Building control system faces “chaos” as registration deadline looms

A “significant number” of building control professionals will not meet the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) deadline for registration, the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) has warned government officials.

In a letter to HSE Director of Building Safety (DoBS) Philip White, Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) Deputy Director Camilla Sheldon, and the Welsh government dated 2 February 2024, LABC chief executive Lorna Stimpson expressed the body’s concerns over the fast-approaching deadline for inspectors in the building control profession to register with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

She warned that a “significant number of building control professionals will not achieve successful certification, and therefore, registration before the 6th of April deadline”.

To achieve registration, building inspectors are required to undergo a competency assessment from a government-approved scheme. As stated in HSE’s guidance, the assessment “evaluates your skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours against the relevant building inspector competence framework”. Following certification, building inspectors can then register with the BSR for a validity period of four years.

While LABC is “actively encouraging” all building control surveyors to submit their applications “as soon as possible”, Lorna said that the body was “undertaking an urgent review of the position of all local authorities in England and Wales, to determine their position with regards to the number of surveyors likely to be certified and registered prior to the deadline”.

“The picture does not currently look encouraging,” she added.

We are hearing worrying reports of individuals in crisis, suffering extreme stress, anxiety, and depressionThe short timeframe allowed between final clarity from the BSR on the independent assessment bodies and their assessment criteria has meant the profession has had insufficient time to prepare for such a significant impact.

Legal advice is clear, those who have not achieved registration by the legislative deadline are not able to meet the contractual obligations of their role and as such could have their employment terminated by their employer – this is the same for both the public and private sector and yet another pressure added to already struggling surveyors.”

She has called for the deadline to be extended by “at least” six months.

Speaking to Construction Enquirer, one industry expert said: “Building control has been neglected and under-resourced for years but these changes look like they will tip the whole system into chaos.

Experienced inspectors are retiring with no one to take their place while the authorities have been sleepwalking towards this deadline for ages without any thought as to how things will work in the real world.

As reported by Planning, Building & Construction Today, DLUHC responded to the LABC’s concerns, with a spokesperson stating: “It is crucial that the construction sector continues to undertake the validation and registration processes in order to meet the competence requirements set by the Building Safety Regulator.

We understand that transitioning into a new oversight regime for building control inspectors requires a managed transition, and the Regulator is closely engaging the sector to agree a way forward.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh government added: “We share the concerns raised by Local Authority Building Control and the wider construction profession in relation to registration.

We are monitoring the situation closely to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime.”

Inside Housing (IH) has since revealed that while the BSR was aware of the “concerns” and “challenges faced” felt by the industry, no mention was made of the deadline being extended. In a statement to IH, the BSR said:

We have been working closely with representative bodies from the profession over a considerable period of time to prepare for implementation of the new requirements.

In addition, we wrote to local authorities, and the wider building control profession, to inform them of the registration requirements in advance of the process opening.

We have seen a positive response to the changes among the profession and it is encouraging to see a large number of people already engaging with the process.

We encourage all those who have not yet started their assessment to act now and start the process of becoming a registered building inspector.”