Building control (or not)

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Richard_C

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I'm surprised this hasn't had national press coverage. In a nutshell, 2 building companies working on a large development in Cambridge, expensive area so homes likely to be £650k and up (and up...) discovered that the foundations of some newly completed houses were below standard. Quite how they discovered that at the end of the build or why it wasn't spotted earlier by building control is a mystery.

I have always thought that Building Control should be properly resourced and done by local authorities but it seems like it can be outsourced or even self-certified these days. Buildings should last a century or more, so a bit of effort during the build might be a good investment.

Back to the plot. In summer they thought they might need to demolish a few homes. That has crept up to 88, some completely finished with things like kitchen appliances installed, some described as part finished but as far as I can see all the structural stuff was done.

They are knocking them down, fancy 3 floor town house style homes. Phase 1 isn't affected, but the residents who have shelled out hundreds of thousands of £££ are not exactly jolly. Must be dispiriting for the people who built it too.

All goes to show that the fastidious picky boring person the council used to send out to inspect every stage of a build was pretty useful after all.

Makes you think.



https://www.cambridgeindependent.co...fear-impact-of-dust-noise-and-vibrat-9350283/
 
All goes to show that the fastidious picky boring person the council used to send out to inspect every stage of a build was pretty useful after all.
There was a time when they would inspect the groundworks before and during the pour for the foundations to make sure no one was cutting corners with a shallow dig or infill of rubbish but now it does appear to be somewhat of a free for all. Maybe they are now working from home !
 
It would be interesting to know what went wrong, it could be all sorts of things such as grade or miss grade of concrete that an inspector would not see but which would be picked up on a cube test later - still no excuse for it getting that far. Pity the person who had to tell the boss.
 
What a waste of time and materials, it says they will be reusing the rubble. Somebody was cutting corners!
But what plug ugly houses to start with, really lacking any attractive features at all, soul destroying, looks like Soviet block housing.
Reading the above it made me wonder if they could have just removed the 3rd floor?
 
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Does the situation exist as a result of a problem with the planning department or building control department, as the two are not the same?
As a developer I assumed you would have an architect draw plans and a structural engineer do soil samples and work out the specification on the construction materials. This all goes to the planning department for checking. If it is OK then building starts and the building control inspector comes out at set stages to check what is being done matches the specification. Unless they physically see something that does not look correct then the building continues.
If the situation with the footings was due to a lack of load bearing ability of the ground, then I doubt they could physically see this.
Unfortunately what the houses look like has no bearing on the situation. Ugly houses are allowed to be built, or at least what some people think are ugly, as it's down to personal taste.

Colin
 
Given that a builder can source building control from any number of private providers, the system is vulnerable to all sort of abuse, including backhanders etc. Once a build has a private BC company associated with it, the local authority BC will not (cannot?) intervene.
I have witnessed the shabby consequences.
 
So it looks like BC was outsourced to NHBC, not clear who signed off on the design.

So we have the builders who will have costs and loss of income, the site developers and landowners who will have lost money through delayed income, maybe a few off plan buyers who may have consequential losses, an architect, maybe structural engineering consultants, NHBC,

So the winners are... Multiple teams of lawyers. This will run and run.
 
I always wonder who is actually responsible for checking the checker, for example 8 Exec houses were built 5 years ago at the top of the road I live on, (now locally known as millionaires row!) they were positioned wrongly on the plot, so a new planning application had to be submitted, then a for wait months for that to be resolved, so the new occupants were sitting there nervously, and its probably only in the last 6 months that all the "snagging" has all been done.

Another property in the village is waiting a re approval for being built 450mm closer to the neighbours boundary than it should have been.

When I was doing a lot of site work we used to get the NHBC inspector, Ten year Ted, call in quite regularly...for a cup of tea.
 
To be fair to the developer they picked up on the issue and are making it right.

In Ireland they probably would have organised it so the actual development company collapses and walks away, and a 'new' company comes in to finish the development but with no resp for the prior issues...

Or just rush to finish phase 2 and then collapse.

One thing we've learnt in Ireland is that gaurantees aren't worth sh*t if there are widespread quality control shortcomings in the industry.
 
