Some Approved Inspectors (AIs) have been unable to renew legally required business insurance and they cannot continue to lawfully operate. These FAQs offer advice on why this is a problem and how it will affect building owners. Also listen to LABC's Barry Turner speak about the issue on Radio 4's You and Yours.
It's a legal requirement that all building work meets the requirements of the building regulations.
Building control surveyors – who can either be from the local council (LABC) or private sector companies (Approved Inspectors) – will check that work complies with the building regulations and associated legislation. Most building work needs to be checked by building control. If in doubt as to what work needs a building regulation application contact visit this page or contact your local council building control team (you can find their details using our postcode search at the top of this page).
Once your surveyor is satisfied that your building work complies with the regulations they will issue a certificate to show the work, as far as can be established, meets these requirements. You
Since the 1980s consumers have had a choice of who can inspect and sign off their building projects as compliant with the building regulations.
This is either a local authority building control surveyor or an ‘Approved Inspector’. Approved Inspectors are private companies that are registered by the Construction Industry Council Approved Inspector Register (CICAIR) on behalf of the English and Welsh Governments to carry out building control works. If you choose an Approved Inspector to carry out the builiding control function on your project, they must inform the local authority by submitting an initial notice.
Approved Inspectors are required to carry two forms of business insurance from a scheme approved by the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers – Professional Indemnity and Professional Liability insurance.
We understand that one of the two insurance brokers supplying cover has pulled out of the market leaving only one remaining provider.
While some Approved Inspectors have been able to transfer their policies, some have unfortunately not been offered suitable cover.
This is a commercial issue and could affect thousands of building projects.
Once their insurance has expired, an Approved Inspector should submit a notice to cancel their work and ‘revert’ the job back to the local council.
While some Approved Inspectors claim to have ‘partnered’ with another Approved Inspector, they cannot transfer any work that has started to a second Approved Inspector.
The process for transferring the building control work is the responsibility of both the Approved Inspector and the person carrying out the work (in law this could be the owner or the contractor). View the process for transferring the work.
The transfer procedure from an Approved Inspector (AI) to a local LABC team is as follows:
1. If work has started on site, all work not covered by a final certificate or part final certificate must be passed to your local council to provide the building control function.
2. Either the AI or the person carrying out the works (usually the builder, agent, designer or owner) must cancel the initial notice that was lodged with a local authority.
3. Form 7 of the Approved Inspector Regulations which cancels the Initial Notice can be submitted by the AI. Those responsible for carrying out the work should contact their council for help with the required form to cancel the Initial Notice and ‘revert’ the work to the Local Authority.
Only local authorities have the powers to take action should, for whatever reason, the Approved Inspector be unable to comply with the building regulations.
In general only if work has not started can another Approved Inspector submit a new initial notice to allow them to carry out the building control function.
There is one exception – which is where the original Approved Inspector has issued a part final certificate for work completed – for example for the foundations.
In this case the rest of the building control work could be transferred to another Approved Inspector, but only if the the part final certificate was issued by the original Approved Inspector while it had the required insurance.
When work is ‘reverted’ to a local LABC team, you will need to provide them with as much information as possible to help them determine whether the work so far complies with the relevant regulations. All local authorities are obliged to charge a fee for work reverted to them and this fee will be individually assessed based on the size of the project and the amount of time needed to determine compliance with the building regulations.
So any information you have about inspections undertaken so far, plus any building plans, structural calculations or photographs of the work in progress will be of great assistance and may help to limit the council’s fees. The more information you provide the easier it will be for the LABC team to assess, let you know of the next steps and calculate
Unfortunately the situation is out of the hands of local authorities.
Dealing with reversions from Approved Inspectors is a statutory duty of local authorities – the Approved Inspector’s ability to trade is not under our control, nor are their commercial relationships. Local authorities have to charge for the time taken to do this function.
We can’t assume things have been done correctly if there are no records or you can’t see important parts of the construction. If so, unfortunately it may be necessary to uncover some parts of the work.
This will be handled on a case by case basis – the local authority building control surveyors will work with homeowners, their designers and contractors to minimise any intrusion and the aim is always to keep this to a minimum.
However, we will need to establish all the work complies with the building regulations so that we can issue you with the completion certificate.
Ultimately, this gives you peace of mind and protects you and your investment.
Where an organisation does not have the legally required professional indemnity and public liability insurances in place it's unable to carry out its formal building control functions as an Approved Inspector, such as plan checks and site inspections.
The organisation should therefore cancel all their initial notices – reverting the work back to the local authority.
Approved Inspectors (AIs) without the legally required insurance cannot serve any notices such as initial notices, amendment notices, plans certificates or final certificates for any work carried out. As such they are unable to undertake site inspections or plan assessments – any work done by them without insurance is ultra vires (beyond their legal power or authority).
No. A cancellation notice can be issued either by the Approved Inspector or by the person carrying out the work (the contractor or the homeowner).
You, or the person carrying out the work, should ask for any certificates obtained from the Approved Inspector and any information about inspections undertaken so far. The local authority will also need any building plans, structural calculations or photographs of the work in progress which may be available from your designer, agent or contractor.
However, while there is no legal obligation on the Approved Inspector to transfer information, they are being encouraged by CICAIR (Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register), the English and Welsh Governments and LABC to provide local authorities with as much information as possible, including site inspection records, plans etc.
LABC has offered its assistance to affected Approved Inspectors to ensure this transfer
Even if you haven't received a final certificate to say that the works comply with the building regulations, you will still have to revert the work to the local council.
Regardless of the stage the project is at, the council’s building control team will have to satisfy themselves the works meet the minimum requirements of the building regulations in order to provide you with the completion certificate that you need. This may require on-site investigation and verification.
LABC continues to liaise with the English and Welsh Governments to put in place a dedicated process to ensure the smooth transfer of information between Approved Inspectors and local authorities to ensure that initial notices are appropriately cancelled and reverted to the local authority if the work has commenced.
LABC represents all local authority building control teams in England and Wales and develops the learning, competences, standards and practices used by around 3,800 building control surveyors and technical staff.
LABC, through its network of professional surveyors, advises and supports property owners and professionals, making sure buildings are safe, healthy and efficient, and conform with building regulations. LABC provides CPD, technical guidance, training, learning, events and guidance to members and the wider construction industry.