CROSS Safety Report
Has the role of building control changed?
A reporter raises a query about the role of Building Control.
Key Learning Outcomes
For all built environment professionals:
Be aware that the responsibility for the adequacy of submissions of calculations to building control lies with the originating designer
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The Full Report below has been submitted to CROSS and describes the reporter’s experience. The text has been edited for clarity and to ensure anonymity and confidentiality by removing any identifiable details. If you would like to know more about our secure reporting process or submit a report yourself, please visit the reporting to CROSS-UK page.
A Building Control provider asked a reporter if the organisation they worked for had a procedure where their structural designs are checked by someone outside of those who conducted the design. They informed the reporter that if this was the case, then they would not need to check the designs themselves.
The reporter has since become aware that numerous Building Control providers have been asking professional institutions, with structural engineers as members, if there are procedures to which their members comply in terms of carrying out checks and verification of structural designs. The reason for the question being that they often send structural design information they receive as Building Control providers to their checking engineers, and want to know if they can omit this check because it has been carried out by the structural designer's organisation.
The reporter has only worked in the industry for the best part of a decade but has been told by more experienced engineers that before this time, Building Control provided rigorous design checks and were highly skilled. So the question is, what is the role of Building Control with regards to checking structural designs? Has the role changed over time? Or did Building Control providers go above and beyond their duties in the past? Or, rather worryingly, are some modern-day Building Control providers not following their duties properly?
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Expert Panel Comments
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It was traditional for Building Control to review calculations but with reductions in local authority funding, this became less viable.
In some cases, submissions were contracted out to consulting firms and in other cases, the level of checking would be reduced. In all cases however the responsibility for the design is that of the designer whatever the comments, or lack of comments, there has been from Building Control.