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Newsletter No 7 - July 2007

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Report Overview

This Newsletter is about the quality of submissions for Building Regulations checking and the views of Building Control officers. Key points from two long and detailed reports are: many submissions demonstrate inadequate understanding of basic structural issues poor co-ordination between designers, sub-contractors, and suppliers quality and standards have dropped Local Authority Building Control departments are under increasing there may be conflicts between the role of Approved Inspectors and Local Authorities risk analysis is being used as a way of deciding what should be checked submissions to Local Authority checking must not be a substitute for proper professional design and in house checking. The Building Regulations in England and Wales are the responsibility of Communities and Local Government (CLG) who are currently considering the future of Building Control (The Future of Building Control - Communities and Local Government). Later this year there will be a consultation process and the views of engineers dealing with Building Control matters from all perspectives will be sought. This is an important development upon which safety issues, and the protection of the public, depend. Participation will give valuable feedback and influence change and details of the consultation will be given in a future Newsletter. As usual CROSS will welcome more confidential reports on these and other matters of concern. Reports, which are in normal text below, are as written by reporters but edited to remove identification and sometimes to give clarification. The views of reporters are not changed. Comments in italics after each report are those from a panel of experts appointed by SCOSS (the Standing Committee on Structural Safety).

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

33 Building Regulations checking

A reporter’s firm has been carrying out Building Regulations checks for 25 years, but it is only in the last six or seven years (say 2000-2006) that concerns have arisen, some of which are described below.

52 Loading on balconies

A reporter wrote on behalf of a professional committee to draw attention to a concern about part of a conversion project that had come to their attention.

Effective lengths of load-bearing walls

A reporter is aware of several single and two storey school extensions that have been built and passed by Building Control but which have long load-bearing walls that do not comply with the limitations on effective length.

65 Building Regulations submissions

This report has been written on behalf of a group of senior local government structural engineers. The group has been in existence for many years and meets regularly. It was originally established in order to standardise the approach taken to the checking of structural calculations made as part of building regulation submissions within the region. Members refer to previous CROSS newsletters and in particular the reports relating to the poor quality of building regulation submissions and lack of checking resources.

67 Local authorities and approved inspectors

A reporter is very concerned that the system of Building Control where there is competition between Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors, has produced a situation where the level of independent inspection has fallen dramatically.

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