Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Legacy Building Warrants, Scotland

The Head of Building Standards in Scotland has written on the 4th June to the Chief Executives of the Local Authorities with an update on the handling of existing building warrants for housing developments.

This follows a February 2013 Building Standards Division meeting where it was agreed that, although a sympathetic approach is still required in the application of Building Standards to housing developments in the continuing difficult economic climate, a blanket unconditional extension of Warrant validity is less justifiable. 

Scottish Ministers have endorsed a suggested approach for handling the “legacy building warrants” for housing, the broad principles being:
  • Housing developers seek to improve their original specifications with emphasis on key health and safety matters and improved energy efficiency.
  • Local authorities apply conditions sympathetically when extending the period of validity of building warrants recognising improvements to the original specifications.
  • Local authority verifiers should get a fee proportionate to the extent of verification work needed.
  • This approach could be where the site has not started or is partially complete (i.e. site with a mixture of some plots complete and others not started).
  • This approach could be where the site or part of it has been sold to a different developer whose business model is better suited to the market.
Local Authority Building Standards Scotland has now circulated a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to all verifiers and Homes for Scotland.  Under the memorandum, the validity of a “legacy building warrant” granted before 30 April 2012 under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 could be extended up to two years. Importantly, any design or layout changes would be accepted under the relevant original standards (2005 or 2007 Technical Handbooks) with or without upgrades agreed between the developer and the verifier.

The MoU covers applications to extend the validity of “legacy building warrants” that are made up to 30 April 2015. This approach is to be reviewed before April 2015 to further consider the economic background and the Government’s aspirations on climate change at that time. 

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