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  • FIRST POST
    • sam1970
    • By sam1970 15th Jun 17, 8:55 AM
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    sam1970
    Private building inspectors..should I be worried
    • #1
    • 15th Jun 17, 8:55 AM
    Private building inspectors..should I be worried 15th Jun 17 at 8:55 AM
    I am about to start a job of loft conversion in my house and the building firm are very keen on using a private inspector, rather than the council, to certify the work. They claim that it is easier for them to deal with and that there is much less red tape. Should I be worried about any thing? They say that the inspector will notify the council at the end of project that every thing has been done according to building regs.....Any advice please?
    something missing
Page 1
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 15th Jun 17, 9:27 AM
    • 2,266 Posts
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    the_r_sole
    • #2
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:27 AM
    • #2
    • 15th Jun 17, 9:27 AM
    best way to do it usually, as long as you can check out who their proposed company/inspector is.
    Local authorities can sometimes hold up the process as they tend to be under resourced, a lot of the private firms have ex-la inspectors anyway!
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 15th Jun 17, 12:26 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #3
    • 15th Jun 17, 12:26 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Jun 17, 12:26 PM
    I agree.

    We use private building control otherwise we're at the mercy of random LA inspectors and they're not always that friendly! We have someone that knows us, knows our work, is prepared to offer advice and discuss options and future work etc. It feels like we're working together whereas some LA inspectors are, erm, quirky.

    Really, all we want is some consistency and a level of service. It's all registered with the local authority and is in no way inferior.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • brightontraveller
    • By brightontraveller 15th Jun 17, 3:06 PM
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    brightontraveller
    • #4
    • 15th Jun 17, 3:06 PM
    • #4
    • 15th Jun 17, 3:06 PM
    You’d need to research /know inspector for the answer some are fine, some terrible (the same can be said of those employed by local authority) Difference is recourse should something be a miss the former can disappear /hide behind limited company liability, confusion over works etc, The latter (council) it doesn’t matter what there,s doe’s correct/ incorrect etc they will still be there to pursue, If you have doubts then a “council” one is way to go

    I’ll be honest small works as yours a private inspector as this is a money saving forum a private one will certainly cost more so why do you need the extra expense
    (larger works, tight schedules, penalties etc fine but small as yours is it more to cut corners with a tame/stupid inspector....
    • Furts
    • By Furts 15th Jun 17, 8:29 PM
    • 3,249 Posts
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    Furts
    • #5
    • 15th Jun 17, 8:29 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Jun 17, 8:29 PM
    Yes local authorities are undermanned, and yes, they have been depleted of Inspectors where so many have jumped ship to become AI. But neither of these are your problem. You issue is a truly independent Inspector, acting for your interests, and not being paid by your builder. Remember he who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Tell your builder what to do with his suggestion and remind him that Buildings Regulations are your responsibility and not his.

    AI have their place, but this is not in the pay pockets of builders working on domestic extensions and similar works.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 15th Jun 17, 10:24 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #6
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:24 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:24 PM
    Our AI costs are virtually indistinguishable from LA costs. Sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more.

    Someone wanting to dictate which building inspector we use and checking our mortar mixes would not be well received. I think there are far better ways to check someone's trustworthiness without completely mistrusting them. Not an effective means to an end.

    Someone telling me what to do with my 'suggestion' would quickly result in them being told what to do with their project.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 15-06-2017 at 10:26 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 15th Jun 17, 10:35 PM
    • 3,249 Posts
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    Furts
    • #7
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:35 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:35 PM
    Our AI costs are virtually indistinguishable from LA costs. Sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more.

    Someone wanting to dictate which building inspector we use and checking our mortar mixes would not be well received. I think there are far better ways to check someone's trustworthiness without completely mistrusting them. Not an effective means to an end.

    Someone telling me what to do with my 'suggestion' would quickly result in them being told what to do with their project.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    But you and I do not have to work together! An AI is fine for you as a contractor, but not so good from a consumer perspective. Since the forum has many consumers logging on it is only right that a balanced answer should be given!
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 15th Jun 17, 10:46 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #8
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:46 PM
    • #8
    • 15th Jun 17, 10:46 PM
    I must be odd in trusting that all building inspectors are suitably qualified to do their job and care about it!
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 16th Jun 17, 6:03 AM
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    Furts
    • #9
    • 16th Jun 17, 6:03 AM
    • #9
    • 16th Jun 17, 6:03 AM
    I must be odd in trusting that all building inspectors are suitably qualified to do their job and care about it!
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    There is an AI working on your patch that does not know his ar-e from their elbow when it comes to building. There are huge gaps in his knowledge, but he does his best! Now you and I are able to work with this, infill the missing knowledge, and offer guidance. A typical consumer is not able to do this so should avoid this chap, and the practice he works for.

