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

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 [ ]

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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 poplarity. 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.

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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

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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:

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

l plate

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 

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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/

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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

852636219

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

man-with-stop-sign-in-front-of-his-face

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

Architects (and engineers) who work in the design stage only of design-build contracts would be well advised to steer clear of the the site during the construction phase of the contract. We previously asked the question were developers off the hook under the new regulations -

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?” 

In order to protect yourself from future liability, you should make very clear that you have no inspection duties and avoid being drawn onto site or into the project later. This is of particular importance if a developer is employing their own in-house certifier at construction stage for the Assigned Certifier role.

This is so that you can stand in the dock, if ever there is a claim, and confirm that you never walked onto the site, never overlooked  the (missing) dpc, never touched the (too low) handrail on the stairs, never had any concerns about the general standard of workmanship.

As a further safeguard, make sure that your Design Certificate (if you provide one) is dated before the Commencement Notice.

We previously noted the problems attaching to Design Certifier roles and the requirement to upload any design changes (changes to specifications and materials etc) by the design certifier during construction. There is currently no provision for this upload on the BCMS system by the Design Certifier.

The Law Society and the professional bodies had indicated that partial services appointments (where the architect does the drawings but not the site stage) would be a thing of the past. It seems more likely that the ‘partial services’ will be reduced even further by the developers engaging their own staff to sign the Certs.

____________

Other Posts in this series:

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 unenviable 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. 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Bregs Blog admin team:

In case you missed it here’s an update on the latest figures from the BCMS on the continued fall in commencement notices

Originally posted on BRegs Blog:

Coastal erosion

The worrying trend in stalled building starts since the introduction of new Building Regulations earlier this year appears to be continuing. The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) published the latest edition of the Building Register on Tuesday 5th August 2014 at 09.49 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland on the Building Control Management System (BCMS).

The Building Register now records a figure of 1645 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past five months (22 weeks) since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014. This figure equates with an average of approximately 75 Commencement Notices per week or a projection of 3900 for a year. This would represent approximately 50% of the 7,456 Commencement Notices submitted in 2013.

While the rush to submit Commencement Notices…

View original 245 more words

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

top7

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

Last week was a very busy one on the Breg Blog and the following is a list of the most read posts from the past 7 days.

  • Huge interest again this week in a written paper on professional liability delivered at the recent EGM held on 12th August by the representative body for architects (RIAI).
  • We posted comprehensive answers to readers questions received on the Building Control Management System (BCMS parts 1-3 inclusive). Many thanks again to Mairéad Phelan (BCMS Project Manager) for her prompt and informative answers to our combined list of questions.
  • Practical issues also figured with readers questions on demolition and enabling works in our post on demolition and SI.9. We also posted an interesting published letter to the editor on defective materials.
  • More opinion and observation following the RIAI EGM was well read this week also in our post “SI.9 is Defective- RIAI EGM Consensus” and the  summary report from attendees of the event itself was also very popular.

Posts listed in order of reader poplarity. Enjoy!

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

BCMS Q+A: Part 3 | Process Issues

Demolition and S.I. 9

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus

BCMS | Donegal County Council

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

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

5

This is the first in a series “Look Back” Posts which will re-publish older papers and opinion pieces that are still relevant  to the  evolving situation post-implementation of BC(A)R SI.9. Some of our more recent followers and readers of the Breg blog and may have missed some previous posts of interest in our 500+ post archive.

In this first post we look again at Ireland and the World Bank Rankings.

The rankings are due to be updated in September 2014 and we wonder whether Ireland’s international ranking for “Dealing with construction permits” has improved from 115th place out of 189 countries surveyed.

The post below was first published on Breg blog on 9th January 2014.

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World Bank rankings & BC(A)R SI.9

World-Bank-Headquarters

The World Bank “Doing Business” Report 2014 was mentioned by Minister Richard Bruton in January of 2014 (Irish Times 5/01/14). The construction industry was specifically mentioned as one key area for improvement. Currently we rank 115th out of 189 countries in “Dealing with construction permits”. The UK ranks 27th. Based on the World Bank example of a 1300 SqM production/warehouse building, the cost of statutory permissions (planning and building control) in the UK are less than 15% the cost of our system here. A key cost of an integral component to our recovery, foreign direct investment and job creation (warehouse & manufacturing space) is over 5 times more expensive here than across the water.

The cost to obtain all relevant statutory permissions for this one building type in the UK is a little over €19,000 and takes much less time. This cost includes 100% independent building inspections by a licensed building inspector. The cost for a similar building in Ireland is over €130,000 (incl. planning levies) and takes considerably longer.

In 2012 the UK looked into improving their building control system, already frequently quoted in the World Bank report as being one of the better examples in the world. The “Communities and Local Government: Proposed changes to the building control system – Consultation stage impact assessment” (download and read here) produced in 2012, comprehensively examined 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% of housing backed by warranty). Our own regulatory impact assessment was quite inadequate in comparison (see post ” Inadequate Regulatory assessment for SI.80″ here).

The UK report also examined the Irish 100% self-certification system as a option but discounted this due to considerable extra cost to the consumer and to the wider industry over their existing system of independent local authority (and licensed private) inspections.

Rather than improving efficiency and reducing costs, the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulation, SI9 may delay projects by up to 21 more days on completion, cost significantly more and give no added benefit to the consumer. (See previous posts on costs here). One wonders where our ranking will slide to by 2015.

UK- cost and time to get permits or warehouse: detailed breakdown

IRELAND- cost and time to get permits or warehouse: detailed breakdown

The above opinion piece was submitted by Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds on 9th January 2014. 

 

Other posts of interest:

BREGS Blog Archive 4- FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

 

Framework for Building Control Authorities – Version 1: July 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

26927441-baef-4cc7-a09b-140f81a80edd

The BRegs Blog received a copy of a document ‘Framework for Building Control Authorities’ that was circulated earlier this month by one of the professional bodies involved with S.I. 9 to its members. The document appears to have been prepared by the County and City Management Association (CCMA). The  CCMA is the “representative voice” of the local government management network. Its  members are Chief Executives of the County and City Councils and the Assistant Chief Executives of Dublin City Council .  It is a non-statutory body that works to ensure that the influence of local authority Chief Executives is brought to bear on the development and implementation of relevant policy.

The document had been scheduled for issue in September 2014 (Q3). It is described as Version 1 and has not yet been uploaded onto the CCMA or Department of the Environment’s websites so the BRegs Blog is unsure of its official status and whether it is a draft document being circulated for comment. However it may be of interest to anyone involved with the Building Control Regulations as to how the CCMA is thinking about the issues. The BRegs Blog Admin. Team would welcome any comments our readers may have on this document (Link:)

________________

FRAMEWORK FOR BUILDING CONTROL AUTHORITIES – VERSION 1.0 JULY 2014

The purpose of the Framework is to provide guidance for Building Control Authorities (BCAs) with respect to undertaking their functions under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2007 and the Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2014. In particular, the framework provides guidance in respect to:

(a) standardisation and co-ordination nationally;

(b) processing and validation of commencement notices and associated documentation;

(c) inspections and assessments during construction;

(d) processing and validation of completion certificates and associated documentation;

(e) Fire Safety Certificates; and

(f) Disability Access Certificates

Beyond their statutory function under the Building Control Acts, BCAs are also the designated enforcement authorities for the purposes of ensuring compliance with other legislation as follows:

  • Marketing of Construction Products in line with EU (Construction Product) Regulations 2013 (SI No. 225 of 2013); Appendix I
  • Building Energy Rating Certificates for buildings in line with the EU (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2012 (SI No. 243 of 2012); Appendix II
  • Registration of multi-storey buildings for the purposes of the Local Government (Multistorey Buildings) Act 1988

PDF version: Framework for Building Control Authorities July 2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

HouseForSaleSign_large

The following letter to the editor by Lester Naughton MRIAI was published in the Irish Examiner on Wednesday 20th August 2014. Link to original letter here:

Extract:

______

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

“New housing starts at zero and unemployment up 100,000”. This is the headline that your paper may well be printing in the future and I will explain why with a story.

