Building Regs - Why Bother?

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by Legolas-woodelf, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. I'm doubtless showing my ignorance here, but I'm just curious as to what would happen if I simply didn't pay the (extortionate) building regs fee that the local council have invoiced me for.

    We're currently having our loft converted and have been sent a bill for £490 by building regs. But I know a few people who have never had their building works signed off, either because the officer wasn't happy with something trivial such as a window being fitted 4 inches too high, or else because the job is kind of still on-going four years later.

    But no-one seems too concerned that their works haven't been signed off and I've heard it said that after a couple of years it's meaningless anyway (in terms of reassuring potential buyers) because anyone could have done anything to the property in the meantime.

    Which therefore begs the question, if I'm planning to keep living in the place for at least 5 years, why bother paying the fee? What would happen if I didn't? Would I go to prison or would I just not get a piece of paper which will soon be worthless anyway?

    As ever, any thoughts or advice gratefully received.
  2. supachip

    supachip New Member

    Once you begin works under building regs . There is no time limit on a completion of works . If it takes 10 years so what . you might be only working on it at weekends or when you have the cash . They invoice you after the 1st visit because there is no set time limit. You only need it signed of if you wish to sell. This WILL put a hold on any sale. We put a massive extension on a house in 1994 he sold house in 2007 but building inspector had to be called in to sign off property to let sale go through. Loft conversion im on at the mo has an inspection fee of £ 875 and that probably 4/5 visits.
  3. trench

    trench New Member

    no completion cert could also cause probs if you are remortgaging or also with your house insurance
  4. Padai

    Padai New Member

    Failure to comply with the building regs - up to £5000 per contravention, plus £50 per day for every day that passes until you put it right

    Failure to submit an application - 1 contravention.
    Failure to notify appropriate stages - at least 1 contravention.
    Failure to meet appropriate standards?
    etc. etc.

    Not having a completion certificate is one thing, it may stop any future sale (and not just for 5 years incidentally) but at least the works will be legal in that you did at least submit an application.

    Local authorities often reluctant to take action where they think they may lose (where the issues are open to judgement for example), but in a clear cut case like this the prosecution would be an easy win for them. Assume that they will follow it up - sure they would love your name splashed across the local rag as an example to others.
  5. building control

    building control New Member

    I signed off an extension from 1988 last week,

    often do em 5-10 years old but 20?

    if you dont have a completion on a job, I have heard of insurance companies asking questions in the event of a claim.
  6. Thanks for the thoughts chaps.

    All things considered I've decided to put the cheque in the post. But with only two cursory visits planned, I still don't feel I'm getting £490 worth of service! Initially they sent me a sheet of paper which explains all of the things they check for - none of which are applicable to my job.

    I've coughed up, but I still don't really know why and I'm still not convinced that in the long run it would make a scrap of difference to anything.

    Yours disgruntled,
    (but grateful to the Screwfixers for their thoughts).
    Thanks again.
  7. building control

    building control New Member

    So ask for an inspection as you start to discuss the job, another when the floor goes in, and again pre plaster.

    you can ask for more than the two you know.
  8. slapiton

    slapiton New Member

    or as gerry adams would say "we havn,t gone away you know
  9. Padai

    Padai New Member

    I agree with BuildingControl - you're paying for a service, so you can ask for as many visits as you like. Use the advice and get yer money's worth. Building regs fees aren't just a tax on builders - you do get something in return, but you may well have to ask for it.
  10. building control

    building control New Member

    Actually it was Hesletine who decided you should pay directly, rather than the costs coming out of the rates as before,

    in about 1985 iirc.

    any money raised is taken off the councils rate support grant.

  11. No incentive to charge as much as possible there then!!!

    The guy has actually been out twice already, once for the initial look and then because there was a small issue with floor joists that the builder needed to check with him.

    My main gripe is that the cost is calculated as a percentage of what they think the job will cost me to have done and not on the basis of how much actual work the building regs people will have to do. If he only has to make one more visit, and assuming each previous visit has taken about an hour, that works out to an hourly rate of about £163 per hour.

    I don't reckon someone who's salary I already pay through income and council tax can possibly justify theft on that scale.
  12. Padai

    Padai New Member

    You'll find that other than the small one-man-bands, most consultants in the construction industry charge fees linked to the cost of works - bona fide RIBA architects in my part of the world are generally charging around 10-12% of the build cost. It can lead to anomolies, but there is a genuine link between cost of work and design input.

    Incidentally, building control departments are self-funding via their fees so your taxes have not paid one penny of the guys salary. If anything, any profits they make probably go back into the council coffers thereby helping to keep your council tax down.
  13. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Padai - Building Control don't provide any useful service that a semi-competent builder or even a keen DIYer requires. The charge is compulsory (more or less) but completely unnecessary and just another stealth tax/job creation scheme - and yes probably yet another example of a cost that was once covered by 'rates' but now charged separately - so we pay twice.

    Dear God, with mugs like you around no wonder the government is able to shaft us from every conceivable angle.
  14. building control

    building control New Member

    Possibly true,

    but you will find the competant builder is left to continue with the job, as the numpty builders and DIY bod takes up so much time.

    I suggested a discount scheme for the good builders, say half price?but it was unworkable.

    the dog rough ones should pay double.

    anyway the competant builders get the benifit of the doubt when we measure the size of an extension etc, ie a 36m2 ext becomes under 30m2, and lower estimates are accepted.
  15. building control

    building control New Member

    Oh yes the DIY man this week who cut his flat roof joists instead of using firrings,

    from 6x2 to 2x2 at the other end.

    he gets full value for
  16. limestone cowboy

    limestone cowboy New Member

    I'm sorry to buck the trend here, but in my experience building control charges are reasonable for the advice available when compared to other professional fees such as architects. A building inspector recently saved me thousands of pounds by suggesting using two massive soakaways instead of 300m of trenches to dispose of the treated water from a sewage treatment plant.

  17. All well and good, but it's the homeowner who pays, not the builder.

    Our council sent me a letter telling me how much they would invoice me for before I'd even found a builder. And they also argued with my architect's estimate of what the job would cost insisting it would cost more than he said it would (thereby meaning they could charge me more for their minimal contribution).

    Don't get me wrong, I think there is some merit in an independent body holding builders to account, I just don't think they should take the p**s! And I reckon £163 per hour qualifies as taking the p**s big time.
  18. Padai

    Padai New Member

    I know it's easy to get hung up on £163/hour as maybe that's what you will end up paying, but if your job turned out to be one of those that goes pear shaped, or you decide to take 3 years to finish the job then three visits from your BCO could easily become 6 or more, and suddenly they start to look cheap. I know from my own work that for every job that nets you a nice fat profit there will be at least one that doesn't. In many cases I bet your BCO does so many site visits he probably ends up working for peanuts when you break it down to an hourly rate. No comfort to you to know that your fee is part subsidising some other clueless idiot, but the profit/loss of any business would show similar patterns. Some jobs make, some jobs lose.

    I've worked with building control in many parts of the country, including on two (regrettable) occasions with an approved inspector. I've come across good and bad (as you do in any profession) and I suppose if I'd been unlucky enough to experience only the bad I might have the same view as some of the posters here. The good ones have been worth their weight in gold though - they engage with the project and become another pair of eyes and ears for me on site working as part of the team. Having that input from them on building regs issues allows me to concentrate more on the million other things I have to think about. Money well spent in my book.
  19. building control

    building control New Member

    At least someone loves me
  20. Padai

    Padai New Member

    Depends if you're one of the good or the bad ones!

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