Registered Building Inspector and Personal Liability

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The Building Safety Act gained Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and with-it new terminology and roles have been introduced. The Act refers to Registered Building Inspectors (RBI) and Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCA). The latter is the new name for Approved Inspectors. From April 2024, restricted functions such as plan assessments and site inspections will only legally be able to be carried out by an RBI. The full list of restricted functions is expected in secondary legislation but at this stage we can assume they will the general day-to-day activities of a Building Inspector.

It will be the role of the RBI to advise the Regulator (RBA, LABC or BSR) if a Final Certificate (or Completion Certificate) can be issued. This introduces the question of the personal liability of the individual. The role of an RBI will not change from what they currently do; they will still carry out plan assessments and key stage inspections, and advise if a Final Certificate can be issued (Restricted functions). An RBI working for a Regulator will still be covered under the insurance of that organisation just as they are now; we understand there will be no requirement for an individual to hold personal insurance. However, with the introduction of personal registration, clients will have the ability to complain directly about an individual to the Building Safety Regulator.

The suggestion that an individual could suffer a commercial claim if a project goes wrong is clearly incorrect. The contractual link on any project will be between the Building Control Body (Regulator) and the client, there will be no contractual link between the individual and the client, and therefore no legal basis for a commercial claim against the individual. However, with the introduction of personal registration and the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) code of conduct for Registered Building Inspectors, clients will have the ability to complain directly about an individual to the BSR. Currently there is no consistent way of making a complaint about an individual. Whilst an individual Surveyor may be a member of professional body such as CABE, RICS, CIOB, etc. who have their own Codes of Conduct, there is no single Code of Conduct that every Building Inspector must follow regardless of any professional body membership. The introduction of the BSR Code of Conduct changes this as it will be a condition of registration that all RBIs must follow the Code regardless of any professional membership and regardless of which Regulator they work for. Should the BSR receive a complaint about an individual, the complaint will only be assessed against the Code of Conduct which sets out expected standards of Honesty and Integrity, Professionalism, Competence, Respect, Dispute Resolution and Cooperation. If the individual acts within the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of RBIs, there will be no basis to uphold the complaint. In short, if the RBI conducts themselves as any professional is expected to act then they have nothing to worry about.

The name ‘Registered Building Inspector’ may be new, but the day-to-day role is not. There will be some new expectations of RBIs but these should not be of concern to any individual who conducts themselves in a professional manner.