Mary and Paraic are celebrating outside the High Court popping champagne. The judge has just found against the architect who certified their new house. At first, they thought pyrite was causing the structural problems and the architect thought he would not be found liable as he had demanded certificates confirming the absence of pyrite. However it turned out the problem was the steel reinforcing bars used in the concrete. The architect hadn’t thought of seeking certification from the supplier and the judge found the architect had certified the building and was therefore responsible. Mary and Paraic are paid out by the architects’ insurers.

In such a scenario, if such problems turned out to be widespread and thousands of houses are ruined, people will take their cases to the courts and will receive similar judgments. But due to the judgments, it will prove impossible for professionals to renew their insurance. Many professionals will be bankrupted and many homeowners will receive little or no compensation.

Sir I doubt you will find a single architect or lawyer who will not agree this is a plausible scenario. You will only perhaps find disagreement as to its likelihood. Our legislators have let us all down once again.

Lester Naughton BArch MRIAI
Drimmavouhaun
Moycullen
Co Galway

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus

by Bregs Blog admin team

Broken-Chain-Link

Following an editorial team meeting the BRegs Blog have decided not to publish attributed comments made at last week’s Extraordinary General Meeting held by the RIAI, the representative body for architects (Link to earlier notice of withdrawal post:); the reason being that speakers were not aware in advance that comments made on the night might be published. It is feared such publication could impact on the openness and frankness, witnessed on the night of the debate, at any future such gatherings. The BRegs Blog Admin. Team have decided to give some more detail of the event instead.

It was clear, to all in attendance, that the single most important issue to emerge was the clearly articulated view among the overwhelming majority of those present that the S.I.9 legislation is defective. Speaker after speaker, including representatives of many large architectural firms outlined the manifest problems with S.I 9 and their concerns about being able to implement the legislation without unsustainable risk. No one spoke in favour of S.I. 9 which is in clear contrast to the impression that had been given by some RIAI council and staff to date that S.I.9 had been broadly accepted by the architectural profession.

Given this apparent consensus view at the EGM, discussion centered on what would be the most appropriate and effective method for reversing the S.I.9 legislation. The alternative vote for a deferral by three-months of the motion for a call to revoke S.I.9 was agreed to allow further development of an alternative building control system. This alternative building control system is one underpinned by third party independent inspections as opposed to continuing the current system of self-certification. It was a working paper that the EGM was advised had been discussed at the July RIAI Council meeting. The background to the development of this paper over the last number of years was explained on the night. A previous post on the BRegs Blog (Link to “A Better Way for BCAR / S.I.9:) contains the backbone to the current adopted ‘Change’ paper which is now being discussed further by the current RIAI Council. Within the three month time-frame it is expected that the ‘Change’ paper will be circulated to members for review prior to the motion to revoke S.I. 9 being voted on at another EGM to be held by 12th November 2014.

Of surprise to many members on the night was the fact that a large number of the elected RIAI council members seemed to share the view that S.I.9 is indeed defective and it was alleged, carries toxic levels of liability for the new certifier roles. The spectrum of opinion on Council ranged from some who think S.I.9 may be “fixed” to others who feel it is unworkable and needs to be completely scrapped. All identified serious  implementation, insurance and legal problems with the regulations.

The question that anyone associated with Building Control must be asking now is what impact will this development have on the implementation of S.I. 9 and what action will be taken by the executive, staff and elected council of the RIAI in response to this mandate from their members? Many must also wonder what does the newly appointed Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. make of it all?

For your information we list out recent opinion pieces by current elected RIAI council members here, all looking at various defects in SI.9:

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

In addition to the opinion pieces listed above by current RIAI council members a number of open letters were submitted to the Bregs Blog which may be of interest to readers – we will list these in a separate  post.

BCMS Q+A: Part 3 | Process Issues

by Bregs Blog admin team

q and a

This is the third of three posts on the BCMS Question + Answer series. On 7th August 2014 the BRegs Blog posed a series of questions to the Building Control Management System (Link:). These were an edited compilation of questions that we received from our readers. The idea was that it would make for an efficient use of the BCMS resources if they replied to us in one email and we shared the information with our followers through Social Media.

We are very grateful to the BCMS Project Manager for her very swift and comprehensive response. As it is so detailed we decided to publish it as a series of posts linked by the subject matter of the questions to ensure maximum exposure. Monday’s post on general issues may be accessed here (Link:); Tuesday’s post on I.T. issues may be accessed here (Link:). The BRegs Blog welcomes further questions and/or clarifications of the matters raised in this series which we would be happy to put to the BCMS on your behalf.

To summarise the response below  it would appear:

  • There is no formal appeal process if an applicant disagrees with a Building Control Authority’s invalidation of  a Commencement Notice
  • It appears that any change of personnel e.g. the building contractor must be notified by email (not possible online) within 14 days. This is not just advising the BCMS of a change but the new notice of assignment and a new undertaking must be submitted. [BRegs Admin. Team Note: This may be entirely impractical in practice].
  • If a Building Control Authority is made aware that a Commencement Notice was submitted by unqualified persons it will be invalidated
  • The change of Assigned Certifier during the course of the work will merit the particular attention of Building Control Authorities and will likely require further explanation of the circumstances of the change from the Owner. Such changes will be on public record post-Completion.
  • At present there is no ‘red-flagging’ of Commencement Notices which are only determined as Valid or Invalid.

Q.21 Is there any appeal process if a building owner feels that a Commencement Notice was incorrectly invalidated by the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority? If not, is the only redress to take court action and would this be against the BCMS or the Building Control Authority?

Answer;

The Building Control Act 1990-2007 provides for the establishment of Building Control Authorities who have the delegated functions for the purposes of Building Control i.e.; “these Building Control Authorities being in the case of a council of a county, the administrative county and in the case of any other local authority, its administrative area”.

  1. Article 9 of the Building Control Regulations as Amended; sets out clearly the requirements/form of Commencement Notice with, and without supporting compliance documentation.
  2. Article 10 of the Building Control Regulations as Amended; sets out the procedure to be undertaken by the Building Control Authority for the purpose of validation/invalidation.
  3. Under the Building Control Act 1990-2007 there is no appeals process for this the Commencement Notice process; the appeals process provided for provided for under Section 7 being for the specific purpose of;
  4. “( a ) section 4, for a dispensation from, or relaxation of, any requirement of building regulations, or
  5. (b) section 6 (2) ( a ) (ii), for a fire safety certificate, or
  6. (c) section 6 (2) ( a ) (iii), for a certificate of approval,”
  7. However each Building Control Authority is mandated to operate within the fundamental and well established principles of public administration in that the decision-maker in line with natural justice gives fair and genuine consideration in assessing Commencement Notices for the purposes of validation. Judicial review is the procedure open to a party with sufficient interest to review a decision of an administrative body.

The BCMS “Building Control Management System” means the information technology- based system hosted by the Local Government Management Agency and developed to facilitate the electronic administration of building control matters by building control authorities as the preferred means of building control administration;” i.e. a record management system.

Therefore any an interested party having an issue with an administrative decision by a Building Control Authority in relation to a Commencement Notice /7 Day Notice should first seek redress from that Building Control Authority before seeking redress from the Courts.

Q.22 Who is responsible for ensuring that an Assigned Certifier is suitably qualified.

Answer;

Responsibility for compliance with the Building Control Regulations and Building Regulations is ultimately a matter for the owner or builder of a building.

However it should be noted the “Building Control Act 1990 and 2007” and the “Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2014” clearly set out the qualifications required for the Designer and Assigned Certifier and anyone signing a Statutory Form otherwise qualified is clearly acting outside the law.

The Building Control Authorities and the BCMS oversight group is continuously carrying out random oversight of all Commencement Notices/7 Day Notices submitted and have requested clarification of qualifications of Assigned Certifiers in many circumstances. This work is ongoing and such persons will continue to be contacted in circumstances where their qualification to so act is in doubt. This is ultimately in the interest of Building Owners who, should the person identified in the submitted material at Commencement Notice application stage as Assigned Certifier prove not to have the required qualifications to so act, may be unable to use or occupy their building arising from the defective nature of the Commencement Notice application and the subsequent lack of appropriate level of compliance oversight during the works. See also answer to Q.9 below.

