They Think It's All Over
Just because construction has finished, doesn't mean the job is over.
Capital A Architecture recently celebrated five years in business and over the past few months I had a series of conversations with past clients, some of whom I had not heard from since the early days of setting up the practice. In each case the same issue came up, the client had carried out construction work several years ago and now was in the process of selling their property. Only they couldn't, because they didn't have a Completion Certificate.
So what is a Completion Certificate, why does it matter and how do you get one?
The Capital A website has a guide to the steps involved to procure a building, from initial consultation to post-construction. One of the most important technical steps in any building project involves applying for a Building Warrant, which is a statutory requirement. In the same way that a building cannot be built without Planning Permission, In Scotland (different rules in England) a Building Warrant is also required before construction can begin. While getting the Building Warrant approved is a serious technical challenge, it is not the end of the matter. When building work is finished, a Completion Certificate must be applied for. Crucially, the application must be made by someone who can actually vouch that the work has been carried out in accordance with the approved drawings. In the case of my past clients, I had not been involved during construction and they had simply forgotten to apply. While I was able to offer advice and guidance, I could not make the application on their behalf.
Legal Problems, You Really Don’t Want Any.
If building work (this includes extensions and internal alterations) does not have a valid Completion Certificate, the structure cannot legally be occupied. This leads to obvious problems when the owner tries to sell the property and it can also lead to very difficult situations if the owner tries to make a claim on their home insurance. Further issues can arise once the application is made, as the building will be inspected by an Officer from the local authority Building Standards department. If the work was not carried out in accordance with the approved drawings, they will not issues the completion certificate. At that stage there are two options; First, get the builders back in to make the necessary changes. This is potentially expensive and time consuming. Second, apply for an Amendment to Warrant. This involves changing the drawings to take account of the variations that were made during construction. This will only be acceptable if the variations actually comply with the Building Regulations, if they don't, then the first option is the only course available.
All this aggravation is avoidable if the following steps are taken;
1. Get a Building Warrant approved before construction begins.2. Build EXACTLY what is on the approved drawings.3. Apply for the Completion Certificate once construction work is finished.