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LABC’s Director of Technical Policy, Barry Turner, has welcomed the constructive discussions held during last week’s Regulation and Guidance Working Group of the Hackitt Review and called for stronger government action on regulatory enforcement.

Barry and LABC have been highlighting problems with the current system of enforcement for several months and research* carried out late last year showed the scale of the problem.

According to this research, the number of prosecutions using the Building Regulations have been falling over the last ten years and they are now roughly at a quarter of what they were ten years ago.

The reasons for this are clear – a failure by the courts to both fine the perpetrators sufficiently to deter them and to award prosecuting authorities sufficient costs.

The survey showed it cost an average of £10,750 for an LABC team to bring an enforcement prosecution to court, while the average award for costs was just £670. Similarly, average fines were just over £5,100 while perpetrators were estimated to gain financially by more than £12,000 even once any fine was taken into account.

Commenting, Barry Turner said, "I am delighted to be involved in the Hackitt working group looking at how we can improve the current regulations. And I am really pleased at how everyone involved is working so constructively towards the shared goal of better regulation. But in addition to being ‘fit for purpose,’ regulations must also be backed up by effective enforcement against those who make no effort to comply or attempt to defraud.

"Over the years, effective enforcement has become more and more difficult. It’s time for the government to make clear to the courts they should get tough with the tiny minority in the industry who don’t comply with the regulations and standards. While the survey covered all classes of building work it still showed that taking large property holders, big developers and contractors to court simply doesn’t hurt them.

"Sanctions and penalties need to be increased and applied by the courts and we need to be awarded full costs."

*NB The survey was sent to every local authority building control team by the LGA in November 2017. Respondents gave the following estimates for costs and awards of prosecutions under the building regulations:

Average cost to council of prosecution £10,753.29
Average fine for perpetrator £5,127.83
Average costs awarded by court £670.60
Estimated average financial gain of perpetrator despite prosecution £12,044.44

Further information

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview contact Louise Williams louise.williams@labc.co.uk or phone us  on 020 7091 6860.

Also read LABC backs Hackitt Report for comprehensive improvements to Building Regulations.

LABC building control surveying qualificationsLocal Authority Building Control (LABC) is launching the UK’s first trailblazer building control surveyor qualifications pathway, created in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

Four pioneering building control qualifications have been developed as a result of LABC's commitment to demonstrating competencies, raising building control standards, ensuring public protection and addressing the growing skills shortages faced by the construction industry and in particular the Building Control specialism.

Through this series of qualifications, surveyors will learn about building pathology, the statutory framework, building regulations, building design and plan evaluation, construction products and technology, project management, the commercial environment, health and safety and sustainable construction.

Lorna Stimpson, LABC’s Deputy Managing Director commented. “Our commitment goes further than their design, content development and accessible delivery methods.

"We’ve also been working hard to ensure these critical qualifications are affordable.

"We’re thrilled that our application for this qualification pathway is to be included as an Apprenticeship Standard and has been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships.

"This means that our Local Authority members will be able to draw down on apprenticeship levy funding to pay for their employees' formal education, from the level four and five diplomas all the way up to the BSc Hons degree in Building Control Surveying”.

These qualifications not only offer employers peace of mind that their staff are fully competent, they also offer learners a structured, accredited and recognised learning pathway that builds confidence, skills, knowledge and improved job prospects and security at each qualification level.

Further information

The qualifications will launch in September 2018 with enrolments opening soon. Visit our Qualifications page to sign up for further information, or contact us at learning@labc.co.uk or 020 7091 6860 for further information.

(Representatives from LABC, CIOB and the University of Wolverhampton pictured above.)

Published February 2018

Today, LABC released independent research that, amongst other things, looks at the number of interventions local authority building control teams are making in the pre-commencement plan assessment stage of construction. The research, carried out by Lychgate Projects Ltd, involved 42 local councils over a sample three week period, revealing a total of 3,973 interventions in that time.

This means that up to a 1,000,000 interventions were carried out last year when all plan assessments in England and Wales are taken into account. Of these 40% represent a "high risk of failure".

Over half of the interventions recorded that relate to Part A (Structure) and Part B (Fire Safety) were classified as a "high" or "intolerable risk".

In addition to these findings, 86% of business customers (interviewed by phone as part of the project) found the LABC network's plan assessment service to be "extremely" or "fairly" useful, and 20% of customers thought the process saved them money by simplifying design and specifications.

