Approved Inspector Procedure
Approved Inspector Procedure – Important Information
When you have appointed an Approved Inspector to carry out the building control function on your project, there are a few important things you should know:
- The Approved Inspector will submit a document to the local authority – an Initial Notice – which tells them you are using an Approved Inspector and gives them all the legal details they need to know.
- The Initial Notice is served on the local authority when the Approved Inspector has been appointed, not at the stage when they are quoting for your work.
- The local authority has five days in which to accept or reject the Initial Notice in writing (via email, fax or post). Acceptance is given by default if the local authority does not respond within the five day period.
- Once the Initial Notice is accepted, the local authority’s statutory building control role is suspended. They will only get involved in your site again if the Approved Inspector hands the project back to them, for example if there is legal action required to tackle serious building failures. Only the local authority can take such enforcement action. If they are required to do so, you are likely to incur additional fees and fines.
- Once the Initial Notice is accepted, your Approved Inspector takes on the responsibility for helping you to comply with Building Regulations. You do not need, and should not request, involvement of the local authority.
- In order to ensure the Initial Notice is accepted without any hitch, you should confirm in writing that you (the building owner) have given authority to the Approved Inspector to submit this document on your behalf. Your architect, builder or agent may also sign the Initial Notice if you have given them written permission to do so.
- During these five days no work must be carried out on your building project. Any such work could be deemed as ‘unauthorised’ and could result in penalties.
- If the local authority has concerns that unauthorised work is taking place, quite rightly they will contact the Approved Inspector to discuss this and may reject the Initial Notice.
- If the local authority has a blanket policy of always visiting every site for any sort of building permit (including ‘Full Plans’ applications), they may turn up unannounced on site. However, local authorities should not be turning up on sites where an Approved Inspector is appointed if they do not have a similar policy of visiting all other sites at application stage.
- Once the Initial Notice has been served on a local authority, the competitive phase for that job is immediately over. During this time a local authority may not offer financial or other incentives, write to you in a sales or marketing capacity, or put any direct or indirect pressure on you, your architect or builder to change your mind about using an Approved Inspector – this is ‘spot marketing’, is uncompetitive behaviour and is in breach of the Initial Notice Protocol.
- If you are approached in this way, you have a right to complain. Contact your Approved Inspector and they will advise you.
Competition in the building control market has been in place for more than 25 years and has worked very well, raising standards and dramatically improving the customer service you get.
Despite being vigorous competitors, many local authorities and Approved Inspectors have excellent professional working relationships.
Abuses are rare, but the Government has issued information to local authorities to make it clear they must never withhold planning permission or put any pressure on clients and builders to use the council’s services.
Of course, the Building Regulations remain the same, whichever building control service provider you choose to use. You will still be responsible for ensuring your project complies with Building Regulations, and no side is more ‘lenient’ than another.
But you do have a choice about what sort of help and specialist support you want – and this is where Approved Inspectors can offer a range of services.
If you would like further information on any of this, please contact us.