Building standards enforcement and sanctions: consultation

Closed 22 Jan 2024

Opened 6 Oct 2023

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


In Scotland, a Ministerial Working Group was set up following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, to review building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. The Group commissioned two reviews of building standards; one to cover compliance and enforcement and the other fire safety. The Review Panel on Building Standards Compliance and Enforcement identified the need for improving aspects of the building standards system (covering procedural compliance, built compliance and enforcement of both procedural matters and non-compliant work).

As part of the compliance and enforcement review, consideration was given to the issues and findings of the Independent Inquiry into the construction of both the Edinburgh Schools (Cole Report) and the DG One leisure complex in Dumfries independent inquiry report. This included considering the importance of site inspections and supervision and the roles, responsibilities and competency of different persons involved in building projects. 

Previous consultations

A public consultation was carried out between July to September of 2018. The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of the proposals presented. In the 2018 consultation analysis report, it confirmed that 75% of responses expressed support for increased fines for non-compliance with building regulations.

A review of the measures needed to deliver change for the building standards system was taken forward under the remit of the Scottish Government, Futures Board. The Board was set up with the purpose to identify measures to strengthen the building standards system.

Another public consultation on Building Standards Compliance and Enforcement was carried out between 11 November 2021 and 4 February 2022.

The consultation sought views on the proposed changes to strengthen the building standards system initially for High-Risk Buildings (HRBs) by:

  • Requiring applicants (building owners and developers) to evidence and document how compliance with the building regulations has been approached from a ‘pre-application meeting’ (initial) stage through to completion of the building project. 
  • Strengthen compliance across all building types with the new Compliance Plan approach and also to introduce a requirement for independent professional oversight - a Compliance Plan Manager - on high-risk buildings (high rise residential, high public value - schools, healthcare facilities, and also housing sites) to manage the compliance process from start to finish.
  • Increasing the current level of fines where work is not carried out in accordance with the building regulations, and
  • Asking if the existing powers for local authorities to take action on work not meeting building regulations is adequate.

HRBs include new build, conversions, alterations and extensions and are defined as:

  • Domestic building or residential building with any storey at a height of more than 11 metres above the ground.
  • Educational establishments (schools, colleges and universities), community/sport centres and non-domestic buildings under local authority control/where they have an interest in a building.
  • Hospitals
  • Residential care buildings

The responses to the consultation recognised the importance of achieving compliance first time. This is viewed as a critical point, and that any enforcement is always a backstop when all other options for resolution have failed. The current enforcement powers are considered adequate for local authorities to take action on work where it does not meet building regulations or not in accordance with a building warrant. There was however support for strengthen existing enforcement powers and increasing penalties for offences in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

The proposals aim to strengthening existing provisions, Section 21 Occupation or use without completion certificate, 27 Building warrant enforcement notices, and 48 Penalties for offences of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. These proposals are to:

  • Include owners in the offences for occupation without completion (section 21)
  • Include removal of work, introduce a standalone stop notice, and clarify the scope of section 27 to take action after acceptance of a completion certificate for Higher Risk Buildings (HRBs) with a time limit for serving enforcement notices (section 27).
  • Increase penalties for offences (section 48) that will also apply to Offences by bodies corporate etc. (section 49).
Read the consultation paper. The consultation paper contains full background information for this consultation. You may find it useful to read or refer to while responding.

Useful information about responding to this consultation

As you complete your response, each page will provide the option to 'Save and come back later' at the bottom. This means you can save your progress and return to the consultation at any time before it closes. If you don't use this feature and leave the consultation midway through, your response will be lost.

Once you have submitted your response, you can enter your email address to get a pdf copy of your answers sent to you.

On the 'About You' page at the end of this consultation, organisations will have the opportunity to tell us more about their work and/or how their response was informed.

After the consultation has closed there will be a few months delay before any responses are published. This is because we must check any responses to be published abide by our Terms of Use.

A analysis report will usually be published some months after the consultation has closed. This report will summarise the findings based on all responses submitted. It will be published on the Scottish Government website and you may be notified about it if you choose to share your email address with us. You can also join our consulation mailing list where we regularly list newly published analysis reports (as well as new consultations).

Why your views matter

The aim is to strengthen existing enforcement powers used by local authorities (LAs), and increase existing penalties for offences to act as a deterrent to persons who commit offences under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

The proposed changes will send an important message to the actors with roles in the Act e.g. building warrant applicant/owner/relevant person, that they should take their responsibilities seriously. By strengthening existing sanctions and increasing penalties for offences this will send a clear message that by not fulfilling their roles set out in the Act, and Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004, as amended (building regulations) their actions could have consequences that affect the health and safety of building occupants.


  • Building and Planning
  • Main hub