Report by Building Control Manager (attached).
The Joint Committee considered a report by the Building Control Manager (circulated previously) in relation to the Building Control Business update.
The Building Control Manager highlighted the following points to the Committee:
· Staff had been under pressure as a result of increased workloads following the recruitment of a trainee in January 2019 to replace a Senior Surveyor. The training was going well and the service was now going to begin to allocate workload directly which would begin to alleviate the situation. The trainee had a BSc (Hons) Building Surveying Degree but to ensure the maximum speed of development and ensure that the service met the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) competency framework moving forward the trainee was enrolling on the Degree in Public Service Building Control provided by Wolverhampton University which would be funded through the apprenticeship levy.
· Two Surveyors had now gained the Level 5 diploma in Building Control, which was awarded by Wolverhampton University via LABC scheme. This was evidence that supported the LABC competency framework for all but the most complex non-residential developments. Both officers were now exploring the option of studying for level six.
· The Hackitt enquiry and the resulting consultation document published by Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
had caused insurers to reassess their exposure to risk in the Building Control market.
· Up until recently there had only been three insurers involved in the provision of cover for private sector Building Control, they were:
Ø National House Building Council (NHBC).
Ø Griffiths and Armour.
· As a result Howdens had now decided to withdraw as they were unable to find an underwriter and were therefore not renewing any Approved Inspector policies when they expired. NHBC only insured themselves so there was now only one possible insurer.
· Initially Griffiths and Armour stated that they would not take on any of Howdens clients but following lobbying of Government to take action with regard to this situation they had reviewed this policy and were now looking at the risk profile of each Approved Inspector (AI’s) individually before offering cover. So far this had impacted the following AI’s:
Ø Head Projects Building Control.
Ø Guy Shattock.
Ø Dunwoody Building Legislation.
Ø ACT Building Control Ltd.
Ø Celtec Consultancy Ltd.
Ø Thames Building Control.
Ø Meridian Consult.
· Three of those companies Aedis, ACT and Celtec had a significant number of initial notices in the local area. Four of the companies had been successful in gaining insurance but the remaining four companies had not.
· Aedis was unable to obtain insurance and as a result had gone into liquidation. The records indicated that Aedis had 17 active projects within the Partnership area that had not been issued with completion dates. Reversion applications would need to be made to the Local Authority for which a fee would be applicable.
· South Hams had recently passed a motion that:
“This Council will lobby MPs and write to MHCLG to express its concerns about the standards of new housing, calling for:
1. A minimum number of inspections to be carried out on every new dwelling by the Building Control body, local authority or private sector;
2. Quality of work to be incorporated to a higher degree than present, in the Building Regulations;
3. Newly constructed timber framed housing to be included in the
Governments Building Safety Programme; and
4. Local Authorities to become the sole provider of Building Control,
at least on high risk and all new residential buildings.”
· A report had been taken to both North and Mid Devon District Councils and recommending not to follow the example of South Hams Council and the reasons for this were set out in the report under paragraph 184.108.40.206 numbered one to four.
· South Hams Council had written to the Chief Executives of both North Devon and Mid Devon District Councils a month ago and the Head of Place advised that the Chief Executive of Mid Devon District Council had provided a robust response to the letter. However, with a new Chief Executive recently in post at North Devon Council he was unable to advise as to whether or not there had been a response from North Devon Council.
· The Head of Place added that Devon County Council had declared a climate emergency.
· As a result of the Grenfell Tower fire, building regulations had been amended to ban the use of combustible materials in the facades of building over 18m high. However, there was criticism as there was nothing in the revised regulations to protect residents of flats lower than 18 metres. The MHCLG had since issued a response stating that the use of combustible materials in facades lower than 18m should be considered under Building Regulation Requirement B4.
· Building Control officers from across the country had challenged the government in relation to the inclusion of buildings lower than 18m in the regulations.
· Letters had been sent to both Chief Executive Officers and officers awaited a response.
In response to a question regarding the impact of the additional 17 projects, the Building Control Manager advised that the impact upon the authority was significant.
(a) that the impact of the 17 additional projects be monitored by the Joint Committee;
(b) that the responses from the Chief Executives of both Councils be presented to the next meeting of the Joint Committee;
(c) that an update be provided by the Building Control Manager in relation to the changes to the regulations and that an explanation be provided as to “what nearly zero new carbon builds” meant; and
(d) that the responses from both Chief Executives to the letters sent in relation to the inclusion of buildings less than 18m tall under Building Regulation Requirement B4 be supported by the Joint Committee.
The Committee wished to record their congratulations to the two Surveyors that had recently gained their Level 5 diplomas in Building Control.