Building control and WHAT are they all about?

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a service where you had a well-educated and an experienced individual making inspections on your behalf to make sure the job is being done correctly? Well there is one! Not only this is compulsory for some projects, but you are obliged to enquire about this prior to commencement on site, failing which might complicate things and delay the progress.

The building control has been put in place to make sure that the methods used are within certain regulations that comply with most up to date technics and materials available on the market. There are specific stages that they are most interested in, where the compounded effect might lead to inadequate result if instructions and guidelines are not followed through. It’s important to note that legally you as a customer are responsible for the liaison with inspectors, unless these tasks have been taken off your hands by your contractor or project manager.

Do you need the involvement of building control in every project? In most cases the answer will be yes, unless the works you intend to carry out are related to a simple renovation without having to do any structural alterations, rewiring or gas works. A simple bathroom re-fit and kitchen installation can also be fitted without the watchful eye of an inspector, all you really need here is a trusted supplier to do a quality job.

The benefits you reap from having a Building control inspector or BCI are plentiful: all works are done in accordance with building standards, any mistakes are pointed out early on which then need to be rectified before the next step can be undertaken, electrical and mechanical works must be certified by a relevant person, NICEIC electrician or Gas Safe engineer, materials used are thoroughly checked therefore reducing the risk on any cut corners, items of high importance such as steel structure is closely monitored, drawings checked and queries raised beforehand.

Let’s look at the stages you’d normally expect the BCI to visit the site:

  1. Pre-commencement of works – this is not every time, but some do want to see the site before anything happens
  2. Completion of demolition and trenches for foundations
  3. Drainage completion
  4. Damp proof course or DPC
  5. Steel structure finalization
  6. Roof structure and insulation
  7. The internals are not checked as rigorously as the key stages from 1-6, with the main concern having to check electrics and gas works
  8. Final survey on completion of all works where you will be sent a certificate if the project was a success and completed within Building control standards

Next thing to mention would be that there is a choice of Building Control available: local control from the council or private control from specialised companies. So, what is the difference between the two? First one would be the cost with private one being more expensive, but not by much. Second is service, with private control doing a much better job that benefits everyone involved. Lastly, would be attitude and perspective, where private building control easily surpasses their competition by miles. Overall, the score cards are clear, and our vote goes to the specialists.

What happens if you somehow you forgot to employ a suitable body for the project, is this the end? Thankfully, no. A procedure called regularisation has been introduced which covers this kind of scenario, but it comes at a higher fee and you are likely to be asked to open up walls, floors and other areas for the BCI to make their inspection and assessment of the completed works. If everything is within the norm, all you will need to do is fix it up and you are good to go. The other outcome might be more complicated as some works might be requested to be done again, which may cost you thousands of pounds. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you and do your research, employ someone early on and follow the procedure.

It goes without saying that you must preserve a good relationship with your inspector as he can make your life a living hell if your builder makes a mistake. Small things such as offering coffee and keeping a friendly approach will help you achieving this. They are the authority and you need to make sure they feel it.

Provided that everything went well and there are no outstanding issues to be resolved, the Building control inspector would do one final attendance before signing off the job and sending a relevant certificate your home address.

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