Publication - Minutes

Building Standards (Compliance and Enforcement) Review Panel minutes: April 2018

Published: 22 Jun 2018
Date of meeting: 23 Apr 2018
Location: Double Tree by Hilton, Edinburgh Airport

Minutes of the meeting of the Building Standards (Compliance and Enforcement) Review Panel that took place on 23 April 2018.

Published:
22 Jun 2018
Building Standards (Compliance and Enforcement) Review Panel minutes: April 2018

Attendees and apologies

Present

  • Prof John Cole (Chair)

Members present

  • Stewart Macartney, Blyth & Blyth
  • Gordon Spence, Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
  • Ron Fraser, Construction Scotland
  • Kevin Crawford, CIAT Scotland
  • Neil Parry, Persimmon Homes
  • Malcolm McLeod, National House Building Council (NHBC)
  • Ian Honeyman, Scottish Building Federation (SBF)
  • Donald Canavan, RIAS
  • Sarah Neary, Government of Ireland
  • Alan Stark, Scottish Property Federation
  • Grant Robertson, Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)

Scottish Government:

  • Stephen Garvin, BSD
  • Jonathan Astwood, BSD
  • Linda Stewart, BSD
  • Ken Craig, BSD
  • Jonathan Moore, Procurement Development and Construction Review Division
  • Shona Harper, Building Safety and Fire Co-ordination Team
  • Paul Stollard, BSD

Invitee

  • Robert Jopling, Structural Engineers Registration, Ltd (SER)

Apologies

  • Peter Haggerty, RICS Scotland

Items and actions

1. Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed members of the review panel to the third meeting. A welcome was also extended to Robert Jopling, who was representing Structural Engineers Registration Ltd (SER).

Attendees and apologies, as noted above.

2. Conclusions of the second meeting

A brief summary from the second meeting was discussed, and highlighted the more pertinent matters that should be further discussed in the meeting. This included:

  • focus on high risk/complex buildings, and differentiate from low risk;
  • the benefits of pre-warrant discussions between design team and verifiers;
  • competence of “relevant person”;
  • adequacy of inspections at appropriate phases of building work.

3. Presentations

Three presentations were given on the following topics:

LABSS - Skills and training of building standards verifiers SER - Certification of site inspections RIAS - Roles and responsibilities – designers and inspections

4. Panel discussion – Areas for consideration

The following topics were discussed:

Risk-based approach

  • Defining building types, depending on their complexity and possible risk level, to establish appropriate levels of site inspections. Consideration was given for the need for pre-warrant discussions/agreements between verifiers and developers, and whether or not these should be made mandatory.
  • Considering regulatory changes to improve life safety matters when refurbishing existing buildings.
  • The need to review/extend exempt classes of building work in building regulations.

Roles and responsibilities

  • The definition of “relevant person” may need to be clarified, as it was suggested that a large number of building owners or developers are unaware of their responsibilities as the relevant person. The panel concluded there may be a need to recognise the additional roles and responsibilities in the construction process. The example of where work is inspected by a verifier and then subsequently damaged afterwards, e.g. the formation of duct opening, was given. The panel concluded that contractors should be made more responsible for certifying their work.
  • The registration of builders was discussed, and the review panel were informed that a number of European countries operate such a system. Ireland are currently investigating such an approach and SG will follow how this proceeds.
  • Whether verifiers should have a recognised level of experience and qualifications to be responsible for certain types of buildings types with specific risk levels. Should such measures be introduced it was considered that this may be incorporated into the Operational Framework.
  • High risk building work with fire engineering solutions could be assessed by specialists using a centralised hub approach.

