BRegs Blog

A blog to debate the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR): The BRegs Blog presents an opportunity for free expression of opinion on BCAR and their implementation. The blog is not representative of any professional body or organisation. Each post represents the personal opinion of that contributor and does not purport to represent the views of all contributors.

Category: Irish Building Control

5 Tips for Completion Certs

by Bregs Blog admin team

helpful-tips

5 Tips for Completion Certificates

1. Start as early as possible- agree the Ancillary Certificates, relevant drawings and specifications that will be needed at the start of the contract.

2. Make the Ancillary Certificates a condition of payment to avoid delays.

3. Keep good files with contact details, the description of the relevant works, the competence of the person signing off, insurances etc.

4. Upload all of the Ancillary Certs to the Building Control Management System (BCMS) website as you go (however, keep in mind that you cannot delete anything from the BCMS) as this will save you time at the end.

5. Advise your client that the Local Authority can delay by up to 21 days or return the certificate as invalid, in which case the clock starts on the 21 days again. The building cannot be opened, occupied or operated until this is completed.

Other posts of interest:

Press: RIAI fearful Local Authorities will start “finding something to invalidate as a method of workload control”

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

8 Questions for Professional Insurer

4 tips for sub-contractor Ancillary Certifiers

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

5 POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT BC(A)R SI.9 

4 tips for Design Certifiers… 

4 tips for assigned certifiers

4 things I am putting in my fee agreements

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read 

 

The new Part K of the Building Regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

cover.pdf [Converted]
The following contribution was sent by Isabel Barros MRIAI on 16th September 2014. 

The new Part K of the Building Regulations

The new Part K of the Building Regulations will come into effect on 1st of January 2015.

In general, Building Regulations apply to the construction of new buildings and to extensions and material alterations to buildings. In addition, certain parts of the Regulations apply to existing buildings where a material change of use takes place. Otherwise, Building Regulations do not apply to buildings constructed prior to 1 June, 1992.

Part K of the Building Regulations provides technical guidance for Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards and can be downloaded here.

The new Part K does not have major changes, the main one is probably the (small) increase in the handrail height.

The following notes provide an overview of the changes I observed:

  • Par. 1.1.4  – Table 1 – Rise, going and pitch

The Optimum going for Semi-public stairs was increased to 300 mm (Part K, 1997 required 275 mm). The rest of the table remains unchanged.

  •  Par. 1.1.6 – Tapered steps

Method for measuring remains unchanged but the benchmark changed to 1000 mm (from 900 mm in Part K, 1997).

  • Par. 1.1.17 – Handrails

The height of the handrail was increased and the underlined text was added:

“The top surface of the handrail should be between 900 mm and 1000 mm measured vertically above the pitch line, and between 900 mm and 1100 mm above the landing. Handrails should give firm support.”

(Part K, 1997 required a height of between 840 mm and 900 mm).

  • Par. 1.1.19 – Guarding

Horizontal railings are clearly discouraged (also in Par. 2.6).

Note the new (quite restrictive) addition if using cut strings:

“The triangular space formed by the tread and riser is not allowable to stairs in dwellings and common stairs in blocks of flats.”

  • Par. 1.1.20– Diagram 6 – Guarding design

The height of the guarding for stairways and ramps in single family dwellings was increased to 900 mm (Part K, 1997 required a height of 840 mm).

Part K_Fig 1

 

  • Par. 1.2.1 – Ramps

Length of individual flight of ramp between 1:12 and 1:20 increased to 10 m (Part K, 1997 required 9 m).

  • Par. 1.2.5 – Handrails in ramps

The height of the handrail is now required to be between 900 mm and 1000 mm (Part K, 1997 required handrail height to be between 840 mm and 900 mm).

  • Par. 2.4 – Pedestrian Guarding

A new diagram was included to assist in understanding the requirements.

Part K_Fig 2

  • Par. 2.7 – Prevention of falls from windows (NEW SECTION)

This is a new section and requires the provision of Safety Restrictors in dwellings where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall, and is more than 1400 mm above external ground level.

Part K_Fig 3

Disclaimer

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only. It is not a definitive legal interpretation of building control law. For more information, you should consult your technical adviser or Local Authority Building Control. No responsibility for loss or damage caused to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material included in this article can be accepted by the author. Read more by the author on her blog “Isabel Barros Architects – Blog | design + energy + excellence ¦ Wexford Architects

Other posts of interest:

Part J (2014): Carbon monoxide detectors mandatory 1 September

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

 

 

‘All Ireland’ | BC(A)R Boycott

by Bregs Blog admin team

sam-maguire-cup-

 

The following post appeared on the Facebook page of the Irish Architectural Technology Graduate Network, posted by Wexford-based Architectural Technologist, Kevin Tyrrell (see link here) on 19th September 2014. With the GAA and S.I.9 references the BRegs Blog Admin. Team felt it was a good one for All-Ireland Football final day!

To all Architects, Engineers, Chartered Surveyors and fellow Architectural Technologists.

Of  S.I.9, Politics and the Game of Junior B Hurling.

There are a few things that I think escape the view of the population of construction professionals out there who are opposed to S.I. 9. These regulations were brought into force by a Department and a Minister who care little to nothing about how we might feel about these regulations or how they affect us and our livelihoods. These regulations were brought into effect for one reason and one reason only i.e. to remove responsibility from the Local Authority and foist it squarely onto the construction professionals. They faced the potential of being blamed for Priory Hall by the Public…so they made the construction industry, the fall guys for their slip ups instead. In the court of Public Opinion it was “unscrupulous builders” and “incompetent Architects” who were all to blame, and as such it was Builders and Architects who needed tighter regulation. And thus the Minister and the Department played the age old political game of “Pass the Buck” or in Junior B hurling parlance……”Playing the Man”.

Now…we as professionals operating in the real world see this as acting irresponsibly, unfairly, unjustly, and with no regard for anyone else but politicians saving their own skins. But that is the game of politics. That is all you need to know about politics and politicians. Avoid fixing the problem. Find somebody else to blame, and make it their problem. Save your Dail seat and keep your votes. That is it. And that is the game we have been dragged into playing here. In the professional world we play Championship Hurling. Its challenging, its fast, its full of skill and daring and generally the best team wins. Why? Because the rules are there to protect everyone, and give everyone the best chance of succeeding if they have the required skills, determination and have a little luck too. Everyone plays to the same set of rules and generally everyone plays fair…and if you don’t you get a free or a penalty against you. If you cheat or blatantly disregard the rules then you get sent off. There are consequences and strict rules that try to give everyone a level playing field, so that the best team with the most skills comes out on top. The best team more than likely wins.

But that is not the game we are playing here. This is Politics. This game is played on a wet Sunday morning in a field in the middle of nowhere. Gentlemen welcome to Junior B hurling! And you may well laugh, but it’s not funny when your shins are skinned and your knuckles are bleeding and you have a black eye….and the referee is waving play on. Because the rules of this game are…you look after your own self first. The referee isn’t interested. He is a Home Town referee and will play to the crowd. A free is only a free if the crowd can see it and they complain. After that it’s a free-for-all. The burly opposition guy standing beside you is a wily old political fox. He knows his best chance of winning the ball is by hurting you first making sure you can’t get to it. There is no skill. No best man wins. It’s nasty, dirty, every man for himself and in politics your own team-mates are just as willing to pull across you as the opposition are. If you want fairness and protection from the referee then I am sorry…you are playing hurling in the wrong field.

If you want the Department and the Minister to change their minds and act fairly then you are missing the point. That is not how this game is played. If you want to play like a gentleman and rely only on your skills to win the ball then you are going home in an ambulance. If you want the referee to take notice and call a foul then you will be waiting a long, long time. We as professionals are too polite. And appealing to the referee to get the other team to play fair does not work. The crowd on the sidelines are the true arbiters here. They are the only people who count. The referee plays to them. They call the fouls. They decide.

Public Opinion. That makes the rules in this game. It might be a blunt instrument and by God is it fickle and contrary and is bound up more in the illusion of fair play than in actual fair play itself. Politics and playing it is illusory. What happens in the shadows, never happened. All that matters is that you hide your dirty play and if you can walk away from a challenge with the ball in your hand then you won, how you got it does not really matter as long as you could disguise any foul play well enough.

Architects, Engineers, Chartered Surveyors all writing letters, blogs, signing petitions, having meetings, etc. That is just a bunch of broken up team mates in a huddle moaning at why the referee will not give them a fair game to play. It does not change the game, it does not affect the opposition and it leaves you wondering why you bothered to turn up in the first place. Your coach is scratching his head and crying on the side lines over the fact the referee is not playing fair. You need somebody to tell you how to at least compete in this game. And here it is:

Shake yourself off. Get stuck in. And most of all understand that anything goes, it is winning by any and all means…and the crowd call the fouls. And a note to all fellow Architectural Technologists out there. We do not even have a team!! Some guys in the next County over might be willing to join the league, but the Home team do not like people outside the parish playing on this field! So we are the younger brothers showing up with our gear bag and hurley hoping that we can maybe get picked by the bigger boys to sit on their subs’ bench. Do we really want to be showcasing our undoubtedly silky skills out there on that field? Because out there we are less than inconsequential to the opposition and our team mates alike.

Construction Professionals need to get out of the little insulated huddle we are in and move away from moaning to each other about how unfair the system is. The system does not care. It’s a dirtier game than we have ever played. We are too polite and being polite is seen as being weak and inconsequential. It’s laughed at and derided by the opposition. The only way this game is won is by making sure the public start calling the fouls and sees the fouls taking place. That is what politicians and civil servants fear most. That means they have to start playing hurling and playing fair. Remember how the senior citizens pulled that off? Remember the Medical Card debacle? They knew how to Play Junior B Hurling! They understood the rules of the game. They got fouled. They made damn sure the foul was called and seen for what it was – Dirty Play. Politicians could not any longer play the man there. And the court of public opinion was going to be watching closely after that.

But that takes us as a body of professionals to get out of our own huddle and get out on the streets to protest this, make the public aware and start hurting the politicians and civil servants who are trying so hard to protect their own skins. Jab your hurley into their ribs for a change. Get off the ground and shake off the muck. Stand up for ourselves. For instance….if as a group of bodies, the RIAI, Engineers Ireland and the Chartered Surveyors directed their members that, as and from a mutually agreed date,(e.g. 1st October) they should flat out refuse to be Assigned Certifiers, refuse to lodge any Commencement Notice under any terms, then the outcry would be massive. Yes it is dirty. Yes it is ugly. Yes it is even playing the man, not the ball. It would grind the system to a halt. No client anywhere could build a house. Yes the backlash would be ugly and architects, engineers and surveyors would be potentially in the firing line for abuse by the public. Yes, it would even hurt our pockets too. But at least the game would be visible for what it is. Not hurling…just every man for himself. And we do not want to play that game. Let the Public see the reality of the injustice and how it directly affects them too. Most of them came to see a game of hurling. Show them it is not what you are being allowed to play. Let the crowd see the blood on your shins and your broken knuckles. Let them call the foul. And get off your knees, stop crying, and start doing it now. Because like every game there is a time limit. We are playing to a clock here and we are running out of time.

I feel that if this legislation is not seriously challenged and fought in a very public way with the Public on our side, and done within the next 6 months then we might as well give up now, because the Regulations will be here to stay. RIAI EGM’s, drawing up alternatives, bitching to the opposition about how dirty they are WILL NOT WORK. WAKE UP AND UNDERSTAND THIS NOW!!! The Public hold the key. Get everyone involved and point the blame back squarely at the Minister, Government and Civil Service…they won’t stop fouling us unless we do. As Michael Collins best put it, our best weapon is our refusal. Our refusal to be participants in a situation where our collective professional lives are at the whim of a political game of pass the buck. Do not engage. Do not play their game. With every Commencement Notice that we lodge we strengthen their resolve and give them solace that they have won, we are cowed, beaten, and yes we may be giving out, but they are not losing any votes or any sleep over this.

Until Politicians face a real threat of lost votes they will happily ignore us all and keep S.I.9 on the statute books.

RIAI EGM | Opinion: “…the liability we carry must be sustainable”

by Bregs Blog admin team

Open Letter RIAI

The following opinion piece was sent to us on 17th September 2014 by Michael O’Neill in relation to David McHugh’s piece earlier in the week.

I would like to commend David McHugh  on his recent post (link below) and for having the courage of his convictions both in relation to calling the EGM and publishing his views. I wholeheartedly endorse his position.

My background on this is as follows:

I am not a member of the RIAI yet, I am applying for Registration through Option C and am awaiting a call to interview. However, between 27th  June 1990 when I qualified from Bolton Street [now D.I.T.] and 1st May 2008 when the restrictions of the Building Control Act 2007 came in, I inspected and issued Opinions as an Architect for many buildings.

  • I have attended in Court as an expert witness in matters of non-compliance. I have undertaken remedial work for clients in conjunction with Building Control Inspectors and I have issued Opinions on the buildings I helped bring into compliance.
  • I have therefore a reasonably competent working knowledge of the legal system as it pertained to issuing Opinions – Prior to the current Building Regulations.
  • I do not recommend anyone issues Certification as either Design Certifier or Assigned Certifier under the current draconian Building Regulation system.

Even when this system is remedied, I would strongly advise consultant designers – architects, engineers, etc – to limit their Opinions to their design work.

I was one of those in the profession who did not welcome the inclusion of Main Contractors “certificates” under the Schedule A assurances in the Opinion wording. In my opinion, it opened up the Designers to being included in claims against contractors where the built work was not in compliance.

  1. I am of the view that designers should certify design only.
  2. Main contractors together with their sub contractors and suppliers should certify the built work.
  3. All Opinions and Builders Certification should be issued in the context of a properly insured and registered Sole Tradership or Limited Company.
  4. There should be a Statue of Limitations in force, not the current wide-open and eternal liability for Certifiers that is covering someone in a distant factory not assembling a hidden component correctly.

We should not be hounded into our graves nor our families’ beggared in our retirement.

The professionalism we practice must be competent and the liability we carry must be sustainable.

Other posts of interest:

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9” David McHugh

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

Minister Hogan’s departure- Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

SCSI “A Bad Act”| S.I.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

iStock_000031422784_Medium

SCSI “A Bad Act”| S.I.9 

As a contrast to yesterday’s pro-S.I. 9 piece from Engineers Ireland the following article was posted by the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI) in the Surveyor’s Journal from Summer 2012. In it,  Kevin Hollingsworth, outlined deficiencies in proposed changes to building control legislation. The issues outlined in the article are still relevant and it suggests  S.I.9 would appear to have been introduced by the Department of the Environment without regard to the objections of the SCSI.

Quote: “The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012 is the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s attempt to attend to the deficiencies in the current system, and is widely regarded by property professionals to be ill-conceived, uninsurable and unworkable.

This is alarming given the objections of Fine Gael’s own Oireachtas committee, along with the other key stakeholder involved in the formation of S.I.9, the representative body for architects (RIAI). The RIAI called on Ministers Hogan and Bruton to defer the legislation earlier this year (see links below).

Given the grave reservations both representative bodies had to the new regulations it will be interesting to see if recent developments post implementation e.g. the evolved form of S.I.9 , the acute fall-off in commencement notices, delays in capital spending, self-building ban etc., will inform SCSI and RIAI policy post now, 6 months post-implementation.

We are still awaiting a response to the questions submitted to the SCSI on 22 August 2014 and it will be interesting to get an update on their views.

Link to the Surveyor’s Journal article Here

Extract below:

___________

A Bad Act

KEVIN HOLLINGSWORTH outlines serious deficiencies in proposed changes to building control legislation.

A change to the way in which the building control system in Ireland is administered has been needed and requested by all property professionals for a considerable time. The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012 is the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s attempt to attend to the deficiencies in the current system, and is widely regarded by property professionals to be ill-conceived, uninsurable and unworkable.

So great is the concern regarding this Act, that prior to making the Society’s submission to the Department on the specifics of the legislation, the Society, the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation and the Association of Consulting Engineers in Ireland met and wrote a joint letter raising our concerns and requesting an extended consultation period and further round table discussions on the matter.

A parallel process for the preparation and agreement of the proposed code of practice referred to in the draft legislation should also be undertaken during the extended public consultation period, so that the code of practice can be in place prior to finalisation of certification requirements envisaged under the draft amendment regulations. Not having a completed code of practice prior to endorsing new mandatory inspection and certification obligations is inconceivable and unworkable.

Why the proposed legislation doesn’t work

Some of the specific issues regarding the legislation are outlined below:

The legislation requires full design drawings to be submitted at Commencement Notice. Full sets of detailed construction drawings are not and will not be available at Commencement Notice stage. The construction detail of many building elements is not finalised at Commencement Notice stage, nor is it practical to suggest that they can be finalised at this stage.

The current draft legislation does not allow for partial/phased completion certificates. Many buildings are completed to shell and core stage and then handed over to a prospective tenant or new owner to undertake their fit out. The legislation needs to account for this common occurrence in the construction industry.

Mechanism for Change of Inspector/Certifier for Project must be included in the legislation or code of practice. Even with the best will in the world, sometimes a change may be necessary due to accident, illness or disagreement. A mechanism must be established that will enable the appointment of an alternative certifier for a development, and specifiy how any new appointee can carry on the work of the previous certifier.

Domestic extensions are currently exempt under this draft legislation. Domestic work will most likely form a considerable sector of the construction industry for some time and the general public are the people who require most protection. We believe that any regulations should cover all construction work over carefully considered minimal thresholds and not just new buildings.

Certificate of Compliance

Of greatest concern to would-be certifiers is the statement on the draft Certificate of Compliance (at both Design and Completion stages):

“I certify… that the proposed design/building or works as completed is/are neither defective nor contravene any requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations”.

This statement implies strict liability, which is unworkable and uninsurable. If any registered surveyor, architect or chartered engineer signs a certificate with this statement included, he/she is stating that they have inspected all sections of the works. This means that they must be present at all times to ensure that there are no defects in the works. This will result in a massive cost to any client. It is also highly unlikely that any professional indemnity policy would cover such a far-reaching scope, and if it did it would most likely cost more than the building is worth.

As stated in our previous submission on The Building Control System Review and Recommendations 2011, milestone inspections will need to be undertaken by the certifier, such as:

  • Prior to pouring foundations.
  • Prior to pouring the ground floor slab.
  • Upon reaching wall plate level.
  • Prior to lining/closing up the walls internally.
  • Upon completion of finishes.

On completion of the works, a Certificate of Compliance will be issued and should include the following:

Fire Safety Certificates: inspection by the fire safety consultant who prepared the Fire Safety Certificate application should be required during the construction stage, and sign-off when construction is complete;

Air Tightness Certificate; and,

BER Certificate.

Conflict of interest and local authority involvement

The proposed new building control system also retains one major flaw from the current one: conflict of interest. The building owner will still be the paymaster of the certifier. This is an inherent flaw of any such self-certification system. On a similar point, throughout this legislation there is one notable absence: a strong role for the local authority apart from as a recipient of information. At present the building control officer is only required to inspect 15% of developments. It is a common perception among professionals that this requirement is not met, and it is hard to see how it could be met with some local authorities only retaining one employee to act as building control officer on a job share basis, e.g., half an employee.

We propose that building control officers should have a far greater role, carrying out, on up to 100% of developments, at least one of the milestone inspections. The cost of this could easily be borne by a reasonable increase in the Commencement Notice charge.

Having a building control system without an active role for the building control officer is not wise. There are some things that a government should retain an active role in, and ensuring that the inhabitants of the nation have safe and functional buildings is one of them. It is not a coincidence that the move away from the days of the bye laws inspections to self-regulation has coincided with the drop in the standard of construction.

The Society has now submitted its view on the draft legislation to the Department of the Environment, outlining the above and other views in more detail. Following on from this, the Building Surveying Professional Group will also be making a separate submission on recommendations to the Central Bank that they should compel all lending institutions to ensure that all of their lenders comply with any new building control legislation. In my opinion it is essential that the purse strings of this country play a leading role in building better homes and a better future for the people of this country.

Kevin Hollingsworth
Kevin is a Chartered Building Surveyor with McGovern Surveyors and Chairman of the Building Surveying Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

Other posts of interest:

Fine Gael Report opposed new building regulations- 2013

DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

RTÉ Radio 1 Clip: RIAI confirms call for deferral of BC(A)R SI.9 

The compelling case for Deferral of BC(A)R SI.9 (2014) 

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

dangling_participle

The following opinion piece was submitted on 16th September 2014 by Nigel Redmond, a Registered Building Surveyor. It is a follow-up comment on a previous post “ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?“. Concerns continue to be raised about possible ambiguities in the wording of S.I. 9 and their implications for floor area calculations. Varying interpretations have already arisen between different Building Control Authorities. The writer sought a determination on this issue from the BCMS and a BCA but without success to date.

Why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

Here is a quote from page 5 of S.I.9: 2014

(2) The requirements of paragraph (1)(b) shall apply to the following works and buildings-

(b) an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 square metres,

I wish to point out that part (b) lacks complete clarity and can be interpreted in two different ways and possibly three.  The issue is the word ‘involving’. It is a ‘dangling participle’.  A ‘dangling participle’ modifies the wrong noun.

I give two examples of this:

“I saw the trailer peeking through the window”.

Presumably, this means the speaker was peeking through the window, but the placement of the clause “peeking through the window” makes it sound as though the trailer were doing so. The sentence can be recast as, “Peeking through the window, I saw the trailer.”

Similarly, in “She left the room fuming”, it is possibly the room, rather than “she”, that was fuming. It may be preferable to write “Fuming, she left the room”, to avoid any ambiguity.

In the case of the aforementioned part (b), the participle ‘involving’ could refer to (a) the dwelling, (b) the extension, or (c) both together after construction and it is not immediately obvious that total floor area of 40 square metres refers to one in particular.

It is acknowledged that the most likely intention of S.I.9: 2014, was to refer ‘involving’ to the extension itself, however a simple comma would had make this legally absolute:

i.e. an extension to a dwelling, involving a total floor area greater than 40 square metres,

or better still

an extension, involving a total floor area greater than 40 square metres, to a dwelling.

Part (b) has left the subject implied and Assigned Certifiers are taking for granted they know what it means.  This has clearly occurred due to the word ‘involving’, and is caused by the poor writing strategy to this part of the statutory document.

S.I.9: 2014 stands on its own two feet and Assigned Certifiers cannot rely upon the Code of Practice for its LEGAL clarification.  Extraordinarily, part (b) has now wrote into Law, that if the dwelling is over 40 square metres, any extension constructed to it, regardless of the extension size, requires compliance with S.I.9: 2014.  This beggars belief.

It is also important to point out that the wording to this section changed when amending S.I.80, so there is nowhere to claim it was overlooked.  It is what it is.

Assigned Certifiers now must turn to their respective professional bodies for clarification on this matter as well as the BCMS and the Department of the Environment.  It must be pointed out there is no retrospective compliance for illegal developments. Therefore, until this matter is clarified, a view could be taken that it is inadvisable for professionals to issue Commencement Notices, supervise and certify any extensions constructed to a 40 square metre plus dwelling house after March 1st 2014.

