Legacy Building Warrants, Scotland


The Head of Building Standards in Scotland has written on the 4th
June to the Chief Executives of the Local Authorities with an update on the
handling of existing building warrants for housing developments.
This follows a February 2013 Building Standards Division meeting where it
was agreed that, although a sympathetic approach is still required in the
application of Building Standards to housing developments in the continuing
difficult economic climate, a blanket unconditional extension of Warrant
validity is less justifiable. 

Scottish Ministers have endorsed a suggested approach for handling the “legacy
building warrants” for housing, the broad principles being:

  • Housing
    developers seek to improve their original specifications with emphasis on key health
    and safety matters and improved energy efficiency.
  • Local authorities
    apply conditions sympathetically when extending the period of validity of
    building warrants recognising improvements to the original specifications.
  • Local authority
    verifiers should get a fee proportionate to the extent of verification work
  • This approach
    could be where the site has not started or is partially complete (i.e. site with
    a mixture of some plots complete and others not started).
  • This approach
    could be where the site or part of it has been sold to a different developer
    whose business model is better suited to the market.
Local Authority Building Standards Scotland has now circulated a
2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to all verifiers and Homes for Scotland.  Under the memorandum, the validity of a “legacy
building warrant” granted before 30 April 2012 under the Building (Scotland)
Act 2003 could be extended up to two years. Importantly, any design or layout
changes would be accepted under the relevant original standards (2005 or 2007
Technical Handbooks) with or without upgrades agreed between the developer and
the verifier.
The MoU covers applications to extend the validity of “legacy building
warrants” that are made up to 30 April 2015. This approach is to be reviewed
before April 2015 to further consider the economic background and the
Government’s aspirations on climate change at that time.