Members of the professional organisations have also made representations to the Building Control Authorities and BCMS oversight group regarding qualifications of the “professionals”, appearing on the Statutory Public Register which have been followed up by the individual Local Authorities

Q.23 Does the BCMS check the identities or qualifications of Design and Assigned Certifiers?

Answer;

As per Question 22 above

Q. 24 What action will the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority take if they are made aware that someone acting as a Design or Assigned Certifier is not suitably qualified?

Answer;

Validation of Commencement/7Day Notices is solely based on the assumption that the facts stated in and the attachments forming part of the certificate are true and accurate.

  1. Section 6(4) of the 1990 Act…”Building Control Authority shall not be under a duty to any person to ensure/verify that the:—
    1. building or works to which the certificate/notice relates will, either during the course of the work or when completed, comply with the requirements of Building Regulation or be free from any defect,
    2. certificate complies with the requirements of .. Act or of regulations or orders made under .. Act, or
    3. facts stated in the certificate are true and accurate”.
  2. In the event of a Building Control Authority being made aware that someone acting as a Design or Assigned Certifier not being suitably qualified, then the notices and certificates submitted with this notice could not be deemed to be valid as they would be based on fraudulent information.
  3. Furthermore Article 6A (amendment inserted to Article 6 of principal regulations under S.I. 9 of 2014)  specifically states that “Failure to comply with any requirement under Parts II, III, IIIA, IIIB or IIIC shall be an offence to which section 17(2) of the Act” (Building Control Act 1990 and 2007).
  4. Also, Offences are as set down in Section—“Any person who contravenes (by act or omission) any requirement of this Act or of any order, regulation or notice under this Act shall be guilty of an offence”.

Q.25 Does the time period for notification of a change of builder i.e. 14 days refer to a notification that you intend to change builder or is one expected to provide details of the new contractor within 14 days. The latter may prove difficult in practice and it is noted that failure to do this is an offence? What is the procedure for doing this e.g. can it be done online??

Answer;

In the notice of Assignment of Builder the Owner undertakes to notify the Building Control Authority in writing of any change in the person assigned as Builder of the building or works as notified.

Part II Article 9(3) of the Regulations “If, for whatever reason, having submitted the commencement notice in respect of works or a building subject to paragraph (1)(b), a building owner changes either the person assigned to inspect and certify the works or the assigned builder, then the building owner shall within 14 days notify the building control authority of the change by submitting, electronically or otherwise, the appropriate notices of assignment and forms of undertaking referred to under paragraph (1)(b) reflecting the up-to-date arrangements in this regard” i.e. notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days by submitting a new notice of assignment and a new undertaking.

The facility to do this online through the BCMS will be provided in due course.

At present this new notice of assignment and a new undertaking can be emailed to the Building Control Authority where it will be uploaded to the BCMS and the details recorded on the Statutory Register.

If an applicant is having difficulty they may discuss same with the relevant Building Control Authority.

 Q.26 In the event that the BCMS discover an irregularity in documentation submitted post-validation what action will be taken?

Answer;

It should be noted that the BCMS is not an organisation with any delegation under the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007.

In the event of the BCMS oversight group discovering an irregularity in the documentation they will notify the relevant Building Control Authorities that have this delegation and the discretion to take whatever action it deems necessary.

Q.27 What is the timescale for validating design changes and/or designs not submitted at commencement notice stage?

Answer;

Validation at Commencement Notice Stage is based on; the requirements of Part II of the Regulations i.e. where applicable the following are submitted to the Building Control Authority prior to commencement:

Commencement Notice application – all sections complete with or without the following;

  1. a)the completed online assessment (which will inform the risk assessment)
  2. b)Preliminary Inspection Plan
  3. c)General Arrangement Drawings
  4. d)plans, specifications and particulars necessary to show how the building work will comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations;
  5. e)Certificate of Compliance (Design) (with a schedule of Ancillary Certificates by members of the design team, who should also sign their certificate);
  6. f)Notice of Assignment by the Building Owner of a Competent Person as Assigned Certifier; and appointment of a competent Builder;
  7. g)Certificate of Undertaking by the Assigned Certifier;
  8. h)Certificate of Undertaking by the Builder; and
  9. i)the appropriate fee.

Validation, carried out by Building Control Authorities at commencement stage, confirms that all the required documentation has been submitted. The material submitted, having being Certified as Compliant by the parties involved, is not required to be technically assessed for this purpose by the Building Control Authority.

The majority of applications will be made on line through the Building Control Management System. The system is set to default to Validation at the end of the statutory 7-day period, if the Building Control Authority does not carry out the process to assess the application as valid or invalid within that period of time.

The Building Control Management System automatically notifies the relevant Building Control Authority on receipt of a completed application for Commencement. Building Control Authorities will keep a watching brief on applications and, in the interest of effective oversight, will examine individual applications within the 7 day validation period.

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.

Q. 28 Is it possible to resign as Design and/or Assigned Certifier post Commencement Notice validation e.g. in part service appointments to developers who have in house assigned certifiers some design certifiers may be unwilling to continue in the role, particularly if sites are sold on to persons other than the original owner who commissioned and appointed the design certifier. If such cases, what is the process for doing so?

Answer;

Yes it is possible for the Assigned Certifier to relinquish the role for whatever reason. The Assigned Certifiers role is set out in the Code of Practice accompanying S.I. 9 of 2014 i.e. 3.5 Assigned Certifier’s Role which provides termination or relinquishment of their appointment; and 4.7 Change of Assigned Certifier and/or Builder.

The building owner undertakes to notify the Building Control Authority in writing of any change in the person assigned to inspect and certify the building or works as notified in the NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNED CERTIFIER (Notice of Assignment of Person to Inspect and Certify Works).

The facility to do this online through the BCMS will be provided in due course.

At present this new notice of assignment and a new undertaking can be emailed to the Building Control Authority where it will be uploaded to the BCMS and the details recorded on the Statutory Register. The change of Assigned Certifier during the course of the work will merit the particular attention of Building Control Authorities and will likely require further explanation of the circumstances of the change from the Owner. Such changes will be on public record post-Completion.

Q.29 How does one address the situation of a change in Design Certifier mid-project e.g. changing from a Civil Engineer on the piling for an enabling works contract onto an architects as the Design Certifier for a Main Contract. Do such changes have to be notified to the BCMS and if so, how is this done?

Answer;

The “DESIGN CERTIFICATE Form of Certificate of Compliance (Design)” is a required Commencement Notice accompanying document. A project may have many design certifiers with specific competencies who will sign the relevant certificates which are collated as part of the compliance certification by the Assigned Certifier.

It is a matter for each owner, builder, Assigned Certifier etc. to decide how this is done.

Q.30 In instances where Assigned Certifiers become aware of non-compliant work and resign, or where builders are not undertaking recommended remedial works during the course of construction, Assigned Certifiers may have no option but to resign. Is there a responsibility on the Assigned Certifier to notify the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority of such infringements?

Answer;

See Q 23, refer to Code of Practice accompanying S.I. 9 of 2014.

Q.31 Under S.I. 9, and not the Code of Practice, is the submission of a Commencement Notice and accompanying documentation officially considered an ‘application’ or a ‘validation’?

Answer;

A ‘‘commencement notice’’ means a notice referred to in section 6(2)(k) of the Act; i.e. not an “application” or a “validation” i.e. a “notice to building control authorities of the erection of such buildings, or classes of buildings, or the carrying out of such works, or classes of works, as may be specified in the regulations”.

Q .32 There has been speculation that the BCMS is linked to the Revenue Commissioner’s system and may be used to identify tax evasion. If so, why has this been kept secret?

Answer;

There is no connection between the Revenue Commissioners and the BCMS. As all information in government and public service departments are subject to Freedom of Information in accordance with Data Protection requirements, there are no secrets.

Q.33 What rights do those engaging with BCMS have under data protection to see and/or correct personal data and in particular to be made aware of any ‘red flags’ against them and any right of redress?

Answer;

The normal data protection rules apply to the BCMS.

Q.34 What advice, if any, was sought in relation to Freedom of Information (by any future building owners) and Intellectual Property and confidentiality of information loaded to the BCMS.

