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Obtaining Building Control Information for a House


Ferdinand
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I'm after the BC information for a house I own, specifically because there are various features not listed on the EPC report and I need to be able to evidence them in order to meet the coming requirement of rental properties to meet a "C".

 

Does anyone have any experience of this? What lawful access rights, normal policy and processes are, for example?

 

The initial comment from my Local Council is that the information is kept restricted for 'commercial reasons' (ie BC services are chargeable), but that it may be obtainable under either a FOI or a Subject Access (Data Protection Act) request.

 

Just beginning to explore this, so any comments are most welcome.


Ferdinand

 

 

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In Scotland (no experience of England sorry) you can request a copy of building warrant drawings from all of the local authorities if you have an interest in the house - sometimes you have to get confirmation from the copyright holder that it's ok to get a copy - and they charge you for it (have had to do it a couple of times when selling properties with missing paperwork)

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52 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

In Scotland (no experience of England sorry) you can request a copy of building warrant drawings from all of the local authorities if you have an interest in the house - sometimes you have to get confirmation from the copyright holder that it's ok to get a copy - and they charge you for it (have had to do it a couple of times when selling properties with missing paperwork)

 

Thanks.

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I am pretty sure you don't get this in England unless you can demonstrate an urgent need, and sign that you will not break copyrights.

Perhaps they can show you the EPC elements in their offices, or tell you who did the assessment.

 

I recall being told I could not see the file on the table, then the BCO said he had to go for 10 minutes and pointed at a photocopier adjacent.

That was more for the purpose of building adjacent though.

 

You might be better getting another epc. I think 90% are nonsense figures  anyway.

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18 hours ago, saveasteading said:

I am pretty sure you don't get this in England unless you can demonstrate an urgent need, and sign that you will not break copyrights.

Perhaps they can show you the EPC elements in their offices, or tell you who did the assessment.
 

I recall being told I could not see the file on the table, then the BCO said he had to go for 10 minutes and pointed at a photocopier adjacent.

That was more for the purpose of building adjacent though.

 

I suspect that is the policy in many places. Whether such a policy is lawful is a different matter - local authorities constantly get away with breaking the law because it is almost impossible to hold them to effective account short of a many months long campaign by letter or the High Court. 

 

For me, the idea that in 2021 with all the environmental concern we have, I can be denied access to the information used in a public process to define *my* house, is *incredibly* offensive, especially as an explicit provision in Copyright Law grants an exception for private study. This is as bad in principle as MPs concealing their expenses information as a means of continuining to break the law.

 

Quote

 

You might be better getting another epc. I think 90% are nonsense figures  anyway.

 

Disagree on EPCs. In many ways they are a very useful, inexpensive, tool. I have been discussing how to raise a particular rental property from a D to a C with my EPC adviser this week.

 

In landlord-land we are regulated on it, and if a property does not meet the required standard it is illegal to rent it out (on an increasing quality ratchet E .. D .. C towards 2028-30).

 

Some stone-age landlords who have not wanted to invest in their properties can see the (see Goldfinger) laser beam getting closer to their balls. But this has been known about since 2012/13, so zero sympathy is deserved. But there is some squealing in eg the Daily Mail.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10028271/Government-urged-scrap-Energy-Performance-Certificate-expert-slams-rating-system.html

 

Another EPC will not help - as they are required to follow a process, which includes defined assumptions in the absence of specific evidence. One is that in the absence of a FENSA certificate they have to assume poor quality double glazing.

 

In this case I have a house with 50mm of dot and dab insulation on the back of IPB as drylining and I want to get that acknowledged in the EPC without demolishing my decoration.

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3 hours ago, Ferdinand said:

EPC adviser

That is different, and to be encouraged. 

However I have seen many examples of suddenly trained and approved assessors making terrible assessments.

I think it was a 'race to the bottom' with some people getting the business by promising a certain rating for a very low price.

 

For example I did a commercial refurb once, to an appropriate standard, that would have got a C at best. Landlord got a good B certificate for it, without air test. I saw the papers and there was little to no assessment, just a nice certificate to tick a box and help rent the building out.

Perhaps the charlatans have now gone?

Likewise big developments where many houses are underperforming, but the air tests were done on the few pre-selected and well sealed units.

 

That is why I doubt the accuracy of many EPCs

 

Interesting to see the Mail article. I wonder who stands to gain from dropping epc? House developers could reduce standards but it seems rather trivial. More perhaps of the right wing demand to remove standards on principle?

