Last edited 30 Dec 2020

Building Control Performance Standard 7: Communications and records

The building regulations establish standards to be achieved in the construction of buildings. They are supported by a series of approved documents providing guidance for how the building regulations can be satisfied in common building situations.

The building regulations require that a project's compliance with the regulations is independently verified. Building Control Bodies (BCB’s) are responsible for checking building work to verify that it complies with the regulations. Building Control Bodies may be the building control department of the Local Authority, or an approved inspector.

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.

Standard 7: Communications and records, came in to force on 1 April 2017 and applies to building work where an initial notice, building notice or full plans application has been given on or after 1 April 2017.

The standard was revised and clarified by a circular letter published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 25 January 2017. The revised standard is appended to the letter.

Standard 7 requires that:

Building Control Bodies should communicate with clients, consultees and others in writing. Where the client is not the building owner the Building Control Body should take reasonable steps to ensure that the building owner is aware of whether the local authority or an Approved Inspector is carrying out the Building Control function for the building work to their property.

Building Control Bodies are required to provide site inspection records to the building owner on request for all building work that has been issued with a final/completion certificate or where an initial notice has been cancelled. The request must be in writing and made within 15 years of the final/completion certificate being issued.

All records relating to the building control service provided to individual projects shall be stored in a retrievable format and wherever practicable electronically by every Building Control Body for a minimum period of 15 years. Arrangements shall be made for their transfer into safe keeping in the event of a Building Control Body ceasing trading.

The associated guidance states that:

If the client is not the building owner the Building Control Body shall communicate in writing to the building owner that it is the Building Control Body being used for their building work, or be satisfied, e.g. has seen correspondence between the client and building owner, that the client has informed the building owner of which Building Control Body is being used. Records relating to each building control project should be retained for at least 15 years as they may be needed in the case of legal action or warranty disputes. Records should if practical be stored electronically. Building Control Bodies must make all records available in the case of court action, warranty disputes, a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman or a complaint to CICAIR Limited.

In addition, Building Control Bodies shall make available full records of site inspections for building work that has been issued with a final/completion certificate or where an initial notice was cancelled to the building owner where a request is made for them in writing within 15 years of the final/completion certificate being issued or the initial notice cancelled. However, such parts of records that contain personal information covered by the Data Protection Act and/or where there are security considerations may be redacted or withheld (.) A Building Control Body may charge for the provision of the records on a cost recovery basis.

Where an initial notice is cancelled and the approved inspector passes inspection records to the subsequent Building Control Body, whether a local authority or approved inspector, the subsequent Building Control Body will make these records available to the building owner. If the approved inspector does not pass on any inspection records to a subsequent Building Control Body that approved inspector shall make them available to the building owner on request.

Records kept by Building Control Bodies should include as a minimum:

• approved/accepted proposals and design principles

records of any work carried out by professional consultants on behalf of the Building Control Body

records of consultations

records of site inspections

client design and contractor details

certificates and notices including Completion or Final certificates

If a Building Control Body ceases to trade it must ensure the safe transfer and on-going storage of its records for the above periods.

A Local Authority Building Control (LABC) spokesman said: “LABC welcomes the circular letter. We see this as part of the wider discussions (in part triggered by complaints about new homes and the work of the APPG on the quality of new homes) on standards and quality in the building industry. It’s more than new homes. Changes of practices in construction, the loss of people in the industry during the recession, EU workers, a growing economy, technical innovation and government targets for one million new homes have all contributed to challenges and issues.”

“There is a bigger picture and LABC has been consulting with local authorities and is already putting a new framework in place to review and uplift best practices, standards, records and training. And it’s not just about new homes. LABC is looking across all segments.”

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