I bought and completely refurbished my UK (Midlands) house 10 years ago. This included removing the problematic old staircase and fitting a spiral staircase. In total, the only building regulations required were for the replacement windows and this staircase. I have notes of my conversations with the building inspector at the time, as I was stressing about the diameter of the stairs versus the number of rooms it serves, but he said it would be fine as long as the windows were large enough for fire escape egress. No other points were raised.
10 years later and I am selling the property and have someone eager to buy. In collating all of my documents, I noticed I didn't have a building regulation completion certificate. I queried this with my solicitor who told me to chase the council, which I did, and they arranged for an inspector to visit the property, which baffled me as I thought I just needed a copy of the certificate. But it turns out a certificate was never issued, and now the inspector has visited and said the staircase 'simply needs to be moved', because the head height between the second step and the ceiling is too small.
Unfortunately, as this is now well after the fact, it would require significant structural building changes to do this. The original builder who did the work for me is baffled, as he recalled the inspector (the same one) visiting and never raising any issues, and he said he wouldn't have issued a final invoice until all the building regulations were signed off. Also, the Building Inspection dept. usually follow up on 'open cases' 6 months after the fact, and this never happened.
I found this quote from the HOA website (emphasis mine):
"In terms of building regulation compliance, the reality is that the council usually will have taken action within 12 months of the work being completed, although it is open to them to serve a dangerous structure notice at any time if there is reason to. Otherwise, if a council issued a notice for lack of building regulations after the 12 month period it could be rebutted."
So my question is: if the building inspection didn't raise this 10 years ago when it was done, is it reasonable for them to raise the issue now? And/or can I push back against this?
I asked my solicitor about an indemnity, but they said that's no longer possible as the council have been 'put on notice'.
(Also, the purchaser has suggested he's not bothered about it, but the building inspector has said he would 'proactively advise no one to buy' my house, and that the mortgage company may not loan without the completion certificate)