The building regulations require that a project's compliance is independently verified. Historically, this verification could only be given by local authorities, however, it can now also be provided by a privately-appointed approved inspector.
Approved inspectors can be individuals or organisations. They must be registered with the Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR) which provides a list of approved inspectors . Approved inspectors must themselves be re-approved every five years, and must have insurance from a scheme approved by the Secretary of State, which includes mandatory run-off cover.
A set of building control performance standards have been prepared by the Building Control Performance Standards Advisory Group (BCPSAG) to help ensure competition between local authorities and approved inspectors does not drive down standards and to encourage the consistent application of building control functions.
If the client decides to appoint an approved inspector, they and the approved inspector must jointly notify the local authority of the intended building project by submitting an 'initial notice'. The local authority will then place responsibility for building regulations verification on the approved inspector.
This might require the approved inspector to:
- Provide the client with advice on the building regulations;
- Give advice regarding the information that needs to be submitted;
- Check proposals for compliance with the building regulations;
- Issue a plans certificate if that has been requested;
- Inspect work as it progresses, and
- Issue a final certificate.
NB: The term 'final certificate' can be confusing as it is also used to refer to completion of the works in the construction contract. See Building regulations completion certificate for more information about building regulations final certificates. Under changes to the building regulations made in December 2012, completion certificates must be given, they do not need to be requested.
If the approved inspector does not believe the works comply with the building regulations they will not issue a certificate. If disagreement arises between the client and the approved inspector, which cannot be resolved, they may cancel the initial notice, and responsibility for verifying compliance with with building regulations is then likely to revert to the local authority.
The Building Act also allows individuals and organisations that are considered sufficiently competent, to join a competent persons scheme, and then to self-certify that their work has been carried out in compliance with the building regulations and to issue a certificate to the client. Their ability to self-certify is limited to those areas of the works in which they are considered sufficiently competent.
NB: From 31 March 2014, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Welsh Government Ministers have transferred responsibility for approving Approved Inspectors to CICAIR Limited, a subsidiary of the Construction Industry Council (ref. CIC, CIC launches CICAIR Limited, 27 March 2014).
In 2019, following the Grenfell fire, a court case considered whether approved inspectors owe a duty of care under the Defective Premises Act. The court of appeal found that section one of the Defective Premises Act does not apply to approved inspectors, it only applies to those who positively contribute to the creation of a dwelling. Ref http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/legal/approved-inspectors-duty-care-herons-court-v-nhbc/
The Building Safety Bill, introduced in 2020, proposes that approved inspectors and building control bodies are renamed registered building control approver(s) - referring to private sector firms doing building control work. Ref https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/901869/Draft_Building_Safety_Bill_PART_2.pdf
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Appointing consultants.
- Approved documents.
- Building control performance standards.
- Building control body.
- Building inspector.
- Building official.
- Building Regulations.
- Building regulations completion certificate.
- Building regulations inspection.
- Competent person schemes.
- Final certificate.
- Full plans.
- Planning permission.
- Statutory approvals.