Firm involved in high-risk buildings delay receives sanction

A building control company which last month saw its high-risk building inspection work taken over by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has been sanctioned by a professional disciplinary panel, it has emerged.

In results published last Wednesday (26 June), a disciplinary panel for the CIC Approved Inspectors Register (CICAIR) said that Assent had failed to comply with two clauses of its code of conduct.

The announcement of the ruling comes a month after Assent was named in an alert by the BSR as one of two companies overseeing in-flight higher-risk projects where construction needed to stop so it could take over inspection work.

CICAIR said that one of the breaches relates to the requirement to provide an appropriate standard of service and the other relates to a stipulation that approved inspectors must always comply with Building Control Performance Standards.

Exact details of Assent’s conduct were not released by the panel, but in a sanction notice it told the company to look at the processes it follows to review the progress of work on site, so that “they minimise (if not eliminate) the possibility of key aspects being missed”.

The panel also said the firm needed to review its processes to make sure that final certificates are issued “in a bona fide manner”.

“This should include processes to check that items raised during site inspections have been properly closed out and include processes to ensure that test and other relevant certificates are both received and reviewed, to ensure that they are satisfactory for their intended purpose,” it said.

Last month, Assent’s failure to register to become a registered building control approver (RBCA) was cited by the BSR as part of the reason that work on more than 50 higher-risk projects will need to be paused until it can sign off their applications.

The problems were also caused by another firm, AIS Surveyors, going into liquidation in May, the BSR said.

In January, a separate CICAIR disciplinary panel was convened. Assent was convicted under Section 57 of the Building Act 1984, which relates to the issuing of reckless or false information on a notice or certificate.

That panel concluded that Assent’s processes enabled “an unacceptable risk” of an “undetected deficient building” being given a final certificate.

Its sanction notice said: “The panel has determined that there is a risk that by maintaining an operating model and system that allows for a period of 30 weeks to pass before an inspection of an apparently inactive project is mandated, there is an enhanced and unacceptable risk of [an] undetected deficient building, the reckless giving of a final certificate, and of risk to public safety and public confidence in the profession.

“The disciplinary panel also found that Assent’s current schedule for inspections discloses an unsatisfactory and unacceptable period of time is allowed to occur between inspection visits.”

The January sanction followed hearings in October and December 2023. Assent was ordered to report its progress to CICAIR within three months of receiving the panel’s determination.

An Assent Group spokesperson told Construction News: “The issues raised by CICAIR have been the subject of a full internal investigation and these issues have been addressed and resolved.

“The business continues to improve and develop its systems, processes, policies and procedures to ensure that its registered building control businesses (LB Oculus and Clarke Banks) are compliant with all regulatory requirements.

“We remain committed to providing the highest standards of service to our customers.”

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