Why is building control important?
What is building control? Here are 10 reasons why we need building control services when it comes to all things construction.
1. It helps to ensure buildings are safe for people
Building control ensures that building work complies with the building regulations, a set of standards intended to protect people's safety, health and welfare in and around built environments.
It's important to realise that those carrying out building work are responsible for complying with the building regulations and the role of building control is to check that they do so.
Building control teams check all aspects of construction including but not limited to:
- structural issues
- the accessibility of a building
- fire protection and means of escape in case of fire
2. Protecting people from cowboy builders and unsafe practices
Regular site visits from building control surveyors during building work helps ensure that construction work is on the right track to complying with the building regulations. Surveyors are there to offer advice and guidance on meeting the necessary standards. Of course, if things aren't done properly, it can be very costly to make things right.
This recent story reports on a family who spent a fortune on a garden home project, only to be left with an incomplete job and problem after problem. (Here is some more advice on how to avoid cowboy builders.)
3. Educating and informing building professionals, contractors and trades people
On large and small projects, building control teams work with property owners, builders and designers and use their professional skills and judgement to find solutions and make decisions about the design and specification of buildings and structures, often even before the construction work begins.
Building control surveyors regularly attend training courses to stay up to date with the latest developments in construction and the building regulations, and close liaison with other local authorities enables them to exchange knowledge and information on a national level, which they can then pass on to those they work with on site.
4. There are penalties when a building or structure isn't approved by building control
Local authorities have unique powers under the Building Act 1984 to enforce the building regulations and have non-compliant building work altered or removed.
The company or person doing your construction work could be prosecuted and fined if the work doesn't meet building regulations and your local authority could make you pay for faulty work to be fixed. And serious and persistent cases of failure to meet building standards can also result in legal action and a fine.
5. Approval from building control is important when selling or re-mortgaging a home
After the final inspection of building work, property owners are issued with a completion certificate which demonstrates that the work inspected conforms fully to the building regulations. This is an important document used by solicitors and agents when it comes to selling the property, and also by mortgage lenders and property insurers. Find out more about the importance of completion certificates.
6. Promoting energy efficient and sustainable buildings
Part of the role of the building regulations is to improve the conservation of fuel and power, protect and enhance the environment and promote sustainable development. Building control teams check that features that play a part in this, like solar panels, insulation and lighting efficiency conform to the standards. To find out more, why not read our guide on making your home energy efficient.
Building control plays a central role in supporting sustainability and you can read more about a recent eco development that one of our council teams have worked on in this article.
7. Making buildings accessible
Equal access to public buildings, shops and workspaces became UK law in the Equality Act 2010, which ensures consistency in what employers and employees need to do to make workplaces a fair environment.
Building control teams will check and approve plans, drawings and specifications to help make sure that certain types of building are accessible to everyone regardless of age or abilities. Accessibility features include:
- Lifts and announcements in lifts
- Automatic doors
- Dropped kerbs
- Accessible rooms and toilets
8. Ensuring sports grounds, stadiums and public venues are safe for crowds
Events at sports grounds and stadiums attract large crowds and building control teams play their part by enforcing the recommendations in the Home Office's Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, which serves to protect public safety. Building control teams will inspect venues and provide guidance on a number of areas such as:
- structural stability
- crowd control
- safe capacity
- fire safety
- exit and escape routes
- emergency procedures
- medical provision and first aid
- disabled facilities
9. Protecting the public from dangerous structures
If there is a report of a dangerous building or structure, building control surveyors will visit the site to inspect and advise on the course of action to remove any imminent danger and help safeguard the public. Building control will liaise with emergency services to ensure safety at all times.
The surveyor can request a building owner to undertake whatever work is required to make a building safe or, when required, employ a contractor to carry out whatever work is necessary. In extreme cases, the demolition of the dangerous building may take place.
You can find out more about dangerous structures and see real-life examples our local building control teams have worked on.
10. Helps keep build quality high
Building control surveyors help to keep construction quality high by providing independent checks at key stages of a building project.
They also assist homeowners, builders, contractors and everyone else involved in a building project to deliver the long-term safety, accessibility and performance that's required in properties built to a high standard.