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The Effect of Building Control Completion Certificates

Synopsis

A building was being converted into a bar, restaurant, conference facilities and hotel apartments.  Before the works were completed, completion certificates under the building regulations and practical completion certificates were issued for parts of the works.  Based on the certificates issued, investors released funds without inspecting the works.  ArchiFACT was asked to assess whether the Building Control Completion Certificates were issued recklessly.

Practical Completion Certificates

An expert’s report had been commissioned by the ARB into the architect’s actions in certifying practical completion for parts of the works.  This showed, inter alia, the parts certified were not capable of beneficial occupation. 

Certification of Completion under the Building Regulations

The regulation covering the certification of completion changed by the insertion of regulation 17A into the regulations on 9.1.2013 under The Building Regulations &c. (Amendment) Regulations 2012. This provides that; “An amendment made by a relevant regulation does not apply in any case where at the time the amendment takes effect, building work has been started in accordance with any relevant notification provision applicable in relation to the work.  An amendment made by a relevant regulation does not apply in any case where— (a) at the time the amendment takes effect a relevant notification provision has been complied with in relation to proposed building work; and (b) the building work is started within the period of twelve months beginning on the day the relevant regulation takes effect.” [1]

Consequently, Regulation 17, as published prior to 9.1.2013 was that under which completion was certified.  This states; “A local authority shall give a completion certificate in accordance with this regulation and as provided for in paragraph (2) where—(a)they receive a notice under regulation 16(4) or (5) that building work has been completed, or, that a building has been partly occupied before completion; and (b)they have either— (i) been notified, in accordance with regulation 14(4), that the building is a building to which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies, or will apply after the completion of the work; or (ii) been requested, in accordance with regulation 14(5), to give a completion certificate.” [2]

The certificates may be for any building work or occupied part of a building and are to certify compliance with the relevant requirements;  “Where in relation to any building work or, as the case may be, to any part of a building which has been occupied before completion, a local authority have been able to ascertain, after taking all reasonable steps, that the relevant requirements specified in the certificate have been satisfied, they shall give a certificate to that effect.” [3]

Relevant requirement is defined as follows; “In this regulation “relevant requirements” mean— (a)in a case mentioned in paragraph (1)(b)(i), the applicable requirements of regulation 38 and Part B of Schedule 1 (fire safety); and (b)in a case mentioned in paragraph (1)(b)(ii), any applicable requirements of regulations 26 (target CO2 emission rates for new buildings), 29 (energy performance certificates), 36 (water efficiency of new dwellings) and Schedule 1.” [4]

The conclusiveness of the certificate is qualified as follows; “A certificate given in accordance with this regulation shall be evidence (but not conclusive evidence) that the requirements specified in the certificate have been complied with.” [5]

Expert Opinion

Building Control Completion Certificates covered specific apartments.  There was a question as to whether or not they should be construed to cover the associated common parts.  The common parts included the means of access to each of the apartments and the fire safety systems for the building.  Without completion of the associated common parts, fire safety of any occupants of the certified apartments would be compromised.  Therefore, if the Building Control Completion Certificates were understood to indicate that the certified apartments were ready to be put into use, they had been issued prematurely.

From a study of all of the evidence, ArchiFACT advised that the works to the apartments, which had been certified as complete under the building regulations, were not complete.   As a consequence, each of the apartments could not be shown to comply with one or more of parts B, C, G, H, K and L to Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations.  The overriding concern was however that none of the certified parts had a safe means of escape due to the incomplete state of, and defects in, the common parts.


Background notes on relevant parts to the Building Regulations

The purposes of the regulations “…include securing the health, safety, welfare and convenience of persons in and about buildings …” [6]

Under the regulations work is to be completed to comply with the applicable requirements of schedule 1; “Subject to paragraph (2) building work shall be carried out so that (a) it complies with the applicable requirements contained in Schedule 1 …  (3) Building work shall be carried out so that, after it has been completed— (a) any building which is extended or to which a material alteration is made  …  complies with the applicable requirements of Schedule 1 …” [7]

Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations

Part B Fire Safety

 “The building shall be designed and constructed so that there are appropriate provisions for the early warning of fire, and appropriate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety outside the building capable of being safely and effectively used at all material times.” [8]

To inhibit the spread of fire within the building, the internal linings shall— (a) adequately resist the spread of flames over their surfaces: and (b) have, if ignited, either a rate of heat release or a rate of fire growth which is reasonable in the circumstances. (2) In this paragraph 'internal linings" means the materials or products used in lining any partition wall, ceiling or other internal structure.” [9]

The building shall be designed and constructed so that, in the event of fire its stability will be maintained for a reasonable period.” [10]

The building shall be designed and constructed so as to provide reasonable facilities to assist fire fighters in the protection of life.” [11]

part C site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

 “The walls, floors and roof of the building shall adequately protect the building and people who use the building from harmful effects caused by—(a) ground moisture: (b) precipitation including wind-driven spray;” [12]

Part G sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency cold water supply

There must be a suitable installation for the provision of — (a) wholesome water to any place where drinking water is drawn off; (b) wholesome water or softened wholesome water to any washbasin or bidet provided in or adjacent to a room containing a sanitary convenience; (c) wholesome water or softened wholesome water to any washbasin, bidet, fixed bath and shower in a bathroom; and (d) wholesome water to any sink provided in any area where food is prepared.” [13]

There must be a suitable installation for the provision of water of suitable quality to any sanitary convenience fitted with a flushing device.” [14]

There must be a suitable installation for the provision of heated wholesome water or heated softened wholesome water to— (a) any washbasin or bidet provided in or adjacent to a room containing a sanitary convenience. (b) any washbasin, bidet, fixed bath and shower in a bathroom; and (c) any sink provided in any area where food is prepared.” [15]

“Adequate and suitable sanitary conveniences must be provided in rooms provided to accommodate them or in bathrooms. Adequate hand washing facilities must be provided in— (a) rooms containing sanitary conveniences; or (b) rooms or spaces adjacent to rooms containing sanitary conveniences. Any room containing a sanitary convenience, a bidet, or any facility for washing hands provided in accordance with sub-paragraph (2)(b), must be separated from any kitchen or any area where food is prepared.” [16]

A suitable sink must be provided in any area where food is prepared.” [17]

Part H drainage and waste disposal

An adequate system of drainage shall be provided to carry foul water from appliances within the building …” [18]

Adequate provision shall be made for rainwater to be carried from the roof of the building.”[19]

Part K protection from falling, collision and impact

Any stairs, ramps, floors and balconies and any roof to which people have access[20]

Part L Conservation of fuel and power

Reasonable provision shall be made for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings by - (a) limiting heat gains and losses - (1) through thermal elements and other parts of the building fabric:” [21]



[1] The Building Regulations &c (Amendment) Regulations 2012,.46 & 47

[2] Regulation 17. (1)

[3] Regulation 17 (2)

[4] Regulation 17 (3)

[5] Regulation 17 (4)

[6] explanatory memorandum, The building regulations 2010, 2010 no. 2214

[7] 4. (1) & (3) Requirements relating to building work

[8] B I. Means of warning and escape

[9] B2. (l) Internal fire spread (linings)

[10] B3. (l) Internal fire spread (structure)

[11] B5. (1) Access and facilities for the fire service

[12] C2. Resistance to moisture

[13] G1. (l)

[14] G1 (2)

[15] G3. (I) Hot water supply and systems

[16] G4. (1), (2) & (3) Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities

[17] G6. Kitchens and food preparation areas

[18] H1. (l) Foul water drainage

[19] H3. (I) Rainwater drainage

[20] K2. (a) Protection from falling

[21] L1