New Transformation Toolkit
Change is all around
Local authorities are continually faced with challenges; austerity measures have meant many directorates have had to reduce overall establishment costs, often cutting ‘middle management’ positions typically held by those managing a specialist service area (including building control), this has resulted in a loss of service specific management expertise and has also contributed to a reduction in the overall standing of the service. Building Control is now typically subsumed within another service area (often planning or environmental health) where sometimes its strategic importance and value is lost.
The impact of financial cuts includes a general reduction in terms and conditions for all staff, unfortunately for Building Control this has led to large numbers of experienced and dedicated staff being attracted away from public service building control to work for private sector providers who are able to offer more attractive benefits packages and a focus on core building regulation work.
The above describes a situation that has evolved over many years, however the greatest change, challenge, and opportunity now faced by Building Control is here, the Building Safety Act.
The Building Safety Act 2022 provides powers for the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to:
- oversee the safety and standards of all buildings.
- helping and encouraging the built environment industry and building control professionals to improve their competence.
- leading implementation of the new regulatory framework for high-rise buildings.
Overview of the BSR
The BSR has a series of escalating sanctions and enforcement measures to maintain standards and deal with poor performance in terms of the regulation of the building control profession This sets out how the BSR will conduct investigations into the building control profession. The BSR also publishes findings on the performance of building control bodies.
This approach to building control oversight will help BCBs efficiently plan and deliver their functions to consistently high standards.
- The BSR will clarify roles and responsibilities, including those of duty holders, to ensure that buildings are safe and compliant.
- Setting out a risk-based approach to building control functions that BCBs and their professionals will be expected to adopt. This will reflect the risk-based approach the BSR will take as the building control authority for high-rise buildings.
- Linking to the code of conduct for registered building inspectors (RBIs) and professional conduct rules for RBCAs.
These standards are considered in the following documents from the BSR.
- Operational Standards Rules (the performance standards) for BCBs.
- key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Data reporting requirements and frequency.
- Setting out how BSR will regulate BCBs, and what BCBs can do if they disagree about decisions the BSR makes.
In addition to the above, the Act also provides for changes including:
- New Homes Ombudsman
- Construction products regulations
- Regulation of Architects
The two key changes for building control are; local authority building control teams will be required to support the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) under the new regime as part of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and all building control professionals will have to validate their competency and be registered with the BSR to practice.
Challenge – local authority building control services need to prepare themselves for the new regime which commences on the 1st of October 2023, ensuring they have validated building control surveyors who are able to support the work of the BSR.
Irrespective of whether a local authority has higher-risk buildings within its jurisdiction, it will need to ensure all staff are validated at the appropriate level to deal with the work profile and complexity of applications received and similarly all building control teams will need to work in accordance with new operational standards; set and monitored by the BSR who will have powers to impose sanctions where teams contravene these standards.
Opportunity – the changes signify the greatest upheaval within the building control sector for a generation and while this brings with it change and challenge, it must also be seen as the opportunity to be part of an improved building control system.
Attention needs to be given to every local authority building control service, you all have your part to play in delivering safe buildings.
Champions public sector building control and provides support for local authority building control teams in a variety of ways, including:
- Government policy working with ministry committees, liaison with Government departments, the LGA, Fire Service, HSE, Trading Standards, and Environmental Health.
- National standards, national ISO, national performance measures, competencies and validation programmes through the Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF).
- Learning, qualifications, training programmes, apprenticeships, CPD, and specialist knowledge all focussed on improving standards and learning in a systematic way.
- Member technical conferences and events
- Technical guidance and publications
- Management and legal opinion for members
- National business relationships, brand awareness, portals, social media and digital outreach
- Local business relationships and technical roadshows
In addition to the above, LABC offers a consultancy service, able to provide expert independent reviews of your building control service, as well as bespoke reviews tailored to your individual needs.
These reviews give you and your authority a professional view of your service and where appropriate provide pragmatic and targeted recommendations on a variety of elements, including:
- Building control surveying operations
- Performance, surveying competencies and risks
- Resourcing levels
- Essential supporting tasks and financial performance
- Strategic value and benefits
Here is just some of the feedback LABC has received about the reviews:
“From our first conversation on the phone; the service, approachability, assistance, and knowledge has been excellent”
“The review was a fair, honest and sufficiently hard-hitting reflection of where Building Control currently finds itself”
“It has been an absolute pleasure and delight to work with you and Paul and LABC. Your professionalism, knowledge, impartiality, and commitment to seeing this project through has been extremely valuable and I am so grateful that we commissioned LABC. Your advice and support together with your timeliness and accessibility has been extremely welcome and I would have no hesitation in recommending LABC consultancy to my network”
“It’s the best money we’ve spent in a long time”
Richard Scott, LABC’s Head of Member Support leads on the reviews, so why not give him a call if you’d like to know more.