Regulations. Matters such as this may be the responsibility of the designer, client of clients representative.
4. Is it true that where a contravention occurs on a project being dealt with by an Approved Inspector it must revert to the Local Authority for Enforcement or Prosecution?
Most compliance is achieved by negotiation and persuasion whether the project is dealt with by an Approved Inspector or Local Authority. When all else fails then the project may have to pass back to a Local Authority to instigate legal processes to achieve compliance as only Local Authorities have this power under the Building Act.
5. Does an Approved Inspector have a duty to enforce the building regulations?
Approved Inspectors do not have formal enforcement powers. In a situation where the inspector considers your building work does not comply with the building regulations and there is a refusal to bring it into compliance the inspector will cancel the initial notice. If no other approved inspector takes on the work, the building control function will automatically be taken on by your local authority. From this point on, your local authority will also have enforcement powers set out in the Building Act.
6. What will the Impact be on my property if I fail to correct work considered to be non-complaint by an Approved Inspector or local authority building control.
Notwithstanding the possibility of enforcement action, you should bear in mind that if the local authority or approved inspector considers that building work carried out does not comply with the building regulations and it is not rectified, no completion/final certificate will be issued and this is likely to come to light through a local land search enquiry when you wish to sell your property. Please also refer to FAQ No.5 above.
7. What is a reversion?
A reversion occurs at any point when the Approved Inspectors Initial Notice is cancelled and they cease dealing with the project. The Local Authority take on the responsibility for ensuring compliance, including and legal measures.
8. There is a two year time limit for a prosecution for contravening Building Regulations, when does this period start?
The time period has been established by case law and legislation and is commonly held to be two years from the point at which the contravention becomes evident. This can mean that if a defect which is as a result of a contravention of Building Regulations becomes apparent some time after occupation or completion, a completion or final certificate may have already been issued. Having a completion or final certificate does not mean that legal action cannot be taken.
9. Does the two year time period also apply to serving an enforcement notice to force the owner to correct work?
A section 36 enforcement notice cannot be served on the owner after the expiration of 12 months from the date of completion of the building work.
10. Is it true that some Building Regulations are not enforceable and is so which?
Under the Building Regulations 2010 Regulations 17, 17A, 25A, 27, 29, 37, 41, 42, 43 and 44 are designated as provisions to which section 35 of the Act (penalty for contravening building regulations) does not apply. These primarily relate to certification and provision of calculations in relation to design stage energy, EPCs, water efficiency calculations or statements and testing and commissioning certificates.
11. Are there mandatory inspections set by the Building Act and Building Regulations?
The number and stages of inspection are set by the Building Control Body working with the client and contractor and reflect the key stages where no compliance is most likely. Notification is still required at commencement and in relation to occupation and completion. The minimum number of inspections on any project is one.
12. Are Building Control in Local Authority and Approved Inspectors responsible for compliance with Building Regulations?
No, whilst Building Control can advise and check for compliance or ultimately enforce the requirements the responsibility rests with those carrying out the work.
13. What is considered to be “building work” subject to control under the building regulations?
The following types of project amount to 'building work':
The erection or extension of a building
The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
The underpinning of the foundations of a building
Work affecting the thermal elements, energy status or energy performance of a building.
14. Structural Engineering design submissions to Building Control - what level of information is required during the approval process ?
Please click HERE for full information.