Four inspectors and a sprinkler system.(Approved Inspectors)

"If a building project goes pear shaped, I can virtually guarantee that an approved inspector is involved!" This is a typical statement from senior fire safety officers throughout much of the UK. Since approved inspectors became widely involved in building control in the 1990s, the stories surrounding their allegedly dubious role in many instances have evolved into mythic proportions. It appears now that many in the fire and rescue services believe they are "hired guns" on the side of architects, developers and building owners, rather than impartial enforcers of public safety standards

Paul Hardy of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "according to figures collated by my service, approved inspectors are used in about 10 per cent of all building control work that we deal with. They are, however, responsible for almost 90 per cent of the controversial issues arising from the work."

Does an open and free market lead to spurious practice? According to an approved inspector based in Cardiff, it does not. "All approved inspectors have a duty to the Building Act and not to the company that employs them," said the approved inspector, who did not want to be named. "We are all signed up to the building control standard which is overseen by the construction industry council, the body responsible tot approved inspectors approval. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.