Building Act FAQs

During a recent webinar looking at legislation and in particular the Building Act and associated Acts and Regulations a number of questions were asked and below are some suggested responses.

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 at Approved Inspectors. This process is administered by CICAIR Ltd, who also enforce a code of conduct.

2. Likewise who checks the competence of Local Authority Building Control?

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.

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. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

A number of questions were asked in relation to statistical information such as number of prosecutions taken, or number of initial notice cancelled. The Association does not collate this information although much of it is reported in returns from Building Control bodies to show that the Building Control performance Standards are being met. Court Cases are obviously a matter of public record.

If you missed the webinar, you can catch up online.