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BUILDING CONTROL IN EUROPE: Private versus Public Responsibilities

By : Frits Meijer , Henk Visscher

In the Western world, building regulations should guarantee that newly built buildings are safe and healthy for users and visitors. In most countries, additional demands are made concerning comfort, accessibility, energy efficiency and sustainability. In general, a building regulatory system consists of technical requirements procedural regulations. The latter determine building permit procedures and the extent and intensity of building control. In Europe, governmental bodies have traditionally played a central role in formulating and enforcing these regulations. In the past decades, however, we have seen some changes in this respect. In a growing number of European countries, private parties within the building sector (e.g., contractors, architects and engineers) have assumed some of the traditional activities of the local building control authorities. The reasons for this development differ. In the Netherlands, for example, alternatives for local authority building control are being explored, as doubts have arisen concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing system of control. In some other countries, however, such changes have been motivated by more positive reasons. This paper focuses on public as compared to private responsibilities for the inspection and control of building regulations. The paper is based on the results of a research project comparing the building control systems of eight European countries (Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden). The material has been updated and extended with an investigation of the Australian building control system. The central question concerns the preconditions and ingredients necessary for an effective and efficient building control system.
Keywords : Building Regulations, Building Control, Deregulation, Certification, Private Responsibility

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