This now throws any extension planned to a dwelling house into complete disarray until part (b) is legally amended. Amending part (b) would confirm that hundreds of extensions have indeed been constructed since March 1st 2014 illegally. However this clarification  can instead be avoided by abandoning S.I.9: 2014.

__________

While this interpretation may leave many Assigned Certifiers “dangling” until it is resolved we would like to hear the views of our readers on this item.

Other posts of interest:

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations

Bank of Ireland | Confusion over S.I.9 Building Regulations

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Engineers Ireland Journal | S.I.9 “is an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the building sector”

by Bregs Blog admin team

Cormac-620x350

After many unsuccessful ‘shout outs’ for pro-S.I. 9 articles to post over the past ten months the BRegs Blog has, at last, uncovered a relatively pro-S.I. 9 piece published on 15th September 2014 on the Engineers Ireland Journal’s website.

The piece was written by Cormac Bradley, who with two others, represented Engineers Ireland in the consultation process initiated by the Department of the Environment for the BC(A)R. He was the single Engineers Ireland representative on the Working Group that drafted the associated Code of Practice and the subsequent smaller working group formed by the ACEI, EI, RIAI and SCSI to draft and agree a common suite of Ancillary Certificates for BC(A)R for the design professions.

The piece as published is almost 3,000 words so we have extracted a few quotes below. Bradley describes advising on a self-build project which makes for interesting reading particularly in view of the “almost constant contact” the self-builders had with the Building Control Authority. Here is a link to the full original piece: (LINK:).

Don’t forget to submit your questions for Engineers Ireland (and ACEI) for tomorrow.

Quotes from Engineers Ireland Journal:

  • Introduction

“No précis on the consultation process would be accurate if it did not record the fact that the new regime of building control has not been greeted with universal accord…“

  • Ancillary Certificates

“Since the 1 March introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R), the four ‘design’ institutions have continued with meetings to develop the Ancillary Certificates that go with the Building Control Regulations and the associated Code of Practice. As with the original consultation process, not all the parties agreed initially, but ultimately the wording and format for the Ancillary Certificates to be used by design professionals was signed off by the four institutions with a further undertaking that no changes to these certificates would be made without the agreement of all four bodies. In parallel, the CIF has developed its own Ancillary Certificates to be used by the contracting fraternity”

  • Self –build

“In one case on which I was asked to advise, the Building Owner and Builder were the same person and shared the same surname as the Design Certifier and the Assigned Certifier, who again were the one individual. The four roles were, in fact, being shared by two brothers. The latter individual (DC & AC) could not understand why the local authority was in almost constant contact with him on the details of the building project and, further, did not understand why the local authority had chosen to visit the site without reference to him in his PSDP capacity.

In the Code of Practice, it is stated that the Assigned Certifier will be the principal point of contact for the local authority. There is no reference to a PSDP in the Code of Practice. This undertaking is from a completely separate suite of legislation.

There had been much voiced protest by potential self-builders that the new Regulations would prevent owners doing their own building works and the Minister went to great pains to explain that this practice was not being outlawed, but that there were additional responsibilities attached to this undertaking under the new regime of building control.

The example cited here is indicative of the confusion that potential self-builders generated…”

  • Employees

“For design practices, the appointment of employees to the Assigned Certifier position will require a review of the Professional Indemnity Insurances to ensure that the actions of an Assigned Certifier, when his/her appointment is approved by the practice, are covered by PII. For the individual appointee, there will be the requirement to have their appointment confirmed in writing by their employer so that PII cover is not questioned in the context of a subsequent action for negligence.

Likewise, design practices will have to decide on how Assigned Certifiers and Ancillary Certifiers are qualified to take on these distinct roles – an Assigned Certifier will be expected to sign a Certificate of Compliance on Completion in an individual capacity but with the sanction of their employer, whereas an Ancillary Certificate will be prepared by a designer but signed by a Director or Principal of the company employing the designer”

  • Building Control Authority

“In an era of reduced inspection resources, Building Control Authorities (BCA) will conduct their on-site inspections of building projects on the basis of risk analysis. Thus, where the information in the Commencement Notice or the statutory appointments required by the new Regulations or the information submitted to the Building Control Authority is deficient, ambiguous or incomplete, or the progressive submission of information and certification is not appropriate, the project can expect to come under the microscope of the BCA”

Other posts of interest:

Engineers Ireland – Building Regulations Certificates 

S.I.9 Stakeholders | Your questions please for Engineers

Who should be a Certifier- Part 3: Chartered Engineers + Building Surveyors?

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice

The Engineers Journal: Building control regulations key features

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders 

Practical post 26: Design changes on site?

by Bregs Blog admin team

26wall

Practical post 26: Design changes on site? 

Our recent post from Building Control Management System  (Part 3 Link) says that:

“Design changes are notified in the Annex to the Certificate of Compliance on Completion and may be notified to the Building Control Authority after submission of the valid Commencement Notice during the Construction process by the Assigned Certifier”. [emphasis by Bregs Blog]

The Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Works says:

“Where elements of the Design have not been completed, these should be clearly set out with an undertaking that when complete, these too will be certified and submitted to the Building Control Authority”. [emphasis by Bregs Blog]

So that’s clear. At the end. Maybe not?

The Framework for Local Authorities says that when Technical Assessment is carried out by Building Control it “may be appropriate to request the updating of this documentation to include such changes as may have occurred subsequent to Commencement” (Link )

So that’s a maybe.

Advice from the professional body for architects, the RIAI, suggests that design changes have to be certified before the change is built. The wording on builder’s undertaking confirms this.

Are design changes are to be uploaded by the Assigned Certifier at completion or uploaded during the job by the Design Certifier?

Where one person is undertaking the role of Design and Assigned Certifier this may not be an issue. However where there is a separate appointment of an Assigned Certifier, as per current RIAI policy, this may be an issue. Also given that currently there is no way for a Design Certifier to access the BCMS it would appear that the Design Certifier is unable to upload design changes in advance of construction at site stage.

Confused? …We are! 

Answers on a postcard please…?

________

Other Posts in this series:

Practical post 25: Septic Tanks | Waste Water Treatment 

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

Practical post 23: Design Build contracts- need a barge pole?

Practical post 22: Change of Owner

Practical post 21: Variations 

For Practical Post Series 1-20 

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these practical posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working under the new regulations. 

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

by Bregs Blog admin team

Open Letter RIAI

The following letter was sent to the President of the representative body for architects (RIAI) by David McHugh MRIAI, one of the signatories of the recent RIAI EGM motion debated on 12th August 2014. The letter was forwarded on to us here on 15th September 2014. 

______________

Dear President,

As one of the proposers of the motion that the Institute should adopt as its first priority a policy that S.I. 9 be revoked and be replaced by better legislation, I fully respect all the members’ right to support or oppose the motion as they see fit, and the postponement /adjournment of the recent EGM has in effect frustrated the democratic right of the membership as a whole to decide this important matter.

So, please, publish the date for the reconvened EGM and let the members decide.

On the issue of the motion, I need to point out that this is not an “either or” motion, but is a “both and” strategy.

Publicly pointing out the need for replacement of a deeply flawed piece of legislation is not inconsistent with promoting a replacement. It is, in my view, being honest and consistent.

I believe there is a need to tell the truth here: it is clear that the Department of the Environment is promoting the position that it is all fine, and that there are just a few cranks and troublemakers within the profession opposing the system, when in fact an unprecedented attendance at both EGMs clearly shows that the profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9, and the RIAI executive has, by its public silence, aligned itself with the Department’s strategy.

I know that I speak for a significant number of members who feel completely betrayed by the Institute in their secretive conduct in negotiating and ushering in and even welcoming S.I.9.

I was shocked to be told by the Practice Director that the RIAI has no function in advising the members on whether and on what terms they should accept or refuse appointments as DC [Design Certifier] or AC [Assigned Certifier], all in the face of clear legal advice from several quarters of the very serious risks associated.

Is it any wonder that , as your recent column in Architecture Ireland says, there is a perception abroad now that the RIAI no longer represents its members’ interests ?

If it is indeed the case as you infer in your article that “policy and other maters in our members interest are decided at that Council table and not elsewhere”, one wonders what is the point of having any EGM or AGM, if  the membership cannot direct the Council policy.

On this much I hope we can agree, let the members have their say now and let the Council and executive listen .

Regards

David McHugh

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

Minister Hogan’s departure- Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

IAOSB Letter to Minister Alan Kelly

by Bregs Blog admin team

letter5

The following letter was sent to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly T.D., by the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) on 15th September 2014. 

________

Dear Minister Kelly,

I am writing to you regarding Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I.9 of 2014 which came to effect on 1st of March 2014.

This new regulation was the answer by then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan T.D., to ensure properties are safe and compliant with Building Regulations. According to Mr. Hogan, this Amendment would stop situations like Priory Hall and Pyrite problems and give extra protection to home owners against bad workmanship by Building Contractors. The idea sounded great but like all his other policies it has done nothing but make life more difficult for the people of Ireland.

Self-building has been a major sector of all the house’s built in our country in the past decade and I am sorry to tell you that since the commencement of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 it has denied many of us the centuries old Irish tradition of building a house for ourselves and our families.

Under the rules of S.I 9, self-builders will have to employ a certified professional (Architect, Engineer, Building Surveyor) to design the house for them and then an Assigned Certifier to sign off each section of the build to confirm that it has been built according to the Regulations. Perfect, a supervised build under the eyes of the professionals. However, like other thousands of self builders in Ireland we would be grateful if you could let us know the contact details and locations of these Certifiers as they are almost non-existent. From the feedback that we have been receiving, as soon as your so called Design and Assigned Certifiers hear the word “Self-Build” the conversation ends as none of them are prepared to endanger their business by signing off the certifications needed for the build in case something goes wrong. Before the commencement day of S.I.9, the RIAI President, representing the Architects of Ireland, protested to Minister Hogan and raised concern about the possible consequences this amendment might bring but this was ignored by the Minister.

According to Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Building Control (Amendment) Regulation: S.I.9 of 2014 was needed to give protection to self-builders should something go wrong. However, by not having any professional committed to the build, all that S.I.9 has done is to make it a lot more difficult for them to build and make the dream of owning their own house a thing of the past. What S.I.9 has done is like giving a man a brand new car with all the extra safety features designed for the protection of the family but then ruining it by putting a clamp on all four wheels. There is no point having this car if it does not go anywhere.

Self-builders of Ireland have been let down by your department and this government. Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I 9 of 2014 is a joke and not even a funny one. It needs to be revoked or revised otherwise the option of Self-Building will be gone for many families in Ireland.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 has failed and you need to take action now.

I would be grateful to you if you do not reply with false promises and politically correct answers like the ones we have had in the past two years from Mr Hogan.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Irish Association of Self Builder

www.iaosb.com

Other posts of interest:

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Self Builder petition- BC(A)R SI.9

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

 

Fine Gael Report opposed new building regulations- 2013

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Pictured Paudie Coffey TD, new Junior Minister for Housing

As a follow up to a recent post noting Fine Gael’s expert committe opposition to SI.9 (see link here), we table more background information on this. The official 57 page report was submitted in July 2013 on the registration of the title of architect under the new regulations. There is no mention of Senator Cáit Keane’s early warning to Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the defects in the new building regulations, subsequently introduced by former Minister Phil Hogan in March 2014. Download report here (link)

PDF of report here: Report-on-the-Title-of-Architect-2

Minister Phil Hogan’s answer in the report to concerns raised by the Committee:

I am satisfied that the reforms proposed including the lodgement of drawings, inspection by registered professionals and statutory certification will result in the necessary improvement in the quality of buildings ….

The merits of a designer overseeing the implementation of their design cannot be overlooked…. Enforcement powers under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2007 continue to be vested in the local building control authorities and it is here that independence is called for and in place.

Former Minister Hogan’s answer on 28th February 2013 to Clare Daly (referred to in Report) in full can be seen here (Link:)

I am satisfied that the reforms proposed including the lodgement of drawings, inspection by registered professionals and statutory certification will result in the necessary improvement in the quality of buildings and ensure that homeowners in particular are delivered the quality of homes they expect and deserve.

It is not clear what useful purpose would be served by imposing a requirement for independent design, construction and certification along the lines suggested. The merits of a designer overseeing the implementation of their design cannot be overlooked. Neither is there any intention to constrain the capacity of all-in service delivery models in key sectors of the industry. Enforcement powers under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2007 continue to be vested in the local building control authorities and it is here that independence is called for and in place

We note, on the last page of the report, that Fine Gael members of the expert committee include the newly appointed Minister for Housing includes Paudie Coffey TD, new Junior Minister for Housing.

We wonder have any representative key stakeholders made any formal representations to the new Minister for Housing on the problems associated with SI.9 since implementation?

The new Minister for Housing may be in a position to influence matters now in his new role.

Here is a list of members of the Committee:

Appendix 3. MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE

  • Mr James Bannon TD (Fine Gael)
  • Mr Paudie Coffey TD (Fine Gael)
  • Mr Noel Coonan (Fine Gael) Leas-Chathaoirleach
  • Ms Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD (Fine Gael)
  • Mr Barry Cowen TD (Fianna Fáil)
  • Mr Luke Flanagan TD (Independent)
  • Mr Kevin Humphreys TD (Labour)
  • Mr Michael Mc Carthy TD (Labour) Cathaoirleach
  • Mr Tony Mc Loughlin TD (Fine Gael)
  • Ms Michelle Mulherin TD (Fine Gael)
  • Ms Catherine Murphy TD (Independent)
  • Mr Gerald Nash TD (Labour)
  • An t-Uasal Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD (Fianna Fáil)
  • Mr Brian Stanley TD (Sinn Féin)
  • An t-Uasal Peadar Tóibín TD (Sinn Féin)
  • Senator Cáit Keane (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Denis Landy (Labour)
  • An Seanadóir Fiach Mac Conghail (Neamhspleách)
  • Senator Catherine Noone (Fine Gael)
  • An Seanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fáil)
  • Senator Ned O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil)

Practical post 25: Septic Tanks | Waste Water Treatment – BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

GTO Septic System Picture

Practical post 25: Septic Tanks & Waste Water under the new Building Control Regulations

Septic tanks come under Part H of the building regulations. Anyone constructing a new house (or extending by more than 40m2) after 1 March 2014 which has a septic tank or other waste water treatment systems will need to comply with new requirements.

Part H is here:  Publications Development and Housing-BuildingStandards.pdf

The EPA Code of Practice is at http://www.epa.ie/mobile/

Under the new regulations, the design of the system will have to be certified by a competent person before the Commencement Notice is lodged. This construction of the system will have to be inspected during construction and certified at completion.

Design and Assigned Certifiers for these projects need to make sure that ‘competent persons’ sign these Ancillary Certificates at Commencement and Completion and that the installer has PI insurance for any defective design.

Anyone replacing an existing system (who is not building or extending a house at the same time) is exempt from these new controls.

________

Other Posts in this series:

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

Practical post 23: Design Build contracts- need a barge pole?

Practical post 22: Change of Owner

Practical post 21: Variations 

For Practical Post Series 1-20 

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these practical posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working under the newregulations. 

top 7 for 7- 12th September 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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top 7 for 7-  12th September 2014

Here is a list of the 7 most popular posts for this week on the Bregs Blog. An editorial piece on comments received from larger architectural practices is the most popular post.

  • Larger more established multi-disciplinary practices currently would appear not to be undertaking the new roles under SI.9, instead opting to sub-contract out the role of Assigned Certifier to a separate third party. A number of larger practices also are looking at making the appointment of design certifier separate also. We have been informed of a Competition Authority complaint on restrictive practice of making joint appointments or architect and assigned certifier on public projects.
  • The falling trend in commencement notices continues this month with our update on Building Control Management System official numbers for commencements registered. We noted the level registered in the first 6 months of SI9 was 60% the level of 2013, a low point in construction activity.
  • An opinion piece by a construction professional on the challenges to self-building under the new regulations made for compelling reading. Essentially phased completions of dwellings would appear to be no longer possible, pushing affordability for many self-builders further out of reach.
  • Current conflicting and contradictory advice from the Department and a number of Local Authorities on the cumulative nature of the 40M2 exemption on residential extensions was a popular topic. The knock-on effect of this advice, if correct, is that there may be extensive invalid projects now underway under SI9.
  • In the absence of any formal advice on a detailed breakdown of services required for Design and Assigned Certifier roles, the Blog undertook to assemble inputs from various specialist certifier contributors to schedule out an initial list of duties required under the new regulations.
  • The fall in residential completions vs increased commencements at the start of this year was a puzzling statistic from the CSO, according to a Davy report issued this week. The blog believes this is due to many commencements pre march being “on paper not on the shovel”. These were projects where notices were lodged to beat the implementation date, and not actually started.
  • In our final post we noted a blitz currently being undertaken by the HSA on sites this month.

Posts listed in order of reader popularity. Enjoy!

  1. S.I.9 | What large firms are doing 
  2. Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9
  3. The self build world has been thrown into disarray
  4. ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?
  5. SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers
  6. DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014
  7. Construction Site Inspections – BLITZ 8 September 2014

Other top posts:

Top 7 for 7- September 5th 2014

Top 7 for 7- August 30th 2014

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

Top Posts for July 2014

Top 20 Breg Blog posts for June 2014.

Top 10 for June 7th | BRegs Blog

Top 12 posts- week ending 31st May

TOP 10 for the week ending 17th May 2014

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May

CIF publishes pre-budget submission

by Bregs Blog admin team

cif 1.pdf [Converted]

The following budget submission was published on the CIF website on 22nd August 2014- see link:

Extract:

HOUSING SUPPLY COULD DOUBLE WITHIN 2 YEARS – CIF

The supply of housing could double within 2 years if the Government were to follow 7 simple steps, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).  The CIF has suggested that these measures could see 20,000 housing units built a year by 2016, curtailing the excessive prices rises in the Dublin housing market.

The 7 steps proposed by the CIF are:

  1. Create incentives for new home purchasers such as a property tax rebate, a partial rebate of the development levies paid to developers and additional tax allowances for first time buyers.
  2. Replace Part V with a 1% levy across the sales of all housing – new and old.
  3. Introduce a temporary 9% VAT rate for residential construction.
  4. Create a special development finance fund.
  5. Establish a ‘Help to Buy’ scheme
  6. Create a tax incentivised special savings scheme.
  7. Restore full interest relief for investment in residential property for letting purposes.

This year it is expected that 10,000 housing units will be built nationwide.  This is despite the Government and the ESRI stating that 25,000 units need to be built every year.

Speaking about the plan, the CIF’s Director General Tom Parlon said, “Everyone knows there is a supply issue when it comes to housing in this country.  We’ve had so little building taking place over recent years that there simply aren’t enough houses to meet the demand. If these 7 steps were followed it would have a transformative impact on house building in this country.  By introducing these measures we believe the country would get a supply of housing fit to meet its needs.  It would end the rapid house price rises we are currently facing in Dublin – rises which are likely to continue until we start building sufficient housing for the property market.”

“Some of the measures would greatly reduce the cost of house building.  For example, if the Part V development contribution was to be replaced by a 1% levy on all house purchases it would ensure sufficient funding for social and affordable housing, while also reducing the cost to those looking to build and buy new homes.  Why should this tax be specifically geared only towards new housing as is currently the case?

“We also believe that the Government should look at some measures to help house buyers.  They could extend the availability of the property tax rebate for purchasers for the first 5 years of occupation.  For a limited period they could also give a partial rebate of development levies to home purchasers when they pay for new housing.  This will make houses more affordable and encourage more people to buy new houses and apartments.

“In terms of getting more builders on site, another step would be to introduce a special fund providing development finance.  This would help smaller builders to deliver units in key growth areas and could support the construction of up to 5,000 units.

The proposals are included in the CIF’s Pre Budget Submission to Government.  The submission also contains a range of other measures aimed at building employment in the sector and growing construction activity.

Some of the other proposals include:

  • Extend the Home Renovation Incentive limited to €50,000, while also prolonging the lifetime of the scheme.
  • Revise the apprentice training programme to encourage more people to pursue apprenticeships by combining phases 1 & 2 into a non sponsored route.
  • Activate the LivingCity initiative.
  • Abolish the special tax rate on the rezoning of land.

“The Government has made it clear that they want to see the construction sector grow and to double in size over the coming years,” said Mr. Parlon.  “Achieving that target will require action to encourage construction activity.  If we want to see more construction in this country then policies will have to be implemented and funding provided.  How serious the Government is about growing our sector will be seen in the forthcoming Budget.  Only then will we know if there is meat behind the Government’s construction strategy,” Mr. Parlon concluded.

download PDF – Here

Other posts of interest:

DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014 

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

Press: Number of new homes built this year will fall short by 6,000

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

by Bregs Blog admin team

intro

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stone-cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob A. Riis

__________________

Dear Bregs Team,

After reading Mr. Eoin O’Cofaigh’s informative opinion piece – ‘A changing landscape?’, I decided to update you regarding our situation as self builders. For us, at the moment, the landscape has most definitely changed…one can no longer self build in Ireland (no matter how many times the Department say otherwise!).  Myself and Raymond finally were granted full planning permission, which is usually a most celebratory day, however, for us, the mood was sombre. Six months on, and we are still in shock as to how on earth Ireland can be the only country in the world to outlaw self building.  We received an Assigned Certifier quote from our own architect – this amounted to €7,380 incl VAT 23% – which, even heavily discounted, is a multiple of Minister Hogan’s now infamous “one to three thousand” estimate! But, for us, the real blow is what our architect goes on to say in the quote – “..on the assumption that a competent building contractor is appointed…” – this is the straw that breaks the self builder’s back – the necessity for a competent building contractor.  Myself and Raymond are well competent enough to manage the build of our family home and for anyone to presume that we are not, is deeply upsetting.

S.I.9 is flawed for many reasons, but for self builders, the deepest flaw is the word ‘competent’.  There are no schools for builders, no State examination for contractors – so how can one judge another’s competence? They cannot. The three past projects that CIRI requires for registration is nonsensical also, as the main contractor is most probably not the actual builder of those projects. In fact, it is most likely that the true builders of those projects now construct beautiful homes in Canada!  Ireland is rife with ‘briefcase builders’ – mere managers of builds – S.I.9 does not ensure or guarantee that these businessmen will construct sound buildings – S.I.9, at the very most, guarantees that the main contractor has an up-to-date insurance and tax clearance certificate, not a certificate of qualification in any aspect of construction.

Even if self builders were ‘lucky’ enough to find an Assigned Certifier who was willing to act for them, there is still the massive elephant in the room – the Certificates of Completion and the Undertaking by Builder that needs to be signed. I might add that the builder signs this absolute legal declaration that he is ‘competent’ – surely this is unlawful when there is no examination for competency.   We are not principals or directors of building companies, so we cannot sign legal documents claiming to be so.  To say that we have major reservations about making a completely false declaration on an official document is an understatement.  There is an array of serious problems that could arise in the future regarding this issue.  What if the Certificate was overturned and we could never re-mortgage the house, or sell the house? The same can be said further down the line when we are gone and our children may wish to sell the house….they will be prevented from doing so because we signed these documents fraudulently.  There is no going back under S.I.9 – it is as concrete as the foundations. It does not allow for errors – even genuine ones.

