Trade bodies welcome ministerial intervention regarding certification during phased return

Dave Forrester

A number of Scottish construction industry bodies have welcomed ministerial intervention in support of certification schemes.

Kevin Stewart, Scottish Government minister for local government, housing and planning, has written to 32 local authorities to highlight the potential for certification by approved scheme providers to facilitate early approval of building warrants as well as their positive impact on verification capacity.

His letter has received the backing of scheme providers including SELECT, the trade body for the electrical industry in Scotland; Structural Engineers Registration; certification body BRE GlobalRIAS Services; Certsure, trading as NICEIC; and SNIPEF, the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation.

Mr Stewart said in his letter to local authority chief executives: “Although certification is an optional method for compliance, certificates of design support the earliest approval of warrants by removing the need for verifiers to check compliance in these areas. The use of certificates of construction would also have significant value at this time where there is a need and requirement to actively manage the number of people on site to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. As electrical, drainage, heating and plumbing work can be certified by qualified building professionals, their increased use will reduce the need for building standards inspection visits.”

Dave Forrester, director of technical services at SELECT said, “As we begin the construction restart process, it’s vital that we work together as an industry to provide support to firms looking to complete projects as efficiently as possible, while ensuring we all continue to protect the health and safety of those people involved. I welcome this statement from the Minister and hope it helps to raise awareness of the benefits certification provide towards achieving those objectives.”

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF commented, “In a phased return, there is a need to keep the number of people on site to a minimum. As certifiers would likely be on site anyway, this would reduce the need for inspection, and also travel to and from site. As sites will not be working to full capacity it will be essential that as much work can be done as is possible on site without having to delay progress by, for example, waiting for a building inspector. Certification helps this issue and increases productivity.”

Richard Atkins of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) said, “By using Approved Certifiers of Construction and Design, the building owner has an insurance-backed guarantee that the electrical, drainage, heating and plumbing systems and the structural and energy performance designs are compliant.”

SELECT has joined with other certification scheme providers to work with the Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division Resilience Group to address short, medium and long-term issues created by the Covid-19 crisis. It is also currently working on an animation which focuses on the benefits of certification that will help guide firms through the easing of lockdown process.