Local Authority Building Control or Approved Inspector?
YDBC outline their similarities, differences and variations…
Being confined indoors during the pandemic has prompted many homeowners to reflect on the space within their property and the potential gains from an investment in upgrading it. As a result, the past 12 months has seen a surge in home improvement projects, from refurbishments and renovations to remodelling, reconfigurations and extensions.
To achieve planning consent and compliance for these projects, most homeowners take the traditional route of using their local authority for Building Control duties. In many cases, they are unaware that an alternative path is available in the form of Approved Inspectors, which operate independently to local authorities but are authorised and qualified to carry out the same duties.
What is an Approved Inspector?
An Approved Inspector is either an individual or organisation registered with the Construction Industry Council (CIC), the body that approves which inspectors can work in the UK. To become an Approved Inspector, construction professionals and organisations must pass a rigorous audit to join the Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR), which is maintained and operated by CICAIR Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the CIC. Approved Inspectors are the only Building Control Bodies to be approved, independently monitored and regulated by CICAIR under the Building Act 1984 to carry out Building Control work in England and Wales.
What is the difference between Local Authority Building Control and Approved Inspectors?
In terms of the processes they oversee and the duties they carry out, there is no difference. Whether you are working with the local authority or an Approved Inspector, they will visit your property at key stages to advise your builder and check that the work is compliant with regulations. The end result is also the same: a ‘final certificate’ provided as evidence that your works comply with building regulations.
Where the two options differ are the channels that you use to apply. If you opt for Local Authority Building Control, you must apply for approval to your council via the government’s planning portal. Each local authority operates its own Building Control, a department specialising in maintaining Building Regulations in its area. If you choose to use an Approved Inspector, you apply through them and they will notify your local authority about the project. This is called giving ‘initial notice’. The submission includes your intent to use the Approved Inspector, and your local authority will then assign responsibility for building compliance verification to this professional.
If time is important to your project, this is potentially an area of difference between your local authority and an Approved Inspector, depending on where your property is located. With council budgets under strain, severely impacted by covid and other factors, resources have become stretched in some Local Authority Building Control departments, so an Approved Inspector may be in a position to provide a faster turnaround for projects in those areas. For the same reason, some Approved Inspectors are able to be more flexible with their time, in terms of site visits and office hours.
Taking the Approved Inspector route opens up more choice, with the opportunity to shop around. Unlike Local Authority Building Control, your options are not limited by geography, although it’s usually more practical to choose an Approved Inspector that doesn’t need to travel from the other end of the country to visit your property. A good Approved Inspector will provide an attentive, responsive and personalised service. They will allocate a dedicated inspector which could prove beneficial if your project is complex.
How are Approved Inspectors regulated?
One other difference between Approved Inspectors and local authorities is the level of regulatory oversight. Approved Inspectors are subject to strict and consistently applied regulations. CICAIR carries out a periodic monitoring and audit programme for Approved Inspectors to ensure that they continue to meet the standards required for registration, so you can choose one in the knowledge that they will offer a high level of professional competence. Approved Inspectors are also required to have Approved Inspector Professional Indemnity Insurance to keep homeowners and their home safe from malpractice.
Is there difference in cost?
Whether you choose to use the local authority or an Approved Inspector, the costs will vary depending on the nature, complexity and scale of the construction work. The two options are often very similar in their charges. Local authorities publish fees on their website whereas the Approved Inspector will provide a full quotation for each project.
Need more advice?
As an Approved Inspector, YDBC assess, consult and inspect Building Control across a huge range of commercial and residential projects. We would be delighted to discuss your project and provide advice on the options available, including a quotation for our services. To chat to our friendly team of experts, please contact us today:
YORKSHIRE: 0113 3720094
NORTH EAST: 01969 625145