Avoiding Claims: Advice for clients

Rendering or plastering domestic walls, renewing roof fabric (even like-for-like): re-cladding dormers or replacing floors and ceilings are key works which may require Building Regulation approval under the revised legislation.

Part L2B (Conservation of fuel and power), legislation intended to combat climate change and reduce energy waste, took effect on 6 April 2006, four years ago.

We are now encountering many instances on survey, where work of the type described has been carried out since 2006 without consent, and is even promoted in agents’ sales particulars by such terms as “recently re-roofed, refurbished” etc.

Much building work on existing buildings, previously exempt from Building Regulations under the classification of ‘repair’, now requires formal consent. Failure to make an application could lead to prosecution, and a potential (expensive) obligation to meet costs of upgrading the thermal performance of the elements involved.

Cottingham, Cottingham v. Attey Bower & Jones provides a salutary reminder of the powers of Local Authorities under S.36 of the Building Act 1984, when work has taken place without consent under Building Regulations.

Whereas, on survey, we usually notice the unauthorised loft conversion, modern replacement windows and so forth, more subtle works such as those referred to above, can go unnoticed.

Although many of us advise clients specifically on the obligations of Part 2LB and other aspects of Building Regulations, others insert ‘exclusion clauses’ to the effect that no enquiries have been made in relation to the availability of consent under Building Regulations for work carried out. A client will probably find the former approach more helpful than the latter,
particularly if the report gives examples of what needs to be checked out, or advises on the merits of a Building Regulations Indemnity Policy, where
doubt exists. Who knows, it may even lead to repeat-business. Whichever approach is taken, members are advised to address the issue in the Terms of Engagement.