The governments' aim in reforming the building control system was to provide an opportunity for self regulation by the construction industry by self certification. Local authorities will always take responsibility for enforcement.
A developer is now given the option of having the work certified privately by an Approved Inspector, rather than by the local authority. The private system is based upon the Government White Paper "The Future of Building Control in England and Wales" published in February 1981.
The private system is contained within Part II of the Building Act 1984. Essentially this means that the responsibility for Building Control can be passed to an Approved Inspector rather than the local authority in whose area the development is taking place. It also enables certain public bodies to supervise their own work.
The major difficulty in setting up the private system has been obtaining suitable insurance cover. The current system of insurance cover was agreed by the Government and implemented on July 1996. At the same time the Construction Industry Council (CIC) was designated as the body for approving non-corporate inspectors, and later as the body to designate Corporate Approved Inspectors. At present the NHBC remains the only corporate body who is able to certify domestic buildings (dwellings) although this is shortly to be extended to include other Approved Inspectors and Corporate bodies.
For the present only the following are not treated as dwellings and are able to be supervised by an Approved Inspector.
Dwellings which are ancillary or incidental to one or more non-residential uses of the buildings in which they are situated ( such as wardens accommodation in student accommodation)
Dwellings which form part of and are contained within institutional buildings
Dwellings which comprise or are contained within hotels or boarding houses
Dwellings which belong to schools, universities or similar establishments and are used for the staff, pupils or students.
Dwellings in medical establishments such as nurses homes
Types of Approved Inspector
There are two types of Approved Inspector
Corporate bodies, such as NHBC and Corrillian Services Ltd
Individuals and Companies can be approved by the designated body (CIC)
Approval may limit the description of work in relation to which the person or company concerned as an approved inspector
Approval is not automatic, someone applying must have a construction related qualification and have at least five years post qualification experience. Applications are made to the CIC registrar, then the application goes to a multi-disciplinary assessment panel who will be looking for knowledge in six areas
*Building Regulations and statutory control
* Construction technology and design
* Fire Studies
* Foundation and structural engineering
* Building services and environmental engineering
This is followed by a professional interview by a panel of three assessors who must be unanimous in their approval of the candidate. Successful candidates are registered and their names supplied to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Individuals are approved for five years. The CIC can withdraw this approval if the inspector has been unfitted for the work or has contravened any relevant rules of conduct.
Independence of Approved Inspector
An approved inspector cannot supervise work in which he or she has a professional or financial interest, unless it is "minor work."
Minor work means
The material alteration or extension of a dwelling house (not including a flat or a building containing a flat) which has two storeys or less before the work is carried out and which afterwards has no more than three storeys ( a basement is not counted as a storey)
The provision, extension or material alteration of controlled services or fittings
Work involving the underpinning of buildings
There is a broad definition of financial interest
Anyone who is or has been responsible for the design or construction of the work in any way, for example the architect
Anyone who or whose nominee is a member, officer or employee of a company or other body which has a professional or financial interest in the work e.g. a shareholder in a building company
Anyone who is a partner or employee of someone of someone who has a professional or financial interest in the work