Written evidence submitted by Future of Building Control Working Group [BSB 054]
I am pleased to write to the Building Safety Bill pre-legislative scrutiny committee on behalf of the Future of Building Control Working Group. The group comprises key leadership organisations from the Building Control Sector. We are committed to collaborating on the development and implementation of measures for the effective regulation of Building Control Bodies and Building Control Professionals.
This letter is intended to make the Committee aware of work undertaken earlier in 2020 which is of direct relevance to the Building Safety Bill.
Proposals for the Future Regulation of Building Control Bodies and Professionals
In February 2020 MHCLG invited a number of key leadership organisations to enter into discussion about how to formally re-establish the Building Control Profession as a recognised discipline and how best to undertake oversight of Building Control Bodies and Building Control Professionals.
This resulted in the development of a detailed set of proposals published in July 2020 prior to the release of the draft Bill. The report can be found via this link:
We are aware that the draft Bill suggests that the Building Safety Regulator will oversee all performance, standards and registration of building control professionals and bodies. This differs from the proposal made by the group and we would simply draw the committees attention to the potential conflicts of interest where the BSR is acting as both the standard setting body and the building control authority and would request for this to be acknowledged and clearly addressed in whatever structures and operations are taken forward to regulate performance.
The Key Principles regarding regulation of the building control profession that should be considered are:
In addition to reviews when failure occurs, there should be regular proactive performance reviews which must include audits of procedures and most importantly technical compliance to ensure and maintain standards of protection and public confidence.
The oversight function should be established in a way that will allow clear and consistent focus and truthful reporting. It should be sufficiently independent of government and industry to ensure public confidence and should be structured in a way that ensures it is always properly funded.
The structure and delivery of the oversight function must avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest ensuring independence when undertaking audit, oversight, investigation and sanctioning activities.
The building control sector is already significantly under-resourced and so retention of building control professionals is key to ensuring a stronger sector during and after transition to the new regime.
There are significant risks in transition since the new regime will place additional personal responsibilities on individuals. Building Control professionals will be an attractive resource for other similar roles and as such, transition to the new regime needs to be carefully managed to avoid any loss of capacity.
All professionals in the Building Control Sector should be subject to competence management against a competence framework. The current proposals leave room for surveyors and their employing bodies to choose whether to register. As a minimum, all those professionals involved in decision making in day-to-day application assessment and inspection roles must be formally registered for appropriate levels of project complexity. Registration of individuals must be based on third party accreditation and regular revalidation at these recognised levels.
Where possible existing and proposed provisions which relate to operational and managerial functions should be transferred from Primary to Secondary legislation. This would allow flexibility for ongoing reform over time without the need in the future to amend Primary Legislation. This would remove a potential barrier to future improvements in the effectiveness of the Building Control system. We would also recommend that all changes to legislation happen simultaneously including alignment with secondary legislation to ensure that there are no unintended gaps.
To ensure maximum consistency and cohesion within the building control sector the system must be underpinned by a unified Code of Conduct, an agreed Competence Framework and core role and work type matrix.
We recognise that significant further discussions are needed to ensure that the right model is adopted to ensure long term public confidence and independence of outcomes. The Future of Building Control Working Group has a proven track record of overcoming sector differences and acting effectively in the public interest and we are eager to engage and support this work to ensure a safer future.
We hope that our comments are of interest to the Committee.
For and on behalf of the Future of Building Control Working Group
Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI)
Construction Industry Council (CIC)
Construction Industry Council Approved Inspector Register (CICAIR)
Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
Local Authority Building Control (LABC)
National House Building Council (NHBC)
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)