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Carlisle City Council (17 016 515)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 14 Feb 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complains that the Council failed to properly carry out building control inspections on her building. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because he considers that there is a private remedy more appropriate and the Council is not responsible for the work carried out.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains that the Council failed to properly carry out building control inspections on her building.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the complainant's comments and the Council's comments and Mrs X has commented on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X instructed builders to build a loft conversion to her property. She says that the work carried out was poor and she says that the Council failed to properly inspect the works at the time. She says that the Inspector should have insisted that the work carried out was uncovered so that the work could properly be inspected.
  2. She says that the Council is now considering legal action against the builder for contraventions of building regulations. She says that the cost of rectifying the work has been substantial and there is no guarantee that she will recover her costs from the builder.
  3. We will not investigate most building control complaints because primary responsibility for building work rests with those who commission it and those who do the work. When carrying out their functions, local authorities will visit at various stages but they will be not be present for the great majority of the project and do not act as a ‘clerk of works’.  On request and when satisfied after taking 'all reasonable steps' that the Regulations have been met, they must issue a completion certificate. This is not a guarantee that all works have been done to the required standard.
  4. Therefore, whilst it is understandable that Mrs X considers the Council to blame for the work, the Local Government Ombudsman considers that any failure to carry out work properly to a property lies first and foremost with the builder (who can be held accountable in court).

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. The Local Government Ombudsman does not consider the Council responsible for the claimed injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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