Government issues new guidance on the use of assessments in lieu of tests

7 January 2019

The Government has published amendments to Approved Document B in England. The amendments replace the advice issued by government in its circular letter dated 10 September 2018.

The guidance in appendix B and paragraph 1 to 5 of appendix A of Approved Document B Volume 1 and 2 has been amended to ensure that assessments in lieu of tests are only used where necessary and are carried out in an appropriate way. The guidance clarifies that an assessment in lieu of test should not be regarded as a way to avoid undertaking a test where one is necessary and should only be carried out where sufficient, relevant test evidence is available.

The revised approved document recommends that an assessment in lieu of test is carried out in accordance with the appropriate extended application standard for the test in question where one is available or BS EN 15725:2010 when there is no specific standard.

Tests and assessments should be carried out by organisations with the necessary expertise, for example, organisations listed as “notified bodies” in accordance with the European Construction Products Regulation or laboratories accredited by UKAS for the relevant test standard.

Transitional Provisions

The Amended Approved Documents come into force on 21 January 2019, however the Amended Documents will not apply where an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority before 21 January 2019 and either the building work to which it relates:

a) has started before that day; or

b) is started within the period of two months beginning on that day.

Commencement of work

In the opinion of MHCLG the commencement of work would usually be marked by work such as:

  • excavation for strip or trench foundations or for pad footings;
  • digging out and preparation of ground for raft foundations;
  • vibrofloatation (stone columns) piling, boring for piles or pile driving;
  • drainage work specific to the building(s) concerned.

MHCLG considers that the following sorts of work would not be likely to constitute the commencement of work:

  • removal of vegetation
  • demolition of any previous buildings on the site;
  • removal of top soil;
  • removal or treatment of contaminated soil;
  • excavation of trial holes;
  • dynamic compaction;
  • general site servicing works (e.g. roadways)

In some cases, applications will be in respect of a number of buildings on a site, for example a number of houses. In such cases it is the commencement of work on the first of the buildings within the application which determines whether all the building work can take advantage of the transitional provisions, not each individual building.

For more information on the amendments and how these may affect your project please speak to your NHBC Surveyor or Project Manager

Please note:
We are currently reviewing the amendments in depth and will be updating this page on a regular basis as we understand the full implications of the changes to guidance.