Building Control: Inspection Competency

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by Sonia Desloges, APC Support Limited

Despite the 2018 pathway review, the Inspection competency is still heavily geared towards candidates working for local authorities. If you work as an Approved Inspector (AI), this competency can be very difficult to achieve but not impossible. This guidance focuses on how AI’s may demonstrate the competency requirements.

Level 1

Building Control candidates need to demonstrate a good level of knowledge and understanding of the Licensing Act 2003, Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) and crowd dynamics. A lot of information on these topics is readability available on the web.

Covid-19 has had a major impact on the legal framework relating to licensing and you will need to keep up-to-date with the ever-changing regulations. The LGA website would be a good place to start.

Typical level 1 questions may include;

  • What are the 4 licensing objectives?
  • Which licensable activities and procedures do building controllers get involved with?
  • what are the key pieces of legislation for safety at sports grounds?
  • What can you tell us about the green guide? (You may need to purchase a copy)
  • What are the P and S factors? How would you use them to assess the safe capacity of a venue?

You may download an old RICS guidance below (now withdrawn, so please do not mention it in your summary of experience) which would provide you with a useful study list.

We would strongly recommend you to have a really good look around the SGSA website as it is full of relevant resources.

The CABE’s YouTube channel can also provide you with valuable CPD hours.

If you can stretch your budget or if your employer is willing to fund your training, you could consider the following LABC courses;

Safety at Sports Grounds Part One | LABC

Safety at Sports Grounds Part Two | LABC

Level 2

  • Carrying out site inspections relating to fire safety in a nightclub (or similar venue)
  • Assessing the proposed occupancy for a concert (or any large crowd gathering) in a sports hall (or other venue not designed for this purpose)
  • Reviewing an application for a temporary event to assess suitability
  • Assessing the suitability of structural calculations for a temporary stand or seating.

Level 3

  • Advising clients of options where a building is considered unsuitable for the proposed use
  • Carrying out an assessment for a safety licence for a football ground
  • Carrying out a safety inspection of a complex venue to assess compliance with licensing requirements.

How to demonstrate levels 2 and 3

Ideally, you will have gained experience working for a Local Authority at some point in your career and been involved in a number of relevant projects.

If you have never worked for a Local Authority, one option would be to get in touch with a Local Authority and ask to spend some time with their licensing team or with the sport safety team. You could query whether you may be allowed to sit in on some Safety Advisory Group meetings. You could also solicit your contacts for an introduction if you know anyone at your local football club (or rugby or cricket). Luck will play a part and an ability to develop amiable relationships with the right people will be a strong advantage .

If you cannot obtain experience with a Local Authority, all is not lost. Remember that you do not need to provide an example for all the activities listed in your pathway guide. Two examples at level 2 and one or two examples at level 3 are sufficient.

Your local fire service could provide you with some relevant experience. Where a building falls under the RRO, building control bodies have to consult with the local fire and rescue service and so you should have some form of existing relationship.

You could request to shadow a member of the fire service whilst they undertake inspections under the RRO and draft the inspection report for them.

If, in this report, you include advice and suggestions to the fire service as to what items need to be addressed and what actions should be taken, you would be giving reasoned advice on the matter and therefore achieve level 3.

If you have not had the opportunity to review a temporary event application, you may have come across a non-domestic building such as a barn, bar or restaurant where the landlord was considering hosting an event. You may have advised your client that the Licensing Act applied and explained them why it applied. Notifying clients where the Licensing Act applies and when they are required to submit a Temporary Event notification would be a suitable level 2 example. If you advise them on additional or corrective measures that they need to implement in order to succeed in their application, you would be meeting level 3. However you will need to have acquired robust level 1 knowledge on such matters prior to attempting to advise any clients!

You will have most certainly inspected a number of public venues as part of your day-to-day job and observed certain issues relating to the suitability of such building to receive crowds. This may relate to the robustness of the structure, means of access and evacuation, fire safety, environmental health, etc. While this is not ideal, you could focus your example on one specific aspect of such inspection that relates (hopefully not too vaguely) to the competency requirements. As above, notifying the non-suitability is level 2 while recommending corrective measures is level 3.

Ultimately, if you do not work for a Local Authority, this is a competency where you will need to think outside the box but it can be done.


About the author:

Sonia Desloges is the director of APC Support Ltd, a specialist APC training and mentoring consultancy. She and her team have assessed and trained hundreds of APC candidates in almost every pathway. If you need support with your APC preparation, you are most welcome to drop her a line at sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk for an initial chat.


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