Answer;

The normal Freedom of Information rules apply to the BCMS. Precedent exists through the well-established online access to drawings and associated information provided for the purposes of Planning Applications.

Q.35 Of the 1645 Commencement Notices submitted since the 1st March until the 5th August 2014 how many have been ‘red-flagged’ at validation stage?

Answer;

Commencement Notices are either set to Valid or Invalid on the system.

Any notice set to Invalid is given a reason which is communicated to all stakeholders in the building project.

The BRegs Blog Admin. Team would like to thank Mairéad Phelan, Project Manager for the BCMS (Local Government Efficiency Review, Programme Management Office), for her prompt and informative response to the  questions above. 

SCSI and S.I.9- submit your questions.

by Bregs Blog admin team

Question-marks-(1)

SCSI and S.I.9- Everything you don’t know about the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and now you can ask!

Following the success to our call out for questions and the detailed response to them from the BCMS, which we are publishing this week, the BRegs Blog decided to conduct a similar exercise for the other stakeholder groups involved with S.I. 9. The next group that we are publishing the call out for questions on is the SCSI. This is an opportunity particularly for those in the other stakeholder groups to find out how the SCSI and its members are getting on with S.I. 9 and related matters.

In the interests of efficiency the BRegs Blog now intends to submit an open letter with a series of questions to the SCSI to be answered on behalf of our readers. We will publish the responses so that they may be shared collectively.

Please submit any questions that you may have about the SCSI to bregsforum@gmail.com  on or before Thursday 21st  August 2014 at 17.00 pm. It is hoped we will be able to publish the Open Letter and questions being submitted to the SCSI on Friday 22nd August 2014.

In the coming weeks we will be submitting similar Open Letters with questions to the ACEI, RIAI and CIF.

Everything you wanted to know about the BCMS and now you can ask!

BCMS Q+A: Part 1 | General Issues

BCMS: Open Letter

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

BCMS Questions

Further to the BRegs Blog request (Link here:) for questions to submit to the Building Control Management System (BCMS) we sent the Open Letter below to the BCMS Senior Engineer at Fingal Co. Council who had very kindly offered to try and answer questions on the system. We will circulate any response received as soon as possible.

Dear Madam,

We noted your very generous offer to accept questions on the Building Control Management System (BCMS) in the absence of responses to emails sent to the contact form on the BCMS website over the past five months. We are writing on behalf of our 1100 Blog followers, 700 Twitter followers and 600 Facebook followers. We have collated and edited the 37 questions we received below to be representative of those received. We feel it would make the most efficient use of your time if you were able to respond to us directly on these and we could then disseminate your reply to a wider audience via Social Media.

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

BRegs Blog Admin Team

Q.1 By far the most frequent questions we received related to possible S.I.9 exemptions e.g. borderline extensions with floor areas circa 40 mwhere our followers sought reassurance on behalf of building owners. Is it possible to apply to the BCMS for a formal Declaration or Certificate of Exemption from S.I 9 similar to a Section 5 under the Planning and Development Acts?  If not, do the BCMS intend to issue guidance on exempt works or will this be left to the courts to determine?

Q.2 Do the BCMS intend to publish sample BCMS validated submissions for a selection of project types as industry standard examples? If so, when do the BCMS hope to do this and are the professional bodies involved in this process?

Q.3 Is there any appeal process if a building owner feels that a Commencement Notice was incorrectly invalidated by the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority? If not, is the only redress to take court action and would this be against the BCMS or the Building Control Authority?

Q.5 When will it be possible to submit Completion Certificates online?

Q.6 Is it correct that it is not possible to submit ancillary certificates and supporting documentation with Completion Certificates?

Q.7 Who is responsible for ensuring that an Assigned Certifier is suitably qualified.

Q.8 Does the BCMS check the identities or qualifications of Design and Assigned Certifiers?

Q. 9 What action will the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority take if they are made aware that someone acting as a Design or Assigned Certifier is not suitably qualified?

Q.10 What advice should be given to a self-builder, who is not a Principal or Director of a Building Company, when signing Section 4 of Part A of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion e.g. should they scratch out the relevant phrase “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a Building Company only”?

Q.10 Does the time period for notification of a change of builder i.e. 14 days refer to a notification that you intend to change builder or is one expected to provide details of the new contractor within 14 days. The latter may prove difficult in practice and it is noted that failure to do this is an offence? What is the procedure for doing this e.g. can it be done online??

Q.11 Does the BCMS intend to conduct any public information campaign through national media to inform the public and building owners of their responsibilities in relation to the BCMS?

Q.12 Is it possible to introduce a facility to edit documents prior to and/or post validation?

Q.14 What advice would the BCMS give to someone who inadvertently carried out building work since the 1st March 2014 that was not exempt from S.I. 9 and who did not submit a valid Commencement Notice?

Q.15 In the event that the BCMS discover an irregularity in documentation submitted post-validation what action will be taken?

Q.16 Do the BCMS intend to provide a user guide to the system?

Q. 17 Do the BCMS intend to provide comprehensive predictive answers or hints on the system?

Q.18 Do the BCMS maintain contact details of those using the system in order to advise them directly of ongoing changes e.g. the recently introduced “role acceptance”?

Q.20 Are Commencement Notices validated by the BCMS before issue to the 34 individual Building Control Authorities?

Q. 21 How does the Design Certifier upload additional documents for design changes during the construction phase or ensure that the correct documents have been uploaded at or before completion?

Q.22 What is the timescale for validating design changes and/or designs not submitted at commencement notice stage?

Q. 23 Is it possible to resign as Design and/or Assigned Certifier post Commencement Notice validation e.g. in part service appointments to developers who have in house assigned certifiers some design certifiers may be unwilling to continue in the role, particularly if sites are sold on to persons other than the original owner who commissioned and appointed the design certifier. If such cases, what is the process for doing so?

Q.24 How does one address the situation of a change in Design Certifier mid-project e.g. changing from a Civil Engineer on the piling for an enabling works contract onto an architects as the Design Certifier for a Main Contract. Do such changes have to be notified to the BCMS and if so, how is this done?

Q.25 In instances where Assigned Certifiers become aware of non-compliant work and resign, or where builders are not undertaking recommended remedial works during the course of construction, Assigned Certifiers may have no option but to resign. Is there a responsibility on the Assigned Certifier to notify the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority of such infringements?

Q.26 Are there any plans to increase the speed for uploading documents and negotiating between pages on the system?

Q. 27 Is there a limit on the capacity of the system and/or individual uploads?

Q.28 Is the Local Government Management Agency correct in their statement that the BCMS will not be fully operational for 18 months after 1st March 2014?

Q. 29 Under S.I. 9, and not the Code of Practice, is the submission of a Commencement Notice and accompanying documentation officially considered an ‘application’ or a ‘validation’?

Q. 30 Does the BCMS have a published API such as REST that external applications can use to read and write to the BCMS system? If yes, are there examples of its usage? If not, do you plan to introduce this functionality?

Q .31 There has been speculation that the BCMS is linked to the Revenue Commissioner’s system and may be used to identify tax evasion. If so, why has this been kept secret?

Q.32 What rights do those engaging with BCMS have under data protection to see and/or correct personal data and in particular to be made aware of any ‘red flags’ against them and any right of redress?

Q. 33 What advice, if any, was sought in relation to Freedom of Information (by any future building owners) and Intellectual Property and confidentiality of information loaded to the BCMS.

Q.34 Who are the website developers and were they procured through the public / E-tender procurement process? There is a story (attributed to you) doing the rounds that the reason there are so many glitches with the system is that the developer’s first language was not English!

Q.35 Of the 1645 Commencement Notices submitted since the 1st March until the 5th August 2014 how many, if any. have been ‘red-flagged’ at validation stage?

Q.36 Is it planned that a Commencement Notice can be deleted once started (prior to submitting for validation)?

Q.37 Is it planned to have an easier online method of unlocking documents to upload newer versions other than contacting the Building Control Authority?

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Coastal erosion

 

The worrying trend in stalled building starts since the introduction of new Building Regulations earlier this year appears to be continuing. The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) published the latest edition of the Building Register on Tuesday 5th August 2014 at 09.49 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland on the Building Control Management System (BCMS).

