“Every £1 spent with LABC’s members produces more than £700 in return”
Recent research conducted by LABC has come to some fascinating conclusions. The research focused on the benefits added by the formal plan assessment carried out by LABC members on every full application. The research shows that interventions at this early stage prevent defects and failures before they are built.
‘We believe that the economic contribution of local authority building control isn’t being recognised and that there is an enormous social return on investment. We have discussed this with the University of Wolverhampton and have commissioned an academic study. It looks likely that every £1 spent with LABC’s members produces more than £700 in return and this needs to be explored in full.’
Paul Everall, CEO of LABC
Local authorities undertake a formal plan assessment on every full plan application that they receive. LABC members consider these assessments as major contributory factors in achieving compliance before materials are purchased and before work begins on site. What this means is that, the plan assessment saves clients and contractors time and materials in putting right faults after they have been constructed.
The research recently carried out by LABC clearly demonstrates the value of the local authority process to those looking to build. Conversely, Approved Inspectors, do not have to assess plans for compliance with the building regulations which quite often means they appear cheaper. Many clients will compare the Approved Inspector cost for building control with the cost of the local authority’s service without realising that the Approved Inspector charge will likely not include an assessment of the project details. However, with the interventions and savings by LABC during the plan assessment the local authority service actually delivers much better value, preventing potentially very costly issues from arising which could delay construction. If an Approved Inspector does provide a plan assessment, they will generally charge for doing so.
Below are some of the key findings of the LABC research:
'Unfortunately competition in building control is confusing clients. Instead of valuing quality and achieving the right standard, competition is dividing the market with some businesses seeking “the least interference at the lowest price”. As the Approved Inspector regulations do not require a plan assessment, most won’t do so or will charge for it as an optional extra. I believe this is to the detriment of property purchasers and owners as well as to the detriment of the community and the nation as lower quality buildings are created. It seems sensible to change Approved Inspector regulations to match that of the public sector so that all building control bodies are obliged to provide a full plans assessment prior to commencement of work on site.
There is a polarisation occurring. Our members tell us about examples where businesses will reject our advice and take plans elsewhere to achieve compliance at a lesser ‘standard’. Occasionally we are told that we’ll only win the work if we back down, or that the client will take their work away from all other sites. Even with a plan assessment this still doesn’t always prevent value engineering and product substitution. Even after our efforts on the plan, Quantity Surveyors, project managers and even site mangers, sub-contractors and suppliers can change product specifications without having to notify building control. In this regard the Scottish warrant system seems superior to ours in committing the accountable or ‘relevant’ person to delivering what has been agreed.'
Paul Everall, CEO of LABC