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CROSS Safety Report

Private Building Control data protection use

Report ID: 825 Published: 6 April 2023 Region: CROSS-UK


Overview

A reporter needed details of a domestic extension from a local authority who said that an application had been made for the original work by a private company, but under the Data Protection Act they could not release any drawings or documentation.

Key Learning Outcomes

For homeowners, asset managers and construction professionals:

  • Be aware that Building Control records are not generally public records and as such are protected by data protection regulations. Local Authorities are only obliged to hold them for 15 years.
  • A well maintained digital safety file should be kept to ensure all the necessary documentation is available at a later stage if needed
  • CDM safety files are legal documents to be prepared, maintained, and passed on to clients. Full details are given in the HSE document: Managing health and safety in construction, Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Full Report

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On a desk study for a project a reporter was investigating an external wall of a domestic extension. The  local authority was contacted and it was discovered that that there had been an application by a private building regulations company for the extension which had been constructed in 2008. The local authority then said that under the Data Protection act they could not release any drawings or documentation.

The reporter said that in this case it did not matter as a simple knock-through was all that was needed to locate and examine the structure. But in moving to a new Building Information Modelling (BIM) world then having old data can prove useful and also save work and time on site. It seems perverse that a private building control company could hide behind the data protection act for a homeowner. What would have happened if the company had folded? Significant data would be lost, we aren't dealing with reams of paperwork or microfilm anymore it is all digital, states the reporter.

Expert Panel Comments

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An Expert Panel comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-AUS Expert Panel page.

Building Control records are not generally public records and as such are protected by data protection regulations. Local Authorities are only obliged to hold them for 15 years. Where an Approved Inspector is involved, the Local Authority will have very little in terms of plans as it has no statutory reason to hold them other than to confirm the scope. Perhaps the reporter should have contacted the Approved Inspector.

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