Fears over building-control firms’ registration deadline

Construction work on some high-rise residential schemes could grind to a halt because last week’s extension to the building-control registration deadline does not apply to private company certification, Construction News has discovered.

Despite the deadline extension for individual inspectors to register with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), the original 6 April cutoff date remains in place for private sector building-control companies.

Responsibility for Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs) approved by companies that are not certified as Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCAs) will transfer to the BSR on 6 April, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed to Construction News.

An under-construction project in this scenario will have to be paused while the company submits a gateway-two application containing thorough information about how a design complies with building regulations and how the construction will minimise risks.

The application could then take up to three months to be approved or rejected by the BSR.

If the BSR rejects the gateway-two application, the project could face further delays for design changes and will have to submit another gateway-two application.

The Building Safety Act 2022 defines HRBs as buildings with two or more residential units that are at least 18 metres or seven storeys tall.

From 6 April, the BSR’s RBCA register will replace the Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR).

The HSE also confirmed that companies that have not registered as RBCAs will no longer be able to take on any new projects after 6 April. Unregistered companies will have six months to continue on non-HRB projects, but must have issued final certificates or transferred projects to local authorities or RBCAs by the end of the period.

Firms applying for inclusion on the register will have to pay an initial charge of £4,500, £124 per hour for BSR staff to review the application, and an annual fee of £3,439 to stay registered.

Michael O’Connor, partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, said: “For RBCAs competency assessments are not needed, but certain information is required at the time of the application and the applicant may be invited to attend an interview.

“It is therefore unsurprising that the HSE has chosen not to make any adjustment to the registration deadlines for RBCAs – steadfastly sticking to the 6 April 2024 registration deadline.

“It remains to be seen how much of an impact on the construction projects pipeline we will see.”

Speaking about last week’s extension of the deadline for individual building inspectors to prove their competence, Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, external affairs and research at the Chartered Institute of Building, said: “Extending the deadline for registration was a sensible decision but it’s now imperative the new deadline is fixed and met.

“Ultimately the new legislation exists to ensure building control inspectors are competent and to protect public safety and it’s now on all the involved parties to ensure the right people are registered in time and the workload of those who are registered is prioritised correctly to cause as little disruption to projects as possible.

“It’s also important that continued focus is placed on creating a talent pipeline in building control so it’s viewed as a viable career, to address capacity issues in the future.”

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