Building Control Officer

Building your community

Building control officers (BCOs) work in the building industry, ensuring that regulations on public health, safety, energy conservation and disabled access are met.  Around 3,000 building control offices are employed in local government or approved inspectors throughout the UK.

Work Environment
BCOs work some of the time in offices writing reports, vetting of plans to establish compliance with the building regulations and the remainder of their time on building sites of varying size making regular inspections as the work proceeds to ensure the builders comply with the said regulations.

Daily Activities
Almost every new building or structural alteration requires building regulation approval. Application for such approval and planning permission is via the local authority or to a private Approved Inspector for building regulation control. Once building regulations approval and planning permission have been granted, it is the building control officer's job to inspect the work at various stages of construction.

In addition to their work on health safety and building regulation enforcement, if consulted at a sufficiently early stage in a building project, their advice can save time and money on a range of issues.

Ultimately they have powers to prosecute builders or persons having the works if the work does not conform to the building regulations, although they would prefer to use this as a means of last resort. Most of the routine inspections are conducted as work progresses on site. Building control officers may be involved from anything from a kitchen extension to an entire town-centre complex. They normally keep a running record of how each project is progressing and, once complete, may issue a certificate.

While the majority of the work is concerned with construction, building control departments within local government also approve demolitions and carry out surveys of potentially dangerous buildings. Some inspections may arise in the wake of comments from members of the public or fire officers or the police calling to say they believe a particular building is dangerous, or that it has suffered as the result of an accident, fire or the weather. This tends to happen a great deal after storms and freak weather conditions.

Skills & Interests
BCOs must have a broad knowledge of all aspects of building work, in addition to being familiar with complex building regulations and legislation. They must have the technical knowledge in order to talk authoritatively with architects, agents site managers and builders and the public.

They must be good communicators both in writing and verbally, and posses excellent organisational and administrative skills. An interest in building is a must as is the ability to relate well with people and demonstrate a logical approach to problem solving.

Entry Requirements
Minimum entry qualifications are five GCSE/Standard grade passes at grade C or better, including maths, a science and proof of English language ability. Many employers will look to degree-level entrants, however. There is an S/NVQ Level 4 in Building Control available, providing an alternative route into the profession.

Length of training varies according to the trainee's background, with non-graduate entrants normally obtaining a BTEC Higher National Diploma or Certificate in Building Studies via day or block release. These are followed by professional examinations set by the Association of Building Engineers or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Graduate entrants may be exempted from some stages.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Building control officers can move into senior building control officers' posts and then onto the head of the service.

Further Information & Services
Association of Building Engineers 
Construction Skills 
Local Authority Building Control

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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