The Building Register now records a figure of 1645 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past five months (22 weeks) since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014. This figure equates with an average of approximately 75 Commencement Notices per week or a projection of 3900 for a year. This would represent approximately 50% of the 7,456 Commencement Notices submitted in 2013.

While the rush to submit Commencement Notices before the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations may have distorted the figures in the earlier part of the year it is considered that this spike in the statistics, at this point in the year, has leveled out. Notwithstanding the surge in lodging Commencement Notices in January and February of this year no figures are available to indicate the extent of subsequent invalidation, which we believe to be considerable.

Of the 1645 Commencement Notices received, 478 (30%) appear to be ‘Short Form’ notices (small projects where an Assigned Certifier is not required) and 91 are for 7-day notices in relation to Fire Safety Certificates.

The latest Building Register indicates a 100% figure for the submission of Completion Certificates. It is thought that this is a glitch in the system as there were only two completion certificates recorded on the previous Building Register.

These figures are not reassuring for those tasked with trying to solve the unemployment crisis in the construction sector or the shortage of new housing units in the larger urban areas.

We will continue to monitor the figures closely, as and when they are published.

Link to Building Register for 5th August 2014

PDF: buildingregister5thaug2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

Open letter Part L

The BRegs Blog has been in receipt of a series of letters  from its readers requesting that we publish them. This week we have decided to start doing so.  The following letter was received on 5th August 2014 from Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

An Open Letter to those Contemplating Certainty

It is unwise of those with a professional duty to know better, to ignorantly encourage their professional colleagues to implement, at significant personal risk, regulations that they appear to know little about.

Ireland is probably unique in the world in requiring three dimensional numerical calculation for surface temperature (fRsi > 0.7) in every residential project, new build, extension or renovation.

There are currently just two people competent to undertake these calculations within Ireland, or beyond. Every other professional – engineer, surveyor or architect, regardless of how elevated – is, by definition, not competent – repeat: not competent – to certify compliance with Part L/F of the Irish Building Regulations for residential buildings.

That may be news to some.

However good an idea it is to require such 3D calculations (and I happen to believe it is good) it is underhanded, at least, to introduce such a regulation without advising those responsible for certifying its implementation of their need to upskill, pass an exam and pay an annual fee to join an NSAI administered register, in order to sign a certificate of design compliance for even a simple residential extension.

It is insulting to building owners and professionals alike to suggest that this can be done at almost no cost.

Those in authority who are at the receiving end of criticism from practicing, experienced professionals would do well to educate themselves to the reality of delivering mathematical certainty in the real world.

Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.

No architect, regardless of their position, has any business encouraging other building professionals to accept significant personal risk untill they are sufficiently knowledgeable of those risks to be able to exercise proper professional judgement over them.

Then, and only then, should their encouragement be heeded, if indeed, any semblance of it survives the rigour of academic enlightenment.

Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

Correspondence may be submitted to: bregsforum@gmail.com

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier

by Bregs Blog admin team

toolbox

The following set of PDF interactive tools developed by Ray McNally of the OPW and presented at the RIAI CPD: THE ROLE OF DESIGN CERTIFIER IN THE DESIGN PROCESS – DUBLIN, 4 JULY. These were circulated to attendees on 8th July 2014.

The tools are interactive, based on yes or no answers to the questions, and are designed to be printed off/saved as un-editable PDFs to show that due diligence was used to reach the answer. These tools appear to be very useful and the OPW have agreed to make them available to RIAI members. Many thanks to the author Ray McNally for making these useful documents available to other professionals.

It is OPW policy not to upload details. Instead they upload GAs and provide a drawing register which says that additional information is available on request.

Extract off email with links attached to follow- PDF’s are quite large so will take a few moments to load onto your desktop:

_____________

RIAI CPD: THE ROLE OF DESIGN CERTIFIER IN THE DESIGN PROCESS – DUBLIN, 4 JULY

The following links provide download access to the tools presented by Ray McNally on July 4th during the RIAI CPD Event “The Role of Design Certifier in the Design Process”.

There are two download options: the Full Version (72MB) contains a repository of Legislation, Regulations and Guidance Documents, while the Lite Version (36 MB) has these elements removed.

Full Version – RIAI Interactive Process Diagram [incl Document Repository] Rev A (72Mb)

Lite Version – RIAI Interactive Process Diagram Rev A(35.6Mb)

_____________

Other posts of interest:

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

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

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

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

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion)

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Davenport

In one week’s time, on Tuesday 12th August 2014, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) will host an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to debate a resolution calling for the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, introduced in March of this year, to be revoked and replaced with a system which better protects the consumer (details below).

The proposed EGM is attracting a great deal of social media coverage. However most comment that has taken place to date has not been about the relative merits or otherwise of the proposed motion itself but peripheral issues such as the timing of the EGM (mid-annual holidays), the venue (D2 does not suit every member) and concern about how architects might be perceived by the public if they are seen to question Government policy. These are also legitimate concerns that may get an airing on the night.

The organisers hope that this EGM will attract the same level of interest as a previous EGM in October 2013 when over 500 architects attended and voted almost unanimously that S.I. 80 (now S.I. 9) was not in the interests of the consumer. Either way a great many RIAI members feel that the meeting that was promised for earlier in the year is long overdue and that this EGM represents a good opportunity to get some clarity about the current state of play for members trying to deal with the aftermath of the introduction of the new legislation.

A bit  of confusion about the agenda for the EGM arose last week when Architecture Ireland (The Journal of the RIAI) published erroneously copies of two additional motions that had not been formally submitted to the RIAI Council. It is believed that Architecture Ireland had gone to print before these motions were withdrawn. We have been unable to contact the Editor of Architecture Ireland for clarification of this matter as she is on annual leave.

The RIAI EGM is scheduled to commence at 6 p.m. in the Davenport Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 on Tuesday 12th August 2014. (RIAI Architect Members only).

The EGM motion is as follows:

Motion:

For the reasons outlined [below] and in the interests of the Registered Members, the consumer and the wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I. 9 of 2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to other groups to seek support for that policy.

RESOLUTION

The undersigned Registered Members have requisitioned an Extraordinary General Meeting in accordance with Article 40 of the RIAI Articles of Association.

The EGM was requisitioned to address the following concerns in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (S.I.9 of 2014) hereinafter called “the legislation”.

  • Inadequate protection for consumer and building owners in the legislation.
  • Inadequate resources for Building Control Authorities to monitor the legislation.
  • The Building Control Management System is not fully functioning, is not password protected and cannot guarantee security of data (copyright).
  • There is no Building Control Authority (BCA) Code of Practice resulting in individual BCA interpretations of the legislation.
  • The legislation places intolerable and potentially uninsurable levels of liability on the approved certifiers.
  • The majority of legal opinions advise against approved professionals taking on the roles of certifiers as defined by the legislation.
  • There is no Building Contract available that addresses the legislation.
  • The legislation is ambiguous in terms of the status of self-builders, a major component of work for rural-based members. There is no Inspection Schedule or Appointment Agreement available that addresses the role of certifiers under the legislation.
  • Restrictive aspects of public service appointments favour architects for lead certifier roles and may be subject to reversal.
  • No provision for retrospective compliance.
  • No provision for transition arrangements in regulations of conflicts in same
  • The regulations suggest additional exposure and /or delays to costs for owners and reduced protections for clients at completion stages
  • An adequate Regulatory Impact Assessment was not conducted prior to the legislation being introduced.
  • The legislation is proving almost impossible to implement in practice.

The purpose of the EGM is that the Registered Members debate and vote on the following Special Resolution to be adopted or rejected:

Link to petition to Minister for the Environment by 500 architects: 

Link to previous EGM report:

Public Affairs Ireland Journal: BC(A)R SI.9- pro’s and cons.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In this interesting article in “Public Affairs Ireland Journal” from July 2014, two opposing perspectives on the new Regulations are discussed.

