Your interesting article on self-certification (5 October, page 41) raised the question of whether the UK construction industry was efficient enough to take on self-certification?
Arguably, some large contractors and developers are. Many building control officers know that when projects get past the plans approval stage the site inspections are just a formality. Third-party checking really comes in when an architect relies on an inspector’s experience to see a way out of a problem. So even in the case of the largest developments and best contractors, building control still has a valuable role. Astute inspectors capitalise on this by selling themselves as being “part of the design team”, as in the Foster + Partners building mentioned.
However, not all contractors are geared up for self-certification. Building control has vast experience of problems with speculative housebuilders, for example, even where insurance and warranty schemes are in place.
Wasn’t it Egan who said of the UK construction industry: “Five per cent is world class. The rest is total crap”? In my opinion, site inspection self-certification could work with a select few. But I do think building control expertise really comes in at the design stage. This I feel is where the value really lies.
Iain Allars, Building Control, London Borough of Lambeth