    There is no way I can name the man nor the practice but consumers are far better with a local authority inspector. They may be slower, they may not want to sit and discuss, they may not want to be soft skilled nor engage with clients but they should be independent and fair.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 16th Jun 17, 8:33 AM
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    the_r_sole
    There is an AI working on your patch that does not know his ar-e from their elbow when it comes to building. There are huge gaps in his knowledge, but he does his best! Now you and I are able to work with this, infill the missing knowledge, and offer guidance. A typical consumer is not able to do this so should avoid this chap, and the practice he works for.

    There is no way I can name the man nor the practice but consumers are far better with a local authority inspector. They may be slower, they may not want to sit and discuss, they may not want to be soft skilled nor engage with clients but they should be independent and fair.
    Originally posted by Furts
    I've had exactly the same experience with a small number of local authority officers too, but you can't sack them when you realise how incompetent they are!
    • fezster
    • By fezster 16th Jun 17, 9:22 AM
    • 159 Posts
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    fezster
    The problem with any building inspector who is recommended by a builder is impartiality. You have to be certain the inspector will not just pass things because they have a previous relationship with the builder.

    My experience with LA building inspectors is that they vary wildly in terms of their knowledge, experience and competence. And it's entirely possible that the builder may know the LA inspector and therefore introduce the same problems as above. So there's issues either way.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 16th Jun 17, 11:04 AM
    • 919 Posts
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    teneighty
    I think everyone has already covered the issue of council building control versus private approved inspector.

    I just thought I would add a new dimension. Why does the OP care?

    The role of the inspector is to police the work to make sure it complies with the building regulations. They are not there to oversee the work and provide consumer protection from poor workmanship. With the few inspections that they actually make it is practically impossible for them to even ensure the regulations are fully complied with hence you get blatant contraventions of the regulations incorrectly signed off by both private and public sector inspectors.

    If you are worried that your building contractor maybe trying to cut corners before the work even starts I suggest you might have the wrong building contractor or maybe you should get someone to undertake contract admin/project management.
    • parking_question_chap
    • By parking_question_chap 16th Jun 17, 5:28 PM
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    parking_question_chap
    Are they giving you the option of picking the AI company?

    Or are they wanting to go with a specific one?

    The answer to that, should help answer the "should I be worried" question you raised.
    • ComicGeek
    • By ComicGeek 16th Jun 17, 9:06 PM
    • 144 Posts
    • 97 Thanks
    ComicGeek
    The 'red tape' should be the same for both AI and LA, they both have to abide by the same set of Building Regulations. The difference in my experience has been the response times and willingness to discuss issues, both of which the AI has won by a mile.


    I can understand the honesty issue, but both AI and LA sell their services, neither are truly independent. A good builder will use a good AI/LA, so it really comes down to whether you trust the builder or not.


    I've had lots of issues with turnover rates at LAs, where you never get to speak/see the same inspector twice. The regs aren't black and white, so there are some areas where the inspector's personal opinion counts - if there's a lack of consistency in a project this can really cause problems.
    • parking_question_chap
    • By parking_question_chap 16th Jun 17, 10:30 PM
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    parking_question_chap
    I can understand the honesty issue, but both AI and LA sell their services, neither are truly independent.
    Originally posted by ComicGeek
    I dont think LA building control are allowed to make a profit due to their statutory obligations.

    Whereas AI are companies and I expect with intentions of making as much profit as possible.

    Accounts I have heard of certain "inspections" where AI have accepted photographs rather than actually going to the site is really concerning. Great for the builders and developers of course.

    Yes, I expect LA would have much more "red tape" which is a pain, but I think if it were my loft conversion or extension I would rather it were checked thoroughly rather than quickly.
    Last edited by parking_question_chap; 16-06-2017 at 10:34 PM.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 16th Jun 17, 11:01 PM
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    the_r_sole
    I dont think LA building control are allowed to make a profit due to their statutory obligations.

