Paul Wilkins, chief executive of Butler and Young Group, turns the spotlight onto the value of building control and the importance of early involvement.
The perception of the building control process has evolved over the last 20 years or so, from being seen as a confrontational barrier to development to a valued contributor to the design and construction process. There is no doubt that this was driven by the introduction of the wider private sector in the mid-1990s and the positive reaction to this, in terms of service delivery improvement by the public sector.
An independent customer research report titles ‘Value of Building Control’, published in January 2012, highlighted that while some 40% of respondents regarded the building control processes as challenging, 93% believed that an independent third-party check of compliance was of value of the industry.
Satisfaction with the building control service was high, with average scores of eight out of 10, which is high compared to other parts of construction industry. Only 6% could be described as being dissatisfied, with the main areas of dissatisfaction being response times and technical consistency between building control bodies and individual surveyors.
This excellent feedback from the industry has been achieved as control professionals have become a effective and collaborative member of the pre-construction and construction teams.
It is my view that in these difficult economic times for the industry, even greater value can be driven from the building control process, thereby making an effective contribution to the construction capital and whole life cost reduction targets set out in the Government Construction Strategy and the recently published industrial strategy Construction 2025.
Proactive and positive intervention by building control professionals at the earliest control professionals at the earliest possible opportunity in the design process can identify compliance risk issues and identify alternative cost-effective methods of compliance. Part B and Part L tend to provide the greatest opportunity in this regard – Part B by considering alternatives to code compliant solutions, and Part L by taking a holistic approach to carbon and energy targets. In some instances, these interventions can even positively impact the viability of a development by maximising lettable floor areas or reducing capital and whole life costs.
The essential driver for this added value is to engage the involvement of the building control professional at the earliest possible stage. The appointment of a building control body is often seen as something that needs to be addressed when outline design has been completed and planning approval has been achieved. The reality is intervention at the outline planning or even the feasibility stage can have the most impact in driving value from the building control process.
To summarise, a high-quality proactive building control service appointed at the earliest opportunity can have a significant impact on reducing compliance risk and reducing capital and whole life costs. The absolute key is early involvement.
Butler and Young Group