The report underpins LABC's core belief that demonstrates the importance plan assessments have in reducing unnecessary risk and costs during the building process. They do this by helping to stop building faults before work even starts.

Other key findings

  • Most interventions were produced by non-compliance with Approved Documents Part A and Part B, followed by Part C (Resistance to Contaminants & Moisture) and Part L (Conservation of Fuel & Power)
  • The new homes sector accounted for 20.1% of interventions
  • 98% of customers said that the plan assessment is a positive step and 88% communicated it to their end-client. 
  • 53% of business customers felt that the advice (interventions) led to a safer builder

Plan assessments successful and critical

Paul Everall, Chief Executive of LABC said "This research shows that we prevent nearly a million faults from occurring during construction. This is worth millions to the economy.

"The plan assessment is successful and critical in ensuring buildings are produced to the right standard and in doing this we also save clients and industry the cost of wasted materials and wasted time.”

Local authority building control teams have to provide a plan assessment service for full plan applications within their building control fee, whereas Approved Inspectors are not obliged by their regulations to do one. If the customer requests an assessment they can charge for it as an optional extra. 

Paul commented, “Since we can show the huge positive contribution plan assessments make it seems sensible to change Approved Inspector regulations to match that of the public sector so that all building control bodies are obliged to provide a full plans assessment prior to commencement of work on site.

This would improve quality outcomes, save industry wasted costs and provide a fairer basis for competition.”

Download the full report

BCA logo

Statement on Grenfell Tower from the Building Control Alliance (BCA) representing The Building Control sector and DCLG observers Local Authority Building Control, private sector Approved Inspectors, Chartered Institute of Building, Chartered Association of Building Engineers and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

All those working in building control have been deeply shocked by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the terrible unexpected extent of the fire raises fundamental questions for all professionals. Our hearts go out to the residents, the bereaved and everyone else involved in the event and aftermath.

Initially our focus has been on industry-wide cooperation to identify other buildings that could be at risk and need investigation. This has been happening rapidly and with information being gathered and shared from many different sources.

Information and guidance are also being shared on rain shield external wall treatments using aluminium composite material (ACM) panels. Urgent discussions are being held and individual local authorities, housing associations, property owners, building control bodies and other professional advisors are making physical inspections of high rise buildings that are thought to be high risk and helping decide on the best way forward for building owners and residents.

As inquiries and findings are released, local authority building control and approved inspectors will take a very active part in any review of the building regulations, processes and practices that are considered by DCLG and/or the Welsh Government.

View the latest updates and statements on Grenfell and its aftermath.

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, contact the PR and Marketing Department on 020 7091 6861 or email info@labc.co.uk

Updated August 2017

A set of historical buildings left unused for over 40 years has won the Best Affordable or Social Housing award at the LABC Building Excellence Central region awards.

This set of 4 buildings dates back to the 14th century and recently was converted into 10 affordable homes, nine flats and one house for local residents in the centre of Bedford.

Tenants have already been found to occupy the four buildings, which have been transformed into comfortable and modern town centre homes.

The project, delivered by Aldwyck Housing Group was funded through a variety of sources including their own capital investment, a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency, Bedford High Street’s Townscape Heritage Initiative and from Bedford Borough Council’s affordable homes budget.

Building new affordable homes? Find out what LABC can do for you...

Joe Cook, an executive director at Aldwyck Housing Group said “St Paul’s Square is a stunning building and I’m proud that Aldwyck has been involved in this unique and ambitious project, which has only succeeded through the tenacity of all parties and demonstrates a true partnership approach. This project breathes new life into the heard of Bedford and provides much needed new homes demonstrating our commitment to Bedford, but also highlighting Aldwyck’s commitment to non-standard HCA programmes with funding secured through the Empty Homes initiative.”

The project worked with local groups and organisations to ensure the benefits of the scheme were felt by residents and businesses throughout the local area. The work was supported by a range of learning and training events that focused on improving local historic awareness, conservation and heritage construction skills.

Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford added “A genuine partnership has made possible the works to bring these prominent, historic buildings back to use after 40 years of standing empty. I am delighted to see that this innovative and ambitious project sees the site restored cosmetically and via the provision of much-needed new housing.”

