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New Planning Laws & How They Effect You

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 21st October 2014

In April 2014, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced the Housing Standards Review outcome which reduces the housing standards pages of guidance from 1000 to fewer than 10.

One of the main changes is the options available to householders to get building work checked to ensure compliance.  In the past, building works were subject to several checks with builders having to get the same pieces of work signed off by a range of different organisations.  Inevitably this lead to needless delays on building projects.   Under the new changes, technical competencies will be assessed by Building Control only.

More control for house builders

The changes are very important to anyone who is planning on carrying out new building works.  This is anything from a home extension to a full new house build.  One of the key changes was option to use an Approved Inspector in place of Building Control which is known as an initial notice.

An Approved Inspector is a person who takes overall responsibility for a project and the compliance of it.  A house builder for example could take this position putting them firmly in the driving seat of their building projects rather than relying on Building Control for the project to progress.

The initial notice and what it means

The main change is that householders have the option to use a nominated person, known as the Approved Inspector who has overall named responsibility for the job including the building control function for the work. Known as on site approval, this person will be responsible for providing the details of who is carrying out the individual aspects of the work (i.e. plumbing, gas, electrics etc) and supplying the Local Authority with details of their qualifications and registration details if relevant.

If you plan to use an Approved Inspector, then both the householder and Approved Inspector need to jointly notify the Local Authority that the Approved Inspector is carrying out the Building Control Function on the project.  This is called the initial notice.

The option to use the Building Control Services of a Local Authority will still be available, and this will be known as pre-site approval.

On-Site Approval

For householders opting for an Approved Inspector, the Building Control Service will make a series of statutory and routine inspections of the work as it progresses to ensure that all aspects of the building regulations – including Part P and other relevant legislation is being complied with.

Notice of  no less than two days must be given to the Local Authority before the project commences

Notification of completion must be given no more than 5 days after completion.

In respect of other stages, no less than 1 days notice to be given.  If the Local Authority is not informed of the relevant stages, they can give written notice asking for the work to be opened up for further inspection.

Pre-Site Approval

Householders who opt for a Local Authority building control service will have three types of planning application approvals that can be made.  The charges made for these services will vary between Local Authorities and consist of three options:

Building Notice - Apply for building regulations approval from Building Control Services by giving a building notice.

Regularisation - If building work has been carried out without Building Control approval, regularisation will enable owners to have the building work approved as an alternative to prosecution.

Full plans - Submit a full plans application to the Local Authority for approval.

Pre-Site or On-Site?

The main consideration will be cost.  Using an on-site Approved Inspector will be an added cost initially, however you will also have a person who has overall responsibility for ensuring the project goes to plan, and therefore being more stringent in terms of overall building control standards and making sure things go smoothly.

Pre-site could be more costly overall with the standard of work carried out not being so high, with householders still having to source each trade on an individual basis and effectively taking on the role of an approved inspector. 

How Does This Effect Electricians

The senario with approved inspectors mirrors that created on the 1st april 2013 when DCLG created Third Party Certification scheme for Part P. Essentially they are trying to streamline planning by handing responsibility to private companies and individuals. At present there are around 170 approved inpsectors in the UK, however this number will grow. As such now is a good time for electricians to establish contacts with Approved Inspectors who will be on the look out for electricians who are willing to work on building projects over the longer term and be depended upon for quality and reliability.

If you want to find an approved inspector in your area check out the full list here.