Is Local Authority Building Control Running Out Of Regulators?

LABC has sent a letter to the Building Safety Regulator, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Welsh government which says it is concerned about its ability to continue to manage building control regs.

LABC (Local Authority Building Control) is the umbrella organisation for all local authorities and the departments where new build and refurbishments need to be approved and conformity certificates issued when a job, such as window fitting or rooflight installation is first proposed and then completed. In the window business, Competent Person Schemes such as FENSA and Certass allow installers to have a certain percentage of their jobs examined – and so long as they pass, those organisations report to LABC and LABC does not do any further inspections.

However, local authority building control departments do inspections where the installer is not a member of FENSA etc. Their roles include many other aspects of ensuring buildings (both domestic and commercial) comply with building and safety regulations.


The letter

The letter was sent as part of ongoing dialogue with the English and Welsh government, the HSE, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). It repeats concerns about building control capacity and the implications of this on local authorities. It also puts forward suggestions for how government could mitigate some of these issues.

The letter says: ‘We feel it is important to consider all of the options available at this stage to ensure that come 6 April 2024, the pipeline of construction, compliance and enforcement is not negatively impacted.

‘There are many experienced, technically skilled surveyors from across England and Wales who have already had their competence validated via the Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF) and other routes. Many more who will be joining them before the deadline’.


Why the deadline?

The Building Safety Act has expanded the role of LABC in assessing high-rise buildings following the Grenfell fire. The act also requires building control surveyors to demonstrate their competence – by 6 April 2024. This has lead to fears that there will not be enough ‘competent’ surveyors come the deadline and that this will affect the whole system from high-rise compliance to approving window installations.


As quick as can be done

There are over 500 surveyors being assessed by the Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF) in the coming three weeks, all of whom will receive their results in time for the 6 April deadline.

The letter says: ‘We are aware that two other independent assessment schemes [BSCF is aligned with LABC] are working equally hard to ensure that those surveyors who have applied, are assessed in time.

‘In the meantime, developers, architects and clients concerned about the availability of building control services should be reassured that the BSCF is doing everything it can to ensure that as many surveyors as possible have had their competence validated by the deadline date, so that oversight of projects is unaffected’.


Picture: LABC surveyors are rushing to do competency exams.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer
18th February 2024


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