EPCs make no attempt to measure the carbon impact made during the home's construction,  True , but breeam and other systems are also rather approximate. To some extent the builder choosing the best construction will do this anyway. Some assessment is better than none

 

Re access to approved designs this is a tricky one.

If I have done a clever design, or managed to negotiate a relaxation, or done a particularly good presentation, I don't want someone else cribbing or even copying it. It is commercial information.

In any new area or with a new challenge, wouldn't it be great to crib off nearby completed projects?

I admit doing this off planning applications, to see the sort of presentations that a particular council appears to like, including the amount of detail, or fluff and any buzz-phrases.

 

Might the solution be to allow you the name of the original EPC assessor? If they have ceased trading, then the document could safely be released.

 

 

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1 hour ago, saveasteading said:

That is different, and to be encouraged. 

However I have seen many examples of suddenly trained and approved assessors making terrible assessments.

I think it was a 'race to the bottom' with some people getting the business by promising a certain rating for a very low price.

 

For example I did a commercial refurb once, to an appropriate standard, that would have got a C at best. Landlord got a good B certificate for it, without air test. I saw the papers and there was little to no assessment, just a nice certificate to tick a box and help rent the building out.

Perhaps the charlatans have now gone?

Likewise big developments where many houses are underperforming, but the air tests were done on the few pre-selected and well sealed units.

 

That is why I doubt the accuracy of many EPCs

 

Interesting to see the Mail article. I wonder who stands to gain from dropping epc? House developers could reduce standards but it seems rather trivial. More perhaps of the right wing demand to remove standards on principle?

EPCs make no attempt to measure the carbon impact made during the home's construction,  True , but breeam and other systems are also rather approximate. To some extent the builder choosing the best construction will do this anyway. Some assessment is better than none

 

Re access to approved designs this is a tricky one.

If I have done a clever design, or managed to negotiate a relaxation, or done a particularly good presentation, I don't want someone else cribbing or even copying it. It is commercial information.

In any new area or with a new challenge, wouldn't it be great to crib off nearby completed projects?

I admit doing this off planning applications, to see the sort of presentations that a particular council appears to like, including the amount of detail, or fluff and any buzz-phrases.

 

Might the solution be to allow you the name of the original EPC assessor? If they have ceased trading, then the document could safely be released.

 

 

 

Generally agree on EPCs. Some landlords are wanting more exemptions, and at the new cost cap that you don't get an exemption until you have spent 10k - consultation is out to increase that from the current 3.5k. They are trying to shoot the messenger.

 

Presumably falsifying an EPC is essentially fraud on the person buying the house.

 

On the approved designs my view is that the common good simply requires these to be public documents. As for planning. I can see no good reason for concealment. If I can take a building to bits and discover your detail, I don't see why the docs held by the Council should be hidden.

 

That argument is strengthened by eg Grenfell. If those docs had been public, would it have been spotted?

 

The Mail argument that they make no attempt to evaluate lifecycle carbon use is as relevant as arguing against cats because they can't fly; that's not what it was for. And of course it does assess carbon usage, as there is an Environmental Impact algorithm and number included, and even the RDSAP method is full of it. And if they want more they can pay £300-400 for a full SAP calculation.

 

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Try 1: FOI request submitted to my local authority, to see what they will send me:

 

Quote

 

Please would you send me a copy of any Building Control documents you have on file for <address>.

 
Please treat this as a Freedom of Information request.
 
If you are unable to meet this request in full or in part, please provide a full explanation of the reasons, and any advice on further information that I can provide which will help you fulfil my request.
 
Thanks
 
Fascinating Ferdinand

 

 

  

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30 minutes ago, saveasteading said:

 

Quote of the day so far.

 

They will charge for copying. Better to ask to see the files, explaining why, and then get copies of what you need? Or could you simply note it?

 

We'll see.

 

I'm expecting "prove you own it", and some gubbing about copyright.

 

But I want to explore / map the process and the thinking.

 

The copying cost should vanish when I request a PDF.

 

Accepted, that they may say "you can access these documents through XYZ chargeable process."

 

I've been on the fringes of MySociety for about 15 years, so I have some involvement with this kind of thing.

 

I will copy correspondence here.

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On 07/10/2021 at 13:40, Ferdinand said:

I'm after the BC information for a house I own, specifically because there are various features not listed on the EPC report and I need to be able to evidence them in order to meet the coming requirement of rental properties to meet a "C".

 

Does anyone have any experience of this? What lawful access rights, normal policy and processes are, for example?