Building warrant processes (leading to granting BW)

  • Consideration was given to whether it should be mandatory for pre-application/start of work consultations to be undertaken for projects involving complex/high risk buildings.
  • The level of information that should be submitted with applications for building warrants, with different levels of complexity, was discussed. It was agreed that further consideration could be given to this at a later date.
  • The amendment to warrant form is currently used for design changes and for progressing a staged warrant approach. This could be differentiated by using two types of forms: i. where there is a change to a building design/specification/material ii. where a building warrant application consists of a staged warrant
  • Application fees for amendments to warrant do not always reflect the amount of work carried out by verifiers to assess these applications, e.g. when previously approved house designs are amended with different house types. It was agreed that the fees should be reviewed at a later date, once the outcomes of this review and implications for verifiers are clearer.

Construction processes - leading to completion and submission of Completion Certificate (CC)

  • BSD advised that CCNPs were introduced to drive consistency in the levels of inspections made by verifiers, throughout Scotland. However, it would appear that this has not been fully met. The chair highlighted the inconsistencies discovered regarding checking of fire-stopping throughout the UK. Concerns were also raised regarding building owners/contractors not realising their responsibility to advise verifiers when work had progressed to a notification stage.
  • Discussions were held regarding whether mandatory levels of inspections should be introduced for different buildings with varying complexity and risk groups. This would require further discussion to determine the key stages for inspection. It was recognised that any changes to the existing mandatory inspections would require an amendment to legislation.
  • Possible levels of inspections for different buildings types was discussed, differentiating between small, medium or large/complex non-domestic projects and domestic developments. It was suggested that for large scale housing developments, the level of inspections could be similar to those required by housing warranty providers. In non-domestic buildings, it was agreed that a more flexible approach would be required, depending on the complexity of design and risk level.
  • The levels of inspection could be determined by the competency of a builder. This could be linked to developers providing evidence to verifiers what QA they will implement, or submitting a pre-construction plan (Verification Plan) how a project will progress, highlighting known risks at particular stages to allow an inspection plan to be developed, prior to work progressing.
  • In addition it was felt that “unannounced” inspections should still be undertaken by verifiers.
  • It was highlighted that some verifiers, when they have not been notified of work stages, are reluctant to request a disruptive survey in case they are held responsible for damages. This may require further investigated.

Completion certificate processes (leading to acceptance by verifier)

  • It was emphasised that a completion certificate must be accepted by a verifier prior to the occupation or use of a new building. Alternatively the verifier may grant a Temporary Occupation Certificate (TOC), which can be extended as necessary.
  • The wording of temporary occupation applications was discussed and whether they should include some form of declaration about meeting building regulations (in a similar way that a CC does). It was agreed that consideration will be given to this at a future date.
  • There were discussions around withdrawing the use of TOCs, however it was highlighted that there is a need for them; it is the issue of buildings being occupied after the validity period expiring that is causing concerns.
  • SG suggested that the use of TOC may have reduced with the current system coming into force in 2005, since which time a CC is required for every dwelling and individual CCs can be issued for individual buildings on larger developments.

Enforcement

  • The overall agreement was that the current enforcement regimes (legislation and application) are not strong enough to act as a deterrent. (Comparison to H&S legislation was highlighted, where offenders could be imprisoned).
  • The Chair highlighted that there is strong evidence to show that in many cases contractors are progressing with stages of work prior to the approval of the relevant staged warrant. There was opinion that enforcement powers should be strengthened/tightened to deter such action.
  • It was suggested that CDM legislation should be closer linked to Building Act/Procedural Regulations.
  • The introduction of different levels of enforcement, depending on the risk/complexity of a building, could be considered at a later date.
  • An enforcement charter could possibly be developed.

Building warrant fees

  • It was considered that a review of the Fees Regulations would need looking at once the outcomes of the review are known, to consider any additional verification activities. The review could also consider splitting the fee payments to spread over the whole BW process through to completion e.g. at pre-warrant application, at warrant application and at start of works. This would be subject to assessment at a later date.

5. Action

BSD to consider subjects discussed at all three Review Panel meetings and prepare details of the issues and proposals that should be considered for consultation.

6. Date of next meeting

To be announced – not likely until October 2018.

Contact

Email: BFSResponse@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG