RICS calls for urgent review into building-control capacity

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called for an urgent review into how many surveyors will be registered building inspectors by April – amid growing fears that new building-control regulations will strangle capacity in the sector.

The head of Local Authority Building Control last week called for a six-month delay to the new building-control register, warning that “a significant number of authorities” in England and Wales will be unable to perform building-control functions after 6 April.

Now the institution representing building surveyors has said that the private sector may also see a drop in the number of building-control professionals, while the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) also warned: “A substantial number of people requiring registration will not achieve this by the first week in April.”

Under the Building Safety Act 2022, all building-control professionals must have passed an independent competence assessment and be registered with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) by 6 April.

Private sector building-control firms not registered with the BSR as a Registered Building Control Approver (RBCA) by 6 April will not be able to take on new building-control work.

According to the BSR, 1,547 building-control professionals had started the registration process by the end of January. Last year the regulator said around 4,500 professionals would need to be assessed by April.

In a statement, RICS said: “Current feedback indicates that there are a significant number of authorities and private providers in England and Wales that will be in this position.

“This will impact on a local authority, as being without registered building inspectors will obviously have a wide-ranging effect on the construction industry, consumers, regulatory enforcement and compliance – at a time when the government is pressing the need for greater building safety and more new home starts, which will be frustrated by this crisis.”

It added that the impending registration deadline was causing a “critical level of stress” in the building-control profession, with some individuals experiencing extreme stress, depression and anxiety.

“As such, we request an urgent review of the position of all local authorities and private providers in England and Wales, to determine their position with regards to the number of surveyors likely to be certified and registered prior to the deadline.”

Meanwhile CABE, one of the three approved building-inspector assessment bodies, has warned its members that “a substantial number of people requiring registration will not achieve this by the first week in April”.

On 9 February CABE encouraged members who had not yet started the registration process to register as Class 1 – which does not require a competency assessment – before the April deadline. Class 1 building inspectors, a category intended for trainees, are only allowed to work under supervision.

The Health and Safety Executive has not commented on whether it intends to extend the registration deadline.

A spokesperson said: “We recognise concerns made across the building-control profession and the challenges faced.

“Plans for the building-control profession to be regulated were introduced in the Building Safety Act 2022.

“We have been working closely with representative bodies from the profession over a considerable period of time to prepare for implementation of the new requirements.

“In addition, we wrote to local authorities, and the wider building-control profession, to inform them of the registration requirements in advance of the process opening.

“We have seen a positive response to the changes among the profession and it is encouraging to see a large number of people already engaging with the process.

“We encourage all those who have not yet started their assessment to act now and start the process of becoming a Registered Building Inspector.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) spokesperson said: “It is crucial that the construction sector continues to undertake the validation and registration processes in order to meet the competence requirements set by the Building Safety Regulator.

“We understand that transitioning into a new oversight regime for building-control inspectors requires a managed transition, and the regulator is closely engaging the sector to agree a way forward.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We share the concerns raised by Local Authority Building Control and the wider construction profession in relation to registration.

“We are monitoring the situation closely to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime.”

Dave Allen, a building-control director at Cook Brown, which employs around 55 building-control surveyors, said that his firm started to ask its employees to prepare for competency assessments 18 months ago.

The firm offered employees two or three days’ leave to prepare for assessment and paid the assessor fees – with the result that 90 per cent have now submitted portfolios and had interview dates in place.

“My take is that the private sector has seen this coming for a long time,” he said. “The private sector can be more agile – able to move quickly and put in training for all these incoming changes.”

He added that it was unlikely the government would be able to postpone the 6 April deadline, since it was enshrined into law through the Building Safety Act 2022.

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