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Supervision and enforcement

Responsibility for checking Building Regulations have been observed falls to either the local authority or Approved Inspectors. The person carrying out the work has the choice of where to get approval for the building work.

'Approved Inspectors' are persons authorised under the Building Act 1984 to check that building work complies with Building Regulations in England and Wales.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to see that building work complies with Building Regulations if it is not under the control of an Approved Inspector.

Approved Inspectors do not have enforcement powers. Instead, if an Approved Inspector considers building work does not comply with the Building Regulations, the Approved Inspector will not issue a final certificate. In addition the Approved Inspector will cancel the initial notice by notifying the local authority. (The initial notice is a notice in prescribed form given jointly to a local authority by a person intending to carry out work and a person who is an approved inspector in relation to that work before work commences.) If no other Approved Inspector takes on the work, supervision will automatically be taken on by the local authority.

Contravention of Building Regulations is an offence and criminal proceedings may be commenced by the local authority or another person. The penalty is an initial fine and a further fine for each day on which the default continues after conviction. Action will usually be taken by the local authority against the builder or main contractor, and proceedings must be taken within two years from the completion of the work.

Alternatively, or in addition, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice on the owner requiring them to alter or remove work which contravenes Building Regulations. If the owner does not comply with the notice the local authority has the power to undertake the work and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.

An enforcement notice cannot be served after the expiration of 12 months from the date of completion of the building work. This does not affect a local authority's (or any other person's) right to apply to the Courts for an injunction. Further, a local authority cannot take enforcement action if the work in question was carried out in accordance with plans which the authority approved or failed to reject within the statutory time limit of five weeks (or two months by agreement) from deposit of the plans.

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