Exclusive: Scale of building inspector competence shortage revealed

Less than two-thirds of the expected number of building inspectors had applied for new competence certification when the government extended the deadline in March, Construction News can reveal.

Last July, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that 4,500 building-control professionals would need to be certified by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) by 6 April this year in order to legally continue working, as part of the new post-Grenfell building safety regime.

However, only 2,980 (66.2 per cent) had submitted applications to the BSR by 21 March, according to figures obtained by Construction News under the Freedom of Information Act.

The week before, the government extended the deadline for building inspectors to register with the BSR at one of four classes, amid warnings of an “exodus” from the profession.

The move came after Lorna Stimpson, chief executive of the Local Authority Building Council, warned that inspectors had not had enough time to complete the external assessment required to independently inspect buildings within the allotted six-month transition period.

To qualify for the extension period, building inspectors are now required to submit a registration form and enrol in one of three assessment schemes, both of which can be done online.

BSR chief Philip White confirmed on 14 March that building inspectors who had registered with the BSR at the lowest class (class one), which does not require external assessment, would be able to continue in their current roles until 6 July.

The Chartered Association of Building Engineers, which operates one of the assessment schemes, has been encouraging its members to take this approach since the beginning of February.

The data also shows that only 419 building inspectors were certified to carry out inspections independently by 21 March (classes two and three), showing the extent of the threat to building-control capacity before the deadline was extended.

Within those classes, inspectors specify which kinds of buildings they can work on and what tasks they can carry out – meaning the certified competencies within the classes are likely to vary from person to person.

On 21 March, an additional 82 applications to register with the BSR at classes two and three had been submitted and were waiting for approval.

A BSR spokesperson said that the number of registrations are increasing daily.

In addition, 121 had registered as technical managers, who are class two or three building inspectors with additional responsibilities for the technical management of teams.

As of 21 March, 2,454 building inspectors had registered at class one. A further 25 had applied and were awaiting approval.

The deadline extension does not apply to building control companies, which risk their higher-risk-building projects transferring to the BSR on 6 April if they have not been certified as Registered Building Control Approvers.

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