Building control and environmental inspections ensure that your construction project complies with current building and environmental regulations. When you take on a building project, whether you are the project owner, the contractor or subcontractor, you are legally bound to make certain that all construction processes and products and the entire project meet building and environmental regulations. This article will arm you with basic knowledge in European construction codes and directives so you know what inspections to conduct to ensure compliance with the right standards and legal requirements.
Eurocodes: the building standards in the EU
The EN Eurocodes are the recognised reference documents for
- Proving compliance of building and civil engineering works that they meet the basic requirements of the Construction Products Regulation, specifically the Basic Requirement 1 which is the “Mechanical resistance and stability” and Basic Requirement 2 that is “Safety in case of fire”
- Defining construction work contracts and contracts for related engineering services
- Drafting harmonised technical specifications for construction products—ENs (European standards) and ETAs (European technical approvals)
The EN Eurocodes are as follows and cover:
- EN 1990: Eurocode – Basis of structural design
- EN 1991: Eurocode 1 – Actions on structures
- EN 1992: Eurocode 2 – Design of concrete structures
- EN 1993: Eurocode 3 – Design of steel structures
- EN 1994: Eurocode 4 – Design of composite steel and concrete structures
- EN 1995: Eurocode 5 – Design of timber structures
- EN 1996: Eurocode 6 – Design of masonry structures
- EN 1997: Eurocode 7 – Geotechnical design
- EN 1998: Eurocode 8 – Design of structures for earthquake resistance
- EN 1999: Eurocode 9 – Design of aluminium structures
Environmental regulations for construction
Related legislations for construction concerning environmental regulations include the following:
- Directive 2010/31/EU: Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) – provides measures related to the energy performance of new and existing buildings including the requirement that all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) by the end of December 2020.
- Directive 2012/27/EU: Energy efficiency directive (EED) – establishes a framework of measures for promoting energy efficiency which covers energy efficiency considerations in constructiing and renovating public buildings and in the public procurement of energy efficient buildings, products and services.
- Regulation EU 305/2011: Construction products regulation (CPR) – describes the format of technical assessment for construction products.
- Regulation EC 1221/2009: Eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) – details the voluntary environmental management system (EMS) that can help an organisation manage the impact of its activities on the environment. ISO 14001 is an integral part of EMAS. Learn more about the ISO standards in construction quality management.
For an in-depth discussion on environmental laws in the construction site, follow the link.
Optimise your compliance through building and environmental inspection checklists
The technical inspections for a building’s compliance with regulations are based on Manual of Standard Building Specifications. Depending on the kind of inspection and where the inspections are performed, assessments may be self-assessment by the project owner and architects, independent assessments by certifying bodies, or a combination of both. In a generic sense, however, building control performance standards are determined by the following primary inspection categories (as based on Building Control Partnership’s inspection framework in the UK):
- Commencement – This inspection is imperative prior to submitting full plans or building notice applications.
- Foundations – Foundation inspections are essential in making sure your foundations are capable to carry the load of your construction proposals. This inspection is executed before the pouring of any kind of concrete foundation.
- Oversite Materials – This inspection is to ensure that insulation and oversite materials are correct before any area is covered or concreted.
- Damp-Proof Courses and Membranes – Inspections for damp-proof courses, floor, membranes and methane barriers are required before covering with brickwork or concrete.
- Drainage Alignment and Fall – Inspections for all drainage systems are required before they are covered to make certain that there is adequate access and fall.
- Pre-Plasterboard – All hidden works (including structural steelwork and roof work) must be inspected before any kind of plasterboarding work.
- Drain Test – Inspections for drain testing should be carried out on new drainage systems to check water tightness, performance and for any leakage problem.
- Prior to Occupation – This inspection is carried out before the client occupies a building.
- Completion – This inspection should be carried out before the contractor or builder leaves the site and is conducted once all the works have been completed. If all works are found satisfactory, a Completion Certificate will be issued.
These inspections summarise all the basic requirements for complying with building regulations, particularly with technical specifications and health and safety aspects. For specific Eurocode requirements, kindly check the JRC Eurocodes website that lays out all the details for each code so you can base your own checklists from them. You can find templates of specific inspection checklists for building control to start off your own checklists.
Inspections for Energy Performance
In relation to the environmental directives mentioned previously, an energy performance assessment is required for you to get a building certificate that would determine your building’s energy performance level. A qualified assessor will collect information on your building’s characteristics and components, as well as its energy systems and consumption (International Energy Agency, 2010). The assessment includes the minimum analysis of:
- Building form, area and related details
- Thermal, solar and daylight properties of the building envelope and its air permeability
- Space heating installation and hot water supply, including their efficiency, responsiveness and controls
- Ventilation, air-conditioning systems and controls, and fixed lighting
- Fuel and renewable energy sources
- Other elements: lighting systems, installed equipment and appliances (Arkesteijn and van Dijk, 2010)
Effective Building and Environmental Inspections with Checklists
Having checklist templates make your inspections clearer, clarifies the inspector’s responsibilities, controls the inspection tasks, and provides an instant report of your building and environmental inspection activities. Checklists are a great tool for on-the-spot documenting of inspection observations and findings. They allow a seamless and straight-to-the-point inspection process.
Read about related quality inspections that directly impact your building control performance.
Upgrade Your Inspection Procedures with Digital Forms
Upgrading your checklists into digital forms designs a faster and more accurate inspection process when it comes to your building control and environmental on-site inspections. Using a construction management software that enables you to record your inspection activities and observations in real-time while you are on-site keeps you focused and vigilant of what conditions to look out for. Additionally, having all your data in a universal platform allows for status updates on inspection items needing monitoring and follow-ups.
APROPLAN is a cloud-based construction project management app that helps you streamline your building control and environmental inspections in your construction projects for better inspection accuracy and quicker issuance of building certificates.