The value of building control

by Bregs Blog admin team


We have previously discussed a proposed an alternative system of independent inspections, one that closely resembles the UK system. The UK system of independent Local Authority inspections and “Approved Inspectors” is widely acknowledged as one of the best systems of building control and ranks 27th in the World Bank Rankings for “Dealing with construction permits” (we rank 115th out of 189 countries). Ireland had a similar system pre 1990 Building Control Act when we changed to a full self-certification system, which continues under the new building regulations.

This interesting UK research into the value of building control was completed in 2012. Pdf: Report: Value of building control- jan2012

The report, undertaken in 2012 by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC)* and the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI)**, canvassed a broad range of companies who dealt with building control: developers, clients, architects and draftspersons, housebuilders, national and regional contractors, small local builders and specialist trades. They commissioned the following research research to determine the value of Building Control to customers. The 49 page document makes for very interesting reading.

Based on this study (quote) “93% think it is important that the industry has independent third party checks of compliance rather than self-certification“.

This would suggest a building control system with independent inspections is in accordance with international best practice.


Extract from study “The Value of Building Control (LABC/ACAI 2012)”:

The objectives as outlined in our proposal dated 9 September 2011 were to identify:

  • The contribution Building Control makes to projects and the benefits it brings
  • Perceptions of the advice provided and the extent to which this is valued
  • Responsiveness and timeliness of advice
  • Preferences for an independent Building Control service versus own sign-off
  • Sources of information on updates to Building Regulations
  • Improvements required in the Building Control process.

These objectives were developed further during the questionnaire design phase. The research covers Building Control per se, regardless of whether this is provided by the LABC or private Approved Inspectors. Competitive issues are outside the scope of this project.

Satisfaction with the service 

 Satisfaction is high with Building Control generally and with these important aspects of the service. Average overall satisfaction is 8.1 out of 10 where 10 is very satisfied, and on the last occasion the service was used, satisfaction averaged 8.2 out of 10. Both scores are high by industry standards. Only 6% are dissatisfied, with a similar proportion in each sector interviewed.

 Although fewer of the Specialist Trades than others feel they are benefitting from Building Control, their satisfaction with the service is nevertheless high. Those who regard the process as challenging also show a good level of satisfaction.

Preference for independent checks or self-certification 

 93% think it is important that the industry has independent third party checks of compliance rather than self-certification. For their own companies, 80% would prefer independent checks to self-certification. The difference between these two is down to individuals feeling that their company has high standards, but that others may not. The main concern about self-certification is an increase in non-compliance and rogue builders, through a reduction in quality and build standards.

Developers’ and Clients’ views 

 Large Clients and Developers are on the whole very positive about Building Control. Although just under half leave the contact with Building Control to their external teams, they nevertheless have a view on its value. 88% feel they and their projects are benefitting from the involvement of Building Control, giving a score of 7 or over out of 10 for the level of benefit they experience.

 Almost all Developers and Clients (90%) would prefer to see independent third party checks of compliance with Building Regulations, rather than industry self-certification. The independent nature of checks on their teams is important to them.

Bregs Blog Notes:

*The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) are a not-for-profit, member organisation, representing all local authority building control teams in England and Wales with over 3,000 professional surveyors and building technicians members. Link: LABC homepage

**The Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) was formed in 1996 to increase awareness and understanding of private sector building control as a commercial, professional and cost-effective alternative to local authority inspectors; it has about 40 members who collectively represent 95% of all independent building control work. Link: ACAI homepage

Other posts of interest:

A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1