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30 October 2017, 06:33
MSPs have voiced support for unannounced fire safety inspections in Scotland in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
A report by Holyrood's Local Government and Communities Committee examining building regulations and fire safety praised the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for carrying out more than 1,200 visits and 900 inspections across Scotland in the wake of the fire at the London tower block in June.
Combustible cladding on the building is believed to have fuelled the blaze, which is thought to have claimed the lives of at least 80 people.
Committee convener Bob Doris said: "We welcome the additional fire safety visits undertaken by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and others to inform and reassure residents.
"The committee is supportive of unannounced inspections as part of the overall approach to national fire safety.
"We also believe there is a powerful case for the new inventory of high rises in Scotland to be regularly updated and for access to vital safety information to be speedily accessible."
He said the committee would continue to monitor the progress of the ministerial working group set up following the fire and adding that committee members thoughts remain with those lost loved ones in the Grenfell fire.
The report also calls for more support for homebuyers, particularly those purchasing new builds, who discover building defects or quality lapses, including knowing their rights, the role of building standards and what to do if problems arise.
The committee calls on the government to consider providing this support through stipulating more standardised missive or contracts, enhanced consumer advice and access to an ombudsman.
Mr Doris said: "It is understandably distressing for homeowners to subsequently discover that their brand new home has serious building defects. A new home can be the purchase of a lifetime and that's why finding any kind of significant issue can be utterly devastating.
"Our committee heard directly from homeowners and some said that they discovered their homes did not meet the standards set out in the original building warrant, despite receiving completion certification. They then struggled to get these issues rectified.
"That's why one of our key recommendations is to give homebuyers much more information on their rights when buying a new build home and what they can do when things go wrong after they have moved in.
"We've also called for a Clerk of Works to become a more familiar face on building sites across Scotland to provide an independent quality check on building compliance, especially on large-scale blocks of accommodation or public sector projects that have significant costs."