Councils and private inspectors face further cutbacks, as Butler & Young closes four offices

Local authority building control departments and private approved inspectors are being forced to make dramatic cutbacks because of the tightening construction market.

It is understood that approved inspector Butler & Young has closed four offices, including those in Chester, in Cheshire, and Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Building control and housing warranty provider NHBC is making 150 site-based staff redundant. It is understood that 70 of those are approved inspectors.

Paul Timmins, chairman of the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors, said he expected a wave of bankruptcies among inspection firms. He said: “I think it’s possible there could be a thinning out of the smaller inspectors who have concentrated on the housing market.”

Local authority building control (LABC) departments are also making cutbacks. Paul Everall, chief executive of LABC, said: “If you talk to any local authority you will find they are under considerable pressure. If the value of projects goes down, then the building control manager needs to find ways of reducing costs accordingly. In some cases that means redundancies.”

Many councils are trying to redeploy building control staff in other roles to avoid redundancies. Steve Evans, the chief building control surveyor at Milton Keynes, said the council was redeploying staff to avoid being caught short when the market picked up again.

Robust Details, the firm that approves standard details for acoustic regulations, has had its market slashed in half. Dave Baker, chief executive, said: “Housing starts are a particular problem for us – it’s fallen by 40-50%.” He said the firm had cut back on contract staff.

• Jessica Matthew, the civil servant in charge of Building Regulations at the communities department, has left after three months in the job. She was the fourth incumbent in three-and-a-half years.