Head of Building Control & Land Charges
Garry has stopped his weekly postings, but you can still read his stories here ...
Garry is the lead for Building Control and Land Charges at Adur & Worthing Councils. He joined the authority in 2008.
His team make sure that the buildings that we all live in, work in and visit are safe, healthy, accessible and energy efficient when first built or altered. They also oversee the production and supply of searches requested by solicitors who you sell or buy properties.
Garry’s blogs will explore hot topics in Building Control - looking at home improvements and appointing architects, surveyors and builders and may even give some guidance on applying for planning and building regulation consents.
So another week has passed; It's been very busy again and I can hardly believe it's Friday already.
With winter rolling in and people starting to retreat indoors, I am reminded of the importance of good insulation in improving home comfort and reducing energy bills.
In this age of technology, it is no surprise to learn that insulation products have changed dramatically - with household products even being used in space travel!
Yes, the use of multi foil insulation can be out of this world, particularly if used correctly in a loft conversion project.
So what is multi foil some of you may be saying?
As the name suggests it is a form of insulation made up of layers of different materials with aluminium style foils typically 18 to 25mm thick.
For compliance with Building Regulations it is frequently used with a traditional insulation and sometimes in double layers with an air gap. These insulations are easy to use and perform very well if used correctly. But, they have to be installed, correctly to work
We had a case recently where things didn't exactly go to plan.
Mr Jones (not his real name) commissioned a specialist company to design and construct a loft conversion to provide a further bedroom and shower room. This company also appointed an external Building Control provider.
All appeared to go reasonably well until the first very cold snap and we received a call to ask why the room was so cold despite being heated. We had not provided the Building Control service but the owner asked us to assist him in investigating the problem.
We found that a multi foil insulation had been used in isolation and the manufacturer's installation details had not been followed. The resolution to this was costly and disruptive unfortunately but it was resolved and the difference in the end was remarkable. Another job well done for our team!
And remember, for anyone wanting to submit and application for planning consent and / or building control visit the planning portal.
If you have a one-off Building Regulations application for some minor work at home and have any problems you can just email firstname.lastname@example.org giving us a contact phone number and we'll take you through it on the phone so that by the end of the call you will have deposited your application.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Welcome to my second blog in this mini series looking at Building Control and dipping into Planning sometimes.
Last week I said I would look at how and when to get involved with Building Control and Planning and offer some guidance in terms of appointing Architects and Builders.
Before I do that there has been a very good case study this week which will help explain the reasons for and benefits of early engagement and correct appointments.
A couple of weeks ago we received a Building Notice under the Building Regulations for the removal of an internal structural wall. It is very common currently for homeowners to improve their properties by removing the wall between the lounge / dining room or the dining room and kitchen as was the case here. The notice was supported by structural calculations prepared by a Chartered Surveyor.
Having submitted a Building Notice work can start almost immediately so we always look at any supporting information and provide feedback that same day.
On this occasion we reported back that the designed structural solution would only work if absolutely all loadings had been correctly calculated, there was nothing to spare in the design and recommended that the owner ensures his builder holds an early meeting with our Surveyor on site so that this can be checked.
This was not taken up and unfortunately we were first called to the property after the beam had been installed. On checking the loads we found they had been significantly underestimated by approximately three times and the services of a Structural Engineer had to be obtained.
The engineer had no choice other than to condemn the work and have props installed. The beam has now been successfully changed for one three times bigger and the family are safe and secure at home again.
The lessons to be learnt here are many and lead me into how to appoint professional advice and the importance of working as a unit even on these relatively straightforward projects.
So the homeowner here did all that could be reasonably expected of someone who doesn't work in the field. He sought professional advice from a Chartered Surveyor and submitted a Notice to us before starting work. Unfortunately it would appear his Chartered Surveyor failed to recognise his professional limitations and did not allow for the full loading, a key issue here.
The builder didn't notify us before starting the work but instead took the decision that it was acceptable to install the beam first and call us out after. Such cases are rare but financially painful when they do occur.
The pictures below are typical of the work we see every week and show the good but overspanned, the bad and the ugly.
In our publication 'Guide to Renovating your Home' which can be found on our website via this link https://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/building-control/common-building-projects/ we talk about what approvals are needed and what to consider when appointing designers and builders etc. There is also useful advice on the Citizens Advice website and West Sussex Trading Standards website.
Improving our homes is an aspiration many of us have or will have and hopefully the above will be of assistance. The case study shows that even when appointing professional s it is important to appoint the right ones and how if we work together risks can be reduced to manageable levels.
Next week I'll look at another case study and the importance of selecting the right materials as well as run through how to apply for the approvals needed.
Here we are at the end of another busy week in Building Control at Adur & Worthing Councils.
Every week brings its new challenges and interests and this week has been no different.
This week, I've been focused on how we can improve delivering our service. This is all about how buildings are created with the Planning team, who regulate where they should be built. Those of you have used these services in the past will already know there are important differences but loads of connectivity at the same time.
We are sometimes guilty of assuming people know this because it is business as usual for us; we forget that it isn't for you, the customer.
So, let me explain how the system works and who looks after what.
When they are involved, the Planning team deal with the appearance of a building and how it impacts on adjacent owners and their amenities. Building Control look after the nuts and bolts of how something is built.
We are looking to develop a joined up service which highlights the differences and guides you through the approval process dealing along the way with the fact that the two sets of regulations used by these services do have areas of conflict - something we are looking at in more detail.
Another significant topic of discussion this week has been the Government sponsored paper titled 'More Homes - Less Complaints'.
You will have heard about the 'Housing Crisis' as it has been reported in the news recently and many of you, like me, may be experiencing the boomerang effect as it is often called, where young adults either do not leave home or return home because they cannot afford to move away.
The planned rapid expansion of house building is not materialising but even so there are concerns about 'product quality' in the construction of new homes.
This has far reaching impacts on many Council services and those of other agencies and clearly impacts the lives of many of the people we serve; It is, in my opinion, very worthy of the time we are giving to it as a hot topic.
This first blog would not be complete without also highlighting some very important work that is happening around fire safety in residential buildings, especially tall ones.
Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower we have been busy working with and reassuring residents of tall buildings in Adur and Worthing areas. It may surprise you to know, it did me, that of the 55 tall residential buildings in West Sussex 46 of them are in the district or borough.
By the way the current definition of 'tall' is having six or more storeys or a floor at or over 18m above the ground.
The co-ordinated work between the Councils' Private Sector Housing Team, Building Control Team, Adur Homes and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) and Property owners / Management companies has been very impressive indeed. Every tall residential building has been identified and inspected. We have also made sure that there has been a full audit by the fire service in conjunction with our Private Sector Housing Team and where possible the owner/managing agent.
We have in recent years been very proactive in managing fire safety working with many of the stakeholders so it was no surprise to me that none of the 46 buildings in our area have Aluminium Composite Material cladding systems and any concerns that have arisen through the audit and inspection process are being addressed in a risk managed manner.
The Councils offer a Fire Risk Assessment and advice service so if you do have any concerns regarding fire safety do get in touch via email@example.com. If we cannot help we will probably know who can.
Photo: Building Control officer doing a site inspection
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