WEB WATCH - Small practitioners can finally have a say in the Building Regulations, thanks to a government website. Alex Smith logged on and found out what it all has to do with speed cameras …

At last, the government is offering small practitioners the chance to have a say on Building Regulations. The communities department (DCLG) has opened a discussion forum for everybody to post their comments.

Smaller firms feel Building Regulations are dumped on them from a height. They’re too busy running businesses to be embroiled in regulatory processes. Those influencing regulations tend to be well-funded lobbyists or technicians from well-resourced manufacturers. This discussion board should redress the balance.

Building has some understanding of the problems faced by builders and inspectors, but these comments offered fresh insight. Many speak of the frustration of enforcement and non-compliance. Commonly, contractors feel they are being priced-out by cowboys who ignore regulations. One consultant spoke of a downturn in workload since the introduction of Part L, as customers turned to builders who cut costs by flouting regs.

Many offer solutions: a “speed camera” approach should be introduced, says Mark, with strict fines for non-compliance. Stewart, a local authority building officer, demands that only licensed tradespeople be allowed to undertake significant building work.

An unnamed contributor calls for cowboys to be barred from buying materials, while another says applications should be readable by machines and humans”, as in Singapore’s automated Building Control Checking System on www.corenet.gov.sg.

This pilot forum only runs until 13 December so make the most of the opportunity – for the next month, at least, you’ll know your grumblings won’t be falling on deaf ears.