London Borough of Bromley (18 003 969)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 15 Oct 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained the Council has unreasonably refused to issue a completion certificate for building works in his house. Mr X needs the certificate to show the works were carried out in accordance with building regulations. There was no fault in the way the Council made its decision.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the Council has unreasonably refused to issue a completion certificate for building works in his house.
  2. Mr X needs the certificate to show the works were carried out in accordance with building regulations.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and discussed it with Mr X. I read the Council’s response to the complaint and discussed it with the Head of Service. I took advice from professional bodies whose members certify works in relation to building regulations. I read relevant passages from building regulations.
  2. I gave Mr X and the Council an opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision and took account of the comments I received.

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What I found

  1. Regulations set out requirements and best practice in relation to building works. These are known as ‘building regulations’. It is the responsibility of land owners to ensure that works comply with building regulations.
  2. Wherever a contract for service exists between a consumer and a professional tradesperson, the work should be carried out with reasonable care and skill. This requirement will include the need for work to comply with building regulations.
  3. Building regulation approval can be granted by a local authority or an independent approved inspector. Some types of works can be ‘self-certified, through the government’s Competent Person Scheme. A range of works may be self-certified, including combustion appliances (e.g. unvented water heating systems) and means of ventilation (e.g. mechanical extractor fans).

What happened

  1. Mr X had an extension built on his house. Mr X says:
    • he got into dispute with his builder, who walked off the site, so he finished some of the work himself;
    • the builder left the site without paying the plumber who had fitted his hot water system, so the plumber refused to provide the certificate unless he was paid; and
    • he doubts that regulations relating to mechanical extraction fans apply to extensions.
  2. Mr X applied to the Council for a completion certificate to show the works complied with building regulations, but the Council refused his request. The Council said it needed more information to show building regulations were satisfied in relation to:
    • an unvented hot water system; and
    • mechanical extractor fans.
  3. The Council explained to Mr X that he could either:
    • provide self-certification evidence to show the work had been carried out by a competent person;
    • provide evidence from an independent competent person to show the requirements of the regulations were met; or
    • pay a fee to the Council, and it would arrange for the work to be inspected by an independent competent person.
  4. Mr X said he should not have to provide more information as in April 2016 a local authority building control officer had told him the works were satisfactory and all he now needed was an electrical safety certificate.
  5. The Council disputes this. It says it has no record to show the unvented hot water system or the means of ventilation complied with regulations. Until it has this information, it cannot issue a completion certificate.
  6. Mr X thinks it is unreasonable to pay a fee to provide the information the Council has requested.

My findings

  1. Mr X has not provided the Council with evidence it requires.
  2. I checked relevant building regulations and with two of the major bodies that deal with the relevant competent person schemes. The Council is entitled to require evidence to show both the unvented hot water system and mean of ventilation comply with building regulations.
  3. For this reason, I do not find fault in the Council’s request for information from Mr X or its refusal to issue a completion certificate.
  4. The Council has explained to Mr X his options on to how to resolve the matter. It is now a matter for him to provide the information that is required.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation as I found no fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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