6. Quality of Service
6.1 Advice, guidance and staff service
Two thirds of surveyed customers (66%) agree that they received sufficient advice and guidance from the local authority building standards service. This is a slight increase from 63% in 2017. A majority of 63% feel the advice and guidance they received was consistent and 68% found it generally helpful (Figure 12), again both increases on 2017 figures, 60% and 65% respectfully.
Figure 12 Quality of advice and guidance received (all customers)
The strength of satisfaction is slightly stronger among applicants than agents (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 (83%) agree that building standards staff were polite and courteous, which is 2% higher than in 2017. The strongest areas of disagreement relate to feeling valued as a customer (28% disagree), feeling that someone took ownership of my enquiry (23% disagree), and that staff were efficient and that any problems arising were adequately resolved (21% disagree) - Figure 15.
Figure 15 Quality of staff service
Again, the strength of satisfaction is slightly stronger among applicants 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 1,231 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.
"The staff explained things in clear terms to someone like me who is not technically qualified and most importantly they treated me as an equal and did not talk down to me because they are more qualified technically."
"Staff are generally polite and courteous - they are never rude, and I find they are willing to help - but making contact with an officer is not easy or a request which you can predict will be successful/result in a discussion."
"When I got a response, it was complete, polite and helpful."
Customers stating 'strongly disagree'
A total of 484 customers provided supporting explanations for their disagreement. Many reiterated concerns raised previously, including lack of responsiveness to queries, inefficiency, inconsistency in the quality of service between different officers in a single local authority. Direct applicants occasionally cited technical jargon as a barrier.
"When an application disappears in the Department it is very difficult to get someone to respond with an update. When a member of Building Standards staff goes off on long term sick leave (which happens quite often), no-one else in the Department takes up their caseload. We need to contact a whole series of different individuals or e-mail addresses otherwise an application would not be dealt with at all."
"It was often very hard to get someone to take ownership of resolving the issue for you, and often it felt like we were more of an 'inconvenience' getting in the way of their workload. There was a definite disjoint between sections of the building standards department, where if a query on something wasn't directly their issue (in a different area etc), then the main concern was passing you off to someone else, rather than helping you get a response."
6.2 Inspection visits
Over two thirds of customers (64%) confirmed that an inspection visit was undertaken by building standards service staff (Figure 18). This is 1% higher than in 2017.
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 (83% on average) were satisfied with various specific aspects of the visit (Figure 19). This is an increase of 5% on 2017.
Figure 19 Satisfaction with inspection visits (all customers)
Satisfaction levels are slightly higher amongst direct applicants in comparison to agents (Figures 20 and 21, respectively).
Figure 20 Satisfaction with inspection visits (direct applicants/submitters)
Figure 21 Satisfaction with inspection visits (agents)
6.3 Meeting the requirements
As in 2017, almost all (98%) customers surveyed in 2018 stated that they were aware of the need to notify the building standards service prior to commencing warrantable work. Awareness is marginally lower among direct applicants (under 97%) than agents (over 99%).
Respondents were also asked if they were aware of the Construction Compliance Notification Plan (CCNP), which is issued by the local authority at the same time as the building warrant is granted. Most agents said that they are aware (88%), which is an increase of 1% from 2017, with familiarity rising to 30% from 27% in 2017. Less than half of direct applicants are aware (48%), matching 2017 responses, but again familiarity increases from 35% in 2017 to 36% in 2018 (Figure 22).
Figure 22 Awareness of Construction Compliance Notification Plan (CCNP)