6. Quality of Service
6.1 Advice, guidance and staff service
Over two thirds of surveyed customers (69%) agree that they received sufficient advice and guidance from the local authority building standards service. This is a slight increase from 66% in 2018 and 63% in 2017. A majority of 67% feel the advice and guidance they received was consistent and 70% found it generally helpful (Figure 12).
Figure 12 Quality of advice and guidance received (all customers)
The strength of satisfaction is very similar among applicants and agents, although agents agree to a slightly lesser extent than direct applicants that the advice and guidance received is consistent (Figures 13 and 14, respectively).
Figure 13 Quality of advice and guidance received (direct applicants/submitters only)
Figure 14 Quality of advice and guidance received (agents only)
The majority of customers (84%) agree that building standards staff were polite and courteous, which is 1% higher than in 2018. The strongest areas of disagreement relate to feeling valued as a customer (23% disagree) and feeling that someone took ownership of the enquiry (18% disagree) – Figure 15.
Figure 15 Quality of staff service
The strength of satisfaction follows a similar pattern between applicants and agents, although higher proportions of direct applicants strongly agreed and were less prone to disagree than agents (Figures 16 and 17, respectively).
Figure 16 Quality of staff service (direct applicants/submitters only)
Figure 17 Quality of staff service (agents only)
Customers strongly agreeing and/or strongly disagreeing with at least one of the above statements were asked to provide their reasons.
Customers stating ‘strongly agree’
A total of 1,487 customers provided supporting reasons. The most common adjectives given to describe staff (from most to least cited) are as follows:
A small number of respondents, particularly direct applicants, commended building standards staff for helping them to interpret the standards and regulations and proactively helping customers to resolve any technical issues or sticking points.
“All the staff I spoke with seemed genuinely considerate of my needs as a novice self-builder. They made it clear they were there to help and responded willingly, it seemed, to my questions and requests for advice.”
“On the whole, the staff are pleasant and friendly. We have never encountered any rudeness.”
“Despite being under pressure of heavy workloads the staff were always polite and courteous.”
Customers stating ‘strongly disagree’
A total of 459 customers provided supporting explanations for their disagreement. Many reiterated concerns raised previously, including lack of responsiveness to queries, inaccessible staff, inefficiency, and inconsistency in the quality of service between different officers in a single local authority.
“In our experience the application was unnecessarily protracted and communication was poor at all stages. It was later established that the case officer, who we had been contacting, had been absent from work for some time and her case load had not been reassigned. We were not informed of this until the client attended the council offices in person.”
“Many of the staff had bad attitudes and made me feel silly for not knowing the process of getting a building warrant and like I was wasting their time. I wasn’t informed about different things I needed, and each stage felt difficult to get through as there was always something else I needed to do. They would say they hadn’t received documents I sent and never informed me when my paperwork was ready. It was ridiculous.”
6.2 Inspection visits
Two thirds of customers (66%) confirmed that an inspection visit was undertaken by building standards service staff (Figure 18). This is 2% higher than in 2018.
Figure 18 Whether an inspection was carried out by building standards service staff
Among customers confirming that an inspection visit had taken place, the majority (84% on average) were satisfied with various specific aspects of the visit (Figure 19). This is an increase of 1% on 2018.
Figure 19 Satisfaction with inspection visits (all customers)
Figure 20 Satisfaction with inspection visits (direct applicants/submitters)
Figure 21 Satisfaction with inspection visits (agents)
6.3 Meeting the requirements
Almost all surveyed customers (97%) stated that they were aware of the need to notify the building standards service prior to commencing warrantable work. This is a 1% decrease from 2018. Awareness is marginally lower among direct applicants (96%) than agents (over 99%).
Respondents were also asked if they were aware of and/or familiar with the Construction Compliance Notification Plan (CCNP), which is issued by the local authority at the same time as the building warrant is granted. The majority of agents said that they are aware (86%), which is a decrease of 1% from 2018. Less than half of direct applicants are aware (49%), although this is a 1% uplift from 2018. Familiarity has increased from 35% in 2017 to 36% in 2018 and 38% this year (Figure 22).
Figure 22 Awareness of Construction Compliance Notification Plan (CCNP)