Different building control procedures apply to different categories of construction work
All four countries identify three types of building control procedures. First of all there are the very low risk construction
projects that are exempt from (private and public) building control and for which no construction permit is required. Nonetheless,
these structures do have to comply with building regulations. This exemption generally applies to simple structures without
a residential function, small extensions, alterations and the repair of a building. Secondly, there is construction work that
does require a construction permit but to which a simplified building control procedure may be applied. In Norway this procedure
may be applied to simple structures without a residential function and the extension of homes. In Germany, Ireland and England
this even extends to new dwellings. In most cases the procedure requires less paperwork and most of the building control work
is executed by the constructor (or other parties involved, architect, engineer). In England and Ireland private building control
surveyors are not mandatory during the simplified procedure and in Norway and Germany they are required for fewer elements.
Finally, the regular building control procedure applies to the more complex construction work for which private building control
surveyors are mandatory (with the exception of the English public system).
Other systems focus more on competences of actors involved
There are two ways to make sure building control functions well and construction quality is preserved. Either by prescribing
detailed rules, regulations and procedures or by setting quality requirements (educational and experience) for the professionals/companies
involved in building control. Germany, Ireland, Norway and England apply both, but focus more on the latter (compared to the
new Dutch system). The capabilities and expertise of the private building control surveyor are very important in these systems.
On the other hand, the way they have to execute their work is less rigidly prescribed.
Costs differ between countries
The costs of the building control systems vary strongly between the four countries. Germany and Ireland have a relatively
more costly quality insurance system than Norway and England. The limitation of the execution of private building control
work to certain professions, the prescribed hourly rates, the relatively large role of local authorities and the number of
required actors make the German system and (to a lesser extend) the Irish system more costly. In Germany these costs are offset
by an overall high level of construction quality. The Irish system on the other hand is still developing. Nevertheless, parties
indicated that the recent adjustments have led to an improvement of the overall construction quality. The English system scores
high on cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The healthy competition between private and public surveyors and the separation
of the two parts of the system have led to less double work being carried out, more customer friendly service on both sides
of the system and has limited process time. This in turn has lowered costs whilst preserving quality. Out of the four countries
Norway seems to have the least costly system. Less technical and physical inspections and a more process oriented approach
by local authorities and private building control surveyors have contributed to these lower costs. Despite this seemingly
less rigid approach to building control the quality of construction in Norway seems to be preserved.
Benchmarking and warranty and insurance covers stimulate quality
Having insight in the quality of the work that constructors deliver is valuable from a consumers perspective. In turn
transparency in the construction market will also make delivering quality more profitable. The English warranty and insurance
market (for new builds) shows that applying benchmarking practises gives constructors incentives to deliver quality. Furthermore,
warranty and insurance covers protect consumers from time consuming legal conflicts concerning construction failures
and liability issues. This also stimulates constructors to deliver quality.
Getting the quality assurance in construction right is an evolving process. The challenge for any system lies in finding the
balance between regulation and innovation. In other words to not overregulate but to provide enough flexibility and incentives
for parties to invent and apply smart solutions whilst making sure a high level of construction quality is preserved.
These conclusions were drawn based on a wider country comparison study that the Economic Institute for Construction and Housing
(EIB) performed for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. This study is only available in Dutch.
 England has a dual system in which parties can choose between private or public building control.