 

The initial comment from my Local Council is that the information is kept restricted for 'commercial reasons' (ie BC services are chargeable), but that it may be obtainable under either a FOI or a Subject Access (Data Protection Act) request.

 

Just beginning to explore this, so any comments are most welcome.


Ferdinand

 

 

What in particular is it you need/want to prove? Insulation levels in enclosed walls and ceilings or something similar?

 

How old is the house? Do you know who the house builder is? They might help you.

Edited by Carrerahill
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1 hour ago, Carrerahill said:

What in particular is it you need/want to prove? Insulation levels in enclosed walls and ceilings or something similar?

 

In one case I quote, yes.

 

But it may be different things in different houses for me, and there are all the houses in the PRS with similar questions. And beyond that all the houses in the OO sector when someone finally gets around to applying a stick to get the quality of those improved.

 

So underneath there is an important fight for the principle.

 

Perhaps Councils will shift their position when they are overwhelmed ?.

 

The current houses of interest are between 1850 and 2010.

 

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I would be tempted to get another EPC - Some of the assessors are paid less than £25 for do the survey (after the middlemen get their fees), which considering they have to travel there and back, so the assessment, submit it into the accreditation schemes software, issue an invoice and pay accreditation scheme fees means some inevitably take short cuts to make a living wake. And second time around, you may have a bit more evidence to show them to correct some of their assumptions or at least know where you need to convince them.

And yes, I do have experience of the industry!:-) 

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On 07/10/2021 at 13:40, Ferdinand said:

I'm after the BC information for a house I own, specifically because there are various features not listed on the EPC report and I need to be able to evidence them in order to meet the coming requirement of rental properties to meet a "C".

 

Does anyone have any experience of this? What lawful access rights, normal policy and processes are, for example?

 

The initial comment from my Local Council is that the information is kept restricted for 'commercial reasons' (ie BC services are chargeable), but that it may be obtainable under either a FOI or a Subject Access (Data Protection Act) request.

 

Just beginning to explore this, so any comments are most welcome.


Ferdinand

 

 

I recall Jeremy when preparing to sell his old house, presented a record of all the improvements he made to the old house including some photographs and the assessor completely ignored it all and just did the standard RDSAP assesment.

 

Do let us know if you find one that will listen to and look at your evidence, you certainly want to check he will do that before you appoint him.

 

I have even heard of people with a new build, with a proper as built FULL SAP, when later wanting to sell, that original SAP is deemed "out of date" and they are forced to get a new one which is done as RDSAP and comes out very much worse.  If that ever happened to us, I would just give buyers a copy of the original full SAP and tell them to ignore the recent one.

 

The system is a joke, particularly as the majority of buyers (except perhaps landlords) ignore it.

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11 minutes ago, ProDave said:

 one that will listen to and look at your evidence,

They exist, but they charge a lot more.

 

Energist for one. You can talk to the assessor, argue your case, provide details and they will include it if it helps.

They also point out any reason why your assessment is worse than you thought so maybe you can change a detail.

Not all that goes into the BRE assessment programme is logical, but they have to use it, hence you can choose to do what is best for the job or the rating.

 

But they of course charge a lot for their input. 

I'm sure they will discuss your aims without charge, and probably enjoy it.

There are other similar companies too, but not tested by me.

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1 hour ago, saveasteading said:

They exist, but they charge a lot more.

 

 

Mine doesn't but I tend to have 1 or 2 every year.

 

And he may get some useful stuff the other way.

 

He does well on Google as they are called "Energy Performance Consultants" ?, and he is a former senior policeman in his second career.

 

F

 

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CORRESPONDENCE

 

Request acknowledged.

 

 

Quote

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Request for Information

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We will now proceed with the new request, which we received on 08 October 2021.


In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, ***** Council is experiencing extra demands on its services and capacity, which has led to some resources being diverted away from the usual tasks. Whilst we will still endeavour to respond to information requests within the statutory timescales, this may not be possible in all cases.

Please be assured that we will provide a response as soon as possible and, where it is not possible to meet the deadline, attempt to provide an estimation of when your request will be fulfilled.

This request may be subject to certain exemptions as prescribed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, in which case the Authority may have to refuse the request, or any part of the request, subject to determining whether any exemptions are applicable.

Once the information has been identified the Authority may also ask that a fee be paid for processing and delivering the information to you. Details of any fee to be charged will be notified to you as soon as possible.

Any consideration of exemptions or fees may result in a delay in the intended date for delivering the information.

Any future correspondence you may have in relation to this matter should be sent to the Information Officer at ****

 
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