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East Hampshire District Council (17 017 455)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: we will not investigate this complaint about a breach of building control. It is unlikely we will find fault by the Council. And another agency is better placed to deal with the matter.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I have called Mr X, complained that East Hampshire District Council has failed to take action over breaches of building regulations in his newly built apartment.

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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, or
  • there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information provided by Mr X. I have considered Mr X’s response to a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Most building work requires Building Regulations approval.
  2. A council’s Building Control team or Approved Inspectors may undertake building control functions. Approved Inspectors are companies or individuals authorised under the Building Act 1984 to carry out building control work in England and Wales. Councils have no role to play in work supervised by Approved Inspectors.
  3. The Construction Industry Council (CIC) may consider complaints about Approved Inspectors.
  4. Defects in a new property may be covered by a builder warranty.

Key facts

  1. Mr X bought his newly built ground floor apartment in 2015. It has a sun room. The flat above has a balcony over Mr X’s sun room. Mr X suffers from noise every time his neighbours use their balcony.
  2. Following a water leak in 2016, Mr X discovered there is no sound insulation between his sun room and the balcony. He later discovered that the approved drawings do not show any sound insulation there.
  3. Mr X contacted the developer and the Approved Inspector. Although the Approved Inspector acknowledged there was a problem with the construction of Mr X’s apartment, both it and the developer denied any responsibility for the lack of sound insulation.
  4. Mr X also contacted the Council. It told him it could not take any action because the developer had used an Approved Inspector to oversee the building control work. It advised him that he could complain to the CIC about the Approved Inspector.

Analysis

  1. We will not investigate this complaint.
  2. The developer of Mr X’s apartment used an Approved Inspector to carry out building control functions while it was being built. So the Council is unable to take any action over the lack of sound insulation. It seems unlikely, therefore, that we would find fault with the Council for failing to act.
  3. The Council has correctly advised Mr X that he may complain about the Approved Inspector to the CIC. This agency is better placed to deal with the matter. Mr X may also be able to make a claim against the developer via his builder warranty. Or, as an alternative, he may be able to pursue a claim against the developer through the courts. But these are all private actions which neither the Council nor the Ombudsman can get involved in.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault with the Council, and another agency is better placed to deal with the matter.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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