Attendees and apologies
- Prof John Cole, Chair
- Stewart Macartney, Blyth & Blyth
- Gordon Spence, Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
- Ron Fraser, Construction Scotland
- Graham Martin, RIAS
- Kevin Crawford, CIAT Scotland
- Neil Parry, Persimmon Homes
- Alan Stark, Scottish Property Federation
- John Wickman, Government of Ireland
- Malcolm McLeod, National House Building Council (NHBC)
- Ian Honeyman, Scottish Building Federation (SBF)
- Bill Dodds, Independent
- 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
- Sarah Neary, Government of Ireland (replaced by John Wickman)
- Donald Canavan, RIAS (replaced by Graham Martin)
- Vaughan Hart, Scottish Building Federation (SBF) (replaced by Ian Honeyman
- Grant Robertson, Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
- Peter Haggerty, RICS Scotland
- Scott Bell, Procurement Development and Construction Review Division
Items and actions
1. Welcome, introductions and apologies
The Chair welcomed members of the review panel to the second meeting.
Recent developments and considerations of the papers of this meeting
- A brief summary of the Interim Report from the Dame Judith Hackitt review of Building Regulations in England was discussed. The report concluded that the system in England was “not fit for purpose” and identified six themes to be addressed. Areas discussed included the roles and responsibilities of those who commission, design and undertake building work and also compliance and enforcement issues, as sanctions would appear weak.
2. Conclusions of the first meeting
A brief summary from the first meeting was discussed, highlighting:
- the benefits of certification processes,
- differentiating between high rise and complex buildings,
- adequacy of inspections at appropriate phases of building work and verifier intervention, where deemed necessary,
- regulatory compliance of existing buildings (post Completion Certificate),
- resourcing and training of verifiers,
- inconsistency of procedures being undertaken by verifiers,
- clarifying roles and responsibilities by all persons/groups, including understanding of reasonable person.
It was agreed that in the time available, issues raised should be categorized into short, medium and long-term objectives.
3. Panel discussion – Assessment of building types by complexity (risk, size and occupation)
The panel discussed the risks associated with building design and occupancy characteristics.
- Differentiation is needed between high risk/complex buildings and simple buildings, e.g. “standard” houses and high rise domestic and public building. The building complexity is influenced by the type of occupant. High-risk does not solely relate to fire safety issues.
- Small domestic projects generally have a lower risk than large projects, but there are instances where they may be classified as higher risk. For example, the refurbishment of an existing building may create higher risks (e.g. Grenfell).
- Verifiers undertaking inspection on high risk/complex buildings may require a higher level of qualifications/competence/training. There could be regulatory change to identify persons responsible for building work.
- It was agreed that the existing pre-emptive building standards system and inspections being undertaken should remain as present, but more focus should be on inspecting at the right time and looking at complex projects in a different way.
- It was highlighted that the extent of certification by approved certifiers of design was limited to persons with appropriate competence. Members discussed the possibility of expanding the current certification of design/construction schemes.
- It was noted that contractors “certify” that a specific item has been installed to a client, on a project. However there could be more responsibility placed on sub-contractors to also certify their work carried out, particularly where personnel changes have been made on projects.
- NHBC advised that their level of inspections of new houses are risk based. They expressed disappointment that other verification routes are not being considered by the panel.
- In “design & build” projects, it would be good practice to ensure designers are kept up-to-date at all stages of construction and any changes to design or specification.
- It was asked if “as-built” drawings should be submitted to a verifier on completion of a project. The benefits of such a procedure were recognised, but apprehension was highlighted regarding what level of information would be necessary, as this could overstep building regulation requirements.
- It was suggested that any additional detailing requested at the BW application stage, with potential high risk repercussions, should be checked/certified during construction.
- Discussion on responsibilities for all parties involved in a project should be clarified prior to starting work. A need for a change in legislation/regulation was discussed regarding defining roles/responsibilities, competent designers, contractors and verifiers to make it clear who is ultimately responsible.
