Well that’s an exciting blog title if I ever read one! I should imagine that visitors to my blog will triple over night!
I’ve just signed Lacey Architectural Services up to the LABC Partner Authority Scheme, which I hope will make the whole building control experience much easier for me and my clients.
If you’re still reading, you might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about, well here goes….
Traditionally, almost all building work in the UK has to meet building regulations. Normally, when you start a building project, a building control officer employed by the local authority will inspect the plans and subsequently the work to ensure that it all complies.
Now, broadly speaking, the building regulations are good. It’s good that we live in a country where minimum standards of construction are met. We can walk into any modern building and know that it has been constructed to a decent standard, I don’t imagine many people would disagree with that, however, during my years in construction the problem I have found isn’t so much with the regs themselves, but with the way the building regs are administered.
While broadly the regulations are supposed to be objective, there is room for negotiation, and the BCOs are at liberty to be more relaxed about certain items if the need arises, and sadly, therein lies the problem. What I have found as I’ve worked with different Local Authorities in different places across the country is (and this is merely an observation NOT a criticism) that different BCOs have different expectations, and put different emphasis on different sections of the regulations. This can lead to frustration, because unless you’ve worked with a particular BCO previously you don’t know until fairly late on what his/her expectations will be, which in turn can lead to difficulty later down the line. For instance, one BCO in one county might be quite happy for you to detail a particular element in a way that the BCO in the next county deems unacceptable This has happened to me several times and is wildly frustrating (not to mention potentially costly) for everyone involved. Again, this isn’t a criticism, it’s just how life is, we’re subjective beings, we view things differently, and we put prioritise things in different ways. If I was a BCO, I would be exactly the same, if not worse than some (of what I have deemed to be) the most awkward BCOs I’ve ever encountered!
This is where LABC comes in. Basically the idea is that instead of dealing with lots of different authorities, you just deal with one, normally of your own choosing, which gives you the opportunity to build relationship and trust and should lead to a much improved experience for all involved.
Historically, the construction industry has always been a very adversarial industry, with the different parties almost pitted against each other. In my view, anything like this that won’t cost the client more money, but harbours and encourages relational working can only be a good thing. I guess I’ll find out over the next few months…..