Does Building Control Approval mean
that the property is up to modern day standards?
If you need help and advice with regard to extending or altering your property, structural surveys, residential building surveys, commercial building surveys, specific defects reports or engineers reports or any other property problems please free phone for a chat with an independent survey on 0800 298 5424.
We can offer you a comprehensive survey report, which offers you solutions and anticipated costs for any works we suggest need carrying out on a property. Our surveys contain photographs of the property and explanatory sketches, which clients have informed us helps explain the survey report.
What do the circles and ovals mean in our reports?
In our building surveys and structural surveys the circles and ovals are a method that we used to draw attention to property problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the property problem is like this example below.
An example of one of our sketches
An example of one of our photos
Do Solicitors sometimes give wrong advice?
We recently had several incidents where we have found building defects in a property and we have been advised by the solicitors that it has building control approval as if this is the be all and end all of the matter.
What are Building Control Approval and Planning Approval?
For those that are not aware the local authority is required to give approval of any new building construction or major alteration.
Planning Permission Approval
This comes in several formats, the first planning permission looks at the aesthetics of how a property is and how it blends in with the local environment. This can range from anything from an older building, making sure the extension is appropriate for building in the area to the modern property having say a balcony added to ensure it doesn't affect someone's privacy. There are also quirks to what planning permission also looks at (although we are sure that planners don't think of them as quirks) such as if you are looking to put up a temporary structure for a fair amount of time you may also need temporary planning permission. Planning permission falls into two areas;
- Outline planning permission which is a broad view on whether planning permission would be achieved and if so gives guidance.
- Detailed Planning Permission which is the actual consent, that is when you are preparing drawings and carrying out investigations to obtain detailed consent of what you can build.
The other area that we get local authority approval on is building regulations. This is what we want to talk about in this article.
Building Regulations approval is a legal requirement
Building regulations approval is a legal requirement and there is a statute document relating to it and the statute document is written in terms of what we call performance standards and this means it will say that a property should be wind and watertight. There are then in addition to this the approved documents.
Building Regulations approved documents
Building regulation approved documents are sometimes mistaken for building regulations and these approved documents illustrate and explain how the building regulations can be achieved. As mentioned these are by performance standards so you can look up that a damp proof course will stop damp getting in the property and this is best achieved by having it two courses above the ground level.
Approved documents take time to write and may not be up to date
We would add a new or innovative design may not be included in the improved documents and ways of carrying out the work as you would expect because it is new and innovative.
Building Regulations in summary
You could probably best explain it that the building regulation approved documents show traditional solutions to building problems. Finally we would add that the standards are a minimum standard.
National House Building Council standards – What on earth are the NHBC standards?
There are other standards that may well affect how a property is built such as the National House Building Council NHBC who have their own agreed standards, which is what they check when they are looking to give an NHBC National House Building Council warranty. We believe they also inspect all building control services as private building control surveyors.
Local Authority Building Control Surveyors and Private Approved Building Control Surveyors
We would comment that building control once was carried out by local authority building control surveyors, which is the traditional way that has been used for many decades and obviously have local knowledge. Today you can also use private approved building control surveyors who often deal nationally with one client such as a house-builder like:-
Barratt Homes Ltd
Taylor Wimpey Ltd
George Wimpey UK Ltd
Persimmon Homes Ltd
David Wilson Homes Ltd
Bellway Homes Ltd
Miller Homes Ltd
Morris Homes Ltd
Redrow Homes Ltd
Crest Nicholson Residential Plc
Berkeley Group Plc
Countryside Properties Plc
Kier Residential Ltd
Bovis Homes Ltd
J S Bloor Ltd
Lovell Partnerships Ltd
Gladedale Homes Ltd
McCarthy & Stone (Devs) Ltd
Stewart Milne Group Ltd
Galliford Try Plc
Willmott Dixon Housing Ltd
Taylor Woodrow Homes
The reason why these companies use a nationally approved building control service is so they can get their one type design approved. These private building control surveyors will approve a type of construction which will then be built nationwide. If we take a company that's a big house builder such as Bloor Homes you will notice that they have similar houses all over the country, a
lbeit with a little bit of difference perhaps a different roof tile.
We are giving you a big long list like this so that if you do see any of these names and you have a problem with the building control department you will know that it isn't necessarily going to be a case of just ringing up your local council and you may have to seek out the private building control company.
We haven't by all means had experience with all of these companies but we have had experience with quite a few of them including instances of where damp proof courses have been put too low, in one case actually at ground level rather than two courses above it. Another case where they put the pea shingle at the top of the French drain but didn't actually put the French drain in.
We have got cases where the drains ran back towards the house, which isn't very nice as the last place you want your sewerage is actually in your house. Although we didn't see it we were once told about the lovely case where the builder was short for time and the drains hadn't been plumbed in properly. We have also been involved in technically complex expert witness cases where air source heat pumps have been used and this has resulted in a large amount of condensation. Particularly we have been involved in what we would term as standard snagging work, which is where you look at a property that is newly finished and check it is to standard. Remember that the house builders are building to a price and to a time scale and sometimes things go wrong.
Commercial Building Control Surveyors
We know that companies which roll out the same designs UK wide and in many cases worldwide have started the expression Mctowns in such companies as:-
Pret a Manger
This isn't just the smaller buildings, there are of course companies such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons who build superstores within city centres and out of town. The advantage is clear for these companies, they can deal with one building control surveyor, who gets to know their design and their requirement equally so also being paid by this company we think is one disadvantage another disadvantage is lack of local knowledge or sympathy for local architecture.
Other regulations which may affect the way the property is built
With regard to commercial property, pension funds that are building offices or shopping centres or something similar for investment purposes will also have requirements.
Problems with building construction that has passed Building Regulation Approval
We have been involved in a number recently so we thought we would highlight that the building regulations set out a minimum standard and that sometimes their building control officers are only human and miss issues, but then again we would also comment that it is not up to building control to set the standards, it should be up to the building contractor and developer and architect to set the standards. We have seen some horrendous cases and some very basic issues mentioned above.
Thank you for reading this article. Other articles that may be of interest to you on our website are:-
Compare our Building Surveys but don't compare Apples with Thursdays
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience as independent surveyors if you require a building survey or structural survey.
We have every confidence in our surveys and believe there are no other comparable surveys out there in the UK property and surveying market.
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Independent commercial property surveyors
If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com .
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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