Building Regulations Compliance – Embracing a New Culture of Work
29th August 2023
In October, the Building Safety Regulator takes over the handling of Building Control applications for in-scope (high rise residential) buildings in what is the most significant alteration to building regulations compliance in over four decades. The impending changes signal a paradigm shift, which will necessitate a comprehensive overhaul of the way the construction industry works.
In response to the challenges laid out by Dame Judith Hackitt’s report “Building a Safer Future,” the CIC Building Safety Committee have recently issued an advisory note to explain the impending changes in the realm of building regulations compliance, highlighting the need for a new way of working and emphasizing the importance of separation between enforcement and advisory services. In this blog, we take a look at how we got here, what’s changing and how that will affect you.
Traditionally, the concept of “Building Control” was one of enforcement through the Local Authority Inspector (or District Surveyor in London) and was considered quite adversarial. The advent of the Approved Inspector in the 1980’s changed that and building control moved from simply being supervisory enforcers to become more advisory and Building Control transformed into a part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Some Approved Inspectors further blurred the lines by packaging up other services such as building testing services (e.g. air and sound tests), calculation services (such as SAPs), and even in some cases producing fire strategies. The legality of this has always been dubious as Regulation 9 of the Approved Inspector Regulations prevents an Approved Inspector from having a professional or financial interest in a project they are supervising, but was legally possible by operating within a group structure.
As Approved Inspectors had no powers of enforcement and could only revert work back to the Local Authority, there was conflict between the two types of service provider. Over the years, the enforcement side of Local Authority Building Control became more diluted as they focussed on competing with Approved Inspectors to provide advisory services.
The Hackitt Review
Dame Judith Hackitt’s review exposed the inadequacy of this approach in addressing growing industry non-compliance, and a lack of accountability. The impending regulatory framework mandates substantial changes:
Formal Enforcement: A new regime is set to establish a robust and efficiently administered formal enforcement system, effectively segregated from advisory services.
Clear Compliance Responsibility: The introduction of statutory duty holder roles will explicitly define the compliance responsibilities of clients, designers, and builders.
Confident Compliance: Under the new framework, designs submitted to regulators must demonstrate compliance, marking a departure from the current practice of soliciting regulatory feedback and guidance.
Separation of Roles: The era of a combined regulatory and advisory role is coming to an end. The regulatory role will focus on compliance assessment, while advisory services will operate independently.
While the immediate implications will impact “Higher Risk Buildings,” there is a clear indication of the direction of travel that will eventually extend to all Building Control Bodies.
How this will affect services
In response to this, Wilkinsons are currently reviewing operating practices and services, and expects that in the future, we will offer clearly separated services. For example, we anticipate offering clients the choice between consultancy services to support design teams making applications to the BSR or LABC, or direct approval services by processing applications as we have in the past.
For our clients, it’s imperative to comprehend the implications of the evolving separation between enforcement and advisory services within the field of Building Control. Those who have been heavily reliant on advisory services from their building control supplier may face pronounced issues going forward and will need a new supplier of either consultancy or approval services.
Conclusion: Embracing Change for a Safer Future
The building industry is on the cusp of a transformative era. The CIC Building Safety Committee advisory note1 underscores the significance of embracing these changes, and the necessity of taking proactive action.
As the new culture of building regulations compliance emerges, the industry must forge a path forward that prioritizes safety, transparency and a shared commitment to building a safer future. To stay ahead of the game, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter and better still, attend one of our CPDs.
Building Regulations are seen as a set of rules to be followed, which, yes, essentially, that is exactly what they are, but building regulations don’t need to constrict architects.
The Building Safety Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, marking a monumental shift in the regulatory landscape for building safety in the UK.