St Paul’s Square will be featured at the grand final of the LABC Building Excellence Awards in London on 28 November. 

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, contact the PR and Marketing Department on 020 7091 6861 or email marketing@labc.co.uk

Published February 2017

LABC supported and gave evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into the quality and workmanship of new housing established by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment.

Its report published today, "More Homes, Fewer Complaints", lists ten recommendations which LABC welcomes.

Drop in quality of new housing must be corrected

Paul Everall, LABC Chief Executive, comments on the Inquiry and report in general: "We are aware that consumer satisfaction of new build homes has dropped in recent years. 

"Perhaps this is understandable in that the recession badly disrupted the diverse and complex home building industry whilst at the same time higher compliance standards were introduced.

"However, the whole industry should choose to do something to correct this drop in quality.

"We also know that home purchasers sometimes struggle to have their complaints addressed and are confused by the different roles of the developer, structural warranty provider and building control.

"In our evidence to the Inquiry, LABC was able to provide statistics illustrating the extent of confusion and difficulty in documenting the volume of complaints made to local authorities that should have gone to other parties. Pressure to reduce costs, increase the speed of construction and get the product to market on time has also had an impact.

"Overall, we believe the Inquiry has successfully identified the key issues and produced ten sensible recommendations.”

Transparency and information are essential 

During the enquiry LABC advocated more transparency and better information being given to purchasers. Additionally, LABC recommended definitions of best practice, an industry commitment to effective third-party inspection and a boost for training.

Paul Everall continues: “Buyers are starved of information that is used within the industry.

"In particular, purchasers could be told the standard to which a home is built and what checks and inspections have been done and by whom.

"Even in successful developments with few quality issues, this information is still useful and would help people to understand the expensive asset they have invested in.

"As such we particularly welcome the recommendation to provide comprehensive information packs to empower purchasers and clarify complaints channels.

"We also support the recommendation to establish a minimum standard for compliance inspections."

Benefits and downsides to competition in building control

"Competition was introduced into building control over 30 years ago and it has grown. Whilst this may have had its benefits for developers, the increased choice of providers in recent years has produced price and service-based competition which some people have described as a race to the bottom.

"Therefore LABC would welcome the introduction of minimum standards for building control inspections to support consumer protection. For similar reasons, LABC also supports a review of warranties because they have also become varied, competitive and price driven.”

LABC will continue to support reviews and the development of improvements. A full copy of the report is available on the CIC website http://cic.org.uk/news/article.php?s=2016-07-13-mps-call-for-a-new-homes-ombudsman

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, contact the PR and Marketing Department on 020 7091 6861 or email marketing@labc.co.uk

Award finalists from Cumbria, Tyne & Wear, and Tees Valley were among more than 350 guests at the Northern LABC Building Excellence Awards. The Friday 8 July event at the Hilton Hotel Newcastle Gateshead was attended by local builders, agents, contractors, architects, designers and local authority building control representatives.

A total of 14 winning and 12 highly commended projects and individuals were announced at the awards, where trophies and certificates were presented by representatives of LABC sponsors FMB, Home&Build, InstaGroup, Jewson, Polypipe Terrain, TLX, LABC Acoustics and LABC Warranty.

Northern award finalists! See you at the Grand Final.

LABC awards are all about the essence of good buildings, with finalists judged not on architectural beauty, but on the “excellence” shown from a construction and technical building control point of view. They celebrate the design and construction teams that, having tussled with technical issues and difficult sites, found innovative and creative solutions.

Award categories cover a whole range of projects, rewarding everything from the best extension, local builder or traditional craftsperson and conversion through to the best new housing development, public service building, inclusive building and partnership with a local authority building control team.

Dawn McQuillan, Chair of LABC Northern Region, said: “These awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate the very best construction in the north of England, recognising the high level of skill and professionalism the building industry is capable of reaching. The awards demonstrate that local authority building control provides a high quality service to many of the region's finest construction professionals.”

Winners automatically qualify for the Grand Finals, which this year take place on 28 November in London. View the successful projects and individuals and download photos of the Northern Awards free of charge.

During the awards, more than £2,100 was raised for LABC President Jayne Hall’s chosen charity YoungMinds, which is committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Further information

Visit our awards page for details of upcoming awards events and to find out how to submit your awards nomination.

