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Revealed: The value of having an approved set of plans

Lychgate research - approved plans

Local Authority Building Control prevents at least 476,000 things going wrong on site every year before construction even begins.

LABC has released independent research on issues that were found during the routine plan assessments done by local authority building control teams. The research, carried out by Lychgate Projects Ltd, involved a sample of 42 local councils over a 3- week period where a massive 3,973 ‘interventions’ (things wrong) were found on plans, of these, 40% represented a "high risk of failure".

Local authorities have to do these formal plan assessments on full plans building regulations applications. This research has proved that they’re a major contributor in making sure work complies before work begins on site and materials are even bought. This means that plan assessments prevent the wasted time and financial costs of correcting faults that would otherwise happen.

Building Notice applications are frequently used on minor works and the detail is agreed between the contractor and the building control surveyor on site; but this research proves that if you want to make sure you're ordering the right materials and not doing work that’ll have to be undone, the Full Plans Application process is the best way forward. 

This research clearly demonstrates the value of the local authority process.

While some do, Approved Inspectors don’t have to assess plans for compliance with the building regulations and if they do, this can be at extra cost. So the local authority service delivers much better value because the plan assessment is included in their building control fee and it prevents issues occurring during construction.

Over half of the interventions recorded related to Part A (Structure) and Part B (Fire Safety) and were classified as a "high" or "intolerable risk", with high numbers of interventions also in Part C (Resistance to Contaminants & Moisture) and Part L (Conservation of Fuel & Power).

When interviewed, 86% of business customers 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 belief that plan assessments are vital to improving compliance outcomes.

Other key findings

  • 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

Paul Everall, Chief Executive LABC commented on the new research. “This new research shows that we prevent nearly a million faults from occurring during construction. This must be worth millions of pounds 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.”

Paul continues, “Unfortunately competition in building control is confusing clients. Instead of valuing quality and achieving the right standard, competition is dividing the market with some businesses seeking “the least interference at the lowest price”. Politicians, policy makers and industry really need to reappraise their framework for thinking about us. We are not 'red tape', we add enormous value.”

Download the full report