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Jack Cameron11.6.2024 4 min read

Private Building Control or Local Authority Building Control?

In the United Kingdom, building regulations are the crucial documents that ensure your project meets safety, health, and environmental standards. To ensure your self-build project meets their standards, you’ll need a building inspector.

These inspectors can come from two sources – your Local Authority Building Control (LABC) or an approved private company. Although serving the same purpose, many self-builders get stuck on which one to go for.

That’s why we've put together this article to explore the differences between private building control and local authority building control, highlighting their processes and finding out if one is better than the other.

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THE ROLE OF A BUILDING INSPECTOR IN YOUR PROJECT

No matter the size, scope or location of your project, you’re going to need a building inspector. Registered building inspectors carry out regulated building control activities, including assessing your plans, analysing the safety of your site and offering guidance on how to meet the building regulations. Building inspectors complete their work at key stages of a project, from the excavation to the completed building.

Both private inspectors and local authority inspectors must adhere to the same set of practices and standards. This means both options deliver the same rigour and precision.

All building inspectors must sign off on your technical drawings and visit the site of your project to review the building work. Your building inspector should also be advising your builder to ensure their work is progressing smoothly and in line with the regulations. Their presence reduces the risk of the requirement of expensive remedial work.

DIFFERENCES IN THE PROCESS

Once your building inspector has reviewed your project, they are authorised by the council to sign off your building regulations and issue you a certificate of completion. The application process is where the two options differ the most.

If you opt for the route of private building control, they must give an ‘initial notice’ to the local council, letting them know their intentions to inspect your project as a private company.

The private building inspector will issue your completion certificate, which verifies to your local authority that your project has been completed in line with the current building regulations.

If you choose your local authority building control, you will apply for approval from the council through the government planning portal. Your architect can do this on your behalf with your permission. The local authority will then issue a completion certificate.

Your building inspectors will visit your site at the key stages of construction to offer your builder guidance and check their work complies with the regulations. The number of visits is dependent on the specific requirements of your project, but there should be multiple visits to carry out a full plan check effectively. These requirements could include your plumbing work, electrical work and ventilation system.

As a self-builder, it’s your responsibility to notify your building inspector when work has commenced on site and when you have reached key build stages.

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BUILDING INSPECTOR FEES

In most instances, the fees for local building control and a private company won’t be much different. These fees will vary depending on the scale and complexity of your project.

The local authority publishes their fees on the council’s website whereas a private inspector will quote on a job-by-job basis.

To give you an idea of potential fees, a full inspection for a project valued at £300,000 would cost £2,348 with no discounts applied from the authority local to our head office in Dunfermline *. The fees will differ depending on your location. 

* Figures fact-checked and deemed correct at the time of publishing

ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE BUILDING CONTROL

Depending on your requirements, you may find some advantages in choosing one inspector over the other. For example, selecting a private inspector who has experience in projects similar to yours could be beneficial for a smooth sailing process.

Additionally, with a private inspector, you may find they are more flexible with office hours and site visits, although this is not a guarantee. Some self-builders have found the process to be quicker with a private inspector due to them being more responsive.

ADVANTAGES OF LOCAL BUILDING CONTROL

Both inspectors adhere to the same regulations, but only the local authority has the power to approve your project. If for any reason your private inspector could no longer carry out their role, the project would be handed over to the local authority. You can read more about changing from a private inspector to your local authority here.

Some self-builders have found that their local authority carries out more inspections, providing an added layer of reassurance.

SO, WHICH ONE IS BEST?

Conclusively, your local building control and a private inspector will adhere to the same rigorous standards set out in the building regulations. Despite the slight differences in the process, they both result in the same outcome.  

There may be some minor advantages to each method, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.  

Looking for advice specific to your project? Sign up for a remote consultation with one of our self-build architects!

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