In “Two sides of the coin” Building Control (Amendment) Regulation 2014” solicitors Jarleth Heneghan and Cassandra Byrne say the new regulations introduced in March 2014 will lead to better quality buildings and value for the future. Eoin O’Cofaigh, architect, contends that they lack adequate consumer protection. Extract of article to follow:

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“Two Sides of the Coin” – 

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Jarleth Heneghan and Cassandra Byrne say that the new building control regulations introduced on March 1 2014 will lead to better quality buildings and value for the future. Eoin O’Cofaigh contends that they lack adequate consumer protection.

Building the Future

The new building control legislation has the potential to profoundly change the construction and projects industry in Ireland. It aims to set Ireland on the pathway to an improved building control culture with an increased focus on compliance and regulation. Jarleth Heneghan and Cassandra Byrne outline the changes that the new legislation introduces, and discuss its long term result of better quality and compliant buildings for the future.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (the “Regulations”) came into effect on 1 March 2014 affecting both public and private sector projects. This followed on from concerns arising from high profile industry cases ranging from contractor insolvencies, defects and fire safety breaches throughout recent years, such as the much publicised Priory Hall development.  Much of this has been attributed to below standard adherence to building control across the board, from design to supply of materials and works practices.  This highlighted the real need for a more robust building control regime and increased levels of professionals and contractor accountability from the outset to completion of works.

Following a long period of consultation with industry stakeholders, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (the “Department”) published the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI No 9 of 2014) (the “Regulations”) together with a statutory Code of Practice (the “Code”). The Code aims to provide additional guidance on application of the Regulations. Compliance with the Code will, prima facie, be taken as compliance with the Regulations.

Application 

The Regulations are to be read in conjunction with existing building control legislation. The primary purpose of the existing legal framework pursuant to the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2007, the Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations, is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of people in the context of construction and design.

If a valid Commencement Notice is received on or after 1 March 2014 the new building control regime (as introduced by the Regulations) will apply.

Previous Building Control Regime

Prior to 1 March 2014 there was an obligation to obtain Opinions on Compliance with Building Regulations (and Planning Permission) in respect of all works for new buildings or material alterations/extensions/change of use – typically where a fire certificate is required.  These have been required to demonstrate good and marketable title for conveyancing and due diligence purposes.  However a key feature to note here is that these are Opinions, rather than Certificates. Typically other than Fire Safety Certificates and Disability Access Certificates, Ireland did not have an approval regime – akin to self-certification. These requirements will remain applicable.

Key Individuals: Who’s Who?

There are various new roles identified in the Regulations. The Owner has primary and legal responsibility for the Building.  The Builder is appointed to build and supervise the works.  The Design Certifier is responsible for designing works, compiling plans and specifications and inspects where appropriate.  The Assigned Certifier is a new professional role responsible for jointly certifying compliance with the Regulations and implementing the inspection plan.  Ancillary Certifiers include other consultants and specialist designers/sub-contractors.  The Building Control Authority maintains the register, procures the validation as well as carrying out risk inspections. 

Mandatory Certification

There are four new types of mandatory certificates (in prescribed form) to be completed.  It is intended that the new mandatory certification will ensure greater transparency and accountability.

Commencement Notice and 7 Day Notice 

The form of Commencement Notice/7 Day Notice have been updated.  Significant changes have also been made to documentation to be submitted with apply where the works comprise:

• design and construction of a new dwelling,

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

• works to which Part III of the Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2014 applies. 

In such cases, the Commencement Notice and the 7 Day notice must now be accompanied by:

• Outline Plans and Documentation – to outline how the proposed works or building complies with requirements of the Building Regulations.

• Certificate of Compliance (Design) – A certificate (in prescribed form) to be completed by design professionals (the “Design Certifier”), confirming that:

•it has been commissioned by the Owner to design, in conjunction with others, the building or works and inspect as appropriate;

•it is competent to carry out the design and coordinate design of others; and

•plans and other documents have been prepared by it and other design professionals (exercising reasonable skill, care and diligence) to demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations.

• Notice of Assignment of person to inspect and certify works – signed by Owner.

• Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by Assigned Certifier) – a certificate (in prescribed form) is to be signed by the Assigned Certifier, such as a chartered engineer, registered architect or chartered surveyor. They undertake to use reasonable skill, care and diligence. They should be appointed early to plan inspection and contribute meaningfully to design management.  The Assigned Certifier may require specialists for ancillary certificates.

• Preliminary Inspection Plan (including the Inspection Notification Framework).

• Notice of Assignment of Builder – signed by the Owner expertise to carry out works.

• Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by Builder) – a certificate (in prescribed form) to be completed by the Builder confirming that it has been commissioned by the Owner to build and supervise the works and that it is competent to do so.  Builders must also undertake to:

•construct the works in accordance with plans and other documents detailed in the Commencement Notice/7 Day Notice;

•cooperate with inspections carried out pursuant to the inspection plan; and

•certify the works comply with the Building Regulations.

Builders should also be mindful of obtaining necessary ancillary certificates. Currently there is no mandatory registration system for Builders (although on the horizon). A voluntary register has been set up.  The aim is to reduce unqualified individuals passing themselves as having requisite expertise.

There is an onus on Owners to establish that Designers, Builders and Assigned Certifiers are competent.  They should have regard to the task they are required to perform taking account of the size and/or complexity of the project or works.  Certifiers must possess sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of work to be undertaken and registration will assist here.

Certificate of Compliance on Completion 

Now, before works or buildings (to which the Regulations apply) can be opened, occupied or used, a validly completed Certificate of Compliance on Completion is required to be validated and registered on the statutory register maintained by the relevant building control authority.

This mandatory Certificate of Compliance on Completion must be signed by the Builder and the Assigned Certifier. It should be accompanied by such plans and other documents outlining how the completed works or building differ from earlier submission and how it complies with the Building Regulations; and the Inspection Plan as implemented. Again this illustrates the continued focus on compliance from design stage to works completion.

Validation and Registration

The Regulations include mandatory and discretionary timelines within which the building control authority must respond as to validity or invalidity of a Certificate of Compliance on Completion. There is automatic inclusion on the Register where no queries are raised within 21 days.

Building Control Management System 

The Regulations introduce electronic filing through a Building Control Management System as the preferred means of building control administration.  It will also facilitate building control resources to be applied with more effective focus.  It should prove easier access to building control information and increased traceability. It will operate via www.localgov.ie and building control authority websites.  By May 2014 over 2,000 registered construction professionals had set up accounts.

Liability 

Failure to comply with the Regulations is an offence which may result in the imposition of fines and/or imprisonment, together with potential liability in contract and/or tort. All involved in the process will need to be mindful on how to best manage their liability.

Insurances

Increased responsibilities under the Regulations are likely to necessitate additional insurances in certain circumstances, such as professional indemnity (PI) insurance. The CWMF (Capital Works Management Framework) for public sector construction contracts has issued Guidance in this area and suggested levels. A new development is the maintenance of PI insurance by contractors, particularly on all public works from 1 January 2015. This represents a greater layer of insurance protection for Owners, Designers, Builders and end users in relation to the design and construction of building and while it may have outlay implications this is offset by the protection across the chain of responsibility.

Conclusion

The details and nuances of Regulations will need time to bed down, be further refined and should be supplemented by training to get the best results. Increased efficiency in document management will hopefully allow building control authority resources to better focused on the management of the process and greater transparency for end users. The new roles and increased responsibilities for all industry stakeholders, including in the public sector, aim to provide greater quality assurance. All involved in the process will need to seek advice on how their obligations and liabilities are best managed. Contracts will need to be updated to reflect the changes and best address the requirements of the Regulations going forward. All of this should contribute to an improved culture of building control practices and greater protection and value for the future.

Jarleth Heneghan is a Partner in William Fry’s Projects and Construction Department and leading construction and projects solicitor. He advises on contentious and non-contentious matters for clients on construction procurement, PPP and infrastructure. He is experienced in litigation and arbitration and other alternative means of dispute resolution and rescue financing. Jarleth is a chartered surveyor (FRICS, FSCSI) and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), MCIOB.

Cassandra Byrne is a Senior Associate in William Fry’s Projects and Construction Department. She advises on construction projects and PPP matters. She also advises on projects public procurement, engineering and construction litigation and forms of ADR including domestic and international arbitration, mediation, conciliation and related rescue financing. Cassandra is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb). She publishes extensively on construction.