There is also the issue of one not being permitted to move into the new home until it is certified ‘complete’. This is a major cost factor for most families as traditionally many self builders would complete as much as they could and move in and complete the rest as circumstances allowed. As my father-in-law says, “self-builders build according to their purse”. This is very important and under S.I.9 this is now denied to us.  We may not have the finances to fully complete all the bedrooms, the outside path or flooring and wish to do so once we have moved in – the snag list self builder style is now gone!

What will happen if an insurance claim arises on the new home in the future? The insurance company will not have far to look to find a get out clause for themselves. They will be most happy to inform the self-builder that the house was not constructed by a principal or director of a building company and therefore any claim is void !

S.I.9 is an absolute nightmare for anyone who had intended to self build a home in Ireland – the three parts to the nightmare that crush the dream of building a home are:

  1. The need for a ‘competent‘ building contractor to be employed
  2. The Assigned and Design Certifiers’ fees
  3. The requirement for the house to be certified ‘complete’

The cost of these three parts add up to a home that would cost far, far more than the self builder had ever envisaged thus rendering the project obsolete – how very sad.

Since March 1st, I have written numerous letters to everyone I could think of, from local representatives to President Higgins himself, telling them of the difficulties that self builders face now under S.I.9.  Some positive developments have arisen from my letters, for example, Sligo County Council passed a motion to write to Minister Kelly for an immediate revoke of S.I.9, so all is not lost!  I have yet to write to Minister Kelly, but will do! Our hopes were high also, when we heard of the RIAI EGM on August 12th, and then dashed again when we heard that no vote went ahead that day.

While I understand that for Assigned Certifiers, S.I.9 causes a whole raft of issues, for the self builder, there really is only one issue: you can no longer self-build.  So, we have no intention of giving up our fight for S.I.9 to be revoked and just like the stone-cutter we will continue the little ‘blows’, and please God with the final blow, our beautiful dream home will become reality!

__________________

Other posts of interest:

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Self Builder petition- BC(A)R SI.9

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

Bank of Ireland | Confusion over S.I.9 Building Regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team

24

by BRegs Blog on 12th September 2014

Bank of Ireland has produced a new mortgage form in relation to the draw down of stage payments for house building projects. It  is labelled “Assigned Certifier’s Report (Architect’s / Engineer’s Report). It seeks to address the new operating procedures following the introduction of S.I. 9 but seems to be as impractical as its pre-S.I.9 version. It appears to have been prepared in conjunction with the Law Society who were not involved as a stakeholder with the drafting of the  S.I. 9 legislation. There does not appear to have been any involvement with the approved professional groups, ACEI, EI, RIAI and SCSI, which is a lost opportunity for anyone who is attempting to implement this legislation.

The new Bank of Ireland  ‘Assigned Certifier’s Report’ (copy below) is probably intended as an update under S.I.9 but it might cause more problems than it solves as:

  • Non-registered professionals who were previously permitted to do stage payment ‘sign off’ are now excluded, even though there is nothing in law to justify this. (To add to the confusion they are still listed on the form even though they cannot be Assigned Certifiers for the Building Control Authorities).
  • Architectural Technologists and others are being excluded from work that it is perfectly legal for them to do so. The bank may be challenged on this by customers who have already committed to building.
  • Assigned Certifiers (who are specialist experts in technical compliance) are asked to estimate costs, even though this is not part of their defined responsibilities;
  • Assigned Certifiers are required to sign a declaration that “I will SUPERVISE construction at all stages”, even though Professional Indemnity Insurance does not cover site supervision of the builder;
  • It makes no allowance for the Assigned Certifier’s fees.
  • The wording of the new document is contradictory and suggests that unregistered persons may be acceptable to sign off as an ‘Assigned Certifier” in breach of the new regulations.

In previous posts (link) we have discussed the problems for Architectural Technologists and others who do not qualify as registered architects, registered building surveyors or chartered engineers under the new regulations. Before 1 March 2014 the lending institutions accepted ‘sign off’ for drawing down payments during a house build from a range of professionals. In agreement with the Law Society this included:

  1. Persons who are on the Register of Architects
  2. Persons who have been in practice as architects or engineers on their own account for 10 years
  3. Qualified Engineers practicing in the construction industry
  4. Qualified Building Surveyors practicing in the construction industry
  5. Persons from another jurisdiction in the European Union whose qualification is entitled to recognition in Ireland under the Architects Directive.

Clearly the role of Assigned and Design Certifier need to be separated out from the role of project manager/architect/engineer on their standard documentation to avoid confusion. Otherwise owners may be in the unenviable position of having a completion invalidated if unregistered project managers start occupying the new roles under S.I.9. This is a matter that the Bank of Ireland and the relevant professional groups need to address immediately (other banks please note).

PDF of form: Works Report

Jpeg: BOI works form 1.pdf [Converted]BOI works form 2.pdf [Converted]

 

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

by Bregs Blog admin team

Burning-Euro

Based on current information it is estimated that S.I.9 could cost the economy  €532 million per year for residential projects alone. To put it another way that is a 21.6% surcharge on every single home completed, for which the consumer has no tangible benefit.

In February 2014 we did an overview of the possible cost of S.I.9 to the economy. Now, six  months on, we have updated this review and will look at the various sectors of the construction industry.

In this first post we concentrate on the residential sector. We have drawn on recent information from the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB best estimate from their membership), current market rates for construction and the additional workload estimated by construction professional bodies and specialists. The following costs excludes all domestic non-qualifying extensions/ refurbishments in accordance with Building Control Management System (BCMS) data to date.

BC(A)R S.I.9 ANNUAL COST FOR RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS

Self-build houses abandoned (800 houses @ €180k each )=    €144m

Increased costs for self-builders- (€2.464bn /3) @ 22% =           €181m

Increased costs for consumer (2/3 x €2.464bn) @ 11%=              €181m

Delays due to validation procedure 3-5 weeks (€3k each)=       €26m

TOTAL S.I.9 COST FOR RESIDENTIAL (annual costs) –        €532m

As the current construction levels are assumed to be at the bottom of the current cycle these S.I.9 costs should pro-rata upwards as construction output recovers in coming years i.e. annual S.I.9 cost will increase in line with increasing output. The number of self-build projects abandoned or postponed will increase significantly once the contractors’ register (CIRI) becomes mandatory from 2015 onwards (25 % may rise to 40%: source IAOSB).

Do the benefits of S.I.9 outweigh the costs? We will do a similar updated estimate for non-residential projects in a second post next week.

_____________

Assumptions in compiling the above figures:

  • Commencement figures verified with the Building Control Management System (BCMS) to date indicate completions will be at best similar to 2012 at 8,700 (optimistic) – this is dependent on current levels improving significantly.
  • Figures are based on 2012 construction outputs from a Forfás report (table 2.12 (p16) Value and volume of construction output, 2012-2012E; Source: DKM Economic Consultants analysis for Forfás, 2012). See link below.
  • We have discounted the residential sector output by 30% (we assume €2.464bn qualifies under SI.9 out of a total of €3.52bn) to take into account 30% of commencement notices that are exempt from SI.9 as registered on the BCMS to date. Our figure excludes completely €427m for public housing (even qualifying part-ownership projects).
  • We will assume the number of of self-build projects abandoned and postponed  will contribute towards output remaining flat compared to 2013. Approximate number of self-builds abandoned are currently estimated at 800 (25% total self-build output- source IAOSB). We are assuming an average cost here of €180k per house. This figure may rise over 1200 by the end of the year due to unavailability of certifiers. The number of self-build projects that have commenced (and have assumed the risks on completion highlighted by the Law Society) along with the number of projects abandoned/ postponed indefinitely is based on surveys conducted by the IAOSB.
  • One third of total residential output will be other self-builds that absorb the extra SI9 cost of 22% (see link below).
  • The remaining residential projects will be procured normally (with main contractor) and will have a SI9 cost increase of 11% (see link below).
  • A minimum 3 week delay is assumed on all projects due to increased administration and paperwork, lack of Local Authority resources, invalidations at completion and commencement etc. In the previous estimate we assumed this would be a once-off 2014 cost issue. However it may be appropriate to assume this as a recurring delay due to increased invalidations due to lack of staff in Local Authorities and increasing workloads in coming years.
  • We have excluded extra costs for all sub-certifier roles, ancillary certifiers and sub-contractors, other insurance costs etc.
  • Costs for a typical dwelling have been posted separately by Bregs Blog.

Link to Forfas report here:

Extract off Forfas report table 2.12 p 16

forfas report table 2.12 p16

Posts mentioned of interest:

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

S.I.9 | What large firms are doing 

by Bregs Blog admin team

large-firms

The following opinion piece was posted by Bregs Blog on 11th September 2014

On advice from their insurers and legal advisers at least one of Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary construction consultancies, involved in multi-million Euro commissions, has admitted it will not be undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on any of its projects as the risk is considered too great. One would have thought that a large firm employing a combination of engineers, surveyors and architects with large administrative and I.T. support would be well positioned to undertake these roles but apparently the insurance risk is too great when measured against any potential income. In addition several of Ireland’s largest and longest established firms of architects and engineers have indicated to the BRegs Blog that they will not be undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on any of their projects either. The dilemma now for such companies and their clients is finding third party certifiers that are sufficiently competent to undertake these roles on large scale jobs which may have an impact on their ability to progress certain projects.

Furthermore it is understood that a formal complaint to the Competition Authority has been made against the HSE. This is in relation to perceived anti-competitive behavior for the HSE’s  insistence, in their procurement documentation, that the role of Assigned Certifier must be undertaken by the architect on a project. There is evidence that other Government departments are making similar demands with some consultants being threatened with loss of existing contracts if they now refuse to carry out the role of Assigned Certifier. Many construction consultants fear that they will lose work to other consultants who have not fully assessed the implications of S.I. 9 in relation to employees’ liability, insurance premiums, the cost of increased supervision and administration. The companies involved do not wished to be named as they feel they are already being placed at a serious disadvantage with competing firms who appear less diligent in how they have approached this issue.

There is also a great deal of disappointment being expressed at how the professional bodies have seemingly collaborated with the Department of the Environment and promoted the implementation of S.I. 9 at the expense of a critical evaluation of the legislation on behalf of their members. The original concept of the role of Assigned Certifier being a separate appointment with a separate fee is being undermined which has long term implications for engineers, architects and surveyors and indeed for an appropriate standard of Building Control. A Government official who has much experience of procuring construction professionals said, “engineers and architects continue to be their own worst enemies. S.I. 9 and Assigned Certifier appointments will be another race to the bottom as professionals underbid each other and offer ‘all-in’ below cost fees as experienced over the last five to ten years particularly in relation to school projects”.

The obvious question now for anyone undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier is that if the ‘big firms’ are steering clear of S.I. 9, is it such a good idea to be rushing in to take their place?

Link to Guidance Note: GN 1.1.1 – BC(A)R 2014 Procurement Implications for Contracting Authorities

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Practical post 23: Design Build contracts- need a barge pole?

RIAI EGM : Seven issues for architects to consider

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9

DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

road-ahead

DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014

The following analysis by Davys research was posted on their website on 10th September 2014 (see link here). They confirm an increase in construction output in non-residential sectors. However there is a marked fall in residential sector output compared to the same period in 2013. Last year was a record low in residential construction, and the impact or “spike”  due  to the introduction of the new building regulations is noted.

Link here to download full report here: Davy Report- QS 2014

Quote: “According to the index, construction output has now increased 26% since troughing in Q3 2012 but still remains 73.5% below the peak levels of 2006.

Nonetheless, the fall in residential work is a little surprising given the strength of recent house building statistics. In the first two months of the year, 5,247 house builds were started compared to 645 in the same period in 2013, albeit with many projects brought forward due to the introduction of building standards in March. Moreover, in the year to May, completions totalled 3,941 compared to 2,997 in the same period in 2013. In this context, the second consecutive quarterly fall in residential work in the index is therefore puzzling

In a previous post we noted:

“Everybody, including the DoE, accepts that the “February spike” was a rush to beat the introduction of S.I.9. But not all of those Notices cover real project starts. If they did, there would have been a matching spike in tender volumes beforehand. There was none. And there would have been a matching increase in construction activity in April/May. There was none.

There was no spike in tender volumes in January/February; and no spike in the Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index in early summer…Six months into S.I.9, indications are that the number of construction commencements in 2014 will be lower than in 2013.

The February spike in Commencement Notices was on paper, not on shovels.” (see post here)

CBRE Research are also sounding the alarm in their September 2014 Report (See link Here) noting that “onerous new building regulations… are impacting severely on the feasibility of development

Figures from the Central Statistics Office and Davys report would seem to back this up and that the “spike” in residential ‘paper’ commencements masked the crisis that has been developing since 1 March.

Full DAVY article to follow:

______________

Irish Economy: Construction output rises sharply in Q2

September 10 2014 – Research Report – 1 page(s)

DAVY VIEW

As expected, there was another sharp rise in Irish construction output in Q2. Volumes were up 4.1% on the quarter and 10.1% on the year. Output from the sector has now increased 26% since troughing in Q3 2012 but still remains 73.5% below the peak levels of 2006. Overall, these data add to the growing evidence that the construction sector recovery will gather pace this year.

Construction output up 4.1% on the quarter

As expected, there was another sharp rise in construction output in Q2. Volumes were up 4.1% on the quarter (qoq) and 10.1% on the year (yoy). The sector breakdown reveals a 1.9% qoq fall (-8.8% yoy) in residential work, a 4.7% rise (+23.4% yoy) in non-residential work and a 9.3% rise (+8.5% yoy) in civil engineering work. According to the index, construction output has now increased 26% since troughing in Q3 2012 but still remains 73.5% below the peak levels of 2006.

Nonetheless, the fall in residential work is a little surprising given the strength of recent house building statistics. In the first two months of the year, 5,247 house builds were started compared to 645 in the same period in 2013, albeit with many projects brought forward due to the introduction of building standards in March. Moreover, in the year to May, completions totalled 3,941 compared to 2,997 in the same period in 2013. In this context, the second consecutive quarterly fall in residential work in the index is therefore puzzling.

However, the CSO has previously cautioned on the interpretation of the construction data given a recent re-weighting and the unprecedented low base from which the series is starting. We therefore cannot read too much into the sectoral split of the headline data.

Overall, these data add to the growing evidence that the construction sector recovery will gather pace this year. Our investment forecasts are for an 11.4% rise in building and construction work in 2014, 11.2% in 2015 and 9.6% in 2016. Our forecasts are based on growth in housing completions from 8,300 in 2013 to 9,850 in 2014, 12,150 in 2015 and 14,600 in 2016. This is one area where we are especially uncertain. If supply constraints are alleviated, the sector could well recover at a much faster pace than our conservative forecasts imply.

 

Construction sector growth

construction20140910_10092014_001

 

construction20140910_10092014_002

Residential work vs completions

construction20140910_10092014_003

Source: CSO

Other posts of interest:

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

by Bregs Blog admin team

2014-half-year-results

The Building Control Management System (BCMS) is now six months old and published its first half-year Building Register on Thursday 4th September 2014 at 8.31 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘proposed building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland.

The Building Register now records a figure of 2247 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past 26 weeks since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014. This would be equivalent to an annual figure of approximately 60% of the 7,456 Commencement Notices submitted in 2013 which was one of the lowest figures in decades. Since the implementation of S.I.9 the average number of commencement notices being lodged is 86 per week. In 2013 the average number lodged per week was 143. These are worrying figures for a Government trying to kick-start the recovery of the construction sector and house building in particular.

Of the 2247 Commencement Notices received, 676 (30%) appear to be ‘Short Form’ notices (small projects where an Assigned Certifier is not required) and 133 of the Commencement Notices are for 7-day notices in relation to Fire Safety Certificates. It is noted that 104 of the Commencement Notices on the Building Register appear to have no certifier status or are recorded as ‘Tests’.

There is clear evidence that some of the Commencement Notices currently being submitted are repeat notices for Commencement Notices submitted earlier this year ahead of the introduction of S.I. 9 to try and avoid the implications of the legislation. There is no evidence from other sources that there was any equivalent spike in building tenders in the earlier part of the year that would indicate that all of these ‘commencement notices’ were actual ‘building starts’. Where works had not commenced before the end of March it would be necessary to resubmit a Commencement Notice if an actual building was to start construction.

This ‘double entry’ is leading to further confusion in the construction industry as to the actual number of project starts in 2014 which appears to be heading for record lows for a variety of reasons including the cost implications of the introduction of S.I. 9.

Link to Building Register: 

PDF: buildingregister2014

Other posts of interest:

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

by Bregs Blog admin team

download-11

The following post was written by the Breg Blog team on 8th September. Following recent correspondence received from readers on the issue of S.I.9 exemptions for minor works and invalidated short form commencement notices, we urgently call on our readers in the professional bodies and Local Authorities for clarification.

More than 6 months after the implementation of S.I9, it would appear that there has been confusion over the interpretation of the requirements for domestic extensions. There are now serious concerns that the generally accepted application of the new regulations may be wrong. Perhaps it is a drafting error or perhaps the guidance did not spell it out, either way it looks as if it does not matter if you build under 40 m2  because every previous addition of floor area to the house may be cumulative! 

If this is the case, there are a number of very serious consequences.

  1. Many domestic projects may have gone on site (post March 2014) illegally without any appointment of Certifiers and there are no legal remedies.
  2. Works about to go on site may have to be held back to regularise their situations.
  3. Tiny projects (like a domestic porch) may need full appointments, inspection plans, multiple certificates and even- the family having to use the back door waiting for the completion certificate to be validated! Terraced home owners pay special heed to this one.

Here are a few examples: :

  • A homeowner intends to construct a 39mkitchen/ dining/ living room which is exempt. Later they add a 2mporch. Do they need to appoint a Design and Assigned Certifier for this porch? What added cost will this be? A multiple of the cost of the porch?
  • An owner converts a 30mattic (exempt), then wants to convert a 15mgarage. Does the owner need to appoint a Design and Assigned Certifier for a garage conversion?
  • A new family buys a house with a 25mconservatory (exempt). They want to convert the 17mattic. Does the owner need to appoint a Design and Assigned Certifier for an attic conversion?
  • Another scenario: an owner has a protected structure, built in 1860 with a scullery added in 1910 and a garage attached to the side in 1942- both have a combined area of 42m2. Does the owner need a Design and Assigned Certifier to build a new small WC extension?

If any readers in the representative bodies for registered professionals (ACEI, SCSI, RIAI) have any information, or anyone in the local authorities has been given direction by the Department on this, we would appreciate clarification. We still await a finalised Framework Code of Practice for Building Control at time of writing.

Other “Alert” posts:

ALERT | Pyrite & Ground Floor Construction? 

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9

Alert to TD about new regulations

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert 

BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Self-builder alert to farmers: BC(A)R SI.9 

Press: lack of office space may affect FDI

by Bregs Blog admin team

graph-offic-market-595x500

The following three articles from the Journal suggest a spike in office rents in certain parts of Dublin city. Although a welcome indicator, new office space is needed to mitigate against further increases that may affect costs and the ability of the capital to attract new companies. Suppy constraints have been noted by commentators such as available sites, planning and building control issues, financing and lead-in times to completion. The recent marked fall-off in commencement notices is a concern for business expansion in this sector and job creation in the capital.

burlingtonplaza-390x285

In the following article from The Journal on 2nd September “Nosebleed office rents could force companies to ‘fringe’ of Dublin city centre” it’s suggested that spiralling rents in the capital due to lack of supply of office space may affect foreign direct investment (FDI) and competitiveness. Quote:

“The level of choice for tenants seeking more than 2,000 square meters of Grade A space is limited and getting worse. In the near term that will likely drive rents higher, and also mean some tenants look beyond the city centre and consider looking to older Grade B buildings

….Waters also warned that a shortage of quality offices will have implications for the wider economy “as current and future FDI projects are dependent of a reasonable supply of modern space in the right locations”.”

file-photo-google-eu-court-ruling-2-390x285

In an earlier article “Dublin office rent has grown by nearly 25% in a year “the increase this year in office rents was seen as symptomatic of years of inactivity in the construction sector due to the downturn, and lack of supply in the market. Quote:

“…The rapid increase in the price of office space in the capital can be partially attributed to the depths to which the market sank during the recession, Savills head of office agency Roland O’Connell said.

“Effective rents fell by more than 50% during the downturn and, in that context, it is not surprising that we are seeing something of a bounce-back.”

Despite this, O’Connell said that there was a real danger from the elevated rate of growth in rental prices…He said that the knock-on implications of high rent prices could hurt Ireland’s competitiveness and the attractiveness of Dublin as a location for mobile international business.”

9586215185_6db0e8fa25_b-390x285

In this article from June 11th 2014 There isn’t enough office space in Dublin to fit all the new start-ups” a surge the number of new companies set up in 2014 has led to a shortage of office space, analysts have warned. A recent report from Savills (LINK) noted that 57,000 square metres of office lettings were signed in the first three months of 2014 – a 32% increase on last year. Quote:

Figures…reveal that 4,438 new companies were set up in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 21% on the average across the past five years.

One-fifth chose to locate in either Dublin 1, 2 or 4, or in what has now been dubbed the Silicon Docks tech-hub.

…growth in commercial sectors is “very positive news for job creation and overall economic rejuvenation…A balance between supply and demand is needed to ensure “the long-term survival of new business start-ups”.

___________
Other posts of interest:

The value of building control

by Bregs Blog admin team

vbccover

We have previously discussed a proposed an alternative system of independent inspections, one that closely resembles the UK system. The UK system of independent Local Authority inspections and “Approved Inspectors” is widely acknowledged as one of the best systems of building control and ranks 27th in the World Bank Rankings for “Dealing with construction permits” (we rank 115th out of 189 countries). Ireland had a similar system pre 1990 Building Control Act when we changed to a full self-certification system, which continues under the new building regulations.

This interesting UK research into the value of building control was completed in 2012. Pdf: Report: Value of building control- jan2012

The report, undertaken in 2012 by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC)* and the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI)**, canvassed a broad range of companies who dealt with building control: developers, clients, architects and draftspersons, housebuilders, national and regional contractors, small local builders and specialist trades. They commissioned the following research research to determine the value of Building Control to customers. The 49 page document makes for very interesting reading.

Based on this study (quote) “93% think it is important that the industry has independent third party checks of compliance rather than self-certification“.

This would suggest a building control system with independent inspections is in accordance with international best practice.

______________

Extract from study “The Value of Building Control (LABC/ACAI 2012)”:

The objectives as outlined in our proposal dated 9 September 2011 were to identify:

  • The contribution Building Control makes to projects and the benefits it brings
  • Perceptions of the advice provided and the extent to which this is valued
  • Responsiveness and timeliness of advice
  • Preferences for an independent Building Control service versus own sign-off
  • Sources of information on updates to Building Regulations
  • Improvements required in the Building Control process.

