Can you claim against Building Control?

24th Aug 2018

Clients often make this enquiry when they are faced with the issue of defective building works on their home and for whatever reason they are not able to sue the builder or recover damages from them.

Home Improvement

There have been many examples of builders being sued for defective building works, but the claim cannot be enforced due to the building company’s financial position, or even worse insolvency. Historical cases illustrate that there are only extremely limited circumstances when it would be possible to bring a claim against a local authority, even when the building inspector has failed to spot defective construction works in carrying out its building control function under the Building Regulations.

As plans are submitted to the Council for Building Regulations approval and the building control officer inspects the works as they proceed, attempts have subsequently been made to claim that the Council was guilty of maladministration and had failed to discharge its statutory duties – which amounted to a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, being the right to respect for private and family life.

This has always been denied by the Council leading to homeowners seeking permission to apply for a judicial review – which again has failed based on a number of facts;

  • There was no remedy in contract or in negligence.
  • There was no public law duty. The legislature had decided had made a decision that local authorities should not be obliged to repair privately owned homes.
  • If living conditions were intolerable, the local authority would have an obligation to act under its homelessness legislation.
  • The Council did not perform their duties over a prolonged period of time with full knowledge that the failure was having serious consequences for the claimants.
  • Notwithstanding the difficulties, the family had lived in the home together as a family unit.
  • The direct cause of the defects was the builder`s poor workmanship and his supervening inability or unwillingness to honour the Judgment.

The case highlights the need to ensure that when having building works carried out there is a contract in place with the builder which will protect you if faced with defective works.

It is also a reminder of the need to ensure that, so far as possible, the builder is financially stable so that if the works do not go according to plan they can afford to carry out any necessary remedial works, or, worst case scenario, can meet any Judgment which you may obtain against them.

If you need any help or guidance relating to any part of this article you can contact me at ph@rogers-norton.co.uk or on 01603675639.