When developing a Build To Rent scheme, you will need to appoint a building inspector, who will work alongside you to ensure your project meets Building Regulations.
There are two options at this stage:
- Local Authority Building Control (LABC)
- Approved Inspector (AI)
It should be noted that the primary responsibility for achieving compliance with the regulations rests with the person carrying out the building work. So, if you are carrying out the work personally the responsibility will be yours.
If you are employing a builder the responsibility will usually be that firm’s – but you should confirm this position from the outset of the project.
You should also bear in mind that if you are the owner of the building, it is ultimately you who may be served with an enforcement notice if the work does not comply with the regulations.
When appointing an Approved Inspector:
- Do your initial research, speak to building control bodies and see if they are a good fit for you, your team and your project.
- Engaging early with clients at concept / brief stages means an Approved Inspector is aware of the key project goals and how clients are planning to realise those goals. They will also get a strong feel for the project team, their skills and capabilities and how that will align with the project goals.
- The concept / brief stage provides an opportunity for an inspector to discuss the project with the client, outline some of the key areas of building control compliance, suggest possible options to initial queries and give an overview of what is required from a client and at what stages.
- Inspectors are not there to offer a design service but to rather to engage with the client and project partners to outline a roadmap to compliance.
- A good inspector will become part of the initial project team looking at the bigger project picture rather than the technical detail involved at design review stages of a project. This comes further down the line.
- Even if you feel you have a good knowledge of Building Regulations it’s good to discuss the project with an inspector so questions and queries can be raised and options discussed.
- Compliance can be achieved in many different ways and different solutions will often impact the project in different ways. They could increase or reduce costs, have impact on project timeframes and the design solutions proposed / adopted.
- With the early engagement of an inspector, clients will have more time to consider possible alternative options and solutions. This generally puts them in a stronger position with their supply chains. The knock-on effect in terms of managing costs can be significant.
What will an approved Inspector do?
Building Control has come a long way in recent times. New systems and working practices, technologies, product innovations have all impacted on how Building Control is delivered.
The fundamentals, however, remain intact.
An Approved Inspector will:
- Review designs and plans and provide feedback to the client.
- Go out on site and see what is happening at the construction phases and again provide feedback to the client.
Checking the site itself
Often overlooked by some investors and developers is the site itself. This is something that BTR developers need to consider very carefully. Key points to consider are drainage, contaminated substances, trees, soil types and radon.
An Approved Inspector will consult with the relevant water authority If, for example, your proposed building work involves building close to or over the top of drains.
Given many BTR schemes are in high-density areas and with new land at a premium and often on brownfield sites, it’s advisable to find out if the site on which you want to build has a history of contamination. For example, the site may be in an area where the level of radon gas could be an issue, contain contaminated substances or be within 250m of a landfill site.
Although consultation with your neighbours is not required under the Building Regulations it can often be a positive way to ensure lines of communication are open and questions and queries don’t escalate into disputes.
A typical inspection plan could include the following inspections checks backed by expertise from a range of consultants such as structural engineers, access and fire consultants:
- Oversight and drainage
- Intermediate Floors
- Compartmentation & Fire Stopping
- Thermal & Sound (pre-plaster)
- Final Inspections / Completion
Impact on the customer: A scheme will be able to move forward with the confidence that all boxes around health and safety, access and sustainability have been ticked and there will be no last-minute surprises.
Impact on the project or investor: Early reviewing and appraising enable more accurate costings. An expert Approved Inspector will also be abreast of changes in legislation and will be able to future-proof the project.
Those with current or anticipated responsibilities under the Building Regulations should also be aware of future changes under the Building Safety Bill, and its implications for record keeping and transfer of information to new building owners.