MWCIA

Changes To B. Regs & Court Rules From April 1st
From April 1st 2013 there are a number de-regulatory changes to Building Regulations, these changes are meant to make the Building Regulations simpler and are also intended to stimulate the construction industry.

In the main these changes relate to Approved Document B - Approved Documents K, M & N and Approved Document P. In this article I will concentrate on those deregulatory changes which may affect you as a Window Professional. Therefore I will not make any comments regarding changed to Doc B - Fire Safety.

On the changes to Approved Documents K, M & N, the main changes from April 1st 2013 is that Part N will be no more, that is redundant and will be incorporated into Part K - Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact.

(The deregulatory changes to Part M - Access Facilities for Disabled People, I do not feel warrant any comment in this article as these are mainly regarding access strategies and the Equalities Act 2010, and in the main may not affect you).

Therefore dealing with Part K, and Glass and Glazing generally. The old Part N 1 now becomes K4 and the old K4 becomes K5.1, N2 becomes K5.2, N3 becomes K5.3 and N4 becomes K5.4.

The removal of Part N from the Building Regulations was felt necessary as a number of elements within Part N were included and duplicated in Part K, and therefore all of the elements that are relevant to you as a Window Professional are still active with regards to ‘critical locations’ and the like. These now however are incorporated within Approved Document K.

With regards to the changes to Approved Document P - Electrical Safety. The scope remains the same - ‘reasonable provision shall be made in design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or alerting the installations from fire or injury’. This remains.

There is a new Regulation 12(6a) which provides as follows, under the sub-heading ‘Notifiable Work’. ‘Notifiable Work - installation of a new circuit, replacement of a consumer unit - any addition or alteration to existing circuits in a special location, and special locations. Special locations are - a defined space in a room containing a bath or a shower - a room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater’ (these may not affect you and your business).

The important matter with any installation regards the construction of conservatories, is that the person carrying out the work on your behalf should be L.A. Building Control registered ideally, or should be a member of the NICEIC or the NEC, and all works should be designed and installed to British Standard 7671:2008.

There are ‘self certification schemes’ where works can be carry out by a Registered Installer, nevertheless even though a self certification scheme may be in place, the installer, i.e. the electrician, must complete the BS 7671 Certificate and notify Building Control within 30 days of the works being completed and provide compliance certificate to the occupier.

These are important points for you, where you employ a sub-contract electrician, it is important that these documents are provided, otherwise as the ’main contractor’, you could find yourself in some difficulty. If in doubt speak to your local Building Control Surveyor.

N.B.  There is some talk in the future of bringing in 3rd party certification, where a DIY person could carry out work at his own property, on the electrical system, then have the works certified by a registered installer, but this option is not in place yet and may be brought in by the Government at a later time.

Changes to the Regulation and System for Controlled Works (i.e. bldg works requiring B.Reg Application & Approval)

The new system from April 1st 2013 is:-

  • 2 days notice required before starting work (once L.A. receive notice they will give a written notification as to what stages and at what time they wish to receive further notices throughout the contract). The inspection regime must be ‘intended’ and ‘risk assessed’. The risk assessment if required will be determined by the builders ability, for example. However check with your L.A. BC.
  • The L.A. must be notified of the completion of the work within 5 days of completion.
  • Occupation of the building must be notified to the L.A. again 5 days before occupation, but only if a Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order applies. However this can be varied if the Building Control see fit.

(The new Regs can be downloaded free from the Planning Portal)

CIVIL LITIGATION - THE JACKSON REFORMS

As everyone is aware, the cost of Litigation can be quite prohibitive and often the costs incurred and usually paid by the losing party can far outweigh the cost of the claim in the first place.

‘The Jackson Reforms’ are meant to cut the cost of Litigation and also the red tape. The reforms are also meant to halt the rise in the ‘Compensation Culture’ which is dominant throughout the UK at the present time.

From April 1st there will be a number of changes mainly to reduce the amount of ‘no win - no fee’ cases that run through Court and also the PPI Claims that run through Court.

With regards to you and your business within the window industry, perhaps the most important change is that the Small Claims limit will rise from £5,000.00 to £10,000.00, (and will go up to £15,000.00 in due course.)

The idea is that the more cases there are in Small Claims, then the cases can be dealt with more swiftly with no costs, (normally in Small Claims costs are not recoverable by the successful party). Mediation has become mandatory rather than an option. The previous system on Mediation was optional to both parties, the Claimant and the Defendant.

For those of you that have faced Litigation, and been unable to afford a Solicitor but your opponent could afford to instruct a Solicitor, then you will understand how unfair the system can be when you are attempting to argue your case and present all your documents and meet deadlines against a Solicitor who have been paid by the other side.

Moreover if you have faced a consumer in Litigation who has been represented by a ’no-win, no-fee’ Solicitor, you will understand the heavily disadvantaged position faced by those fighting a ’no-win, no-fee’ opponent.

The increase in the small claims limit is, in the main, good for the industry, and may encourage the parties in a dispute to be more amenable to a negotiated settlement.