The Building Security Act is currently being passed by Parliament and Royal Assent is expected in 2022. So what does this mean for the building control profession and what should every surveyor do in building control now to prepare? These are the questions LABC CEO Lorna Stimpson has a simple answer for.

“Prove you’re competent,” Lorna replies. But what are, on the face of it, simple answers were much more complicated for LABC – the organization which represents around 3,500 civil service building control inspectors. LABC has invested millions over the past few years to prepare for the new building security law and, most importantly, the upcoming registration of the building control profession.

Registration of the profession is one of the most significant impacts of the Safe Buildings Act, which is wide-ranging and will ultimately affect all English and Welsh local authorities – not just those with large residential buildings . And the bill’s measures mean that everyone working in building control, in both private and public sectors, will soon have to register if they want to continue practicing.

The new building security regulator will oversee the building control system and be the registrar for the entire profession. Local authorities will be required to “take the advice of a registered building inspector” before issuing certification or carrying out plan assessments and site inspections.

Registration is likely to have a significant impact on building control teams, with all LABC experts needing regular formal assessment of their skills as part of the process. The employment conditions of building control inspectors are also likely to be affected.

Some in local government have already seen changes – since August 2021 applicants for planning permission are subject to Planning Gateway 1 for new or refurbished buildings over 18m. This gateway establishes the health and safety officer as a statutory consultant and requires a developer to submit a fire declaration specific to their development when submitting a planning application.

Building control professionals will be the most affected – how can they prepare for it?

But, of all the jobs in local government, it is project ownership that will undergo the most significant change. In addition to registration of the profession, building control must be prepared for:

Multidisciplinary teams

Surveyors from local building control authorities will form part of the regulator’s multidisciplinary team alongside HSE inspectors and fire service officers. These teams will work together to regulate the new buildings concerned and those undergoing renovation. Local Authority Building Control will also play an important role within these teams to assess and certify the 12,500 existing high-rise buildings. Local authorities whose buildings are affected will need strong and well-resourced building control teams.

Assist Building Safety Regulator

The draft law obliges local authorities to support the regulator by providing qualified, experienced and competent personnel. Local authorities should ensure that staff involved in assisting the regulator have verified skills, knowledge and experience.

LABC worked closely with HSE and DLUHC on building control operational standards, KPIs and professional registration. All building control teams will have to adopt these new operational standards and will face penalties from the regulator if they do not comply.

To support their investment in skills validation, earlier this year LABC won its DLUHC grant funding bid to help upgrade building control professionals who will work on high-rise buildings “in the field.” of application”. LABC provides bridging funding for areas currently without buildings in scope and to expand skills validation in Wales.

Last year, LABC established the Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF), a non-profit community benefit corporation. The foundation will provide industry-wide validation of skills. To ensure transparency and impartiality, the BSCF’s governance model includes, in addition to civil service building control representatives, independent trustees Lord Porter (Local Government Association), Nick Coombe (National Fire Chiefs Council), Graham Watts (Construction Industry Council) and Paul Timmins (Registry of Approved Construction Industry Council Inspectors).

BSCF is working closely with UKAS towards accreditation to ISO/IEC 17024 (conformity assessment for bodies operating certification of persons), with UKAS certification expected this summer. Registration of building control professionals should require proof of competence through a UKAS or Engineering Council accredited scheme. ISO accreditation will enable BSCF to provide such competency assessments.

The foundation now offers competency validation assessments at national, general and specialist levels to the entire building control profession and actively engages with private sector building control approvers to gain their confidence in providing of this important verification of professional qualifications.

Lorna Stimpson, Managing Director of LABC, adds: “The Building Safety Bill is probably the most significant piece of legislation affecting the built environment in decades – all councils and everyone involved in building control should be aware of its effects. The new security regime means more duties for local authorities and an obligation to register the building control profession.

“It is absolutely vital that utility building control is ready for the new regime and that means everyone in our network must prove they are competent. Please contact us here at LABC if you need more information.

Lorna Stimpson

General director

Local authority building control

Tel: +44 (0) 20 8616 8120

[email protected]

Twitter: @labcuk

LinkedIn: Labc