Building control registration deadline nears

What matters

What matters next

The deadline of the of 6 April is fast approaching for private sector businesses carrying out building control work in England and Wales to register with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) as registered building control approvers (RBCAs).

The move from Approved Inspectors to RBCAs is one of the changes the Building Safety Act 2022 seeks to make to raise competence levels in building control and increase accountability.

RBCAs will be overseen by the BSR and, in addition, individuals will need to register as registered building inspectors (RBIs) to carry out regulated building control activities.

Certain functions will only be exercisable through an RBI acting on behalf of a building control authority (the BSR or local authority) or a RBCA. Before exercising specified functions in relation to a building project, for example, approval or rejection of applications for building control approval or submitting an initial notice, a building control authority or RBCA must obtain and consider the advice of an RBI of the correct class.

RBIs will be required to carry out regulated activities, for example, building control inspections and assessing plans. RBIs must complete an independent assessment to register as a class 2,3 or 4 RBI.

Higher-risk buildings

The 6 April 2024 deadline is of particular significance for higher-risk building projects involving an Approved Inspector.

For higher-risk building projects, where an initial notice was issued by an Approved Inspector before 1 October 2023 and work has sufficiently progressed by 6 April 2024, the Approved Inspector will need to register as an RBCA by 6 April 2024 for the higher-risk building project to benefit from transitional arrangements - meaning it can continue under the existing building control regime rather than transferring to the BSR. 

Transitional arrangements for higher-risk buildings overseen by Approved Inspectors

In England, The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023 set out the transitional provisions for the implementation of the new higher-risk building control gateway regime, which are due to end on 6 April 2024.

These deal with a number of different scenarios, including where an Approved Inspector has issued an initial notice. Where an initial notice has been given in relation to a higher-risk building project by an Approved Inspector before 1 October 2023 and work has sufficiently progressed by 6 April 2024, but the Approved Inspector that gave the notice is not a RBCA on 6 April 2024, then the initial notice ceases to be in force on 6 April 2024 - or the part that relates to the higher-risk building work - and the BSR will be the building control authority.

This will impact the progress of the project as no further building work in relation to the work described in the initial notice may be carried out until an application for building control approval has been submitted to the BSR and it has confirmed in writing that the application is valid.

If the application is valid, the building work may continue ‘at risk’. The BSR can require remediation of carried out work as part of assessing the application.

In Wales, from 6 April 2024, The Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional and Saving Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2024 provide that RBCAs will no longer be permitted to perform building control functions relating to higher-risk building work in Wales, subject to some transitional provisions.

Before 6 April 2024, where an Approved Inspector has registered as an RBCA, and submitted, and had accepted, an initial notice relating to higher-risk building work, then provided the building work has commenced before 1 October 2024, and the RBCA continues to be suitably qualified and registered, they can continue to oversee the higher-risk building work for the duration of the project.

Approved Inspectors that do not register as RBCAs before 6 April 2024 can no longer oversee higher-risk building work on or after 6 April 2024. Responsibility for any higher-risk building work they had been overseeing will revert to the local authority on 6 April 2024. Any initial notices submitted by the Approved Inspector in respect to this work will be cancelled.

For current higher-risk building projects where the Approved Inspector is seeking to become an RBCA, there is much uncertainty and potential for increased costs and delay if the Approved Inspector fails to register by 6 April deadline. While applications are in progress, there is uncertainty among some Approved Inspectors as to whether confirmation of registration will be received by 6 April 2024.

Extension to competency assessment period for RBIs in England and Wales

Registration of RBCAs and RBIs must take place before 6 April 2024. However, concern has been raised about whether this deadline needed to be extended and, in particular, whether there was sufficient time for RBIs to complete their competency assessment to register as a class 2, 3 or 4 RBI.

In February, it was reported that the Chief Executive of the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) wrote to the BSR, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Welsh government, warning that a number of local authorities may not be able to provide building control services unless the deadline to prove competence is extended.

The RICS has also expressed concern that “a vast number of experts will not register in time”. RICS stated that: “Without appropriate registered professionals, local authorities and Registered Building Control Approver’s will cease to be able to undertake a building control function post 6th April 2024.”

The Welsh Government listened to these concerns and has given RBIs until 30 September 2024 to complete their verification of competence.

In Wales, the Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No 4, Transitional and Saving Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2024 provide that where an RBI is registered as a Class 1 inspector before 6 April 2024, they will be able to carry out restricted functions and activities between 6 April 2024 and 1 October 2024. However, they must be undergoing or have completed, competence assessment at the required level at which they intend to work.

Where a competence assessment is unsuccessful, the RBI would be restricted to work at the level they are registered at. This is explained in a circular issued by the Welsh Government as “allowing building inspectors more time to complete their verification of competence at the level appropriate to the work that they intend to carry out”.

In England, it was announced on 14 March 2024 that the competency assessment period for experienced registered building inspectors has been extended until 6 July 2024.

If eligible, the scope of registration will be temporarily extended to the class of RBI for which an individual is undertaking a competency assessment. RBIs will need to be registered by 6 April 2024, but where a competency assessment to register as a class 2 or 3 RBI (and 4, if applicable) has not been completed, an RBI can continue to work provided they are:

  • an existing building control professional
  • registered as a class 1 RBI by 6 April 2024
  • enrolled in, and in the process of having their competency assessed through, one of the BSR approved competency assessment schemes by 6 April 2024
  • a scheme provider has not told them that they have not passed the competency assessment for a second time

Deadline for registration remains 6 April 2024

The requirement for RBCAs and RBIs to be registered by 6 April 2024 remains.

For those involved in higher-risk building projects in England, confirmation should be sought from the Approved Inspector that it is in the process of registering with the BSR and that this registration will be completed by 6 April 2024, otherwise the higher-risk building project may be subject to delays and increased costs.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.

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