- Better guidance and information should be available regarding the responsibilities for signing and submitting Completion Certificates to verifiers.
4. Panel discussion – Assessing buildings by the degree of risk
The following issues were discussed when assessing buildings by degree of risk:
- It was agreed that it is not possible to assess the building risk by simply the size or value of work, as this was too simplistic. It was considered that other factors such as construction, location, occupancy levels, design, materials, etc., also need to be assessed.
- It was suggested that verifiers should be informed how a building is to be constructed at the warrant application stage, to assist the verifier to determine a suitable inspection programme. (This is currently required by CDM regulations, but for safety of operatives only.)
- It was suggested that LA verifiers have inconsistent approaches when issuing Construction Compliance Notification Plans (CCNPs). As such, more definitive guidance could be provided by Scottish Government. The need for an applicant to follow the CCNP and notify the verifier at the appropriate stages should be made mandatory.
- It was agreed that the CCNP procedure requires to be improved and additional information is required to inform the verifier of what level of supervision is being provided, by whom and at what different stages of the construction.
- Contractors have indicated that they now welcome additional inspections rather than less. Verifiers could better utilise modern technology to record additional checks.
- It was noted that the “one size fits all” approach to assessing buildings is not appropriate. It was considered that the current system works well for approximately 80% of building work, but the other 20% needs a different approach. The present system is adequate for domestic buildings, but the processes involved in more complex buildings should be reviewed.
- It was suggested that the review panel should focus on the issues being raised within the Dame Judith Hackett report, with regards to high-rise buildings.
- It was questioned whether more exemptions should be applied to small work, to remove bureaucracy, or not.
- Customer agreements should be better promoted and used to improve project planning, for the benefit of both verifiers and design teams. Pre-submission discussions between verifiers and design teams have been shown to be beneficial and have saved time in getting building warrants approved, following submission.
- Concerns were raised that verifiers are not being able to re-invest income received through building warrant application fees, due to financial policies of individual LAs.
- It was noted that staged warrants are common practice for larger projects. Whilst this can assist contractors, work regularly progresses to further stages of construction, prior to subsequent staged warrants being approved. It was acknowledged that this can result with work being undertaken prior to a CCNP being finalised and subsequently specific items of work not being inspected.
- SBF highlighted that apprenticeships and CITB funding are no longer linked to registration with construction bodies. This is resulting in an increasing demand for Level 2 qualification, rather than Level 3 SVQ. Concerns were raised that this will impact on skills over time.
6. Going forward
It was agreed that some aspects of compliance and enforcement could be dealt with in the short term, and others in the long term. It was considered that the aspects that could be considered for development in the short term by the BSD include:
- Focus on higher risk/complex buildings. This could also include clarifying what is included within the definition of “larger projects”.
- Clarify the intent of verifier inspections. (Possible review of “Compliance during construction” guidance and amend procedural regulations).
- Mandate notification and requirement to inspect.
- Clarify information required with completion certificate, e.g. “as-built” drawings and record keeping for complex and high risk buildings.
- Clarify the role of the fire service in consultation at both the verification and completion stage, particularly for high risk or complex buildings.
- The role of third party certification.
- Reviewing the legislative definition of “relevant person”, including the introduction of “duty-holder” responsibilities.
- Reviewing the current process for applying for amendment to warrants.
- Reviewing the apparent weakness of the use of temporary occupation or use certificates. This includes the lack of a declaration that work undertaken meets the building warrant and requirements of building regulations (as noted in completion certificates).
- Reviewing the resourcing, qualifications and competencies of building standards verifier services.
- Reviewing how enforcement can be tightened regarding occupation of buildings without the relevant approval.
- Extending certification schemes.
- Reviewing risks where alterations are carried out to existing occupied buildings; particularly non-domestic residential.
The short and long-term proposals will be developed in more detail. These will be presented in papers for the review panel to consider and will be issued prior to the next meeting.
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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