Government proposals for self-certification could spell end of regulation by local authorities

An alliance of industry bodies has warned that a government review could lead to the end of local authority building control.

The Future of Building Control document, which was published by the communities department in March, included “far-reaching” proposals for contractors to self-certify compliance with the Building Regulations (see box).

Now a response has been published by the Building Control Alliance (BCA), a group that includes Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and the RICS.

Steve Evans, the LABC’s representative on the BCA, said the proposals would “signify the end of building control as we know it”, and lead to a shortage of experts on compliance with the Building Regulations.

It added that self-certification systems used in countries such as Ireland and New Zealand had failed to deliver compliance.

The BCA has also called for a range of measures to improve compliance with Building Regulations. These include scrapping the “building notice route” to compliance, whereby contractors don’t need to submit plans and only need to give two days’ notice before starting work. In this system, building control officers inspect the project as work progresses.

Instead, the BCA wants to make it an offence to start work without building control approval. This would have affected the Victoria building which collapsed in June, as building control officials had not been notified before work started.

What The Future of Building Control said

The current system has “serious failings that must be tackled”

Proposals include:

  • Extending the use of self-certification and allowing “competent” contractors to assign an employee to sign off their work as compliant
  • Building control inspections to be the exception, not the rule
  • Considering other forms of self or third-party certification