Meeting the demands of Building Regulations is the law. But it is a law that is still being flouted. While he accepts that employers should be showing leadership to ensure all Building Regulations are met, Clive Dickin, APHCs Chief Executive, believes much of the blame lies at the door of local authorities building control departments. He explains: "This industry, since 1990, has seen ever-increasing legislation in the form of Building Regulations. However, when it comes to compliance, there has been apathy from both the industry and from local authorities building control departments.
Finally, local authorities are now starting to demand compliance and are backing up their demands with prosecutions for those who do not comply. "The problem lies with the inconsistency of approach from different local authorities. Members are still telling me that their local authoritys building control department has told them not to worry about compliance or has given them inaccurate information about what jobs Building Regulations apply to.
In todays highly litigious society, it is not acceptable for plumbing and heating companies to be given inaccurate information that could result in their being prosecuted. Plumbing and heating companies could face the anger of homeowners if their conveyancing solicitor is unable to complete the CON29 form(the form used by solicitors in conveyancing, used to determine the condition of building features) properly.
"While I acknowledge the fact that there is a shortfall in resources for building control departments, I believe new resources are coming in from the Government. We need local authorities building control departments to consistently make it clear that breaking the law will result in prosecutions. We also need certain members of our industry to stop taking the "˜head in the sand approach rather than actively managing the situation.
"Some people have said to me that APHC should be fighting for the removal or reduction of these Regulations. This is simply a non-starter. Apart from the fact that the Government would never take this backward step, it would also mean we were giving in to poor workmanship and lower standards. It would legitimise the unskilled and untrained so-called plumber."
Steve Driscoll is Group Manager Building Control at Southend on Sea Borough Council one of the local authorities leading the way in the consistent and correct enforcement of Building Regulations. He adds: "Recent changes in legislation have been brought about to counter such installation problems by encouraging companies to become approved by a Competent Persons Scheme, thereby eliminating bad practice.
There have been many changes to the Building Regulations over recent years and the sad fact is that many companies are not even aware of them. By joining a CPS, firms are able to better ensure compliance and self-certify their work which also gives a much needed improved service to the consumer.My advice is, join a CPS as soon as possible and avoid such problems."