Published November 2016

The Guildhall in London, was the place to be last Friday the 13th as the capital’s construction industry gathered to celebrate outstanding development in the regional LABC Building Excellence Awards.

Finalists made up of London-based and national construction industry firms, as well as local authority building control staff from the London boroughs, were among more than 400 attendees hosted at the rare and magnificent Grade 1 listed landmark.

In a celebratory mood...

LABC Director of Network Development Marie Buckley hosted the awards, which celebrate the design and construction teams that, having tussled with technical issues and difficult sites, found innovative and creative solutions.

There were 15 winning and eight highly commended projects and individuals who received their trophies and certificates from representatives of LABC sponsors FMB, Home&Build, InstaGroup, Jewson, Polypipe Terrain, TLX, LABC Acoustics and LABC Warranty. The winners automatically qualify for the Grand Finals to be held on Monday 28 November at the Westminster Park Plaza in London.

Tim Gillooly, President of London District Surveyors Association, said: “This is one of building control’s highlights of the year. The awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate the best of construction in London, not just the mega projects of which there are many, but smaller schemes, individual extensions and houses.

More than £3,500 was raised for LABC President Jayne Hall’s chosen charity YoungMinds.

View and download photos from the night free of charge.

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, contact the PR and Marketing Department on 0207 091 6861 or email marketing@labc.co.uk

Published May 2016

More than 400 construction industry professionals have celebrated the West of England’s outstanding construction in the annual LABC Building Excellence Awards. The event on Friday 6 May took place at the Bristol Marriot Hotel City Centre where 15 winning and 11 highly commended projects and individuals were honoured.

The awards are all about the essence of good buildings, with finalists judged not on architectural beauty, but on the “excellence” shown from a construction and technical building control point of view. They celebrate the design and construction teams that, having tussled with technical issues and difficult sites, found innovative and creative solutions.


Something to smile about at the West of England Building Excellence Awards

Award categories cover the whole range of construction, rewarding everything from the best extension, local builder or traditional craftsperson and conversion through to the best new housing development, public service building, inclusive building and partnership with a local authority building control team.

West region chair Andy Clark said: “Local authorities in the West of England believe in working in partnership with our building industry colleagues and many of the nominations come from strong partnership arrangements. The awards are an opportunity for us all to celebrate the very best construction in the region, recognising the high level of skill and professionalism the building industry is capable of reaching.”


Cheers!

Representatives of LABC sponsors FMB, Home&Build, InstaGroup, Jewson, Polypipe Terrain, TLX, LABC Acoustics and LABC Warranty presented the trophies and certificates. Winners automatically go into the Grand Finals, which take place on 28 November at the Westminster Park Plaza in London.

More than £2,000 was raised for LABC President Jayne Hall’s chosen charity YoungMinds, which is committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

View and download photos from the night free of charge

Further information

Find out about upcoming awards events and where to submit your nominations.

Published May 2016

The North West has kicked off the 2016 LABC Building Excellence Awards after announcing its winners at an event at the Macron Stadium-based Bolton Whites Hotel in Bolton, Greater Manchester - home to the Bolton Wanderers.

Approximately 600 people, including finalists made up of local and national construction industry firms, as well as the region’s local authority building control staff, attended the event hosted by Chelsea Norris from Greater Manchester’s Key103 Radio.

The awards are all about the essence of good buildings, with finalists judged not on architectural beauty, but on the “excellence” shown from a construction and technical building control point of view. They celebrate the design and construction teams that, having tussled with technical issues and difficult sites, found innovative and creative solutions.

Representatives of LABC sponsors FMB, Home&Build, InstaGroup, Jewson, Polypipe Terrain, TLX, LABC Acoustics and LABC Warranty presented trophies and certificates to the 15 winning and 13 highly commended projects and individuals. The winners automatically go into the Grand Finals, which will be held on Monday 28 November at the Westminster Park Plaza in London.

Congratulating them, LABC’s North West Regional Chair Roy Benyon said: “The awards are an opportunity for us all to celebrate the very best construction in the region, recognising the high level of skill and professionalism the building industry is capable of reaching. And many of the nominations have come from strong partnership arrangements with LABC teams.”

More than £2,500 was raised for LABC President Jayne Hall’s chosen charity YoungMinds.

View photos of the winners.

Further information

Find out about upcoming awards events and where to submit your nominations

Published April 2016

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