    Whereas AI are companies and I expect with intentions of making as much profit as possible.

    Accounts I have heard of certain "inspections" where AI have accepted photographs rather than actually going to the site is really concerning. Great for the builders and developers of course.

    Yes, I expect LA would have much more "red tape" which is a pain, but I think if it were my loft conversion or extension I would rather it were checked thoroughly rather than quickly.
    Originally posted by parking_question_chap
    Tbh i think that's a bit of an over generalisation and certainly doesn't reflect my experiences with both.
    I've worked with AI s who are extremely thorough, to the point of having some work opened up to inspect as the builder hadn't asked him to site at the agreed time due to a change in his programming, I've also had l
    Local authorities accepting photographs when they don't have the time to come to site when requested.
    It's down to individual competency rather than who they work for, but ime the private side appear more competent, which as a business they have to be, to secure further work and retain accreditation...
    • ComicGeek
    • By ComicGeek 17th Jun 17, 9:57 AM
    • 144 Posts
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    ComicGeek
    I dont think LA building control are allowed to make a profit due to their statutory obligations.

    Whereas AI are companies and I expect with intentions of making as much profit as possible.
    Originally posted by parking_question_chap
    LA departments still have targets to meet in terms of numbers of projects, and are usually understaffed. They generally have lower salaries than AIs, so the best inspectors generally migrate to AI. From the hundreds of inspectors I've dealt with over the years, the best LA inspectors have quickly joined, or started their own AI company.

    There will always be regional variations, but where I work in the South east and London this has been my experience.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 18th Jun 17, 5:54 PM
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    Annie1960
    Have you already signed a contract with the builder, and if so has the work started? If so, I would be concerned that the builder has left it so late to raise this issue. This could be a high pressure technique, especially if he has given you a short time to make a decision.

    If not, then in your position you could ask for the name of the private inspector, and check it out before you make a decision to ensure the person really is qualified. Although I'm sure most builders are genuine, there are some who are not, and how do you know it's not the builder's relative or mate pretending to be an inspector?

    In this area, building control come out the same day if you phone before 10am - they really are very efficient. I don't know what it's like in your area, so you could ring the BC office and ask them what their system is and what delays there are. This should help you to decide if there is an advantage of going down the private route.

    If it turns out that the private inspector is genuine and your council has long delays in sending their own inspectors out, then why not consider it? But I would personally check whatever register the private inspector is on to make sure they really are qualified, and ask for a copy of their public liability insurance certificate.

    Although most builders are genuine, the fact there are a number of cowboys who are allowed to thrive makes consumers like us want to double check everything.

    If you can appoint the private inspector and pay them directly yourself, this would be a much better option as they will be working for you, not the builder. I don't mean that you would personally call them out for inspections, the builder should do this, but they should have your interests at the top of their agenda.

    Ultimately, as you are the owner of the property, it is your responsibility to ensure the paperwork is in place with the council. It is you, not the builder, who will have all the hassle and costs of sorting it out if anything goes wrong.

    Finally, do you have other builders on your short-list who are not asking for this? What does your architect say about this suggestion, as they will know the local situation?
    Last edited by Annie1960; 18-06-2017 at 6:07 PM.
    • sam1970
    • By sam1970 24th Jun 17, 9:06 AM
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    • 122 Thanks
    sam1970
    Thank you for your reply. The builder told me from the start that he prefers to use a private inspector for ease and speed.The other two builders , one of them is a big firm, also said the same. What is persuading me to proceed is that many builders shy away from renovation work for old houses as it is easier and more profitable to build new. I actually had few builders who came to quote and never came back and stopped answering phone. I had two references for this guy and I actually went and visited a house where he did a lot of work and the owner was very happy with the results.

    My plan is to hold a percentage of the payment (may be 10%) until I receive all the paper work and verify it with the council. I hope this will be enough to ensure things are done properly
    something missing
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 24th Jun 17, 9:33 AM
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    Doozergirl
    Agree that first. Industry standard retention is 5%. Reason being is that most money actually goes into your house and only a portion of your cost goes the the builder. 10% can very easily be half of their own wages, if not more.

    Oleased to hear that you went and looked at one of their jobs!
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
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