A recent call from a client who had a builder round to quote for a structural opening at the back of their property and they had been told that health and safety says that they need a structural engineer….  They were not sure and made the call.

The builder was in part right.  The works would fall under the Building Regulations and as such would need a structural engineer to validate the proposed lintel and supporting arrangements for the existing property.  But the building regulations are different from Health and Safety.

All construction works are required to be conducted under the Construction and Design Management Regulations, recently modified in 2015, but these relate to the activities need for construction not the specification or detail  of construction work unless it has an impact on the potential risks to undertake the work.

An example widely used but the HSE (government body with statute powers to enforce all Health and Safety legislation) is the client instructing the builder to not undertake works safely, normally because of cost.  A real example that we came across was a client who told the contractor to excavate for new foundations, undercutting the boundary line of the neighbour.  The contractor instructed the client the cost to support the adjacent ground was around £3000 but the client was adamant that this was not needed and instructed the builder to commence. Looks safe does it not ?

Our recommendation, if in doubt ask the HSE for advice, or contact a professional, if you feel that you are not getting the right answer, get a second opinion before it is too late.