These objectives were developed further during the questionnaire design phase. The research covers Building Control per se, regardless of whether this is provided by the LABC or private Approved Inspectors. Competitive issues are outside the scope of this project.

Satisfaction with the service 

 Satisfaction is high with Building Control generally and with these important aspects of the service. Average overall satisfaction is 8.1 out of 10 where 10 is very satisfied, and on the last occasion the service was used, satisfaction averaged 8.2 out of 10. Both scores are high by industry standards. Only 6% are dissatisfied, with a similar proportion in each sector interviewed.

 Although fewer of the Specialist Trades than others feel they are benefitting from Building Control, their satisfaction with the service is nevertheless high. Those who regard the process as challenging also show a good level of satisfaction.

Preference for independent checks or self-certification 

 93% think it is important that the industry has independent third party checks of compliance rather than self-certification. For their own companies, 80% would prefer independent checks to self-certification. The difference between these two is down to individuals feeling that their company has high standards, but that others may not. The main concern about self-certification is an increase in non-compliance and rogue builders, through a reduction in quality and build standards.

Developers’ and Clients’ views 

 Large Clients and Developers are on the whole very positive about Building Control. Although just under half leave the contact with Building Control to their external teams, they nevertheless have a view on its value. 88% feel they and their projects are benefitting from the involvement of Building Control, giving a score of 7 or over out of 10 for the level of benefit they experience.

 Almost all Developers and Clients (90%) would prefer to see independent third party checks of compliance with Building Regulations, rather than industry self-certification. The independent nature of checks on their teams is important to them.

Bregs Blog Notes:

*The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) are a not-for-profit, member organisation, representing all local authority building control teams in England and Wales with over 3,000 professional surveyors and building technicians members. Link: LABC homepage

**The Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) was formed in 1996 to increase awareness and understanding of private sector building control as a commercial, professional and cost-effective alternative to local authority inspectors; it has about 40 members who collectively represent 95% of all independent building control work. Link: ACAI homepage

Other posts of interest:

A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

 

Construction Site Inspections – BLITZ 8 September 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

HSA

Construction Site Inspections – BLITZ 8 September 2014

The Health & Safety Authority issued a press release for a ‘blitz’ in June when over 100 sites were visited (see press release here).

Today, (8 September 2014) the HSA steps up the campaign with another btitz of over 500 random inspections in the next 2 weeks. This regime of policing sites, well flagged by the CIF, is highly effective as it will improve safety on all sites this week when all operators will be looking over their shoulders for of an inspector at the gate (see CIF link below).

This initiative of the HSA is critical as the sector with the highest occupational injury rate, per 1,000 workers is Construction (16.7); (See more at: HSA link below)

In 2013 the HSA carried out an impressive 3,622 construction site inspections in Ireland and in more than a third of visits written advice was given. In more than 200 cases enforcement proceedings had to be taken against builders.

Mark O’Halloran, CEO of the HSA says: “We try to use our resources in a way that has maximum effect while achieving a positive outcome for workers and employers. Enforcement is an important part of the work we do, but we must also use awareness-raising and information campaigns to complement inspection activity” (See HSA Annual Report)

In contrast to the detailed information published by the HSA, no statistics have been published by the Department of the Environment for Building Control inspections and enforcement activity since 2012.

Perhaps Minister Kelly will rectify this situation?

A public information campaign and some coordinated national activity could improve compliance on every site and make building owners aware of the risks of onon-compliance.

Topics mentioned:

HSA Sept Construction Blitz

Health and Safety Authority Publishes Annual Report and Statistics Summary – Health and Safety Authority

 

TOP 20 for August 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

iStock_Top20Resized

TOP 20 for August 2014

Here are our top 20 most read posts for the month of August. This month was the second busiest ever on the Bregs Blog with over 23,500+ views.

The extraordinary general meeting of the representative body for architects (RIAI) figures prominently. Current council member and past-president Eoin O’Cofaigh’s address to members on the night on the subject of SI.9 liability is the most read post of the past 30 days.

A number of elected RIAI representatives published pieces this month concentrating on various defects in SI.9. The separate register for architectural technologists figured prominently again as did the continuing slide in commencement notices- a very worrying trend which shows little sign of reversing since March 1st 2014.

Here are the month’s posts top 20 in order of polularity:

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

RIAI EGM | Who said what | Withdrawn

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier

RIAI EGM: Open Letter to Members

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

BCMS Q+A: Part 1 | General Issues

RIAI EGM: Update 12th August 2014

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

SI9- where do I start?

A scenario that would leave thousands of homes ruined | Irish Examiner

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

RIAI – EGM: Future BC(A)R Policy – Tuesday 12th August 2014

| S.I. 9 | Are consumers being conned? | Brian Rochford

Demolition and S.I. 9

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus

Press: Number of new homes built this year will fall short by 6,000

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

link2plancomencements.pdf [Converted]

Commencement notice figures: 6 months: 2014- Source Link2plans

In the following Irish Independent article from 2nd September 2014 by Paul Melia, the author examines some worrying statistics on the low-level of residential completions for the first 5 months of 2014.

The Bregs Blog has posted a number of previous posts tracking the pronounced fall in commencement notices due to the introduction of the new building regulations in March 2014. The most recent Government figures up to 5th August indicate a 50% fall in commencement notices for all building types nationwide compared with the same period last year (see links below).

A number of industry commentators and stakeholders, along with the Construction Industry Federation, have advanced various proposals to stimulate residential development and supply. Other than revoking SI.9 immediately, we have noted that the likelyhood of any meaningful policy to increase residential supply is remote, within the lifetime of this government, given the lead-in times for residential developments of between 15 and 24 months.

Commencements are down 50% for the first 6 months of SI.9 and in the following article recent figures released by the Department of the Environment also confirm a continued depressed level of residential completions.

Link to article: Number of new homes built this year will fall short by 6,000 – Independent.ie

Extract:

Number of new homes built this year will fall short by 6,000

FEWER than 10,000 homes will be built this year, far less than the 16,000 needed to meet pent-up demand.

And many of the completed homes are unlikely to go to sale on the open market because they are one-off units that were built to order. New figures from the Department of the Environment show that less than 4,000 houses and apartments have been completed in the first five months of the year, with major shortages now expected in built-up areas where demand is highest.

PROPERTY-House-completionsOf the 3,941 units completed, almost half (1,917) are individual units. Some 846 apartments and 1,178 houses in developments have been finished.

The lack of units coming on stream comes despite soaring prices in the major urban centres, where only a fraction of the required homes are being delivered.

Prices have risen by 22pc in the capital in the past year and 10pc nationally, and they are expected to continue to soar unless more homes are built.

The rate of new homes coming on stream has plummeted since the height of the boom in 2006 when more than 93,000 units were delivered.

The current rate of completions is the lowest since records began in 1975.

The Housing Agency says that 15,932 units are needed every year until 2018 to cater for an increase in population and to provide options for people hoping to trade up as their families grow,

Based on current completion rates, just 9,500 will be delivered before the year is out.

The statistics from the Department of the Environment also show that little development is happening in the major urban centres.

They show:

Just 1,155 units have been completed in Dublin. Some 5,663 are needed this year alone, according to the Housing Agency.

Just 56 have been completed in Cork City, but almost 270 are needed.

In Galway city, just 21 are finished, with another 21 in Limerick. About 600 a year in each city are required.

The figures come after the ESRI recently warned that new homes were needed in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Galway, Louth, Cork and Westmeath.

Demand is most pronounced in the Greater Dublin Area, and the ESRI said that unless more homes came on stream it will result in “significant housing shortages”.

Builders lobby group the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said that based on completions so far this year, the final tally for the year would be around 10,000 units – of which just 3,000 would be in housing schemes.

CIF director general Tom Parlon said that a number of barriers to construction needed to be tackled including providing finance for new developments, a reduction in development levies, changes to a requirement to provide affordable housing in new schemes and changes to the VAT regime.

Flexible

“There also needs to be a more flexible approach to planning,” he added. “Currently, permissions exist in the greater Dublin region for approximately 21,000 apartments. Other than in the city centre there is no demand for these kinds of homes.

“The CIF has called for a VAT reduction to 9pc on house building. This will help to stimulate the industry, increase the supply of homes and provide employment. Until these issues are tackled in a meaningful way, house completions will remain low and the housing supply shortage will continue.”

The Government plans to introduce a range of measures to stimulate construction including reducing development charges, imposing a levy on undeveloped sites in prime city and town centres and reducing the requirement to provide affordable housing in new developments.

In addition, it also proposes reducing the tax rate on the sale of land rezoned for housing to bring sites into use.

Irish Independent

Other posts on this topic:

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014

So much time and so little to do… 

Required housing supply estimates and creating supply | Ireland after NAMA

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

by Bregs Blog admin team

image-ga-homebuyers-family-2wider

The following opinion piece was submitted by Michael Gillespie on 5th September 2014

The self-built world has been thrown into disarray with the introduction of SI9.

The result has been projects shelved or delayed while clients, agents and local authorities come to grips with the tsunami of changes and information that must be absorbed. This industry was always blessed with varied knowledge and competencies within the professional groups. SI9 was promised to change all that, but the problem has only gotten worse, particularly for self-builds. Having self-built myself and inspected self-build’s over the years, I now first had the advantages of self-build.

  • You can shop around for best prices
  • Source preferred materials and products with greater ease
  • Avoid the main contractors fee’s
  • Direct and redirect project as you see fit. Even bring it to a complete halt if necessary.
  • Select the trade’s people you want and wait for them to become available if needs be.
  • If money gets scarce, you can move into the dwelling the minute you feel it’s workable to avoid paying rent.
  • With proper planning, you can dictate the speed of the build (don’t forget the five P’s) according to your budget. A kind of pay as you go approach, over a few months or years if required.
  • Lower mortgage.
  • The value of the later items will for many often mean the difference between a project going ahead or not. In this regard the impact of SI9 on direct labour/self-build homes I feel has yet to be fully realised. On top of the additional professional fees clients now have to content with the fact that the house has to be finished and signed off by the certifiers and council before they can take up residents. This simple requirement adds thousands more to a project.

My own PROJECT, which WAS common place, included moving in long before completion. I can remember the scene where helping big brother with the electrical, he asked when did we hope to move in, to which my good wife replied ‘Two weeks’. He laughed for moment until he seen we were serious. But it happened we had a kitchen (fitted myself), stairs, and lino in the kitchen and I think one bathroom finished. The rest I did myself over time. Yes I hung doors, did the second fixing etc. all as wages allowed. It saved us a small fortune on mortgage and repayments.

But alas that era is no more, your budget & mortgage must be large enough to complete the home before you move in. For many the enlarged budget & mortgage is not feasible or attainable, thus many projects will never see the light of day (I’d ask agents to spell this out for people at the design stage)

The need for absolute compliance is another gem. Generally the industry is not known for perfection. Of course we strive for it, but we should be realistic, we have neither the professionals nor the trades to achieve this (in an ever evolving industry can we ever come to a point and say stop this is perfect). The situation as it stands is designers and AC’s going over the top with requirements, adding yet more cost.

In short S.I. 9 is failing (been generous here), it has gone against the advice of the people on the ground, Industry stake holders, and government panels. So Please Alan fix-it or replace it.

Independent inspection is the way to go in my opinion.

Other posts of interest:

Self Builder petition- BC(A)R SI.9

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3

by Bregs Blog admin team

rear-view-4

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3

Recent  readers may have missed some older posts that are still of interest post-implementation of SI.9 in our 500+ post archive. In our third “Look Back” Post we re-examine the role of Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) in the formation of SI.9.

The BRAB was set up under the 1990 act to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations. The 5 year term of the last panel was up in 2012, and for reasons unknown was not re-convened. Over 20 separate groups had a presence on the board including consumer bodies. Following May 2012 these organisations no longer had any input into the new regulations. The Department consulted with a much smaller key stakeholder group comprised of members of the industry: representative bodies for chartered surveyors (SCSI), engineers (ACEI), architects (RIAI) and builders (CIF).

Remarkably BRAB never met after May 2012 to discuss the new regulations. Effectively there was no consumer representation in the subsequent formation of SI.9.

At around the same time the BRAB was suspended mid-2012, the reporting of Building Control inspection rates was also discontinued (see post “Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9“)

At the EGM for the representative body for architects on 12 August a speaker from the floor confirmed that BRAB had been disbanded and he called for BRAB to be urgently reconvened to bring together the appropriate range of stakeholders and expertise to deal with the fallout of SI9.

The BRAB is a statutory board and the Minister of the Environment is supposed to make appointments. Former Minister Phil Hogan last referred to BRAB in November 2012 during a debate on pyrites when he confirmed that he had abolished it:

The Building Regulations Advisory Board was no more and no less than an advisory board, but the Government, on my recommendation, abolished it in recent days. The information matters that have arisen from this, from Priory Hall and other issues will form part of the solution in terms of future building regulations which I will bring to Government shortly. It is not acceptable that those who took money from consumers on the basis of a structural guarantee did not discharge their responsibilities, which is what HomeBond and Premier did. They were set up by the Construction Industry Federation to provide certainty to consumers about structural matters and they let everybody down in that regard. Professionals let people down. Unfortunately, those who were affected were the consumers. I am very much in the space of helping consumers to overcome the difficulties which were created through no fault of their own. I am pleased by the constructive approach of most members of the committee who are trying to find a resolution to this

Perhaps the new Minister will take action on this … and perhaps he might also take their advice?

The post below was first published on Breg blog on 14th March 2014.

_________________

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9

 
the_questions_our_healthcare_debate_ignores

The Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) is set up under the Building Control Act to advise the Minister for the Environment on the building regulations. So, what does the BRAB think about the regulations brought in last March? Were they consulted about draft regulations in 2012? Presumably so. Do the BRAB think the 2013 regulations protect the consumer against future Priory Halls? Do they think the regulations protect businesses against the risk of intellectual property theft from all the drawings to be given to the local authority? Did BRAB discuss the possibility of independent inspections, which so many organizations called for in their submissions to the Minister on the draft regulations?

Presumably BRAB meets regularly and somebody keeps a record of what is discussed. There is no detail on the Department of the Environment website about this though. Presumably, too, all this information is available under an FOI request. Is there anybody with any information on when the BRAB last met – it must be since these regulations were introduced last March – who can offer any advice on this?

Link to BRAB – Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/BuildingStandards/BRAB/

__________

extract from site:

BRAB (Building Regulations Advisory Body)

The Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) is a statutory body appointed by the Minister, under Section 14 of the Building Control Act, 1990 to advise him on matters relating to the Building Regulations. Membership of the body includes representatives from the construction industry and regulators at national and local level. BRAB was originally established in 1992. The current BRAB was appointed for a five-year term by Ministerial Order dated 14 June 2007.

The DEHLG (Building Standards Section) provides secretarial services to the BRAB. The DEHLG develops proposals to amend the Building Regulations and related Technical Guidance Documents (TGD) in consultation with BRAB.

Members of the BRAB:

  • Mr. Jay Stuart, Chairperson, Integrated Sustainable Design Const.
  • Mr. Michael Brown, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
  • Mr. Brian McKeon, Construction Industry Federation.
  • Dr. Eugene Farrell, Home Bond.
  • Mr. Mark McAuley, Building Materials Federation.
  • Ms. Denise Germaine, Chartered Inst. of Architectural Technologists.
  • Mr. Gerard Grogan, Tánaiste’s nomimee
  • Mr. Jim Keogh, Electro-Technical Council of Ireland.
  • Mr. Jack Callanan  National Disability Authority.
  • Ms. Emer O’Siochru, An Taisce.
  • Ms. Maria Melia, Chief Fire Officers Associations.
  • Ms. Ann Mills, City & County Engineers Association.
  • Mr. Johnny McGettigan, Irish Building Control Institute.
  • Ms. Minka Louise McInerney, Royal Inst. of the Architects of Ireland.
  • Mr. Jimmy Keogan, City & County Managers Association.
  • Ms. Krystyna Rawicz, Society of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Mr. Gary Treanor, Irish Timber Frame Manufacturers’ Association Ltd.
  • Mr Sean Balfe, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
  • Ms. Sarah Neary, Senior Building Adviser, Building Standards, DEHLG.
  • Mr. Noel Carroll, Senior Housing Adviser, DEHLG.
  • Ms. Jacqui Donnelly, Architect, Heritage Policy & Architectural Protection, DEHLG.
  • Ms. Terry Prendergast, National Consumer Agency
  • Mr Cian O’Lionáin, Principal Officer, Private Housing Sector & Building Standards, DEHLG
  • Ms Edel Collins, Office of Public Works
  • Mr Kevin O’Rourke, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Top 7 for 7- September 5th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

 logo

Top 7 for 7- September 5th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

Here are the 7 most popular posts for the first week in September on the Bregs Blog. BC(A)R SI.9 is 6 months old this week, and a opinion piece on the past 6 months post-implementation is the most popular post.

  • Eoin O’Cofaigh, past president and current council member of the representative body for architects (RIAI) wrote a thought-provoking personal opinion piece on the past 6 months of the new regulations.
  • A registered architect’s assessment of the additional costs due to the new regulations for a typical house was published. SI.9 costs were estimated at €21,000 for a typical dwelling, increasing to over €40,000 for a ‘self-build’.
  • We posted a warning in 2013 by Fine Gael Senator Cáit Keane on the serious flaws in the new building regulations- quote: Allowing one person to legally be the designer, builder and certifier could be very damaging in terms of protection for consumers.” Senator Keane represented a Fine Gael expert group established to evaluate and make recommendations on the registration & training of architects in Ireland.
  • We noted recent and upcoming revisions to the building regulations. From 1 September all new homes are required to install carbon monoxide meters.
  • An informative opinion piece on what constituted ‘consequent classes’ was submitted by Seán Breen, Chartered Engineer.
  • The issues associated with conflicts in SI.9 and the difficulties now facing certifiers trying to issue absolute guarantees of compliance where conflicts exist in the building regulations and where no transition arrangements are provided for was highlighted (Part L in particular).
  • In our final post we discussed the considerable costs of ‘defensive specifications’ and the difficulties now for contractors in ‘value engineering’: the practice of looking at more cost-effective alternative products and components during the course of construction.

Posts listed in order of reader popularity. Enjoy!

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations

Part J (2014): Carbon monoxide detectors mandatory 1 September

Consequence Classes – What are they?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Value-engineering, defensive specifications and BCAR SI.9

 

Other top posts:

Top 7 for 7- August 30th 2014

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

Top Posts for July 2014

Top 20 Breg Blog posts for June 2014.

Top 10 for June 7th | BRegs Blog

Top 12 posts- week ending 31st May

TOP 10 for the week ending 17th May 2014

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May

ALERT | Pyrite & Ground Floor Construction?

by Bregs Blog admin team

slab_old

ALERT | Pyrite & Ground Floor Construction?

There is a lot of uncertainty among Certifiers about the possible consequences of issuing certificates for pyrite and other defective building materials. Recent outbreaks, several  years after we thought the problem had been solved, are reported here (see links below for housing in Drogheda and Dublin Zoo).

Inevitably the day will come when an SI9 Certifier has to defend a new pyrite claim. The scale of the problem might be big enough that the Professional Indemnity (PI) insurers decide to defend the case (see the €64,000 Question)  rather than settling quickly and paying out from the policy excess.

As a Design or Assigned Certifier you might think that contaminated building material is not your responsibility (see link below). But what about the basic ground floor construction?

In submissions to the Pyrite Panel two years ago both the CCMA (City & County Managers Association) and Consulting Engineers Sutton Cronin raised concerns about the ground floor construction of houses affected by pyrite. They explain-

If a house is built correctly and the floor slab is exposed swelling of the stone infill beneath then the slab will move upwards in isolation to walls of the building which are not attached to the floor slab. This will result in a clear visible step in the floor slab at all doors. This is clear evidence that the infill is swelling as the slab is lifting. This is NOT happening in the majority of cases reported.

A simple mathematical equation will show that if a floor slab is tied to an internal block rising wall and if the seasonal movement is a mere 1.5mm then a crack of 5mm will result over the door contained in this wall. This is a detail problem and not pyritic heave in the infill

Sutton Cronin Engineers 2012 (Link:) Pdf: Cronin & Sutton report

The County and City Manager’s Association (CCMA) make a recommendation:

“Consideration should be given to reviewing ground floor construction in areas of the country where aggregates that could potential have pyrite, particularly limestone aggregates. The use of suspended floors with walls and roof acting independently is the recommended design for such areas in Canada. In built-up areas such as London, an expandable lining is introduced to mitigate against movement due to vegetation / roots. In sectors most affected by problems of swelling, it has become common for buyers to make and to offer purchase, conditional on analysis of the backfill under the slab”

CCMA 2012 (Link:) Pdf: CCMA Pyrite report

Are the CCMA and the engineering report suggesting effects of pyrite in ground floors can be mitigated by detailing? If this is the case it is surprising that neither the Department of the Environment Building Standards or the Professional bodies or the CIF have issued any warnings to industry.

Perhaps readers of the blog can point us to any advice issued by the professional bodies to their members about this?

Other posts mentioned in the above post:

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Pyrite in Dublin Zoo? 

The €64,000 question: How big is the pyrite problem? 

Are Design and Assigned Certifiers risking professional suicide with Pyrite and S.I.9?

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

New consumer protections for…spark plugs, not houses!

by Bregs Blog admin team

offshore-banking

The following opinion piece was submitted by a registered architect on 25th August 2014. Breg blog notes shown in [ ].

New consumer protections for…spark plugs, not houses!

Interesting to see new proposals for enhancing consumer rights for purchase of goods (see pdf here)- great to have if you purchase faulty spark plugs for your car.

Unfortunately we do not have similar for purchasing a new house.

The new building regulations sought to clean up the construction industry and ensure pyrite and developments like Priory Hall would not re-occur. Cowboy builders were to be consigned to the history books. We know how successful this has been already for pyrite- high-profile demolitions nationwide this year due to pyite in blockwork. We still await a register of contractors- what we have is a private voluntary register run by the Construction Industry Federation.

Apparent loopholes suggest that developers may well be capable of adapting quite quickly to the new self-certification regime, employing in-house certifiers to provide “guarantees’ required under the new regulations [see link at end of post].

As recently as 12th of this August the RIAI* consensus view is that SI.9 is deficient and not in the interests of the consumer. The RIAI have made representations to the Minister and the Department as to the shortcomings of the new regulations.

The Law Society have confirmed that they were not consulted in advance of implementation of the new regulations, so worryingly there may be conveyancing issues associated with SI.9 that we are not aware of yet, issues that may become apparent when projects completed under SI.9 start being sold on.

The lack of enhanced consumer protections under the new regulations has been well documented by commentators [quote from Deirdre Ní Fhloinn:

"There are no new legal rights or remedies for consumers created by BCAR 2014. Rather, the benefits to consumers are intended to result from improvements in the building process, such as the requirement for an assigned certifier to devise and implement an inspection plan."]