We are building a house on part of our garden (for our daughter and S-i-L). We are using a private building inspector and they are more than nit picking, the paperwork trail is seemingly endless and requirements to photograph all of the details as well. This is the 5th house I have built and the checks are far more than all of the previous builds. To me the problem is the bigger building sites where pressure can be put on private building inspectors.
 
What a waste of time and materials, it says they will be reusing the rubble. Somebody was cutting corners!
But what plug ugly houses to start with, really lacking any attractive features at all, soul destroying, looks like Soviet block housing.
Reading the above it made me wonder if they could have just removed the 3rd floor?
It's been known for years that rubble is not suitable for use under home foundations. The brick material contains substances that react over time with cement causing weakening and foundation movement.
The use of rubble under concrete bases built to mobile home 'Gold Shield' requirements now has to be stone to prevent movement within 10 years.
 
It's been known for years that rubble is not suitable for use under home foundations. The brick material contains substances that react over time with cement causing weakening and foundation movement.
Do you have an empirical evidence for that statement, when I trained with Ove Arup's well consolidated hardcore had a well defined specification which included broken brick of up too 75mm, but that was in the days of Resident Structural Engineers, never had building control officers, calculations where submitted to the LBA and they would always say no comment, never approve anything, get out clause? 🤔

Anyone know if the Darwin Green development was built on a flood plain as seems common these days.
 
Cube tests are generally done at 28 days. They must be building fast if the house is finished by the time that result is published.
Cube test are done a 7, 14 & 28 days, not until the strength specified at 28 days is reached (this could be at 7 days) is continued work allowed on that section i.e. the support formwork for any structural element allowed to be struck, its interesting that the comment being made by Cambridge Council that they are going to ensure the re-built houses will be built in accordance with the design, begs a question.
 
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I find it intriguing that the ‘blaim’ is being allocated to building control! What ever happened to just doing the job properly, taking personal responsibility? If it’s wrong it’s 100% the people who either designed the foundations, provided shoddy material or did the work. Nobody else is to blaim. The need for building control just highlights how many cowboys ride around claiming to be builders!

Directors are jointly and severally liable, and everyone from the bottom to the top is responsible for their workmanship both morally and legally.
 
I find it intriguing that the ‘blaim’ is being allocated to building control! What ever happened to just doing the job properly, taking personal responsibility?
There has always been the cowboys in the building game but it seems we now have an epidemic and many see building just as an easy way to make a fast buck. They even have the nerve to say that new builds are all built by skilled builders but this has become another branch of the building game where the real skilled builders don't go because they have standards and don't like the just throw it up attitude of the property developer who only has the share holders in mind. Overall this is a really sad situation we are in where people accept low standards and have low expectations in a wide range of areas from furniture to building work and seem to think if it last for a few years then we will change it anyway, quality has become appearance only and without any substance.

If you look around, everywhere is now delapidated and looking tired and worn out because people don't do the small things that make a place nice, such as keeping fences sound and painted or do any maintenance which might just be because of the economic shieete we are in but in my opinion a lot is down to attitude and the much faster pace of life, why people want to race to the finish line who knows.
 
Do you have an empirical evidence for that statement, when I trained with Ove Arup's well consolidated hardcore had a well defined specification which included broken brick of up too 75mm, but that was in the days of Resident Structural Engineers, never had building control officers, calculations where submitted to the LBA and they would always say no comment, never approve anything, get out clause? 🤔

Anyone know if the Darwin Green development was built on a flood plain as seems common these days.
DG 522 part 1 contains complete explanations. Gold standard mobile home pads had a blanket NO on any ground type. To be fair it is quite complicated.
There have been many failures due to some hardcore containing crushed bricks made with power station ash included as a filler. That ash contains sulphur, which creates sulphuric acid if moisture is attracted. This reacts with cement and can cause upheaval.
 
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DG 522 part 1 contains complete explanations. Gold standard mobile home pads had a blanket NO on any ground type. To be fair it is quite complicated.
There have been many failures due to some hardcore containing crushed bricks made with inclusion power station ash as a filler as that ash contains sulphur, which creates sulphuric acid if moisture is attracted. This reacts with cement and can cause upheaval.
Or the cement has a grey powered feel and little holding ability so as such can easily breakdown and react with the cement!
 
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