Building Regulations are of little use if not applied effectively. With this in mind, building control surveyors will, no doubt, look back at the end of each day to assess how effective they have been. Managers also look at results and compare these their targets to assess whether their teams have performed well.
The building control inspection system, which should ensure Regulations are satisfied, is too often unable to do this. There are some obvious reasons :-
- Lack of understanding ? - Regulators and their advisors seem either unaware of, or ignore, the nature of the construction industry. They disregard work and employment practices, the widespread lack of training and expertise, and the culture that often prevails. This has developed a building control system that is simply not fit for purpose: the lack of understanding has produced Regulations that most builders and many designers find incomprehensible and has, in more subtle ways, seriously compromised the system of enforcement.
- Resources - The building control system is not properly resourced to deal with the results caused due to the lack of knowledge and skills of many designers and builders and the Regulations’ requirements.
- The building control system structure - The competition between building control bodies (particularly local authorities and the private sector), encourages the skimming of lucrative work by all parties. It has also resulted in inadequate charges for some work categories. There is at least a suspicion that some building control bodies, both private and public sector, pay too much attention to their clients’ wishes and too little to the public’s health and safety.
- Performance management - Performance standards have been developed which, though well intentioned, have actually reduced rather than increased effectiveness. By concentrating on things of questionable value, the pressures they have created have diverted resources towards often unnecessary cycles of inspections of easy, non-controversial projects just to keep the numbers on target. In the public sector in particular this is having a serious, and often unrecognised, impact.