Please find below a list of FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions). If the question you wish to ask is not listed then please contact us.
Q. What are the advantages of using Act Surveyors?
There are many advantages of using Act Surveyors for your Approved Inspector Service. The advantages come from using a highly professional company with dedicated staff who understand the development process and the complex nature of all building types. The top five advantages according to our clients are:
- Quality of Service – We provide the highest quality service possible by ensuring that our staff are always professional, contactable, suitably qualified and provided with additional training whenever required.
- Competitive Fees – Our fees take into account many variables for each project that mean we can usually offer a saving over Local Authority building control fees. Key fee saving criteria include a short site works programmes, competent and known designers and contractors, and non-complex building works. If we can offer you a saving we will, and if we cannot offer you a saving we will still provide a high quality or better value service for similar fees.
- Technical Advice – We are pleased to provide our clients and their agents with the best possible professional and technical advice should they require it. We provide this advice on a daily basis to confirm the compliance of a proposal with the regulations and the maze of second and third tier technical guidance and standards.
- Consistent Advice – We have maintained a consistent level of service and our advice is generally consistent due to our in house training, technical meetings, guidance notes and quality of staff. We make every effort to ensure our staff are up to date with current regulations and are aware of the numerous grey areas in the regulations so that we can provide consistent advice. If any inconsistency is raised it is dealt with swiftly by senior management by issue of a technical guidance note.
- Single Point of Contact – All of our clients benefit from the opportunity to deal with a single nominated senior manager within the company or a nominated office for all of their projects. This has advantages in terms of technical consistency, service level consistency, tailor made services, expert awareness of client aims and objectives, team working approach, etc. We actively support close liaison and interaction between our senior managers and our clients as this has many benefits to the business, our working enjoyment and the success of the projects we are involved with.
Q. What are the Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations are made under the Building Act 1984, and they apply in England and Wales. They are made to ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings as well as ensuring energy conservation, and access to and use of buildings. The regulations are simple requirements that can be met in many ways and are highlighted in all approved documents at the start of every section.The Building Regulations are supported by approved documents that provide guidance on how building work could comply with them. These guidance documents cover most parts of a building including structure, fire safety, resistance to moisture, sound insulation, ventilation, hygiene, heat producing appliances, stairs and guarding, electrical and mechanical services, disabled access, glazing, etc. These documents are also supported by an extensive number of other standards and guidance.The majority of building works carried out will be required to comply with these regulations and the approval service can be provided by either Approved Inspectors or the Local Authority.
Q. What are Approved Inspectors?
Approved Inspectors are private companies or individuals authorised by the UK Government Secretary of State under the Building Act 1984 to provide the function of building control in England and Wales only. Approved Inspectors do not work for the Local Authority and provide the Building Control function independently of any public body. Act Surveyors is a corporate Approved Inspector that provides the Building Control service from several regional office locations.
Q. Is a fee payable for the Approved Inspector Service?
A fee will be payable for us to provide the Building Control service. Upon request we can provide a formal fee quotation that takes into account the project location, site works programme, complexity, cost of works, size of building, etc. The fee will normally be invoiced in advance and at key stages and will be subject to VAT. Please contact us by telephone, fax, e-mail, mail, or visit us personally (by appointment advisable) to discuss the building works and Approved Inspector service fee further.
Q. How do I appoint Act Surveyors?
You should contact us to discuss the project particulars and we will provide a formal fee quotation. For non-complex building works you can appoint us by simply completing a project information form and returning it to us together with acceptance of the fee quotation. We will advise you at this time if any other procedures or terms of appointment will be applicable. Please note that we must give the initial notice to the Local Authority before building work starts and as such we must be appointed in time to do this. If works have substantially started we may not be able to accept the appointment.
Q. Does the Local Authority get involved?
The Local Authority does not get directly involved with the building control plan checking or site inspection procedure when an Approved Inspector is appointed. The Local Authority involvement is simply to record the Approved Inspector Building Control process.To allow the Local Authority to record the process the Approved Inspector gives them various legal notices including an initial notice,amendment notices, plans certificates, etc. When the work is satisfactorily completed the Approved Inspector must issue a Final Certificate to the Local Authority to confirm that work referred to in the initial notice is complete and in compliance with the regulations.
Q. How do I obtain plans approval?
Once we are appointed you will be expected to provide us with copies of your building work designs including relevant structural and building services information. Submissions are normally made by e-mail however paper copies by post are still acceptable. In some instances, we may require paper copies of scale plans (eg Fire Authority consultation purposes). We will then carry out design reviews that includes consultations with the fire authority and other statutory consultees before the issue of written comments to you. These comments will either be in the form of further information required, conditional approval or a plans certificate. In order to assist with compliance we are pleased to provide advice to designers and contractors whenever possible and actively encourage feedback.
Q. What are the Site Inspection procedures?
Act Surveyors will inspect the building work at key stages so that they can be reasonably satisfied that the work will comply with the regulations on completion. We will issue a Site Inspection plan at either the Plan Checking stage or site commencement stage as a guide to clients, agents and contractors to ensure we are notified in advance of these key inspections.The persons responsible for the work must ensure that we are contacted in good time to arrange for the inspections to be made. Where possible we will make inspections at short notice (less than 24hrs) but this cannot be guaranteed.
Q. When can I start work?
You can legally start work as soon as the Approved Inspector has been appointed and the initial notice has been accepted by the local authority. It is advisable to allow 5 days to lapse from the date we give the initial notice before works commence as this is the period the local authority has to reject the notice on prescribed grounds.
Q. What if the Approved Inspector is not satisfied with the designs or work in progress?
If the Approved Inspector is not satisfied with the designs or work in progress they will not give the Final Certificate. The options available are to discuss and resolve the matter with the Approved Inspector or to apply for a determination from the government. The Approved Inspector will make every effort to assist with compliance, but if agreement cannot be reached by discussion, contravention procedures will be followed. These procedures have statutory time limits that could lead to the matter being referred to the Local Authority for enforcement action to be taken. Alternatively, you could apply for a determination from the relevant government department by giving the particulars of any disagreement on the plans arising between you and the Approved Inspector. Further details of this procedure can be found on the relevant government websites.
Q. What happens if you don't comply?
If you don’t comply the Local Authority may take enforcement action and this action may be taken against the owner, builder or main contractor, although proceedings must be taken within 6 months of the offence (section 127 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980). Where work contravenes the building regulations, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice and take the matter to a magistrates’ court where a fine could be given of up to £5,000 and £50 for each day the contravention continues under section 35 of the Building Act 1984. The Local Authority may also serve an enforcement notice on the owner requiring them to alter or remove work which contravenes the regulations under section 36 of the Building Act 1984. If the owner does not comply with the notice the Local Authority has the power to undertake the work itself and recover costs.
Q. Will I get a Final Certificate on completion of the works?
We will always give a Final Certificate on completion of the works provided that we are satisfied that the works demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations.
Q. Do you have a complaints procedure?
We have a complaints procedure in accordance with our professional membership rules and guidance. If you have a complaint about a service we have provided please contact your nearest regional office manager in the first instance. If your complaint is not dealt with satisfactorily please contact our Gloucester head office and ask for a copy of the formal complaints procedure. We consider any complaint to be a serious matter and our senior management team will discuss any potential complaints with you in order to resolve them before a formal complaint is made.