The one sector tasked with implementation, regulation, oversight and enforcement of the new regulations and materials policing is the Building Control Sections of Local Authorities, who remain understaffed and resourced. We await a finalised code of practice for building control. Worryingly the draft version [see link below] indicates that the Department is seeking to distance BCO’s further from their market policing of materials. The draft document suggests they police “Marketing of Construction Products in line with EU (Construction Product) Regulations’ only (see Framework for Building Control Authorities – Version 1: July 2014; page 1)**.

Remarkably even with 4 no inspections being recommended per project the Department continues to set an unrealistic target of 15% Local Authority building control inspections. There are less than 70 building control inspectors nationwide who are required to police a €10bn construction industry.

Appropriately trained professionals such as architectural technologists find themselves excluded from new roles under the regulations with careers seriously impacted upon.

So we have a self-certification system (the same as the past 20 years), under-resourced Building Control Authorities and a voluntary private register of contractors- remarkably this is not mandatory. Our “new” self-certification system continues with contractors still unregulated.

The unforseen consequence of the new regulations is a huge increase in costs for consumers with little or no added benefit. Consumer groups such as self-builders find themselves simply priced out of the market, unable to manage and build their own house.

*Breg Blog notes:

*the representative body for architects (RIAI)

**we believe the Framework for Building Control Authorities – Version 1: July 2014 is a draft document only and are not in a position to comment on the finalised version which is due to be circulated in September 2014.

Other posts mentioned in this opinion piece:

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations 

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 

Framework for Building Control Authorities – Version 1: July 2014

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

“Level 3 BIM” with “Level Zero” building control law?

by Bregs Blog admin team

The following opinion piece was posted by Bregs Blog team on 4th September 2014.

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This image of Building Information Modeling (BIM) prompts the question- are we moving to “Level 3 BIM” with “Level Zero” building control law?

Is a “Level Zero Certification” system fit for purpose in 2014?

The new building control system is not smart. Why are we building compliance in the construction industry around a “Level 0″ (SI.9) certification scheme that is a ‘one-cert’, ‘one-man’, ‘one-size-fits-all’ system. Where is the future proofing? Where is the smart economy? Why are we accepting more red tape that’s putting a drag on the recovery and job creation? Where’s the plan for rolling out BIM? Where’s the joined up thinking?

SI.9 is yesterday’s solution shoe-horned into legislation written a quarter of a century ago (1990 Building Control Act) in the early days of ‘computer aided drawing’. Let’s not forget that the 1990 Act was a good fit for a traditional two storey house with one builder, low-tech construction and a set of building by-laws that were really just sound rules of thumb.

This was long before EU directives, very demanding technical regulations, high tech components and complicated contracts. BIM (building information modelling) is the collaborative design of the future (LINK) and Ireland is already lagging far behind in adopting smarter systems.

SI.9 is a response to the mismanagement of the last 20 years without looking forward to the immense changes that are happening in the industry and harnessing the opportunities for doing things better. The Irish Government has not yet realised the positive impact of BIM Technologies and Process. The UK Government has and is leading the way for change in the building procurement industry there. In the UK they are learning to walk (BIM Maturity Level 1) before the run (BM Level 2) before they are ready to sprint (BM Level 3) with collaboration at the heart of this approach.

At the launch of ‘Construction 2020′ the Taoiseach said that “The Government will support this recovery but only if it is based on the highest international standards in quality, excellence and trust

Does SI.9 promote collaboration ? Perhaps in a perverted way it does, not that this was in its intention. Smart operators will see the benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration in terms of meeting the statutory requirements and they will step up with ‘smart’ tracking systems.. True collaboration is based around “shared risk for shared profit where stakeholders work together to achieve a shared goal”.

But SI.9 is a potential stake in the heart of true collaboration because it funnels multidisciplinary responsibility to one signature, in essence it cements traditional cooperation defined as “working with others to achieve your own goal”. This ‘Level 0′ system relies on the last man standing and his one page certificate pinning all his hopes on a single insurance policy.

This heading image came from a Dutch BIM leaflet: Dutch BIM leaflet

LINK TO FULL SITE

Other posts of interest:

Opinion Piece: Using Collaborative Technology’s to drive BC(A)R SI 9

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI 

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

by Bregs Blog admin team

A changing landscape?

An opinion piece on the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2014, six months after their coming into force

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI

1 September 2014

success_failure_opp_large

1 Introduction

On 1 March last, two years after the first public consultations (although there had been several years of private negotiations with “construction sector stakeholders” before then), the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., brought the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 into effect.

There had been many warnings before that date as to the effect the regulations would have on the liability and workload of those who would be “certifying compliance” of designs and of buildings under the new regulations; on the volume of construction starts; on foreign direct investment projects; on alterations works in Places of Assembly; on architectural technologists and others excluded from accepting the Designer or Assigned Certifier roles; and on those people following in the centuries-old tradition of “self-build” for their homes. Most importantly, there were assertions about the likely effect of the regulations on the quality of building design and construction – none; that the regulations would mean more paperwork but not result in better building; and that the intended beneficiary of the regulations, the “consumer”, principally the first-time homebuyer, would not benefit at all.

So what can be seen now, six months after the regulations took effect?

Let’s start with the peripheral effects before getting to the core of the matter: protecting the home buyer.

2 The BCMS

The Building Control Management System was an attempt to do several things at once. A hitherto paper-based system was to be modernized and extended hugely at the same time. The BCMS designers set out to computerize the preparation and lodgement of Commencement Notices, and alongside this to incorporate the new Assignment Forms, Design and Completion certificates, and to deal with the requirements to upload design, specification and commissioning documentation.

Notwithstanding the advance notice available to the Department, the system remains, 18 months later, at the beta testing stage, according to the BCMS website. The system does not permit the electronic lodgement of Notices related to those material alterations of existing non-residential buildings where no fire safety certificate is required. The requirement to fill out the form electronically, download and sign it, scan and upload scanned paper material is bizarre. After all the Health and Safety Authority, requires the electronic signature of Commencement Notices under the Construction Safety regulations!

No doubt all this will be dealt with sometime or other. It is regrettable that the repeated warnings prior to 1 March of two RIAI Presidents, that the system was not ready, were ignored. In the meantime, those who must actually implement the regulations, in design and local authority offices alike, struggle to do so.

3 The paperwork

Launching the earlier version of the regulations, S.I.80 of 2013, Mr. Hogan said “Each local authority, when it receives the final certificate of compliance, will retain all drawings and particulars relevant to buildings/works and include the final Certificate of Completion on its statutory register. The documentation will be accessible to anyone who subsequently acquires an interest in the building concerned.

“As soon as these regulations become operational, homeowners who encounter a problem with a building will be in a radically better place. They will be able to immediately access information which can lead them towards a solution to the problem. Consumer protection is all about maintaining and controlling information, this is the first time we’ve had such protection in this area.”

Pre-regulation predictions that up to 300 separate certificates, specifications and the rest would be needed for upload upon Completion have yet to be borne out. What is clear is that there is more paperwork involved than the designers of the BCMS planned for, with 100 documents to be uploaded on the simplest of non-residential projects. The BCMS cannot handle it!

In an Information Age, it seems to be that people think the more information which is available: the better. But more paper doesn’t mean better building.

4 The Assigned Certifiers

Those who wrote the regulations expected that the project architect would act as Assigned Certifier on up to 98% of all building projects. This was to be the “meal ticket for life” for a profession reeling from the 90% shrinkage in Construction Sector output in the period 2008-2013.

So unlikely did the engineering profession consider any involvement on the part of engineers in the AC role, that ACEI and Engineers Ireland issued no guidance to their members in that regard.

Those who promoted the regulations within the architectural profession suggested quietly that S.I.80 / 9 would see the end of the partial service; that the self-builders would be obliged to employ them; that architects would be providing more services from now on, and thereby gain more work.

The reality has turned out to be rather different.

A minority of the architectural profession have embraced the regulations, seeing in them a chance to make a living again. Faced with threats of losing clients, rather more architects have responded to the regulations by reluctantly taking on the Certifier roles. A substantial number are refusing the roles and pointing their clients towards third-party certifiers.

This, in turn, has led to a small number of engineers offering dedicated Certification services, and to a larger number of engineers acting from time to time in the role. A Changing Landscape. Anybody concerned with “stopping the drift to the edge” of the architectural profession should be disappointed with the unanticipated outcome; while those who hinted at a chicken in the pot of every rural-based architect have yet to account for the error of their predictions.

5 The Designers

The task of certifying compliance with the regulations of every aspect of the design of the building or works has hitherto received less attention than the certification of the finished works.

This seems to be because some architects, traditionally the “design team leader” and still this on the majority of building projects where they are involved, believe themselves so competent that they are willing not only to carry out their own work but also to take responsibility for the inputs of the consulting engineers and the other specialists.

Perhaps in consequence for architects, the RIAI has issued next to no guidance for its members on acting in the Design Certifier role.

Were S.I.9 to endure, this will be an urgent task to remedy, as workload and responsibility alike are now emerging as larger than anticipated.

6 The Contractors

Launching the regulations in March 2013, the Minister announced that “The Construction Industry Federation …. is devising proposals in collaboration with the Department on a voluntary scheme of registration for builders and contractors with the intention of transitioning this to a statutory scheme over time when it is proven to be a quality registration scheme and operating effectively in practice.”

This voluntary scheme is now up and running. Time will tell whether the scheme is one of “quality registration” and whether it operates effectively in practice.

But on construction projects for private sector clients, architects have for decades advised clients to choose only good builders. This informal but highly effective quality control scheme cannot, it seems, operate today on public sector contracts due, we are told, to EU Competition rules. The Brussels Fall-Guys take another hit!

And so, perhaps the CIF register will be useful in raising standards by, over time, allowing architects and other advisors of building owners exclude the incompetent, the litigious or the just plain greedy from public and private sector tender lists alike.

Meanwhile, the RIAI’s calls over the years for statutory registers, not only of main contractors but also of all key trades, await a response.

7 The “self-builders”

The regulations provide for a statutory “Undertaking by Builder” and statutory “Certificate of Compliance on Completion” “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only” with a space left blank for insertion of a “Construction Industry Register Ireland registration number (where applicable)”.

On the face of it, the criteria for eligibility to sign the forms, which also include a requirement that these people be “competent” exclude a private person acting in their own capacity from so certifying. The Irish Association of Self Builders say this is increasing their construction costs by 10% due to a need to appoint a contractor to manage their projects. This is on top of the outlays “self-builders” incur to appoint a design Certifier and an Assigned Certifier on each project.

The Minister has opined that a competent self-builder is not excluded from acting on her or his own behalf.

Six months in, it is too early to say how solicitors acting on behalf of funding agencies such as banks or building societies, or on behalf of persons seeking to buy such houses in the event of their being sold, will react to “self-signed certificates”. Is it too cynical to imagine that where a bank wishes to delay a loan, it would never raise a question about such a certificate? Perhaps it is.

8 The architectural technologists

S.I.9 is silent on architectural and engineering technologists. However, the warnings throughout 2013 that self-employed technologists would de facto be largely precluded from continuing to earn their living as a result of the restriction of the Design and Assigned Certifier roles to registered architects and building surveyors, and chartered engineers have proven correct.

This, in turn, has had two outcomes. The landscape continues to change … Under pressure from its own technologist members, the RIAI grasped a nettle of many years’ growth and decided to (a) support a register of architectural technologists and (b) to work with the State to achieve one. Other technologists saw this move as a cynical one designed to protect the RIAI’s influence in an area where technologists’ interests had not been represented properly for years – as evidenced by S.I. 9 itself. The RIAI’s work on this register has yet to bear fruit. We await the desired outcome: the fulfillment of Council’s will in this regard.

The second outcome is that the Department of the Environment is now consulting various interest groups on such a register.

To exclude by Law a person who by training and experience is competent to evaluate building designs against the requirements of the building regulations from actually so doing and thereby to deprive them of a livelihood which they have been making for many years is unjust and unjustifiable.

The “changing landscape” needs to get a move on.

9 The Law Society of Ireland

On 6 June, the Law Society Conveyancing Committee advised solicitors involved in property conveyancing as follows:- The only certificate of compliance with the Building Regulations that will be required is a copy or a certified copy of the certificate of compliance on completion in the form prescribed in the sixth schedule to SI no 9, as registered with the Building Control Authority.”

No call for Ancillary Certificates! It seems the lawyers have concluded that in the event of there being a problem with the as-constructed building, it’s to be laid at the door of the Assigned Certifier.

This, it would appear, is what Minister Hogan envisaged when he said in March 2013 that “If anyone signs a statutory certificate for a building which subsequently proves to be non-compliant, they can be held legally liable for the consequences”.

This was and remains the central plank of the regulations:- “a clear chain of responsibility for building works prior to commencement through to completion”.

The simplicity of the new system: one Assigned Certifier; one clear certificate; no need to bother with the ancillary certificates: will be a boon for the plaintiff and her or his lawyers in the years to come.

The directness of the system which S.I. 9 has put in place is set to simplify the proceedings and thereby reduce the cost of litigation against certifiers, and to speed up the hitherto often protracted sets of proceedings associated with construction defect. Those who consider more litigation to be a good thing will see this as an advantage.

10 The regulatory authorities

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) describes itself as “the Regulatory and Support body for Architects in Ireland”.

When the 2013 version of the regulations was introduced in March 2013, RIAI Director John Graby said that “The new Building Regulations – prepared by Minister Hogan and his Department – represent one of the most significant efforts to strengthen the country’s building control system since the introduction of the original Building Regulations over 20 years ago and they are to be commended on this”; and that “the 12-month implementation period announced by the Minister will give the Government and the country’s Local Authorities the time they need to get their inspection and monitoring systems operating effectively.”

It is now 6 months after introduction of the regulations and 18 months after the RIAI’s commendation of the Minister and his Department. This lengthy period has, however, not resulted in the desired improved effectiveness in the Local Authorities’ inspection and monitoring systems.

11 The liability

Launching the regulations in March 2013, Minister Hogan said:- “The mandatory certificates will be clear, unambiguous statements on statutory forms stating that each of the key parties to a project certifies that the works comply with the building regulations and that they accept legal responsibility for their work. If anyone signs a statutory certificate for a building which subsequently proves to be non-compliant, they can be held legally liable for the consequences.”

At a seminar in Dublin Castle in May 2013, an Official involved in drafting and promoting S.I.80/9 said that in his opinion “what we’re getting now, is what the consumer thought they had” as regards Opinions on Compliance with building regulations. The key difference between the old Opinions regime and the new Certification system being just that: certification and not just an opinion, and not as regards “substantial compliance” but as regards total compliance in all aspects.

Since March 2013, there have been a number of amendments to these “statutory forms”. Whether those amendments will have had the effect of diluting the Minister’s view about “clear, unambiguous … statutory certificates” is as yet unclear. It is difficult to see the State losing focus in that regard.

Writing in August 2014, Mr. Hogan’s successor as Minister, Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., wrote that “The recent Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 … aim to strengthen the arrangements in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and the validation and registration of certificates of compliance.”

Minister Kelly is clear: the regulations require “greater accountability in relation to compliance … in the form of statutory certification.”

I am not qualified to discuss the difference between accountability and liability. To me, the concepts sound closely related.

Six months after the regulations came into effect is too soon to say how matters will work out in practice. Senior Counsel’s Opinions on the liability accruing to the certifier under S.I.9 vary from it being “no worse than it was under the old system” to “absolute and in the nature of a guarantee”. The views in some quarters that a criminal liability will devolve on the Assigned Certifier should they fail to respond to a request from a building control authority for information in connection with, say, validating a Certificate of Completion, await refutation.

In any event, the Government’s intentions: “greater accountability in relation to compliance” seem well flagged over the past 18 months. The Construction Industry Federation agree:-

Interviewed on Louth/Meath local radio on 16 July, Director General Tom Parlon was asked:- “What about the issue of somebody who joins the [CIF] Register, builds a house, maybe it’s full of pyrite or the ceiling falls in, and basically it turns out that even though the builder is on the Register they do a bad job – are there penalties for that individual that they must pay?

Mr. Parlon replied:- “There are penalties already under the new building regulations, everything must be signed off by a competent Assignee, who can only be an architect, a building surveyor or an engineer, and in signing off on behalf of the builder, there are obligations there and they have to stand over those.”

The consensus seems to be that there is indeed greater accountability in relation to compliance. The Assigned Certifier signs off on behalf of the builder.

But let’s leave the last word to Minister Hogan, who, on Morning Ireland last February, said:- “what we are trying to do here is to make sure that people like [a self-builder] would be able to get a guarantee that what is signed up for by a professional in the future means what it says – and that an architect or a building surveyor or a chartered surveyor that signs off on this will be able to say that this is what it has done, this is the whole chain of responsibility.”

12 The Impact on Construction Starts

Before 1 March, those who said the new regulations serve neither the consumer’s nor the certifier’s interest told the Government that the complexity of the system, volume of paperwork, liability placed on the certifier, and five-week period allowed to validate Completion Certificates on even short fit-out projects would slow down construction starts.

That is how things have worked out.

The DoE issue monthly statistics showing the number of dwellings covered by Commencement Notices. There was a “spike” in the number on Notices served in February. This was expected, before S.I.9 came into force. But the Department have not updated the statistics since. And so, their statistics do not permit comparison between the number of dwellings covered by Commencement Notices since S.I.9 came in, with the same period in other years.

Other sources are, however, available.

The Local Government Management Agency Building Register records validated Commencement Notices received on the BCMS. 1645 Notices were received between 1 March and 31 July. This would equate to 3950 for a full year. This would represent an astonishing 45% decline on the 7456 Notices submitted in 2013.

But matters are worse than this.

Everybody, including the DoE, accepts that the “February spike” was a rush to beat the introduction of S.I.9. But not all of those Notices cover real project starts. If they did, there would have been a matching spike in tender volumes beforehand. There was none. And there would have been a matching increase in construction activity in April/May. There was none.

There was no spike in tender volumes in January/February; and no spike in the Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index in early summer.

Six months into S.I.9, indications are that the number of construction commencements in 2014 will be lower than in 2013.

The February spike in Commencement Notices was on paper, not on shovels.

Many factors, not only S.I.9, impact on construction sector output. The most important? Economic growth and availablity of funding. Given returned growth, construction output should increase. Moreover, funds available to service construction activity are no less than they were in 2013. A 50% decline in the number of Commencement Notices served and validated cannot be blamed on funding shortages.

It is becoming clear that the paperwork, liability, lack of systems preparation, and increased costs S.I.9 has caused are contributing to a substantial reduction in construction sector output in 2014 as compared with 2013. The effect on employment and tax returns is beyond my ability to analyse.

13 Latent Defects Insurance

Launching the regulations, Minister Hogan said “I am keen that the issue of insurance for construction projects is addressed before the new regulations come into effect next year. I am therefore undertaking a review of construction project related insurance in conjunction with Minister Bruton before the new regulations commence.”

Carefully chosen words. Perhaps the “issue of insurance [was] addressed”, and perhaps a “review of construction project related insurance” has been undertaken.

18 months after the Minister’s words, there is no State-backed LDI scheme in place or in sight. This is a tragedy. A no-fault system of Latent Defects Insurance would be a huge advantage to the home buyer in securing speedy, litigation-free and technically competent remedying of defects. The cost of such schemes in other countries runs at about 1% of project cost. What first-time home buyer would not welcome such a system with State supervision?

14 The impact on the building owner

The regulations impose new duties on owners commissioning design and construction works on most non-residential construction projects. They must employ Design and Assigned Certifiers, who submit drawings and specifications to building control authorities, at commencement and before completion of the works. The building may not be opened or occupied until the local authority validates those submissions.

Before 1 March last, it was unclear why, when the regulations responded to failures in the residential sector, the Government imposed a greater burden on all sectors. Since 1 March, no advantage has become apparent.

By requiring valid “Completion Certificates” before a building may be occupied, the regulations increase uncertainty around completion of all projects. This will impact adversely on projects needing timely completion, such as shops in the run-up to Christmas, hotel and pub licensing applications, and short-period fit-out projects where the job will often be finished before the timescales in the regulations can apply. (“Serve the Completion Certificate before you start the job and you’ll be right!”) The period since 1 March is too short for the extent of this problem to become apparent.

In the commercial sector, the cost of compliance is borne within the “closed circle” of income derived from sales. The cost of paying the certifiers must be recouped from customers, or by reducing profits or overheads. The costs quoted in the residential sector for “Certifier services” show that this is a significant extra cost in building project procurement. The evidence of any benefit to the non-residential building owner of such increased costs has yet to appear.

15 And what about the consumer? 

Launching them in April 2013, Minister Hogan said:- The regulations “set out to prevent the future reoccurrence of poorly constructed dwellings, pyrite damage and structures breaching fire regulations left as a legacy of a poorly regulated housing boom. This is all about restoring consumer confidence in construction as an industry.

In the six months since 1 March, what evidence has emerged that the future reoccurrence of poorly constructed dwellings, pyrite damage and structures breaching fire regulations is now being prevented?

None; nor is there likely to be any. Local authorities, who alone under the present system have the power of systematic inspection over multiple building sites, don’t intend to exercise it. S.I.9 facilitates no identification of “systems failures”, such as the pyrites scandal which could have been identified two years before it actually emerged. The quantity and shape of the litigation in coming years is all there is to go on.

16 But is there no chance S.I.9 might do some good?

Whether S.I.9 is likely to succeed in its stated goals can be debated. But given that the legislation did not take account of the relevant recommendations of the Pyrites Panel, one might be forgiven some scepticism in this regard.

Set up to report on the causes of the “pyrite problem” which was the genesis of the entire regulatory change, and to make recommendations as to how that problem might be avoided in the future, the “Pyrite Panel” reported to the Minister in June 2012. But the regulations fail to implement the relevant recommendations in the Pyrite Panel report.

Recommendation 18, a “Mandatory certification system” recommends that “the system of independent inspections, carried out by the building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process for buildings”. This was not done. To get building regulations compliance from a builder and his subcontractors, there must be the reasonable likelihood of independent statutory-backed inspection.

Recommendation 21: General Insurance issues, recommended (b) “a requirement for project-related insurance whereby cover for each specific project is available and adequate and is related to the project only”. This was not done. By not implementing this recommendation, the regulations ensure litigation and distress for home-owners will continue to feature where buildings go wrong, whether in pyrites-affected dwellings or for the Priory Hall residents.

17 So what should be done with S.I. 9?

The self-certification in S.I. 9 should be replaced by a system of independent third-party inspection. Inspections would be by experienced construction professionals, paid by the developer but licensed by and answerable to the local authority. Experienced independent inspectors will achieve better results; level the field for the self-builders; allow technologists to participate; guarantee local authority-backed inspection of 100% of building sites; solve the intellectual property issues; and could be done for €2m per year.

There is no mystery about this. Such a system operates in Northern Ireland. Such a system can and does work, deliver better building, and can cost the State a net nothing, the cost being paid for by the Developer and through increased Commencement Notice fees. Ask those involved. Ask the building control officers, architects, fire officers, latent defects insurers, and home buyers.