Failing to Protect the Consumer

The new building control regulations aim to improve the culture of building control in Ireland with a focus on care and safety. However, Eoin O’Cofaigh argues that these regulations are flawed and that they fail the consumer. He proposes a system which he believes would provide consumers with the protection needed.

The building regulations were introduced in 1991 after the ‘Stardust disaster’, which did much to raise building standards. But construction regulation in Ireland is reactive, and in 1992 and repeatedly afterwards, architects – among others – called for better enforcement of the regulations. Despite Ministerial promises, this never effectively happened. The €30.75 per house Commencement Notice fee charged in 1991 today stands at … €30. It took the pyrites and Priory Hall disasters to introduce the next round of changes. An Irish solution to an Irish problem:- “When there’s a problem with enforcing a law: change the law.”

The 2014 regulations took effect from 1 March. They respond primarily to disasters in the speculative residential sector and have the laudable goal of improved consumer protection. However, they affect not only residential, but all projects requiring a fire safety certificate. This includes almost every new-build project, many non-residential extensions, and internal fit-outs or alterations of schools, shopping centres and other buildings.

Furthermore, the regulations are not adapted to different forms of construction project procurement. One single “Assigned Certifier” certifies compliance with building regulations for the entire construction. The regulations do not allow for parallel main contractors, or shell-and-core and subsequent fit-out contracts, for example.

What’s wrong with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations?

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 impact on every significant building and interior fit-out project and not just on the speculative residential sector where the problems started. By restricting the persons who the building owner may appoint as Design Certifier and as Assigned Certifier to registered architects and surveyors, and chartered engineers, most of whom work outside construction, the regulations confer de facto control over the majority of building design in Ireland on these groups.

Certificates are required in return confirming that everything designed and built complies in every detail with the building regulations, and places the certifier between the house buyer and the builder. However, the regulations exclude experienced architectural technologists from earning a livelihood in this field any longer.

By requiring a competent builder to be appointed, the centuries old tradition of ‘self-build’ in rural areas is stopped, a tradition still flourishing elsewhere, including the UK. Nothing is done for a new house buyer except the setting up of a paper trail to follow in the event of building failure. They distance the local authority building control inspectors from the practicalities of the entire process. They fail to implement all relevant recommendations of the Pyrite Panel report. They expose FDI intellectual property to internet theft. Furthermore, they introduce two key gateways to every project: a Commencement Certificate and a Completion Certificate, which the local authority can reject as invalid, putting the opening of new projects at risk.

The New Regulations and Pyrites

The Pyrite Panel, set up to examine the ‘pyrite problem’ and to recommend how to avoid that problem in the future, reported in June 2012. While the Priory Hall and pyrite scandals differ, they both impacted most on dwellings built for sale, and were the genesis for the 2014 regulations. The regulations fail to implement relevant recommendations in the Pyrite Panel Report, while those same recommendations will be as important in preventing future Priory Halls as they are to addressing the problem of pyrites.

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”. No provision is made in the regulations for strengthening the system of independent inspections by building control officers to complement the mandatory certification process. For the Pyrite Panel, these recommendations complemented each other; and for Priory Hall residents, independent inspections by building control officers might have made all the difference. These recommendations are complementary because an architect cannot enforce good building on a greedy developer, or on an incompetent contractor, perhaps not selected by the architect in the first place. The entire construction contract system gives the architect power only where the architect administers the contract. In developer-led projects, the architect has no financial power. To make the architect responsible will create a “blame trail” but will not improve standards where good building is most needed. To get building regulations compliance, there must be the reasonable likelihood of statutory-backed inspection backed by the building control authority.

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”. The regulations should have been written to implement this recommendation, by requiring evidence of project-related insurance at the time of commencing the works. Even if mandatory latent defects insurance is unnecessary on every project, it should be implemented in projects involving dwellings for sale. By not implementing this recommendation, the regulations ensure litigation and distress for home-owners will continue to feature where buildings go wrong.

What should be done?

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 9 of 2014) should be scrapped. In its present form it impacts unnecessarily on all sectors of construction, imposes unnecessary cost and hugely complex paperwork, and achieves nothing except monopoly conferral on a small number of construction sector actors in return for unacceptable levels of liability. A system of independent third-party inspection, by experienced architects and engineers paid for by the developer but licensed by and answerable to the local authority, would achieve better results. It would level the field for the self-builders; allow experienced technologists to participate; guarantee local authority-backed inspection of 100% of building sites; solve the intellectual property issues; and cost about €2m per year, being paid for by the developer and through increased Commencement Notice fees. To see such a system, take the boat to Holyhead.

The principles behind a better system

•In 2012, submissions by non-construction sector stakeholders (NCA) and the Pyrites Panel said that an inspection system independent of the designer and the contractor is needed.

•There is wide consensus across consumer organizations, supported by World Bank and European Consortium of Building Control studies, that self-certification as in S.I. 9 will not work, particularly for speculative residential development. It does not work in any other sector of the Irish economy.

•The unintended consequences for non-residential projects, especially complex projects and FDI projects, are such that the system unnecessarily increases costs and uncertainty.

•The State should not primarily be liable for the cost of building control nor should it be liable for defects in construction.

•Simple measures to improve and sustain design and construction are what is required, particularly in speculative residential development, backed by compulsory latent defects insurance to guarantee redress in the case of the small number of residual defects, or in the case of financial failure of a development or construction company.

Proposal

I propose to replace the regulations with a new statutory instrument along the following lines:

•Set up a register of “Approved Inspectors”, answerable to the building control authority. This register would be open to architects, architectural technologists, appropriately qualified engineers and building surveyors with adequate experience. Admission should be competency-based with knowledge of building regulations and building construction. Inspectors would carry appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

•The system would initially apply in the speculative residential sector and to the one-off house. The Inspector audits the design and inspects the construction works for compliance with building regulations. 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 would prepare designs and inspect the works as done at present. The contractor builds in compliance with the building regulations as is routine. The 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 Inspector finds non-compliant design, he refuses a design certificate until he has been given amended design drawings. Given that the architect will have to explain any delays to his client, the architect will have to make sure the designs are right in the first place. This raisesdesign standards. If the 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 Inspector inspects all designs and sites. On top of this, the building control authority profiles risk, and inspects a small number of designs and building works as indicated by its risk analysis to ensure that the system is working. If the Inspector is negligent, he can be struck off the register and be sued. Latent Defects Insurance, paid for by the developer with a one-off up-front payment, picks up any defects which get past.

Approved inspectors, independent company auditors, and the UK

A developer wants to build a building. The Approved Inspector operates independently of the contract administrator (Architect or Engineer) and has statutory authority. The Inspector inspects the design and the construction and signs off on them. The designs are lodged at the Building Control Authority. The Inspector is paid for by the developer, and is answerable to the Building Control Authority. The architect, engineer and builder have the complex task of designing and building the building; the Inspector’s task is to focus exclusively on building regulations compliance.

This Approved Inspector system resembles the “Approved Inspector option” in the building control system in England and Wales. The system is also the same as that in Northern Ireland except that there, the Approved Inspector, answerable to the local authority, substitutes for the N.I. building inspector in local authority employment.

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

(i) Better for the State

The system will deliver better design and construction, not just better paperwork. The cost to the State is minimal since 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 can be funded by raising the Commencement Notice fee.

The learning experience for a young architect of having their designs audited by an experienced architect or engineer will be immensely fruitful and drive better design standards. Contractors will also learn by having an experienced Inspector arrive on site, who will be concerned with nothing except building regulations compliance, with local authority backing. This system gives the State an additional layer of protection since the Inspector with annually renewed professional indemnity insurance stands between the building defect and the exchequer.

The system can solve problems around experienced technologists whose livelihoods are undermined by S.I. 9. The system also solves the self-builder issue. He receives a straightforward independent inspection system which he pays for. If his designs are good enough, they pass. If not, he must prepare an adequate design. If his building is good enough when the Inspector arrives, he can continue with his plans. If not, he must rectify the defects just as anybody else would.

