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Minor Building Works , or not. Scottish Warrant


saveasteading
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The warrant application response says that our building 'goes beyond Minor Works Structures Guidance'.

 

I know that a storey over 200m2 needs special attention for fire. However I can't see any such guidance for structures, which is what he is saying.

We are proposing a 95m2 (GEA) area of replacement timber structure, and no rebuild to the remainder which is about another 155m2 GEA.  GIA is 270m2 total.

It matters as he is rejecting the calculation of the timber structure using the 'Minor Works' design guides, which I have done. I am not registered in Scotland so he is requiring a registered  Engineer to be engaged that we don't need , or want to pay for.  Also choose any 2 Engineers (or of anything) and get different interpretations.

 

The intention of the 'minor works' process is to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.

 

Any pointers? Is there such a ruling?

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Hi Saveasteading.

 

I understand your frustration.

 

As a bit of background. Glasgow City Council for example are clamping down on folk who are putting a different interpretation on the word "minor". Folk are submitting warrant applications and trying to pass it off as minor works so as to avoid having to engage an Engineer and to try an speed up the application process.

 

The way BC is set up nowadays is that if there is any doubt on their part they are entitled to ask you to submit supporting calculations or go the SER route. Their first duty is to public safety and they are heavily overloaded at the moment. I just had a letter today from the planners saying they have experienced a 25% increase in applications since COVID kicked off. There are a lot of folk extending and so on and the planning / warrant system is starting to fail.

 

I think it's your replacement timber structure that is the main issue. I can appreciate that you probably have got the main structure sized right, particularly with your experience. But.. if you are interfacing with old stone, have the odd funny shape then things like your standard connections to the walls, the bracing system and small redistribution of loading can take you beyond the spirit / intention of the minor works guidance.

5 hours ago, saveasteading said:

I am not registered in Scotland so he is requiring a registered  Engineer to be engaged that we don't need , or want to pay for.  Also choose any 2 Engineers (or of anything) and get different interpretations.

This information you have been given is wrong, they are making incorrect / false statements.

 

In Scotland to get a building warrant you can:

 

1/ Submit drawings and specification showing how you are going to comply with all the parts of the building standards. This includes part 1 of the Standards "Structure". Rather than submitting calculations you get an SER engineer to give you a certificate that effectively says they have done the calcs in the office and rather than printing them off here is a certificate instead with drawing information. The SER registered Enginner still has to do the work in house as the SER ltd auditors should be making sure they do!

 

2/ You can produce the same drawing / specification information as above but provide the calculations instead. If you lay your design calculations out in the same format as the guidance the SER ltd give to their members then the council have no where to go in terms of questioning your presentation. Provided you get your calculations correct and know what you are doing then a checking Engineer should have no presentation issues and your calcs get approved. In some way this is good for public safety as you have an independant Engineer paid by the council checking your (commercial) work.

 

Now here in Scotland some councils will do their best to delay and try and put you off submitting your own calcs. Quite a few made the mistake of laying off their in house Engineers and now have to funnily.. tender it out to SER Engineers.. !

 

You do not need to be a registered Engineer, so long as you are competant with sufficient knowledge and experience you can submit calculations. The test is are your drawings conveying all the required information to show how you are going to meet the building standards and are your calculations correct, professionally prepared in an acceptable format. In terms of your calculations a key part of this is the description of the design philosophy and an explanation of where all the load paths are and how the structure "works". If you can't describe this philosophy and defend you design against professional scrutiny then you have failed the competancy test in my view.

 

Some councils in the central belt still have in house checking Engineers, some don't. The ones that don't generally have a standing arrangement where they get an SER Engineer to check the calcs. North Lanarkshire Council have such an arrangement. Roughly the submission is sent to the councils approved list of SER Engineers. They have 3 weeks to respond and a further 3 weeks to do the job. Thus on the whole getting a warrant takes about 6 -8  weeks longer than the SER route. Sometimes when you look at it in the round the calc route is faster as if often as the end of a job you need the SER Engineer to sign the form Q..to get the completion certificate.. and they don't do this if the builder has not kept all the info on say roof trusses / specialist design packages and so on. Go the calc route and it is designed at the front end.

 

Many folk are happy with this old school calculation route provided they know up front.

 

Often in the time the warrant application is progressing you are tendering, a good builder often can't start anyway for a few months so the apparent delay becomes a mute point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Gus Potter
typo!
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Very interesting @Gus Potter - we always just use an engineer who provides SER certificates, the only times I've done it with calcs it's been so slow and I'm sure the queries are like Chinese whispers by the time the engineer gets them! 

Although it might mean the engineer costs marginally more, you do get a discount on the warrant and speed up the process so it depends on what your starting point is...

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2 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

Very interesting @Gus Potter - we always just use an engineer who provides SER certificates, the only times I've done it with calcs it's been so slow and I'm sure the queries are like Chinese whispers by the time the engineer gets them! 

Although it might mean the engineer costs marginally more, you do get a discount on the warrant and speed up the process so it depends on what your starting point is...

Hello Sole.

 

Appreciate your perspective and experience. I have enjoyed reading your posts. One but not least was how you explained how you aim to submit a comprehensive warrant / planning submission. I commend you. I hope praise does not offend.

 

Your right though. I think you may deal with Argyll and Bute Council more often than not? Have dabbled in this area on an off over the years. I can't recollect many happy times when submitting calcs. It's to do with the funding I think mostly. Some of my family live on Tiree and thus have experience with the warrant / planning process so I have a bit of local knowledge. I did a SE type job for a developement at Glensanda Quarry a few years back and some other commercial stuff round about Lochgilphead, all through the calc route. 

 

For me in the Glasgow / Lanarkshires of Scotland belt my old school submitting calcs approach has worked fine.. so far. Like you I aim to make a quality submission. I actually get very few written queries back from BC, maybe less than five a year relating to the actual calcs. I get a few phone calls from other SE's as they are often just curious about some of my innovations. On the whole though a well presented and correct calc pack sails through.

 

Where you get stuck is that some councils have cut their funding of BC and paid off their Engineers. This then leaves a small group of SER Engineers controlling the domestic extension / self build / renovation market. Yes you get a discount on your warrant fee. I easily mitigate this by including extra information on my drawings which at the end of the day saves many a Client far more than the discount.

 

To finish. Yesterday I had a BC officer call me to say that as I had submitted calcs the warrant would take 8 weeks longer. I have worked with him in the past so know him. He said.. Gus I can follow your calcs and they look fine to me but I am no longer able to sign off so need to send them for external checking. I said.. that is fine as I have told my Client that as I don't offer the SER certificate it will take longer to get the warrant. Funnily I have had some warrants with calcs through faster than the SER route so make what you want of that!

 

Hope this gives folk applying for a warrant in Scotland some food for thought.

 

 

 

 

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