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How to get the best from your Local Authority Building Inspector for your home extension scheme.

Those homeowners who employ an experienced home extension building designer will not be too bothered about ensuring they get a fair and efficient service from their Building Inspector.

However, they do a very important job - far more important in fact and relevant to your building project than what the Planning Department will ever do for your scheme.

There service is at two levels.  Firstly they check the design and construction methods prepared by your home extension building designer for compliance under the Building Regulations (which is a minimum building standard by the way). Secondly they then monitor the Builders work on site to ensure that it is being built in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.

Therefore you as a home owner need to ensure two things:-

1 - That your house extension building designer is, in fact, preparing a full design for the building work and submitting it as a 'Fill Plans' application to the Building Control Dept.  This is where a full design is worked out first and approved by the Building Inspector before the works start on site. 

An alternative approach is called the 'Building Notice' submission method that requires no prior design work at all but the building inspector will approve the works on site as it progresses.  This latter method is NOT suitable for home extension work. It was originally designed for very minor works such as installing a new window or removing a internal partition for example.

As the former full design and application method (Full Plans application) requires a high level of technical skill and building design knowledge by your home extension designer in order to get a Building Regulations Approval, there is a scam being presented by less experienced 'plans drawn' agents that simply submit the schematic planning drawings to the Building Control Dept. under a Building Notice & give the paperwork to the client under the false impression that they have now obtained Building Regulations approval.

These Agents then 'cut and run' with your money and most homeowners do not understand their inadequate position until they get feedback from tendering builders complaining that they do not have enough information to price the proposed building works.

2 - That your home extension builder is calling in the Building Inspector at the required stages of construction to inspect and approve the works.  Should your builder not do this or cover up the works prior to inspection then you run the risk of not having your home extension signed off as completed by the Council at the end which will blight your property when you come to sell it later on.  Worse still could be that your home insurance is now invalid as you are living within an unapproved or illegal construction.

It is very easy to keep a check that the Building Inspector is visiting the works and is happy with what he sees simply by calling their offices and speaking with the site visiting Building Inspector direct.  You will soon get any feedback if things are not quite right.  If you have any doubts call him in yourself & meet with him ion site yourself.

ALTERNATIVE APPROVED INSPECTORS.

Most homeowners have a choice of Building Inspector that they can use (unlike the planners) and the alternative are what is called 'approved inspectors'.  These are experienced Building Inspectors in Private Practice and have to carry their own PI insurance.

Sometimes your home extension building designer will use their own favoured approved inspector or even have a 'partnering set up' with a dedicated Council from outside your local area to approve the building design.

Both the above alternative Building Control methods are useful but my own preference is to utilise each local councils Building Control Department purely for the extensive local knowledge they usually have of drainage & ground conditions that can be invaluable in preventing on site shocks & delays when the first trench has been dug.

Gone are the days of belligerent Building Inspectors and arsey attitudes due to external competition and having to run a self fended Department.  Most Building Design Agents and home owners are now seen as important customers and they tend to work in a pro-active and helpful manner with you rather than simply spouting chapter and verse of the Regulations you are breaching with no clue as to overcome the issue - I think they are great!


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