What is Building Control?
Building Regulations are minimum standards set by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that cover the design and construction of buildings. They are also concerned with the health and safety of building users, energy and water efficiency, and access and facilities for people with disabilities.
With all building work, the owner and occupier of the property or land in question is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations. The role of checking that Building Regulations are, as far as can reasonably be determined, being complied with falls to a Building Control Body – either an Approved Inspector or a Local Authority. The person carrying out the work has the choice of which Building Control Body to use.
Approved Inspectors are persons authorised under the Building Act 1984 to carry out building control work in England and Wales. Approved Inspectors are required to adhere to the Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR) Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors and follow the Building Control Performance Standards in their working practices.
The role of building control is to act as an independent third party check and Approved Inspectors are required to take such steps as are reasonable to enable the Approved Inspector to be satisfied, within the limits of professional skill and care, that the applicable aspects of the Building Regulations are complied with.
A number of inspections are usually carried out during the building work. These are usually, but not necessarily, at specific stages, such as foundations, damp proofing and on completion. These inspections are carried out to check, but not to guarantee, that the work complies with the Building Regulations.
It is not the role of building control to:
- Provide quality control of the Works.
- Provide a ‘clerk of works’ service monitoring every stage of the construction process.
- Provide a service to address issues such as the finish and aesthetics of the Works where these are not Building Regulation matters.
- Provide a service to offer contractual protection between the person carrying out the work and the parties engaged in the design and/or construction of such work.
- Provide a guarantee of compliance with the Building Regulations. The appointment of a Building Control Body does not remove the obligation of the person carrying out the work to achieve compliance.
The Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) is the membership body for Approved Inspectors. The ACAI may be able to answer queries about Approved Inspectors that sit outside of the CICAIR complaints handling process.
Complaints - Introduction
If a party is dissatisfied with the building control service provided by an Approved Inspector, they are able to complain to the Approved Inspector in a manner that can be independently audited.
The Building Control Performance Standards published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) requires that Approved Inspectors have a formal complaints procedure in place. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved through the Approved Inspector’s own complaints process, a formal complaint can be made to CICAIR.
The CICAIR complaints process enables complaints to be raised about Approved Inspectors with the objective of ensuring that professional standards are maintained and the Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors is adhered to.
Anyone seeking to lodge a complaint with CICAIR against an Approved Inspector is required, in the first instance, to exhaust the Approved Inspector’s internal complaints procedure before raising the matter with CICAIR. CICAIR are unable to engage in correspondence on the specifics of any complaint until the conclusion of the investigation by the Approved Inspector.
Before lodging a complaint, please note that:
- The CICAIR complaints process does not provide for financial penalties against Approved Inspectors or the awarding of costs or financial redress to complainants.
- CICAIR will only consider complaints against an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors. For a complaint to be upheld it must be demonstrated that a breach of the relevant Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors has taken place.
- CICAIR cannot consider complaints based on a Building Regulation technical assessment, a misunderstanding or dissatisfaction with the minimum standard set by the Building Regulations or on criticisms of the quality of workmanship.
- The date that a complaint is accepted and that CICAIR begins an investigation is the date on which CICAIR is satisfied that the acceptance conditions outlined below have been met and is not necessarily the date that the complaint was lodged. Once a complaint has been accepted, CICAIR will send the complaint form and the supporting evidence in its entirety to the Approved Inspector for a formal response.
- The time limit for lodging a complaint with CICAIR about an Approved Inspector is a maximum of 6 years for clients under contract and 10 years for users of buildings. The time limit begins from the date of the cancellation of the Initial Notice or the date on the Final Certificate issued by the Approved Inspector for the building or property. If the building or property is part of a larger development, the time limit begins from the date of the cancellation of the Initial Notice or the date on the Final Certificate issued by the Approved Inspector for that building or property.
- CICAIR cannot consider complaints against individuals or companies that are no longer registered as Approved Inspectors. In such cases, there may be other regulatory or legal avenues of redress that might be appropriate for your case.
Complaints - Acceptance Conditions
A complaint can be raised with CICAIR if it meets four conditions:
- The complaint has been exhausted through the Approved Inspector’s internal complaint procedure.
- The complaint is lodged with CICAIR via email or post on the correct CICAIR Complaint Form (see the Key Documents section below). The complaint form must be filled out in full and the Assistant Registrar will return any incorrectly or partially completed forms.
- The complaint form is accompanied by sufficient detail or supporting evidence to demonstrate that the complaint is within the scope of the CICAIR Definition of a Complaint (see the Key Documents section below) and to enable an assessment of the complaint to be made. The Assistant Registrar may require that the complainant provide further information in support of the allegations before accepting the complaint.
- There is no legal action in process involving the Approved Inspector or complainant in relation to the dispute. Legal action, for the purposes of the CICAIR complaints handling process, relates to disputes that are subject to adjudication, arbitration, litigation or mediation proceedings.
Complaints - Investigation Timeframe
Complaints will ideally be resolved within 100 working days. This timescale is not binding, however, and various factors such as the complexity of the complaint and workload demands may necessitate the allocation of further time to the investigation.
Complaints - Key Documents
For projects with Initial Notices dated on or before 28 February 2017
For projects with Initial Notices dated on or after 1 March 2017
• Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors (issued January 2017)
• Code of Conduct for Approved Inspectors Guidance Notes
• Complaint form (MS Word / PDF)
Please ensure you have read all the above documents before lodging a complaint and please use the correct Code of Conduct and complaint form for the project that you wish to lodge a complaint about.