Building Control: Local Authority V Private Inspectors?

To receive building control approval, you can use either the local authority, or a private inspector. This decision is completely up to you as the client. We aim to provide you with all the relevant knowledge so you can make the most effective decision. They have different benefits depending on your situation. It is important to determine which option is right for your situation and whether the information they provide is fair, honest and without a hidden agenda.

Both local authority and private building control inspectors have their benefits when it comes to getting your drawings approved. Although they take a very different approach, each has its own set of advantages that might make the situation you’re in more convenient. To truly make the most of them, however, it helps to learn how each of them operate.

Local Authority

Many people choose to go with the local authority over private building inspectors, simply because they are the local authority. They have designated authority, and no matter what you’re project, they’re bale to find the right staff for the job and provide the service that you need at a certain standard in a certain way.

The positives

One of the best things about using the local authority for building control is that there is a systemised process in place that allows them to operate effectively and efficiently. For a lot of people looking to get their work done by the book, that’s the perfect combination for a mind at ease and a smooth project

The local authority is of course, a not for profit organisation, too. Their operation costs and the fees that they charge are all completely standardised, and are put in place to allow the service to run accordingly while providing you with everything that you need for work to go ahead safely and as planned.

The negatives

The only issues that come alongside using the local authority to provide you with building control approval is that they are completely driven by this standardised approach. They operate utterly and completely by the book, and there is very little leeway for exception circumstances or individual situations. There’s  a clear code of conduct that is to be followed every step of the way, and for some, that can actually result in a higher chance is rejection, and more hassle than they may have if they chose to use an external agents such as a private building inspector.

They’re much more likely to perform the entire inspection to a layer of depth which isn’t as common in private inspectors. The quality of the workmanship for example is something that could easily be questions by the local authority, even if you’re working to a particular standard. They have no reputation to protect, and that’s one of the key points to remember.

Private Inspectors

If you choose to use private building control inspectors over the local authority, the process albeit very similar, has a very different feel to it depending on the exact service you get. Some people may find that this kind of business centred service is easier to work with, but a lot of the time, you may see that the standard of the inspection isn’t quite on par with the local authority.

The Positives

The biggest benefit of using private building inspectors is that rather than the standardisation that many people may have the occasional issue with when using local authority, private inspectors instead operate a lot more relaxed. The standards that are used by the business tend to be much more lenient towards the customers involved. This point alone can be hugely beneficial, especially with work that can provide even slight doubt, and in actual fact, you may even find certain builders increase your chances of success even more, since they may be well known in the industry or even have a reputation of quality that proceeds them

This business focussed way of operating is something that most people in this day and age are very used to. In the majority of cases, you’ll quickly see that the care and communication provided by the business you choose will be on par with many other businesses out there offering much more of a customer orientated mindset than a council could offer.

The Negatives

As with anything, it still isn’t all good news when it comes to private inspectors. As with any business, the level of service that you can expect to see will still vary from inspector too inspector, as is their prerogative. They all operate to their own set of standard, and it’s never crystal clear of what you’re looking at receiving, or how professional and organised they will be when it comes to working with you on your project.

On top of this, it’s also just as easy to argue that a private building inspector also may well not have the knowledge or expertise that the local authority will do either when it comes to your building regulations. For example, they may not know the historical knowledge of the area that the local authority does or have their thorough and professional ability to see potentially dangerous work. It’s all a bit of a risk, and it can be a luck of the draw situation.


Ultimately, when it comes to building control, both the local authority and private building inspectors can very easily give you the service you need. The council is more rigid, has higher standards, and may well be more organised, and that alone can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. Private building authorities tend to be much more relaxed and lenient, but that does mean you could have a harder time communicating with them as formally or professionally as you do with the local authority, and they may not hold your work to the highest standard either.

It all comes down to what you’re looking for in your service, and how you’d like the whole process to go. Both options can give you what you need, it really just comes down to your own attitudes and preferences. If you’re still unsure, it can be a good idea to talk to your designer or architect, as it’s more than likely that they have experience in d3ealing with situations exactly like your own. They can give you the facts and advice you need about your personal situation and help steer you in the right direction to a quick and easy approval.