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Call for consistency in building control decisions

Call for consistency in building control decisions

Web Dynamics is responding to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on improving the efficiency of the building control system by calling for Building Control Officers (BCOs) to be more consistent in their decision making.

Multi-foil insulation manufacturers Web Dynamics believes BCOs need to address their inconsistencies in how regulations are applied between different authorities and different officers and believes greater guidance should be taken from the LABC’s own Registered Details system.

John Payne, Web Dynamics’ technical manager said: “As a developer and manufacturer of multi-foil insulation, we have firsthand experience of the excellent, but on occasions frustrating work, done by individual officers and Building Control Bodies.

“Building Control Officers play a key role in ensuring that regulations are complied with and that energy efficiency improvements, to meet future carbon emission targets, genuinely occur. As such they need to be well informed and knowledgeable about a wide range of technologies.

“However inconsistency in decision making is difficult to understand. We will find a particular product may be accepted in one area but not in another and that the amount of insulation required to achieve a target U-value can vary considerably. Building Control Officers are applying their own professional judgement to make decisions and coming to different conclusions,” continued Mr Payne.

While it’s unreasonable to expect individual officers to have in-depth knowledge of all the technologies and materials used in modern construction, Web Dynamics also believes third party certification of products, which is supposed to clarify matters, is leading to further confusion due to their variety and the types of certification they provide for multi-foil insulation.

LABC technical committees have played a useful role in examining the problem and issuing technical guidelines, but as these are only advisory notes, many BCOs will go against the advice of expert technical groups within their own organisation.

“We welcome the role of the LABC’s Registered Details in clarifying complex technical issues and giving Building Control Officers clearer guidance. Here the test method employed, results obtained, performance of the product, claims and installation instructions are all checked in detail by a local authority,” said Mr Payne.

“With Registered Details, the Building Control Officer knows that the checking body has had the time to consult with the manufacturer, and other external bodies to arrive at a reasoned conclusion. The information also goes through a peer review system to ensure it is technically sound.”

Web Dynamics believes that the current consultation should focus more on standardising the approach to Building Control decisions thereby making the process easier for BCOs and more efficient for their customers.

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