18 A better system of regulation is at hand

So what might a better system look like? Like this:-

  • Set up a register of “Approved inspectors”, answerable to the building control authority.
  • This register to be open to architects, architectural technologists, appropriately qualified engineers, and building surveyors, with appropriate qualifications and adequate experience. Admission to be competence-based.
  • The Approved Inspector to carry appropriate professional indemnity insurance.
  • To start with, the system to apply in the speculative residential sector and to the one-off (“self-build”) house. That’s where the problems were.
  • The Approved Inspector audits the design and inspects the building site for one purpose: compliance with building regulations. The job architect or engineer does everything else, the same as before.
  • Inspection of designs would include Parts B and M for one-off houses. Pending review, fire safety and disability access certificates would still be required for apartments.
  • The design team must still prepare full designs and inspect the works as at present. The contractor must build in compliance with the building regulations as is routinely done on well-organised buildings. The Approved Inspector reports to the Local Authority at the start and completion of construction, confirming that he has inspected the design and construction and found nothing wrong.
  • If the Approved Inspector finds non-compliant design, he refuses to issue the Design Certificate until he gets amended drawings. Given that the architect will have to explain any delays to his client, the architect will make sure the designs are right in the first place. This raises design standards.
  • If the Approved Inspector finds non-compliant construction, he tells the contractor and the architect, and has the ultimate sanction of a “Cease Works Notice”. He will refuse a Completion certificate until the matter is put right.
  • The Approved Inspector inspects 100% of designs and sites. On top of this, the building control authority profiles risk, and inspects a small number of designs and building works, to ensure that the system is working and keep tabs on the inspectors.
  • Latent Defects Insurance, paid for by the developer with a one-off up-front payment, picks up any defects which get past.

19 Why is this system better than that in S.I. 9?

  1. The cost to the State is minimal. The developer pays the Approved Inspector. The only cost to the State is to maintain the register and monitor the operation of the system. This could be funded through an appropriate license fee.
  2. Having designs audited specifically for building regulations compliance by an experienced independent architect or engineer will drive better design standards.
  3. When the experienced Approved Inspector arrives on site, who has inspected many sites and knows what to look for, concerned with nothing except building regulations compliance, with local authority statutory backing, he or she will instantly drive better construction standards.
  4. The system will give better design and construction, not just better paperwork.
  5. Appropriately trained, experienced and insured architectural technologists whose livelihoods are undermined by S.I. 9 can and must be allowed act as inspectors.
  6. The system solves the self-builder issue. It gives him a straightforward independent inspection system which he pays for, the same as anybody else. If his designs are good enough – they pass. If they are not, he must prepare an adequate design, the same as anybody else, however he chooses. If his building is good enough when the Approved Inspector arrives – fine. If not, he must rectify the defects, the same as anybody else.
  7. It solves the FDI issue.
  8. The system requires no change to construction contracts and hence will not cause delays in the construction sector. The Approved Inspector operates independently of the contract administrator (Architect or Engineer) and has statutory authority.
  9. The system is better for the consumer: as the National Consumer Authority says, independent third-party inspection will give better results than a system of self-certification.
  10. The system protects the consumer from loss with a no-fault system of redress and no litigation is needed.
  11. The person who buys or rents a new home gets independent third-party audit by experienced professionals, answerable to the local authority.
  12. The system is better for the construction sector: driving higher standards through experienced inspectors who with larger and recurring workloads will feed-back into better design and better building.

Through feedback to the local authorities of the inspectors’ experience across many designs and sites, systemic problems will be spotted earlier.

************

Eoin O Cofaigh: President, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, 1998-1999; Honorary Member, Bund Deutscher Architekten; Honorary Member, Bund Deutscher Baumeisterer; Honorary Member, Soyuz Architektorov Rossii; Honorary Member, American Institute of Architects; Member, Building Regulations Advisory Body, 1991-1997; Author, “Building Control” in: Construction Projects: Law and Practice: Round Hall, 2007 – date; Architect in private practice, Dublin, 1981 – date

Other posts of interest:

Collins & O Cofaigh- A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI 

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9 

 

 

 

Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Here is an extract off a Fine Gael members of Oireachtas Committee group statement- 2 months before the former Minister brought out a draft of the new regulations on February 19th 2013, subsequently introduced in March if this year. See the full statement posted on Senator Cáit Keane’s website (link).

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was told by his own party that the former Mininster’s proposals for SI.9 were deeply flawed. 

Senator Cáit Keane (pictured above) represented the Fine Gael group on the Working Sub-committee established by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht to evaluate & make recommendations on the Registration & Training of Architects in Ireland. Emphasis in bold is by Blog.

Extracts off Senator’s statement:

“With the proposed regulations one person may be the designer, the builder and the certifier of a construction. In France the designer cannot be the contractor, so a minimum of 2 different parties are involved with the clients and the local authorities. In the UK, the designer and the contractor may be the same company, but the local government will certify the works, so a minimum of 2 different parties are involved with the clients. Allowing one person to legally be the designer, builder and certifier could be very damaging in terms of protection for consumers.

Ireland is unique in having a self-certification regime for construction. I don’t think self-certification in any sphere is to be recommended. Rather than stepping back from this highly unsatisfactory position, it is to be re-enforced under the draft certification regulations.

As I have stated the draft regulations make it possible for the same person to be the designer, the builder and the self-certifier!!
It has been stated by many in the professions that the accreditation of specific classes of persons as certifiers for this purpose is a contentious matter and will bring an end to many livelihoods.

The Architects Alliance have pointed out that
“the assurance provided by specific classes of persons depends upon the certifier rather than upon the insurance. That assurance will lapse or fail when:-

  • The insurance is discovered to be inadequate for the particular risks;
  • The certifier fails to maintain his/her professional liability insurance;
  • The certifier leaves the jurisdiction;
  • The certifier dies;
  • The certifier makes a false undertaking.”

They point out that “A far more secure solution is provided by accrediting the insurance or the insurers.” This proposal avoids all charges of being anti-competitive and of sheltering particular professions.

Minister I would bring it to your attention that the Irish registration is bound under EU Legislation to recognises the “Grandfather” architects from across Europe and beyond. Each one is free to register, practice and certify in Ireland with no knowledge or experience of our laws on Planning, Building Regulations, Environment, Building Contracts, etc.

Minister, it is over to you to please consider those proposals from all the Fine Gael Group on the Oireachtas Environmental committee. I have taken it on myself to send this to you prior to the Official Submission that you will shortly be receiving from the working –group on the Joint committee for Environment Culture & Gaeltacht established to report on this subject.

Thank you for your consideration.
Cáit

Senator Cáit Keane
Representing Fine Gael only – not on behalf of the working group.”

Full extract off website:

____________

My draft submission on the Registration of Architects in Ireland February 19th 2013

Draft Proposals –prior to submission to the Draft Report from the Joint Oireachtas sub-committee Report.

Senator Cáit Keane representing the FG group on the Working Sub-committee established by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht to evaluate & make recommendations on the Registration & Training of Architects in Ireland.

Overview:
I am making this draft recommendation on behalf of the Fine Gael Group prior to submission to Sub-committees.
It analyses how we might go about assisting the process of a reasonable and fair assessment procedure at a realistic cost to enable the two classes of professionally trained architects to be considered for registration and training. This is a finite group of professionally trained architects. The solution that has been applied to this throughout Europe is that of a time-limited or self –extinguishing registration process which assesses acquired rights. In all cases the assessors should be independent, accountable and suitably qualified in the tasks. I note we do not have an Independent body in Ireland, it is under the control of Architects the RIAI.

There are two classifications of Architect to be considered here. Group A : have prior, lawful establishment before the introduction of registration in the State as introduced under the provisions of the Building Control Act of 2007. This group of Architects comprises Architects who have learned their profession entirely ‘on the job’ and also those who have academic qualifications that are not recognised by the Building Control Act. The Architect’s Alliance of Ireland (a professional association charged with protecting the interests of self-trained and other architects in Ireland) estimates the figure to be at 250 and Royal Institute of Architects Ireland RIAI (the Regulatory and statutory body for Architects in Ireland) estimates it to be 350 but this is probably at the high end.
Group B consists of Architects who have trained on the job and do not hold academic qualifications in Architecture and who have no claim to prior establishment in the state. This group would be those who started their training in the profession after 2008 or did not have the required ten years lawful establishment prior to 2008 (when the Act was commenced).
I will be referring to these two groups of Architects later in my submission and concluding by offering solutions to overcoming barriers to registration for Architects in the state who cannot legally register due to the limitations enforced by the Building Control Act 2007.

Registration/Regulation of Architects in Ireland History Overview:
The question of registration of the Architect’s profession was first considered in 1941 .The issue arose again in the seventies and 1979 and this is verified by an extract from 2006 Europe Day document which states that:
Quote “…. the Department of Industry and Commerce had been dealing for some time with the domestic question of legislation to provide for the registration of the title of Architect in Ireland…” At this time, the RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland – the largest professional body representing the sector in Ireland) were informed that difficulties had arisen with the type of scheme envisaged by them and suggestions were made by my Department to the RIAl about tackling the matter in a manner considered to be more acceptable”. ENDS QUOTE . This process did not result in a regulation mechanism being legally established.
A significant development affecting the regulation of Architects in the European Union occurred with the passing of the EU Architects Directive (85/384/EC. A proposal for an EU Directive for architects was first mooted in 1967 and but was not adopted until June 1985. The Directive is concerned with ensuring Europe-wide access into the profession by migrant architects.

Unlike other Member States, Ireland failed to make provision for the recognition of all its Architects (Ireland transposed this EU Directive into national law with the passing of the Building Control Act 2007). However, the only Irish Grandfather Architects acknowledged in the Directive were members of the Royal Institute to the exclusion of all other established and professionally-trained architects in the State including those from four other Architect’s Representative bodies; the Irish Architects Society, the Faculty of Architects and Surveyors, the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Building(note – all now subsumed into AAoI the Architects Alliance of Ireland).
Under the 1985 Directive, each member state recognizes the diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications (for list, see Article 11), awarded by other Member States to nationals of the Member States, where such nationals already possessed these qualifications at the time of notification of the Directive, or their studies leading to such diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications commenced during the third academic year at the latest following such notification (system of acquired rights).

In 1997 The Strategic Review of the Construction Industry (set up by Government) publishes its report. Registration of the titles ‘Architect’ and ‘Quantity Surveyor’ are amongst the recommendations – subject to there being a ‘grandfather clause’ (#3.29).

In 1990, a Fair Trade Commission (FTC) Report was completed on the 23rd March. In relation to the registration of Architects it states that, “Having examined the implications of the Directive and after considering the representations from IAS, FAS, IAAS and CIOB, it is considered that it is likely that the non-inclusion of any of the architect members of the above bodies has been unfair and unjust. On page 55, it states that, “registration could be achieved at a low cost which would be paid for by those who are registered. A {single} part-time Board {for the registration of architects, surveyors, etc} with services provided by the Department of the Environment might be appropriate.”
The Fair Trade Commission Report also recommended that “any assessment process should be fair and transparent “
As you know Minister In the same year, the Irish State proposed amendments to the Architects Directive (and in July 2000 they were rejected by Europe). The State sought to make amends for having “overlooked” (this is the word used by Minister Brendan Smith in a Parliamentary Answer) a whole class of lawfully practising Architects during the consultation stage of the Directive.

The Department realised and acknowledged in the early nineties that they had made an error in excluding a large group of Architects in Ireland who were not members of the RIAI during the consultation process of the Directive. This is evidenced by the decision taken in 1993/4 when the Department of the Environment announced procedures for inclusion on the ‘Minister’s List’ which was to accompany Government’s proposal for an amendment to the Directive under direction of Minister Brendan Howlin. This list was finalised in 1997 and consisted of 170 Architects who were excluding from practicing in Ireland under the 1985 Directive. (I requested this list from Oireachtas Library, but seemingly not laid there?) Subsequently, I have been informed by the AAoI that 140 Architects on that list were admitted automatically to the RIAI(the RIAI has control over the accreditation and registration process of Architect in Ireland and were given statutory powers under the Building Control legislation of 2007) and 30 admitted as result of interview.

Registration/Regulation in other countries:
Many countries established professional registers for architects and included all their lawfully established practitioners under the new regime. This was done in countries like the Netherlands and France; U.K.; Italy, Belgium and others, through the insertion of a Grandfather Clause into the relevant legislation. A Grandfather clause is an exemption for certain classes of people or things from the requirements of a piece of legislation affecting their previous rights, privileges, or practices. It is an exception that allows an old rule to continue to apply to some existing situations, when a new rule will apply to all future situations.

In relation to the registration of Architects, A Grandfather Clause is temporary and self-extinguishing. It applies only to those practitioners who can demonstrate prior establishment.
Whereas the other procedures are “alternative” and permanent means of entering the profession, open to all who are job-trained under the new registration regime. A Grandfather Clause recognises past achievements which of course cannot be embellished or added to for the purpose of registration – their scope and merit are already fixed.
The registration exercise is to demonstrate past work, to prove authorship, to submit tax, insurance or other such evidence and to thereby confirm prior establishment. It is a purely objective assessment with no room for bias or misinterpretation – and should be completely independent.

FRANCE

The legislation regulating the practice of architecture in France is dated from the 3rd of January 1977. The name of the legislation is: “Loi n°77-2 du 3 janvier 1977 sur l’architecture.” It regulates the practice of architecture rather than the title “Architect”.

Article 37 of the legislation permitted established self-trained practitioners with five years of experience in the field of architecture gained prior to the publication of the law to be automatically listed on the French Register of Architects. Article 37 also details the composition of a committee in charge of assessing practitioners who did not comply with the requirement of having five years of experience.

NETHERLANDS
The legislation regulating the title of “Architect” in the Netherlands is dated from the 7th of July 1987. The Name of the Legislation is: ”Wet op de architectentitel van 7 juli 1987”.
For clarification, the Architects’ Directive 85/384/EEC of 10-06-1985: Article 11.h. – Netherlands
Under the Dutch Grandfather clause, a certificate issued by the competent authorities only to persons who have reached the age of 40 years before the date of entry into force of this Directive, certifying that, over a period of at least five years immediately prior to that date, the person concerned had pursued architectural activities the nature and importance of which, in accordance with Netherlands requirements, guarantee that he is competent to pursue those activities of an architect. (Personally I do not agree that Age should be mentioned-Ageists legislation)

Ireland: The Building Control Act 2007: SI 21/2007
It is worth noting that Ireland is one of the rare European countries to have omitted a grand-father clause in its legislation. It is also the only country in the European Community to have included national restrictions (not EU criteria) for the assessment of self-taught architects
Regulation of the profession of architect was introduced under Part 3 of the Building control Act 2007 which provides for the Statutory protection of the ‘title’ of architect whilst avoiding protection of the ‘function’ (see State and EU Competition laws). The Act specifically denies automatic registration to every Directive-compliant Irish architect apart from full members of the RIAI, whilst necessarily granting automatic registration to all non-Irish EU Directive-compliant architects.

It contains no Transition Period, no standard Grandfather Clause, no Independent Registration Body and no distinction is made between the Statutory Registration Body and the appointed organisation that is The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland RIAI Consequently all registrants are hindered by not having de facto membership of that organisation.

Through the Act, registrants are offered the option of joining the association (S.14.4), but are charged and treated as members regardless of exercising their Constitutional right not to join any private association. Unlike in other States, initial and annual registration fees are high. The annual fee of the RIAI upon registration is €490.00 – I am not quite sure what this annual fee covers –or what individual Architects can expect, but under section 23 of the Building control Act 2007 the registration body has the power to establish a ‘Professional Conduct Committee’ which can bring disciplinary action against registered architects. This Professional Conduct Committee has never been established and it should now be established.

In the Act no provision whatsoever is made for an Independent evaluation/organisation to become the Registration Body. There is no provision for independent oversight of statutory rule-making (for the profession) by the Registration Body and there is no deadline set for publication of the registration body’s annual report, five years after the Act has been in operation. This situation is totally unacceptable and I would recommend it should be rectified.
On its website the RIAI defines itself as, “the Regulatory and Support body for Architects in Ireland. Support services are also provided for Architectural Technologists……Although the RIAI carries out a statutory function as the Registration Body and Competent Authority for Architects in Ireland this is carried out on an entirely self-funding basis. The RIAI does not receive any Government Funding or State Aid for this Statutory Function.”
Therein lies another problem; the fact that is entirely privately funded organisation even though it is written into law as a statutory body with authority afforded to it by the state. A solution to this problem would be to separate the Registration/ & education of Architects from the other duties of the RIAI and to place it under one of the bodies such as SOLAS/HETAC/FETAC (now amalgated to QQI –Quality & qualifications Ireland. See recommendation on this further on re SOLAS/HETAC acting as Independent body.

Many graduate architects (N.U.I. and other) continue to exercise their Constitutional right in not becoming members of the RIAI -Royal association.

I have to get actual figures of numbers of members of the RIAI –as I have various figures looking back on RIAI Figures, but I understand it may be as little as 500 RIAI registered architects at this time (many are graduates but others are not). In 2003 The Indecon Report for the Competition Authority on the architectural profession Published Summary, page XV:- “The way in which ‘Grandfather’ Independent Architects and some members of the Group of Independent Architects in Ireland (GIAI) will be

Assessed for entry to the proposed new register of architects (i.e. through the RIAI) could act as a barrier to entry to the profession going forward.” (Today 10 years on from that report I surmise this is exactly what is happening).

N/B/ The European Ombudsman decided last week, February 14th 2013 that section 21-22 of the 2007 Act is in breach of European law due to national restrictions imposed on experience.
A complaint lodged by a French Architect working in Ireland presently concerns a breach of European Law (workers freedom of movement) as per the requirement of 10 years experience to be gained in the Republic of Ireland in sections 21-22 of the Building Control Act 2007.
The European Commission also ruled last year that, as it is only the title “architect” which is protected, there are no issues for employment, no discrimination related to workers freedom of movement.

Proposed Solutions:

In relation to the two categories of Architect that currently cannot register due to the limitations imposed by the Building Control Act 2007, there are solutions. For the first group of Architects who have prior establishment, I propose that those who do not have academic qualifications sit an independent assessment/exam to prove their competency in architecture but that those prior established architects who have already have third level qualifications be exempted from the post-graduate written examination in architecture. This is an established academic examination with appropriate and recognised standards. It is conducted by several universities in the State. No university diploma or award shall be granted to successful, “Grandfather” candidates, however their individual passing of such an exam, should be a condition of their acquisition of the title of grandfather architect. See clause under on Examinations exemptions re (c) Those who can demonstrate 10 years of prior establishment in the State. Today in 2013, 10 years prior-establishment amounts to almost 15 years of lawfully and competently making one’s living as an architect in Ireland.

The first group who have prior lawful establishment in the state could also be enabled to register if a grandfather clause was inserted into the legislation that would be either five years retroactive, that is, it would be applicable to prior lawfully established Architect who had practiced in Ireland for at least five years before the commencement of the 2007 Act. Five years was the qualifying period for those on the Minister’s List and for “Grandfathers” in other Member States.

Technical Assessment applicable to ‘grandfathers’ would become redundant but as an alternative, those architects purporting to be grandfathers would have to prove that they were lawfully established in the state prior to the 2007 Act. This could be done by furnishing financial accounts, evidence of professional indemnity insurance, client verification and tax records.
I propose that all supporting documents that those eligible to gain grandfather status should be submitted to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government or a new independent registration body i.e. removing this aspect from the RIAI.

Examination exemptions could apply in the following limited instances:-
a) Those with Directive-compliant, academic qualifications.
These Irish university qualifications are already listed in the Directive.
In other words, they meet the European standard for mutual recognition.

b) Those with relevant, third level qualifications or other relevant accreditations.
Although such qualifications are not Directive-compliant, this exemption is felt to be
appropriate and reasonable in the context of acquired-rights especially as registration will
not confer Directive-rights to those architects, only re-instatement in the State itself.

c) Those who can demonstrate 10 years of prior establishment in the State.

Today in 2013, 10 years prior-establishment amounts to almost 15 years of lawfully and
competently making one’s living as an architect in Ireland.
Then there are the second group of Architects to consider; those who do not have prior lawful establishment in the state. This type of architect will have trained exclusively on the job and will not have any University or third level qualification in architecture and will have begun his or her architecture training after the commencement of the Building Control Act, from 2008 onwards. They would be working in a practice of an established or prior established architect. An example of such an architect would be an engineer who opted for a shift into the practice of architecture, who has worked in an architect’s office for a number of years but does not have a qualification in architecture.
For this second group of architects, a grandfather clause could not apply. This group could avail of an Accredited Prior Learning (APL) route to registration as an architect. It would be independent of professional interests and would set incontestable standards for future, non-university training as an architect. The concept of lifelong learning indicates that learning should encompass the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning. Learning occurs in many contexts that include work, involvement in social and community activities, or learning through life experience generally.

This would establish a recognised vocational route into the profession of architecture as an alternative to the University/academic route. It would take maybe two or three years to implement by the Minister for Education and Skills and a subjects and a syllabus would have to be agreed before it could become operational. This could be done by Ministerial order (Directive) as part of the Further Education & Training Bill 2013 section 8 or in the Education and Training Boards Bill 2012 section 9.

The Education and Training Bill 2013 is an act to provide for the establishment of a Body to be known as an tSeirbhsi Oideachais leanúnach agus scileanna (SOLAS), to provide for the dissolution of an Foras Áiseanna Saothair and the transfer of its functions to the said body to Solas. Under the aegis of SOLAS, this body could take over the education and training function from the RIAI thus making it independent.

An Alternative Avenue for Independent Accreditation & Training would be through Additionally the Further Education and Training Boards Bill 2012 (not brought before committee stage as yet (14/2/2013). This would offer the means for an Accredited Prior Learning (APL) route to registration as an architect- this would be under the auspices of HETAC./ now amalgamated into new Qualification & Quality Ireland QQI the new integrated body for quality and qualifications in Ireland and would be ideally suited for Architects. It would be independent of professional interests and would set incontestable standards for future, non-university training as an architect, recognising the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

I do not think it is acceptable that persons who may/have ‘a vested interest’ should be charged with awarding Educational qualifications – recommendations. Take a hypothetical situation, if there were an oversupply of Architects in the country would be in the (monetary) interest of self- regulatory Architects to try and ensure that access to the qualification were limited? I stress this is hypothetical but perception is important, hence the Recommendation for an Independent assessors as per Independent Review Body in Scotland.

It would be up to the Minister when drawing up the regulations whether the Registration process would include both registration of Title and registration of function. Personally I would recommend that both should be separate. There are no procedural requirements in place for identifying and maintaining any separation between these functions. The consequences include shielding from action by both the Irish Competition Authority and the Ombudsman.
Note: The UK has an independent registration body called the ARB (Architects’ Registration Board) which is established to protect the public interest. The dominant professional association is the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) with a duty to protect its members. The ARB and RIBA are quite separate entities. Statutory registration fees are paid to the ARB. Private membership fees are paid to the RIBA.

It is also imperative that a Disciplinary Committee as per section 23 be established in order to ensure that all practicing Architects adhered to all Guidelines as set down in various planning, Environmental, EU legislation etc. etc. This has not been established to date even though it is recommended in the Building Control Act 2007.

