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Broadland District Council (20 010 617)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 19 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about how the Council dealt with a building control matter. This is because it is unlikely we could add to the Council’s response or achieve the outcome the complainant wants.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Ms X, has complained the Council wrongly issued a completion certificate for her newly built home. Ms X recently discovered the drain to the family bathroom was not properly connected and has incurred significant costs rectifying the problem. Ms X says the Council should compensate her for the cost of the repair.

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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 could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

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

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Ms X’s complaint and the Council’s responses. I invited Ms X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Most building work will require building regulation approval. The regulations will set the standards for design, construction and ensure the health and safety of the people living in or around the building.
  2. The Council will normally visit the site at various stages of the build. But councils do not act as a clerk of works and the responsibility for compliance with the regulations rests with the building owners and builders. The Council’s role is to maintain the building standards for the public in general rather than protect the private interests of an individual.

Assessment

  1. I will not investigate this complaint about how the Council dealt with a building control matter. This is because it is unlikely an investigation could add to the Council’s response or achieve the outcome Ms X wants.
  2. Ms X says the Council should not have signed off the works to her newly built home as some of the works were defective. She says the Council should compensate her for the costs she has incurred to rectify the issues. But I could not say the Council should reimburse these costs. Primary responsibility for the building works rests with those that commission it and those that carry it out and the courts have held that councils are not liable for pure economic loss arising from a dispute about the quality of works. The Ombudsman takes the same view as the courts and we will not usually investigate complaints where the main issue is one of pure economic loss.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could add to the Council’s response or achieve the outcome Ms X wants.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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