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CROSS Safety Report

Concern about faulty self-certification of new installation

Report ID: 263 Published: 1 April 2012 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter’s client had work done in a domestic property by a specialist contractor who was registered under a self-certification Competent Person’s Scheme (CPS) but the work was faulty.

Key Learning Outcomes

For homeowners:

  • Be aware that Competent Person’s Scheme (CPSs) have no direct, or financial, responsibility under their terms of reference to carry out remedial work. The responsibility is with the installer.

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A reporter’s client had work done in a domestic property by a specialist contractor who was registered under a self-certification Competent Person’s Scheme (CPS) but the work was faulty. The scheme was intended to ensure that installations complied with building regulations. The regulatory body for the scheme was unwilling to arrange remedial works and it took more than a year (and two re-installations) before an adequate job was done.

The underlying reason was that the self-certification body stated that it had no power to have another firm replace defective work - it could only use its influence to ask for re-installation of work which had been done and, in this case, that was wrongly self-certified. After a lengthy period, and on the third attempt, the work was put right. Most householders would not persist so long, says the reporter, nor be capable of paying the substantial professional expenses to achieve any action.

No specification was provided of the work finally completed, nor were there any records of inspections. There was no full and updated certification or documentation about insurance or a guarantee. Although the CPS organisation did employ an independent supervisor, out-of-pocket and professional expenses had to be funded by the householder.

No specification was provided of the work finally completed, nor were there any records of inspections

From this example the reporter is worried about the structural capability of some specialist contractors and the possible consequences of disturbance to the existing fabric of buildings. When the house is sold, a conveyancer for the buyer may not accept the adequacy of multiple re-installation and remedial works.

Expert Panel Comments

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A number of Competent Person’s Schemes (CPS) are run under the auspices of the Department of Communities and Local Government. Membership of a CPS enables companies that install equipment to self-certify compliance under the building regulations. Such CPSs have no direct, or financial, responsibility under their terms of reference to carry out remedial work. The responsibility is with the installer.

A local authority could possibly prosecute for non-complying work carried out outside of the scheme, and building owners can take action in the civil courts, although in either case legal advice would have to be sought. Before CPS schemes were introduced there was a high proportion of non-compliant work for these types of business. One main purpose of the CPS scheme(s) was to reduce non-compliance by having installer registration. It was also to reduce burdens of compliance for minor and repetitive works and to reduce ‘out of control’ work and bring some order to the situation. This has been generally successful and the number of problems of non-compliance in this area has gone down very significantly with CLG apparently hearing of very few problems now.

The reporter is concerned about structural stability and whether this may have been compromised during the works. CROSS has had reports of damage and failures resulting from incompetent and inappropriate alterations to buildings, and the reason is frequently that there has been no engineering input. To comply with the building regulations, for example Part A, it is not necessary to use a qualified or chartered professional. There is also concern that a lack of documentation in cases such as this might frustrate future owners.

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