Building Control Regulations 2012:
The Building Control Regulations 2012 which have not yet been passed into law by the Minister will mean that only registered architects who are RIAI members will be able to lawfully sign-off on or certify building works. If these amendment regulations are passed into law, the 3 groups of professionals listed as certifiers, will be given a monopoly that will jeopardise many other professions.

The Minister received complaints from at least 2 groups of concerned professionals which are the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and the Architects Alliance of Ireland (AAoI). However, if enforced, these Regulations would jeopardise other groups of professionals. Registered interior architects will not be permitted to certify the construction of their design when working on the refurbishment of a building or changing its use. Landscape architects will be prevented to certify the construction of their design when working on projects including small structures that they are fully qualified to design and build.
N:B SELF CERTIFICATION – SIGNING OFF ON BUILDINGS
The problem is not that qualified and other professionally trained designers will be prevented to certify the construction of their works. The problem is that other groups of designers with whom they are in competition, will have to do it instead. Minister I hope you do understand the blow that these professionals will have to endure with regard to this issue.

With the proposed regulations one person may be the designer, the builder and the certifier of a construction. In France the designer cannot be the contractor, so a minimum of 2 different parties are involved with the clients and the local authorities. In the UK, the designer and the contractor may be the same company, but the local government will certify the works, so a minimum of 2 different parties are involved with the clients. Allowing one person to legally be the designer, builder and certifier could be very damaging in terms of protection for consumers.
Ireland is unique in having a self-certification regime for construction. I don’t think self-certification in any sphere is to be recommended. Rather than stepping back from this highly unsatisfactory position, it is to be re-enforced under the draft certification regulations.

As I have stated the draft regulations make it possible for the same person to be the designer, the builder and the self-certifier!!
It has been stated by many in the professions that the accreditation of specific classes of persons as certifiers for this purpose is a contentious matter and will bring an end to many livelihoods.

The Architects Alliance have pointed out that
“the assurance provided by specific classes of persons depends upon the certifier rather than upon the
insurance. That assurance will lapse or fail when:-
The insurance is discovered to be inadequate for the particular risks;
The certifier fails to maintain his/her professional liability insurance;
The certifier leaves the jurisdiction;
The certifier dies;
The certifier makes a false undertaking.”

They point out that “A far more secure solution is provided by accrediting the insurance or the insurers.” This proposal avoids all charges of being anti-competitive and of sheltering particular professions.
Minister I would bring it to your attention that the Irish registration is bound under EU Legislation to recognises the “Grandfather” architects from across Europe and beyond. Each one is free to register, practice and certify in Ireland with no knowledge or experience of our laws on Planning, Building Regulations, Environment, Building Contracts, etc.

Also please note that the proposed reforms that Minister Shatter is recommending for the legal profession would introduce a fully independent regulatory body to oversee barristers and solicitors. Why can’t Architects have the same or at the very least an independent assessment process for Registration.
Minister Shatter strongly criticised the Bar Council’s position “The Bar Council continues to advocate the preservation of its exclusive reserve through the continuation of regulation of itself by itself,” his department’s statement said.

Minister, it is over to you to please consider those proposals from all the Fine Gael Group on the Oireachtas Environmental committee. I have taken it on myself to send this to you prior to the Official Submission that you will shortly be receiving from the working –group on the Joint committee for Environment Culture & Gaeltacht established to report on this subject.

Thank you for your consideration.
Cáit

Senator Cáit Keane
Representing Fine Gael only – not on behalf of the working group.

Posted under Environment, Uncategorized

This post was written by on January 21, 2014

Consequence Classes – What are they?

by Bregs Blog admin team

The following opinion piece by Seán Breen, Chartered Engineer, was received on 29th August 2014.

Consequence Classes – What are they?

Ronan Point - img1

 Image is credited to The Daily Telegraph, 1968.

Some may have noticed on the BCMS that the project information requires confirmation of consequence class (or building class as it used to be known). Unless you are a Structural Engineer you may not have come across this term before. So, what is it and what does it refer to?

In 1968, a 22-storey residential tower block called Ronan Point in East London suffered a gas explosion to a corner flat on the 18th floor. The gas explosion was relatively minor as the occupier was unhurt.  Due to the nature of the structure and the type of construction however, the blast blew out the external walls leaving the floor above unsupported which subsequently collapsed onto the floor below. The result was a cascade effect of floor collapsing onto the floor below resulting in its collapse. The partial collapse of the building was ‘disproportionate’ in relation to the incident which occurred. To avoid this in future buildings, disproportionate collapse regulations were introduced.

©”London Over the Border” [2], a historical website produced by the London Borough of Newham. Image is credited to The Daily Telegraph, 1968.

So that’s the history, what about current regulations and practical considerations? TGD A defines the requirement as:

Part A3 Defn - img2

Buildings are divided into four classes of structure based on the risk associated with a collapse of the structure or a section of the structure. Primarily, the type of use and number of storeys determine the class.

•Class 1 applies to typical single occupier dwellings and is satisfied by ensuring appropriate horizontal ties to floors and roofs. TGD Part A outlines the standard restraint requirements for typical masonry dwellings (1.1.3.24 to 1.1.3.27) which will meet Class 1.

•Class 3 requires specialist attention and is reserved for very tall buildings or buildings with a large number of occupants (stadia, theatres etc.). These generally involve key element design and a bespoke risk analysis.

•Class 2A & 2B are the typical commercial building categories. Class 2A is similar to Class 1 in terms of lateral restraint but the tie arrangement will vary depending on the building construction (steel frame, concrete, timber etc.) and usually requires input from a structural engineer. Class 2B requires specialist design. These are high risk and as such the requirements are more onerous. In relation to S.I.9, mis-classification of a Class 2B as 2A building class is one to watch.  A common situation in commercial projects is mixed use such as ground floor retail with 2 storey of residential over. This can fall under either 2A or 2B depending on the floor area of the retail space. Another example is two storeys of residential over two storeys of retail. For classification purposes, this is considered four storeys of retail and as such, Class 2B as the building use is defined by the most onerous use.

CC Example - img3

The main thing to remember is that Class 1 and 3 are generally correctly identified but Class 2A is often assigned when it is actually Class 2B. If this occurs and is not discovered until near completion, significant remedial works and costs may be required. With the significant responsibilities and liability attributed to certifiers under S.I.9, it is important to confirm with the structural engineer what the consequence class for the building is and what restraint details are required in order to comply with the requirements of TGD A3 and the relevant code of practice for the material involved.

Table 6 from TGD A outlines the general breakdown of classes.

Part A Table 6 - img4

In summary, the determination of consequence class is crucial in order to comply with Building Regulations Part A and if a the project involves a commercial building this role should be performed by and included on the structural engineer’s ancillary certificate. For single dwellings, where a structural engineer may not be engaged, the certifier must satisfy themselves that Class 1 applies and that the standard tying arrangements noted in TGD A are referenced on the commencement drawings and listed for inspection by the Assigned Certifier in the Inspection Plan.

Seán Breen is a Chartered Engineer practicing in Cork – @BreenSJ

 

Value-engineering, defensive specifications and BCAR SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

Value-Engineering-Calculator

In an earlier post “A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer” we noted:

“…Frequently on-site contractors “value engineer” projects- contractors request substitution of more cost-effective alternatives to those specified by designers- “or equal and approved”. Using generic rather than branded products etc. In most cases the performance should be similar.

However, under SI.9 this process is set to change.

All revisions to design or specification, such as changes to branded materials, must be upladed by the design certifier in advance of commencement of that phase of work on-site.

This means for any changes to the specification, say due to value-engineering by a contractor, an E-lodgement of this new specification must be made to the BCMS by the person certifying the design. In a previous post we noted the difficulties the new system poses for public works projects. Quote:

“...while the Design Certificate is required at Commencement Notice stage the Design Certifier’s role does not end there. The Design Certifier is also responsible for completing the submission of ancillary certification at the Completion Certificate stage for elements not designed at Commencement Notice stage. The Design Certifier is also required to liaise with the Assigned Certifier during the course of the building works and prepare any documentation required to record any changes to the works.

The inability of Design Certifiers to upload information to the BCMS system post commencement suggests that original specifications may end up being ‘set in stone’. Many commentators felt that the real hidden costs of SI.9 are in “defensive specifications“, increased specification costs where designers would invariably be more conservative using branded materials and products. Some suggest the additional cost of this more conservative approach to building specification could be in the region of 5% of the construction cost of a project.

The formal procedure involved now in value-engineering suggests specifiers will be reluctant to entertain specification changes post-commencement, particularly where there is a separate appointment of Assigned Certifier to the Design Certifier.

Topics mentioned in above post:

Design Certifier – Can we leave it to the builder to sort out?

Other posts of interest:

RIAI CPD July 2014: Design Certifier in the Design Process- SI.9

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9?

MISSING PERSON- the Design Certifier? – click link here

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.

4 tips for Design Certifiers…

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better” 

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9

SI.9 costs for a typical house

by Bregs Blog admin team

house-value-q

We received this contribution on 26th August 2014 from a registered architect on the costs of SI.9 for a typical house.

The Department (DECLG) noted in a Regulatory Impact Assessment in 2012: “..industry sources suggest this requirement could add say between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs” (see links below).

The source and basis of the calculation has been queried by commentators, in the Dáil and by professionals in the industry. There was no Regulatory Impact Assessment completed for SI.9 which replaced earlier versions of SI.80. The Bregs Blog has written directly to the DECLG requesting a breakdown of the stated cost range and await a response. As far as we are aware the DECLG have yet to confirm the methodology and basis for this cost range.

In April 2014 the former Minister of the Environment stated

“Nonsense about €40,000…people should be able to do this for a modest amount of money.. an average of €3000 in rural areas” (read full text here)

The reality is that the cost of SI.9 for a typical house is a multiple of this figure. The cost of SI.9 for a self-builder may well be over 10x the Department’s figures.

The assessment of the cost of SI.9 for a typical dwelling is below. Breg Blog notes are shown [ ]

________________

Cost of SI.9 for a typical house

I don’t recall seeing an SI.9 cost breakdown for an individual house (or inspection plan/ commencement submission etc!) so this may be of some use to readers.  Recently I was asked to do an assessment as to the likely additional cost exposure for SI.9 on a proposed 3-4 bed house. The owner intended was going to self-build, but called a halt to the project on cost grounds.  For the study I reduced costs right down to industry minimums (€180,000 cost to build a typical house).  This is by no means exhaustive but I have double-checked figures with colleagues and builders.

  • Say typical house €180k cost (based on average rebuild costs in industry for 3-4 bed house)
  • Current professional advice from Orla Fitzgerand [RIAI representative] was that S.I9 will take an extra 18 days [for a €500k project], Shane Santry [RIAI representative at CPD] stated 156 hours for a typical house [see source post below]
  • From certifiers we know that the hourly requirement is about correct [see three certifier posts previously published- links to follow].

In my opinion the additional costs are in 3 categories as follows:

  1. Professionals: 160 hours (18 days) for a €60,000 salary would give a €15,000 cost (tx 2.5) for Design and Assigned Certifier roles.  This includes modest profit and overheads, insurance, travel costs and excludes vat @ 23%. If we assume this is done at cost the figure would be €12,000.  Anything less than this and work would be done at a loss to the practice. So say +7% of the cost of the entire build.
  2. Defensive specifications: possibly +5% (see note below)
  3. Self-builds- Main Contractor’s profit, attendance and prelims etc. +12%

1. Professional Fees

On  a €180,000 project the professional fees (at cost) for design and assigned certifiers alone are €12,000.  This excludes additional fees and costs for other sub-contractor/ ancillary certifiers responsibilities which are all new and will be either borne by sub-contractors or passed onto owners.  All members of the design team have additional paperwork and manufacturers and suppliers will need new insurances also.  Some sub-contractors will be required to provide three certificates under the new system.

  • If we assume SI.9 is done at cost with no practice profit the professional fees are €12,000.

2. Specification Costs

Conservative specifications will increase costs but by how much?  Specifiers will be more “careful” and some estimates suggest these more “defensive” specifications could be 5% extra.  This defensive specification estimate is an average cost taking into account input from other professionals and contractors. If 5% defensive spec. seems too high, remember we have nothing in for additional ancillary certs/ sub-contractor insurance costs etc.

  • A 5% increase in cost due to defensive specifications is + €9,000.

3. Self-Builders

Self builders also must factor in the cost of employing a main contractor to undertake the duties they intended to do themselves.  A self-builder may not do any trade or building work themselves- they may just co-ordinate others.  On larger projects a builder managing sub-contractors is frequently called a ‘management contractor’- this is the role that many self-builders do out of financial necessity.  [On a self-build the owner frequently co-ordinates sub-contractors such as plumbers, electricians, blocklayers, carpenters etc., liaising with engineers and/or architects etc.  This is quite time consuming and is where the big saving is for self-builders.  Obviously where a self-builder is a tradesman they also do other work themselves. Frequently family members help out etc.]

A normal cost to employ a management contractor (builder) for a residential project would be in the region of 12%.   A breakdown of this cost is as follows: a main contractor will normally charge 5% on top of all sub-contractors costs for co-ordination (called attendance); preliminary costs vary from 5-10% cover insurances, scaffolding, site facilities, signage, insurance etc. This cost is for contractors profit, attendances, co-ordination costs, salaries for foreman (or his salary), preliminaries and insurances etc. A standard performance bond cost also may be required.

This 12% total additional cost for the involvement of a main contractor is reasonable and not inflated. For a self-builder this is in addition to professional fees.

  • The cost to employ a main contractor is 12% of total cost + €21,600.

Conclusion

These costs are not exhaustive, but even with margins of error, serious discounts, economies of scale for multiple units, real-world costs for SI.9 are a multiple for those quoted and reiterated by the Department and the previous Minister.

  • SI9 cost for a typical house where there is a main contractor could be + €21,000 (12k prof fees + 9k defensive spec cost)
  • SI9 cost for a typical house for a self-builder could be double at + €42,600 (prof fees + spec costs + 21.6k builder costs)

I recently discussed completion and phasing issues with a speculative residential developer.  The Law Society have advised that each house may require separate commencement, completion and inspection paperwork-  this was noted in recent Law Society advice [in April 2014].  This is a huge administrative burden on spec builders and may affect phasing (e.g. repetitive discounted cost of €6,000 per house x 100 units = €600,000). This large developer (in Nama) I met was aware of additional SI.9 costs and they intended to employ an in-house certifier to minimise the cost impact. I can’t see how this situation affords any protection for homebuyers.

Blog Note

The former Minister of the Environment suggested the cost range of between €1k – €3k was appropriate and used the compared SI.9 to the Building Energy Rating (BER) system. However we can see from the above reasonable assessment that it is pretty easy to get over €40k for a self-build, and over €20k for a normal house where a main contractor is employed.

This is a huge increase in costs for little additional consumer protection or any technical improvement in building.

Other posts mentioned in the above opinion piece:

Specialist Ancillary Certifiers, Template Inspection plan & form, 7 day notice

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice 

Ombudsman Complaint- Minister and Fee Fixing: SI.9

Copy of Morning Ireland transcript of  28th February 2014 (Phil Hogan)

Copy of Regulatory Impact Assessment (SI.80) 2012

Part J (2014): Carbon monoxide detectors mandatory 1 September

by Bregs Blog admin team

carbon-monoxide-danger

Earlier this year it was announced that carbon monoxide detectors will be compulsory in all new homes from today 1 September 2014. The former Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan amended Part J of the Building Regulations following reports of ‘needless deaths’ when Senator Fergal Quinn brought forward proposals for the legislation. Seventy three people died in Ireland between 2000 and 2010 from carbon monoxide poisoning. (LINK: )

Architects and Architectural Technologists working on new build residential and changes of use in residential buildings must comply with the new TGD Part J that says that “reasonable provision shall be made to avoid danger to the health and safety of the occupants of a dwelling caused by the release of carbon monoxide from heat producing appliances”.

The Department of the Environment estimate that two detectors will add about €150. to the cost of a new home and that they will have to be replaced by the homebuyer every 5-6 years. This information should be put in the safety file for the homeowner.

More information is available at: (PDF download LINK: )

TGD Part J (2014)

TGD Part J (2014) .pdf

NSAI:

NSAI Carbon-Monoxide-Alarms.aspx

Other posts of interest:

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1

Four Questions for Conveyancing Solicitors: SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

5-questions-formation-lean-manufacturing

We received these four questions from a registered professional on 23rd August 2014.

Four Questions for Conveyancing Solicitors: SI.9

1. Have you told the purchaser that the name of the ‘owner’ (vendor) is not on the statutory Completion Cert? This might matter to the purchaser if there is a problem with the Cert or to the local authority trying to take enforcement.

2. Have you told the purchaser that they themselves could be in breach as the ‘new owner’ and that they are responsible for bringing the building into compliance (under the Building Control Act)?

3. Have you told the purchaser that you didn’t accept Ancillary Certs from the Certifier (Law Society advice), even though this information could help the home buyer track down the person responsible for a defect?

4. Have you told the purchaser that the Completion Cert is a ‘guarantee’ for construction defects on their new home?

Are you sure about that?

Other posts of interest:

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9

Top 7 for 7- August 30th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

7-backlinks

Top 7 for 7- August 30th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

The last weekend of a very busy holiday month! The following is a list of the most read posts from the past 7 days on Bregs Blog. This week there was a ‘lot of heat’ on Twitter concerning Part L compliance.

  • Thermal experts and passive designers discussed conflicts within existing Part L of the regulations (Conservation of Fuel & Energy) making compliance very difficult for certifiers. We published two opinion pieces on Part L by Mark Stephens on the need for a separate ancillary certifier for Part L- others posts  to follow next week also.
  • New revised parts of the building regulations Part K (Stairways, Ladders, Ramps & Guards) and new Part J (Heat Producing Appliances) were due to be introduced soon and registered professionals would be well advised to change to the new standards immediately.
  • There have been various perspectives in the media concerning housing supply, rental levels and construction. We collected a number of recent proposals from commentators and vested interests on the topic. Given the acute fall-off in commencements due to SI.9 since March and the normal lead-in times from planning to completion of between 15- 24 months, an increase in housing supply would seem highly unlikely in the lifetime of this government.
  • The continued decline in commencement notices was re-confirmed and we observed that, based on current figures, we were looking at a decline of 50% in new building commencements for 12 months since implementation of SI.9 in March 2014. A worrying trend.
  • We submitted our reader’s list of 20 questions to the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCSI). This follows a very informative Q+A post series with answers provided by Mairéad Phelan, Project Manager for the BCMS (Local Government Efficiency Review, Programme Management Office).
  • In our 7th most read post this week we wondered if Priory Hall remedial works would be completed under SI.9, or would the local authority avail of some form of exemption. Quote: “It would be ironic if remedial works to Priory Hall were not completed fully under the new building control regulations“.

Posts listed in order of reader popularity. Enjoy!

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1

So much time and so little to do…

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014

SCSI + S.I. 9 | 20 Questions

Any sign of a Commencement Notice for Priory Hall?

 

Other top posts:

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

Top Posts for July 2014

Top 20 Breg Blog posts for June 2014.

Top 10 for June 7th | BRegs Blog

Top 12 posts- week ending 31st May

TOP 10 for the week ending 17th May 2014

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May

Upcoming CPD for BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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UPCOMING CPD for BC(A)R SI.9

RIAI Design Certifier Dublin 4 September (Note this is a repeat of July 2014 event reported here:)

Innovation in Building 12 September in Citywest

CMG event Dublin 24 September (Repeat of March event reported here: )

CIF Annual Conference 1 October

RIAI Conference Dublin RDS 12-13 October (Note Building Control will be a topic for discussion)

Architecture Expo 12-13 October

Finally .. NZEB conference in October 15

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

by Bregs Blog admin team

elephant

This is the second in a series “Look Back” Posts which examines older papers and opinion pieces that are still relevant  to the situation post-implementation of BC(A)R SI.9. Recent  readers may have missed some interesting posts in our 500+ post archive.

Today we look at the lack of a proper Regulatory Impact Assessment for SI.9 (previously SI.80).

A very brief 6 page regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for the new regulations was undertaken in 2012 on an early draft of SI.80. In contrast, the UK completed a very comprehensive study to examine how to improve their system of approved independent inspectors, looking at various options and costing these in terms of cost/benefit to consumer and industry. The UK report included the Irish system as a option: light-touch, low-cost (to local authorities), self-certification, but discounted this early on due to cost to the consumer and to the wider industry.

It is worth opening and comparing both pdf’s listed in this post. The UK version is a comprehensive 41 page document looking at various options and comparing costs/benefits; the Irish version has a very brief 6 page impact section (Section 4: pages 18-23) which has only one cost range mentioned:

“..industry sources suggest this requirement could add say between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs

No methodology is given for this calculation and we still wonder who the ‘industry sources’ were who provided this estimate.

In a previous post The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014 the cost of SI.9 to the consumer and industry (based on UK methodolgy) was estimated to be circa €500m per annum.

There was no revised RIA completed for later drafts of SI.80 (2013 version), or for SI.9, the current regulation which was introduced in March 2014.

The post below was first published on Breg blog on 6th December 2014.

______________

Audit-Checklist

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9 (Pre.80)

To find out how one might effectively assess building control amendments we do not have to look far: the “Communities and Local Government: Proposed changes to the building control system – Consultation stage impact assessment” report was produced in the UK in 2012. You can read it here: Proposed Changes to the building control system – consultation impact assessment (UK). The report comprehensively examines several options to revise and change the UK building control system. Their existing system, unlike ours, already has comprehensive local authority independent inspections with 80% backed by warranty.

The UK report included the Irish system as a option: light-touch, low-cost (to local authorities), self-certification, but discounted this early on due to cost to the consumer and to the wider industry. Making the system of building control simpler, leaner and more cost effective for society in general is clearly a motivating factor.

The UK is our closest model in terms of building standards, legislative system and environment. We are a fraction of the size of the UK, however our demographics are similar. One must wonder after reading this document, how the Department of the Environment, Communities & Local Government (DECLG) opted to continue with the most expensive form of building control for the industry, when a simple system of self-funded local authority independent inspections would improve building standards and save the industry tens of millions per year, while delivering a better standard of building generally and giving the consumer redress in the event of latent (hidden) defects?

Despite over 500 stakeholder submissions on S.I.80 received by the DECLG, no such study was carried out here. It appears that at no point in the consultation process or formation of S.I.80 have the impacts on SMEs, the industry and the consumer been considered in detail. The National Consumer Agency (NCA) estimates the extra cost to the Irish house building industry alone would be in the region of €30m- €90m per year (based on a sustainable level of 30,000 new dwelling units per year). The financial impact of S.I.80 on the wider industry is likely to be a multiple of this. With no comprehensive independent system of local authority building inspections, the effect of S.I.80 on building standards will not give the return for this extra cost to the industry, nor to the consumer. In their 2012 submission the Competition Authority express concern about “whether the additional costs imposed by the proposed regulations are in proportion to any benefit they might bring”

Worryingly, it would appear that the Department did not carry out a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) of the March 2013 wording of S.I.80. A very brief RIA was completed in 2012 and the lack of a follow-up would suggest some of the very significant changes introduced by the Minister in the March 2013 draft have not been comprehensively examined. The RIA produced by the department is included as part of the following document “Strengthening the Building Control System – A Document to inform public consultation on Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012″. See document Strengthening the Building Control System: DECLG 2012.

