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Building control ‘on cusp of disaster’ as more firms suspend work

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Building inspectors have warned that the government is on the ‘cusp of disaster’ as the post-Grenfell insurance crisis forces more inspection firms to suspend operations

The Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI), which represents the majority of the UK’s private building inspectors, said the industry is facing job losses and major project delays. 

Private building inspectors must hold professional indemnity and public liability insurance to trade in the UK. 

However, following the Grenfell Tower fire, insurers are reining in cover, so private inspectors are unable to renew and are forced to pause operations.

According to the association, three inspection firms, together responsible for more than 5 per cent of live UK construction projects, have stopped trading. At least one, Darlington-based Aedis, has gone into liquidation.

By the end of October a total of 15 will have been forced to stop work, representing more than 15 per cent of all live projects, according to the ACAI.

The terms for the insurance are set by the government and the ACAI has called on newly-appointed housing secretary Robert Jenrick to review them urgently .

ACAI chief Paul Timmins said: ’The government is on the cusp of a disaster of its own making if it does not act now on Approved Inspectors’ insurance.

’If private building inspectors are forced to cease trading en masse there will be significant job losses in the sector and major projects delays, which will hit the construction industry hard, as well as the government’s own housing ambitions.

’It simply is not enough to hope that overstretched local authorities will be able to pick up the pieces.’

’We have been engaged in a constructive dialogue with the government in recent months, but the time for talk is over. The government must take responsibility for action now or wake up in several weeks’ time to a crisis it could have prevented.’

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said:While this is primarily a matter for the insurers and their representative bodies, we are working with them to understand whether we are able to provide any further help.’


Readers' comments (5)

  • Various building failure scandals around the country in recent years - and ongoing - suggest that there might be more than the Grenfell Tower disaster on the minds of the insurers.

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  • Building Regulations are established by Government who is the ultimate guarantor of regulatory standards and their application - in this event they could of course step in as the insurance guarantors of last resort – rather than seeing the system crash.
    Hang on – didn't we have that previously?

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  • I know LA Building Regulations can be both slow and a pain in the ****, but those choosing Building Control from the cheapest source, and from newly set up outfits with inadequate knowledge or who are willing to over-bend rules, must be clear what they pay for, and acknowledge the risk of being left with an un certified building.

    I don't see why I, or my clients, should pay to get cheapskates out of a problem of their own choosing.

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  • I'd take issue with David's comment above; I've used a private inspector for years (he's ex-LABC) because he's thorough, helpful and keeps/provides good records - there's been no cost saving, he's just provided a better service. His employer has now gone bust, costing a number of clients in the process. This may be a result of private sector risk, but this doesn't always come down to cheapskatedness...

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  • Recently I was asked to review a near complete project reverted to the Council following the demise of an Approved Inspector on lack of insurance grounds.

    In this instance, the home owners put their faith in a contractor to design and build. The Approved Inspector passed the plans though a plans Certificate was not issued.

    On review, It quickly became apparent the works did not follow guidance documents.

    Not only has the Home Owner had to pay a reversion fee to the council to take over the work (which exceeded that paid to the Approved Inspector), they also have to pay £1000’s of pounds on additional work since the Council refuse point blank to accept the layout as built.

    The builder is claiming the Approved Inspector passed the plans so are not blame.

    The home owners need now consider making a claim to the Approved Inspectors insurers for negligence. The council have provided a written report to aid the claim in this regard.

    I am also led to believe Councils are collating ‘non compliant reversions’ and will be presenting them to the Government to shine a light on practices across the whole of the Approved Inspector Sector.

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