Inspectors now have until July to prove competence following today’s announcement of 13 week extension for industry in England

Building control professionals have been given an extra 13 weeks to prove their competence, calming fears of an imminent collapse in councils’ ability to provide the service.

Under rules introduced by the 2022 Building Safety Act, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building control inspectors had been expected to register with the Building Safety Regulator and pass through an accreditation process by 6 April.

But recent months have seen accreditation bodies warn that too few inspectors would receive their qualifications in time for the deadline, raising concerns that some councils would be rendered unable to carry out building control.

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Inspectors in England have no been given until July to get accredited under the new rules

The devolved government in Wales has already announced a six-month extension of the deadline for accreditation and today the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed there will also be an extension, albeit a significantly shorter one, in England.

A letter from the HSE’s director of building safety, Philip White, told the industry there would be a competence assessment extension period of 13 weeks, meaning the deadline has now been pushed back to 6 July.

Inspectors will still be required to register with the regulator to continue working but those who do will have longer to demonstrate their competence.

Experienced building control professionals who are not trainees will be eligible only if they are enrolled in one of the three approved competency schemes by the original 6 April deadline.

>>See also: Race against time before April: Are we heading for a building control inspection crisis?

“As you will be aware, a number of concerns have been expressed by the building control profession about whether enough building control professionals will be registered as RBIs [registered building inspectors] by 6 April,” White wrote.

“I understand those concerns and have been working with colleagues in BSR and across government to consider what we can do to support the profession.

“To that end, the decision has been taken to implement a competence assessment extension period for those meeting set criteria.”

Lorna Stimpson, chief executive of Local Authority Building Control, which runs an accreditation scheme through a subsidiary, welcomed the extension.

“This will allow the profession to operate as normal as they complete their competence assessment. It will also minimise the impact on local authority building control teams and the wider construction industry,” she said.

“However, while building control professionals now have until 6 July to validate their competence, they must still be registered with the BSR by 6 April and going through the validation process with one of the three independent assessment bodies. The BSR has made it very clear that there will be no further extensions.”

Richard Harral, interim chief executive at the Chartered Association of Building Engineers, another accreditation body, said: “This is good news and provides vital additional time to ensure that building control professionals can complete their competence assessments.

”There is significant momentum across the building control sector with more than 3,000 inspectors already registered at Class 1 or above, and all three competence assessment schemes operating at capacity.

“The BSR is to be applauded for recognising the ongoing commitment shown by building control professionals and for taking pragmatic steps to reward all those who are doing the right thing by providing this additional time.”

As of today (14 March) 3,261 professionals have started their applications to register, according to the HSE.

It is unclear exactly how many people are currently employed as building control professionals in the UK but it is believed to be between 4,000 and 5,000.