The Impact section (section 4) of the RIA is only six pages long and does not appear to be backed up with any research. For example, under the Section 4.6(i) Impact on National Competitiveness, the report makes the simple claim “There will be no negative impact on Ireland’s competitiveness”. The only costs noted is a notional cost per dwelling. Remarkably, the more significant insurance costs are excluded. This is an extraordinarily light assessment of a very significant amendment.

We do not need to look to the UK for examples of good impact assessment. The RIA of our own Construction Contracts Act 2013 (available here) and recent Health & Safety Legislation (available here) provide far more comprehensive analysis. Why has S.I.80 only had the most cursory impact assessment done on the 2012 draft and nothing since? Already three Senior Counsel legal opinions completed on the March 2013 draft of S.I.80 identified serious legal and practical issues associated with implementation, and all concurred that S.I.80 is unworkable in its current form. Given the wide-ranging effects on the construction industry, SMEs and the wider economy, it is remarkable that essential stress-testing has not been completed by the department.

Other posts of interest:

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

BREGS Blog Archive 4- FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

by Bregs Blog admin team

banner

The following opinion piece was submitted by registered architect and Passivhaus Designer Mark Stephens on August 27th 2014 and is a continuation of the post ‘SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1′

A critical aspect of heat loss in a building are through ‘Thermal Bridges’: A thermal (or cold) bridge is where heat can pass through from the outside of the building to inside through a material of higher conductivity. This normally occurs where the thermal insulation layer is penetrated or compromised. Thermal Bridge free design is one of the key requirements of Passivhaus design, construction and certification. (I have written a short Fact Sheet on Thermal Bridges HERE)

Thermal Bridges are also included in the calculation of transmission heat losses in the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) software. There are three default values available for ‘Thermal Bridging Factor’ (y) in DEAP (Appendix K in the DEAP Manual):
A default value of y = 0.15 W/m2 applies for all dwellings except the following:
• y = 0.08 W/m2 for new dwellings whose details conform with “Limiting Thermal Bridging and Air Infiltration — Acceptable Construction Details” (www.environ.ie) as referenced in Building Regulations 2008 and 2011 TGD L. This requires that the relevant drawings be signed off by the developer/builder, site engineer or architect.

(The third default value only applies to new dwellings where Building Regulations 2005 TGD L applies which I’m omitting here as we’re focussing on current Regulations.

Already we can see a conflict with S.I No.9 of 2014 and the sentence:

“This requires that the relevant drawings be signed off by the developer/builder, site engineer or architect.” needs to be amended to include references to S.I No.9 of 2014 which would be at Design stage the “Designer’ or at Completion stage, the Assigned or Ancillary Certifier.

The process currently is as follows (including for S.I No.9 of 2014):

1. In order to achieve the lower default value of 0.08 W/m2, The “Designer” is required to submit details that conform with “Limiting Thermal Bridging and Air Infiltration — Acceptable Construction Details”. The “Designer” currently takes responsibility for these details and effectively “signs” them off when submitting them to the BER Assessor

2. The “Designer” submits these “signed-off” details to the BER Assessor who then inputs the lower default value of 0.08 W/m2 into DEAP.

3. If the project is a new home offered for sale off plans, a provisional BER is issued based upon the design drawings and building specifications. This provisional BER is valid for a maximum of 2 years. When the home is completed, the provisional BER must be replaced by a final BER based on a survey of the completed home supported by the final drawings and building specifications which represent the home as constructed.

The SEAI have produced a guide to assist BER assessors with this survey of the completed home: DEAP Survey Guide

It should be noted that this survey is a visual inspection only and backed up only with supporting documentation in the form of photographs, drawings, specifications “Reports of works carried out in the dwelling from a supervising engineer or architect are acceptable as supporting evidence.”.

I will emphasise that no Part L compliance checks take place throughout the construction of a dwelling by the BER Assessor until he conducts the final survey on completion, which is a visual inspection only. The responsibility (again) rests with the Assigned Certifier who may not be suitably qualified in specialist aspects of Part L compliance.

As we have seen in the previous POST the Ancillary Certificates already exist for BER Assessors to be included within the S.I No.9 of 2014 process but what is missing is a clear instruction from SEAI that BER Assessors may also be requested to sign up to the “Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works” in order to complete the Ancillary Completion Certificate (INCLUDING) Inspection.

Other posts related to this topic:

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

So much time and so little to do…

by Bregs Blog admin team

willy.pdf [Converted]

The following opinion piece was posted by the Breg Blog Admin. team on 26th August 2014.

So much time and so little to do…

The spin from government and vested interests in the construction industry regarding housing need continues. Since implementation in March 2014, the so-called “BCar Effect” (some call it the BCAR Crash) has resulted in a drop of 50% in the levels of commencement notices nationwide as a result of consumers and professionals being reluctant to incur increased costs and liability as a result of this defective regulation. Many plans to address “the housing problem” have come to the fore. The question is, which plan to go for?

For readers we have summarised some of the more notable “proposals” from industry and commentators – see links below.

Certainly by 2006/ 2007 we were producing far too many dwellings – half of the total output for the UK with 1/20th the population. We needed a period of depressed construction output for this excess supply to work its way through the system. The question is, has that happened and is it time to start increasing output again?

We think the ‘number’ of houses and dwellings, dwelling types etc. could benefit from a far more exhaustive analysis based on current and projected population growth, demographics and land-use/ housing stock availability. Current yields on average prices are approaching industry standard so the increase in rental level may well be appropriate. Affordability has improved for purchasers on paper, notwithstanding historically low mortgage approvals. Rob Kitchin’s Blog “Ireland after Nama” (see link below) has a good comparison of both the recent ESRI report and Housing Agency housing supply reports – both use a fairly standard housing projection model using housing stock, population projections, household size, vacancy and obsolescence.

The situation is indeed complex and we are being hit with conflicting messages – vulture funds are scooping up as much trophy tenanted properties ‘off-market’ as they can get, homelessness is on the rise, a construction boom is appearing in Dublin but output is still depressed beyond the Pale. While the nation’s sovereign debt rating is dependent on the performance of the world’s biggest landowner (NAMA), an increase in property prices will benefit the balance sheet of the government and banks with which the country now is so intertwined. David Hall suggested possible market manipulation by banks in a recent article in the Irish Examiner (see below).

Housing Supply may not improve within the next 12-15 months.

Prices for the past few years were below cost making it nonviable even for solvent developers to build – they would be building out sites at a negative value and crystalising losses. Construction firms have contracted over the past 5 years. Some organisations suggest over 90k construction workers are on the dole, excluding construction professionals. Any increase in activity may lead to a hardening of tender rates (as is happening currently) and consequent increase in sales prices. Materials costs have continued to rise over the intervening period as most of our building material and components are imported. The supply of cheap affordable sites to the market has been restricted by NAMA.

There are a number of factors other than market demand that affect building supply. Here are three:

  1. Commencements: paper commencement figures where notice has been given to local authorities of the start of construction have halved since the implementation of the new building  regulations in March. This fall-off has been masked somewhat due to increased levels for January and February- owners and builders getting started (on paper) before the increased costs of S.I.9 kicked in. We are set, if the trend continues, to have little or no increase on construction output from last year, a historic low. We have commented on detailed figures in the blog previously (see link below).
  2. Planning application levels for residential projects are still at historic lows. Even if these figures increased, a realistic timescale from lodgment of a planning application to completion of one house would be in the region of 15 months- close to the end of the lifetime of this government (see link below).
  3. Existing Planning Permissions for complex phased speculative developments may not be appropriate to the current market. There appears to be an excess of apartment planning permissions etc. The planning process, including 3rd party appeals, additional information submissions etc, particularly multi-unit developments, have a longer lead-in time than one-off houses- up to 24 months. It is the same problem as these sites will not provide dwellings for some time. Some of these permissions pre-date Part L of the regulations 2011 and will require significant amendment and revisions.

link2plancomencements.pdf [Converted]

 Commencement notices 2014 (source Link2Plans link:)

The current rental problem in Dublin could have been forecast earlier and measures introduced to allow for the lead-in time for dwellings to ‘come on stream’. Construction is a cyclical business- prepare for the upturn. Our current government are simply out of time to impact on a rental bubble, if one indeed exists. To improve our sovereign rating (and NAMA’s performance) and the banks’ balance sheets an increase in property prices is set to be “pumped” higher in the media. Another unforseen ‘benefit’ to increasing house prices may be the desirability for banks to foreclose and dispose of properties whose owners are in distress.

In the middle of all this we have a new (same) building control self-certification system that imposes higher costs and onerous liabilities on all concerned with little additional consumer protection. This is further restricting supply and creating a drag on the fragile recovery the industry is experiencing at present.

All-in-all not a great time for consumers.

Expect a lot more talk, and little action.

Editorials and articles referred to in the above opinion piece:

Other posts of interest:

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014

Required housing supply estimates and creating supply | Ireland after NAMA

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece was submitted by registered architect and Passivhaus Designer Mark Stephens on August 27th 2014.

I have recently submitted my first Commencement Notice under S.I.9 for a new house in Co. Mayo. The following opinion piece concerns ensuring compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations:

The only way numerically (currently) to assess conformance with Part L of the Building Regulations is via the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) software. It is this software that allows the user to input the following:

  • Property Details
  • Property Dimensions
  • Ventilation details (Chimneys, ventilation type, air tightness etc…)
  • Building elements (Construction types, u values areas etc…)
  • Water heating
  • Lighting

The software on completion can give conformity results on U-values, renewables, primary energy use and CO2 emissions. The conformity with the Building Regulations is given in a straightforward green check (tick) or red cross. The software can be used by anyone but it is only a registered (with SEAI) BER Assessor that can issue BER certificates; it is an offence for persons not registered with SEAI as BER assessors to purport to carry out a BER assessment service for the purposes of the Regulations.

The purpose of this opinion piece is not to highlight the deficiencies of the DEAP software or its use as the only software available (in Ireland) to ensure conformance. Instead it is trying to highlight a problem concerning certification to ensure compliance as part of S.I.9.

This problem may be better understood if we draw an analogy with Structural Engineers. It is the Structural Engineer as ‘Ancillary Certifier’ that certifies at ‘Design’ stage the following:

We confirm that our plans, calculations, specifications and particulars … have been prepared to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations…

It is understood that the Architect may not have the same skill, training and expertise with regard to structural design as a Structural Engineer who is relied upon to produce the “plans, calculations, specifications and particulars” to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations for the structural integrity of the building.

This responsibility continues through to completion when the Structural Engineer prepares an Inspection Plan (in accordance with the “Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works”) and based on this together with the ‘Design’ certificate the Structural Engineer (as Ancillary Certifier) certifies that the elements they designed/specified are in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.

By comparison if we examine Compliance with Part L, it is now sufficiently complex to require a separate consultant. The Design and Completion certification for Part L can be met by using Ancillary Certificates that are completed by ‘Specialists or unregistered consultants‘ i.e. Registered BER assessors. These certificates already exist so there should be no problem with them being provided by BER assessors.

Unfortunately I was rebuked when I requested the BER Assessor to inspect the relevant parts to ensure compliance with Part L; I was informed that this is the Architect’s work but as we have seen this is now a specialist consultancy.

Surely in this specialist world and where ensuring Part L compliance is so critical that the persons who are undertaking the calculations to ensure compliance should shoulder some of the responsibility on Completion, through inspections, to ensure that the building does in fact comply?

It is not as if the BER assessors do not have the requisite Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover their work; SEAI requires, as mandatory, that each BER Assessor and/or each BER Assessor’s principal takes out professional indemnity insurance with a minimum limit of €1,300,000.

All of the Engineers Ireland Certificates (including Ancillary Certificates by Specialists or unregistered consultants can be found here (see link)

Other posts related to this topic:

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Design Certifiers- 3 things you probably do not know about certifying Part L on even the smallest project such as a kitchen extension…

1. The Acceptable Construction Details (ACD) published by the Department of the Environment may not be Part L compliant (e.g. Frsi changed in February 2014, ACD not updated in 2011 etc).  See DECLG link here:

DECLG Supplementary Documents

2. A Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) may not be enough to meet the Part L requirements for dwellings (e.g. surface temperature missing).  Read SEAI link here:

SEAI- How_should_thermal_bridging_be_accounted_for_in_DEAP

3. Three dimensional calculations may be required at junctions and there are only two (yes TWO) people in Ireland qualified to do this.  Read here:

NSAI- our-services: certification/agrement-certification- thermal-modellers-scheme

In the event of any problem arising on a project in relation to the conservation of fuel and energy e.g. internal mould growth or higher than expected energy bills it is likely that the building owner will seek redress against the individual who certified compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations e.g. a Design and/or Assigned Certifier.  Failure to have dealt fully with the above three points is very likely to be used to demonstrate prima facie evidence in any legal action that the certifier is liable for the defect.  There will be no liability accruing to the builder who only has to build in accordance with drawings.

Many stakeholders in the building industry have been aware of this anomaly since 2011 although no action has been taken by the Department of the Environment or the associated professional bodies to address the issue.  The situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations earlier this year which has placed new and onerous liability on individual certifiers involved on building projects.

There are no provisions in S.I.9 for transition arrangements or conflicts within the technical guidance documents (TGD’s).  Quote from our previous legal post: “Certificates “…should have said ‘I am of the opinion…If you certify and the building doesn’t comply, you are liable. There is no doubt about that…” …the DECLG need to review the word “certify” as it is “an absolute“. (see post here:)

If you are not sure about any of these issues and how they impact on current projects and roles, we suggest you contact your representative body.

________

Other posts related to this topic:

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

________

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). 

 

BReg Blog @ 150,000 views

by Bregs Blog admin team

150k

From when we launched at the end of November 2013, it took 6 months for us to hit 75,000 views. We find ourselves at double that figure, 150,000 views, 3 months later on the 26th August 2014. This month we had our single biggest day for visitors to the site with over 1,550 views in one day. Our unique viewers could now fill the Lansdowne Road stadium an amazing 3 times over!

To acknowledge this milestone we have listed some of the more interesting BReg Blog quotes from the past few months of BC(A)R SI.9

I believe that the language which is used in the proposed amendments is extraordinarily loose and vague. In many cases the meaning if the certificates in their amended form is unclear… any lack of clarity is a recipe for disaster.” Denis McDonald SC 4 December 2013 (read full text here).

I cannot help but feel Environment and Local Government Minister Phil Hogan and his Department have failed utterly to learn the lessons of Priory Hall” Graham Usher former Priory Hall resident (read full text)

I am concerned about the potential for costs to be exploitative initially. The same thing happened in respect of the building energy regulations introduced several years ago… People were charged between €3,000 and €4,000 for certification inspections that cost €150 in the market. The professions have tended to jump on the bandwagon to exploit the customer for what they can get…” Phil Hogan 12 March 2014 (read full text here).

There are no new legal rights or remedies for consumers created by BCAR 2014” Deirdre Ni Fhloinn solicitor 14 March 2014 (read full text here). 

You are fully aware that all consumer groups were excluded from any key stakeholder meetings since mid 2012…You have stated your Department is in discussion with us and we have not risen any objections. This is a grave misrepresentation of our organisation and the interests of all self-builders in the Seanad. We would support any independent inquiry into these statements.” Shane McCloud, Irish Association of Self Builders 11 April 2014 (see full text here).

professional bodies making outlandish quotationsnot allow any body to think this will be an easy way to financial extortion, make easy money” Phil Hogan 10 April 2014 (read full text here)

To be informed now by Mr Hogan that in spite of being deemed to be qualified and competent by the CIAT and the RIAI, I am now a “draftsman” and that “the new building regulations will make it more difficult for unqualified people to pass themselves off as construction professionals” is offensive and potentially catastrophic to the livelihoods of many Architectural Technologists” Brian Maher AT 16 April 2014  (read full text here).

” The Minister’s system of Assigned Certifiers will crack up within the next couple of years… Does the Minister honestly believe the architect will employ someone to be on site continuously to check that things are done right?” Mick Wallace 17 June 2014 (read full text here).

The big elephant in the room again is that while the Minister has stated there is a facility for third-party checks, the major problem is the local authority lacks the facility, the manpower and the money to be a serious third party that checks to ensure everyone is behaving well.” Mick Wallace 1 July 2014 (see full text here).

There are penalties already under the new building regulations, everything must be signed off by a competent Assignee, who can only be an architect, a building surveyor or an engineer, and in signing off ON BEHALF OF THE BUILDER (our emphasis), there are obligations there and they have to stand over those” Tom Parlon 16 July 2014 (read full text here).

to have the notion of overturning these regulations is delusional… We must continue to think like a poet but also act like a professional” (Architecture Ireland). Ciaran O’Connor State Architect July 2014 (see pdf here: COC letter AI)

Our primary concerns with BC(A)R include:

  • Lack of appropriate independent oversight – to support those tasked with compliance
  • Absence of mandatory project insurance – in line with international best practice.
  • Inadequate timescale – to ensure the supporting systems and documentation are in place. This is why the RIAI called for a deferral”  Robin Mandal, President of the RIAI, 4 June 2014 (see full text here)

The Design Certifier certifies the design and the Assigned Certifier certifies the construction. These must comply in full with every aspect of the building regulations. There is no time limit on the certificate. This certificate is to everybody, about everything, for all time. And if an employee signs the certificates, they are liable in equal measure. This is all as clear as day” Eoin O’Cofaigh 12 August 2014 (read full text here).

We would like to thank you for your continuing interest in the issues surrounding the new building regulations, and we have seen viewership increase every month. Many thanks to the admin and editorial team and all of our valued contributors.

The BRegs Blog would love to hear your views on BC(A)R. If you have already written an article on this topic for another publication we would be happy to reproduce that on our Blog if relevant.

New to the topic: don’t know where to begin? start here: SI.9- here do i start?

Other milestones:

125,000 Thanks to our Readers

Thank you- 100,000 views

Bregs Blog: 75,000+ views!

Breg Blog : coming up to 50,000 views!

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team

24-show-goes-carbon-neutral

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

Under the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014), dates refer to the Commencement Notice, so architects and registered professionals would be well advised to change to the new standards immediately. This will apply to any other new alterations or amendments to the building regulations that may issue in the near future. One of the problems we have already discussed is the lack of provision for transition arrangements or conflicts in any new Parts of the Regulations.

The Minister published new Part K (Stairways, Ladders, Ramps & Guards) and new Part J (Heat Producing Appliances).

The new Part J is from 1st September 2014. The new Part K comes in from 1st January 2015.

Part J brings in mandatory carbon monoxide detectors (we will be commenting on this in greater detail in a later post).

Architects and other registered professional designing projects need to incorporate the new standards now.

http://www.environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/BuildingStandards/

http://www.environ.ie/en/TGD/

____________

Other Posts in this series:

Practical post 23: Design Build contracts- need a barge pole?

Practical post 22: Change of Owner

Practical post 21: Variations 

For Practical Post Series 1-20

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these practical posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working within these new and difficult regulations. 

Any sign of a Commencement Notice for Priory Hall?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece was posted by BReg Blog Admin. Team on August 26th 2014.

Any sign of a Commencement Notice for the material alterations?

Work on fixing the Priory Hall apartment development looks like it started this summer. The CIF and others have been very active on Twitter trying to find out whether work has started or not, but Dublin City Council has not responded publicly on this. However by the looks of the site work (certainly enabling work) may have commenced. Is there any sign of a commencement notice?

In our previous post “How to complete ghost estates + Priory Hall?:BC(A)R SI.9” we looked at the difficulties confronting local authorities in finishing ‘ghost estates’ and also defective housing like Priory Hall under the new building regulations.

Quote from post: “We will follow the progress of Priory Hall with interest in the weeks ahead to see if the Local Authority tasked with remedial works apply BC(A)R S1.9 in full, or will they seek an exemption… We wonder if any local authority employees are prepared to accept the onerous legal implications of the regulation as noted in the Code of Practice and act as certifiers, or will they tender the professional services to external consultants on this one?

The issue remains of personal liability for certifiers in the private and public sector, so professionals employed in Local Authorities and Government agencies may well be very reluctant to take on certifier roles essentially guaranteeing part completed work on projects found to be defective, like Priory Hall. We noted an earlier warning on liability issued by the representative body for architects (RIAI)- see post “3 must-read posts for employees“.

Quote from RIAI bulletin: “Employees acting as Assigned Certifier and Design Certifier may be personally liable in the event that their employer no-longer exists after the demise of the practice. Employees are therefore advised to exercise extreme caution before taking on the roles of Assigned Certifier and Design Certifier.”

There are many questions to be answered about Priory Hall and other publicly funded remedial projects:

  • Has a non CIRI registered contractor been appointed to the project?
  • Has the contract for remedial work been publicly tendered?
  • Who are the Design and Assigned Certifiers (if any) on the project?
  • Will any professional be signing off on this work?
  • What comeback will there be for any future purchasers?
  • Most estate agents are of the view that even with a name change, apartments in this development may be very difficult to sell. Is it more likely that Dublin City Council will use it for accommodating social housing tenants?

It would be ironic if remedial works to Priory Hall were not completed fully under the new building control regulations.

S.I. 9 | Six Month – Call Out

by Bregs Blog admin team

Call Out

S.I. 9 will have been with us six months on 1st September 2014. The BRegs Blog has just celebrated its ninth month in operation and  is fast approaching its 150,000th view. It looks as if August, a normally quiet month, may be one of the busiest months since this blog started in November 2013. This indicates to the BRegs Blog Admin Team that the appetite for information on S.I. 9 and its implications to the construction sector continues to grow. It appears as if the strength of this blog may be its unique range of writers across all spectra of the building industry.

The continuing demand for information has brought on board a whole new cross-section of contributors e.g. the recent BCMS Q+A series and the current Q+A session with the SCSI. We are now planning a series of articles on how different sectors in the industry are coping and adapting to S.I. 9 up to and including Commencement Notice stage as the legislation ends its sixth month in operation (at this point in time it is considered that there are insufficient details available on the impact on construction contracts stage and/or building completion stage to draw any conclusions).

The key groupings being considered for such posts based on stakeholders reading the blog are:

  • Large Firms / Practices e.g. multi-disciplinary consultants
  • Small Firms/ Practices e.g. sole traders
  • Public Sector e.g. Local Authority in-house engineering departments,
  • Commissioning authorities e.g. client bodies such as Government Departments
  • Third Party certifier e.g. providing A.C. / D.C services to other firms
  • Building Control Authorities e.g. BCO roles
  • Legal profession
  • Owners/Developers

If you would like to contribute information on how you are dealing with the legislation please email: bregsforum@gmail.com (names are verified but withheld on request).

Regards,

Bregs Blog Admin Team

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