The system solves the FDI issue by allowing the technologically advanced (example:- Intel) FDI project proceed under self-certification. It does not requires any change to construction contracts, which have still not been sorted, and hence it will not cause construction sector delays.

(ii) Better for the Consumer

Per the submission of the National Consumer Authority, this system will give better results than a system of self-certification. The consumer is protected from loss with a no-fault system of redress and no litigation is needed. The person who buys or rents a new home gets independent third-party audit by experienced professionals, answerable to the local authority.

(iii) Better for the Construction Sector

It will drive higher standards in the construction sector through dedicated 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.

Conclusion

A system as outlined above can be set up quickly. It involves no major change in existing contractual and legal structures. It needs no primary legislation: the Building Control Act already provides for the designation of such persons to act in this capacity. Such a system will have the support of the consumer organisations and the public.

Eoin O’Cofaigh has 30 years’ experience of architectural practice in Ireland. He was President of the RIAI in 1998-1999 and of the Architects’ Council of Europe in 2000. He contributes the section on “Building Control” in the publication “Construction Projects: Law and Practice”. After 12 years’ absence, he was re-elected to the RIAI Council last January.

PDF of Public Affairs Ireland Journal here: Journal July 2014

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Other posts of interest:

 

Opinion: SCSI- are self-builders ‘playing Russian Roulette’?

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

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 ‘Singular indeed that the people should be writhing under oppression and injury, and yet not one among them to be found, to raise the voice of complaint.’ – Abraham Lincoln

The following letter to the representative body for surveyors (SCSI) was posted on 29th May 2014 by a self-builder. For original link see here. This is the latest in a  series of letters to the SCSI, one of the three representative bodies for the professionals that can undertake certifier duties under the new building regulations. We will be posting correspondence to the representative body for engineers (ACEI) shortly. Letter to the architects representative body (RIAI) letter posted previously (click link here).

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Dear Kevin,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I wrote to you  previously regarding the SCSI and its advice to members on the self build issues within S.I. 9.  You were most prompt in your reply to me and I thank you  for that.

I contact you again as this whole self build / S.I. 9 debacle has reached boiling point – even to the extremities of a Government Minister ranting incorrect facts in a Letter to the Editor (Irish Times last Friday) – I thought it was only me who rants in letters (albeit always factual rants!).  In light of a letter I received recently from Martin Vaughan (DOECLG) concerning my fears over Assigned Certifiers working with self builders, he informed me that my concerns were unwarranted as the three professional bodies are indeed, willing to take on the role of certifier for self builders (contrary to Law Society advise to the professionals). I note that you told me the SCSI would leave this decision to each member, however, I am pretty sure that you would have, since then, had members looking to you for guidance on this serious issue – therefore could you please furnish me with answers to the following questions:

  • Is it the opinion of the SCSI that self building is possible under S.I.9?
  • Has the SCSI obtained legal advice on working with self builders under S.I.9?
  • If so, would you be willing to make this legal opinion public, via the IAOSB?

I attended the IBCI Conference in Sligo recently – you may have heard my comments – I was quite animated and I hope you can appreciate why.  I wish I had attended the whole conference, but maybe it was just as well or there may have been ‘fireworks’!  I did hear afterwards that you gave a talk at the Conference in which you commented on self builders who go ahead under this legislation as ‘playing Russian Roulette’.  I absolutely agree with you and I cannot fathom who Minister Hogan and the DOECLG are encouraging people to commence illegal builds.

However, I do believe, that it is the Government who are playing the most riskiest  game of Russian Roulette as it is them who are ‘misinforming’ the Nation and by doing so it is inevitable that they will pull the trigger on themselves and the truth will emerge.  In the meantime the self builders of Ireland are relying on the professionals, the SCSI included, to help us by just telling the facts regarding the stance of self building in Ireland under the S.I. 9.

The ordinary people of Ireland, my family and any other family who intend to self build have been served a great injury in having the right to build our owns homes snatched from us. The powers that be are oppressing us with unjust legislation – I know that the SCSI were one of the key stakeholders at the talks on the BC(A)R – I can only presume you knew that self building would be erased – I feel strongly that now the SCSI owe it to all the self builders of Ireland to make a public statement on our status.  I also feel strongly, that your own members have been served a great injury under this legislation – why should the whole weight of responsibility be thrown upon the Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Engineers & Registered RIAI Architects’ shoulders – once again, the developers & building contractors of this country avoid accountability for their work.

I am sure by now you are familiar with the alternative solution to Building Control formulated by two past presidents of the RIAI – the ‘Collins & O’Cofaigh – A Better Way’ – this system would solve all the serious issues within S.I. 9 – we, as self builders, could get on  with our builds and lives, all construction professionals would have ample employment, CIF members would be held accountable for their work and your members could get back to their working lives without the worry of future liability.  I would appreciate it if you could promote this fair system of building control to the DOECLG at your earliest convenience, knowing that in doing so, you will be answering life’s most persistent & urgent question – ‘What are you doing for others?’.

Regards to you at this most difficult time in the construction sector,

Amanda Gallagher

Other Posts of interest:

Opinion piece: RIAI need to stop ‘passing the ball’. – click link here

(Robin mandal) RTÉ TV: Six-One news 27th February 2014: RIAI on BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents Collins + O’Cofaigh- click link here

Radio Clip: Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Self-builders write to Attorney General: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Radio Clip: Joe Duffy “what government in their right mind would make people unemployed?” BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

RIAI confirm self-building not possible after 1st March 2014: BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Self builders escalate to Law Society: BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Self builders appeal to Priory Hall residents: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

(Robin mandal) RTÉ Radio 1 Clip: RIAI confirms call for deferral of BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

 

Mick Wallace: Building Control needs Strengthening

by Bregs Blog admin team

wallace-mick

In the following website page posted on Mick Wallace T.D., the public representative considers recent Dáil exchanges regarding the new building regulations- see link here.

Extract:

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Public Building Control needs Strengthening…

Dáil Diary no 32. 1st July 2014

Public Building Control needs Strengthening…

The problem of Pyrite in building products has not gone away, in fact. It may get worse before it gets better. I had an opportunity to discuss the issue with Minister Phil Hogan in the Dáil, and here’s my contribution-

“ The Association of Consulting Engineers published an advice note on 15 May about cases of apparent pirate content in concrete blocks provided by block manufacturers. The Minister has been assuring us for a while that with the new regulations everything would be well but clearly everything is not well.

Minister Hogan replied- “Harmonised European product standards provide the methods and criteria for assessing the performance of construction products in relation to their essential characteristics. The harmonised standard includes the technical data necessary for the implementation of a system of assessment and verification of constancy of performance including third party oversight. The National Standards Authority of Ireland has also produced additional guidance to some harmonised European product standards in the form of national annexes or standard recommendations which set out appropriate minimum performance levels for specific intended uses of certain products in Ireland.

The relevant building control authorities are taking appropriate actions under applicable legislation to deal with this issue and the Department, in conjunction with the building control authorities, will continue to monitor the situation. Testing has been carried out in a number of affected developments which has confirmed the presence of deleterious material in the concrete blocks, including pyrite and sulphate.

My Department understands that in each case, the costs of the resolution are being pursued, in the first instance, with the contractors and suppliers. The actions taken thus far by the relevant parties involved suggest the regulatory system is functioning effectively and that an appropriate means of redress is being pursued through those who were responsible for this building failure.”

Mick Wallace-  “He has stated the system is working well because the culprits are being chased. While he has told me about all the wonderful European legislation and regulations that are place, we must go back to the same chestnut. If pyrite has arrived in blocks, the threat is dangerous to any block that has additional sulphate and that gets moisture. Many blocks do, such as all the blocks under the ground, as do the blocks in the outer leaf even though they are plastered. The reason there is a cavity is because the outer leaf gets damp.

There will be huge problems if this is widespread. The point is that were the system working properly, this would not have happened. Quarries are not regulated well enough and while they are regulated for dust and for movement of trucks in and out, there is no real quality regulation of standards. For example, in the case of quarries quarrying 1,000 tonnes and 20,000 tonnes, respectively, of stone per week, is there a stipulation as to how often they are tested? 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.”

Minister Hogan relied: “The issues raised by the Deputy have nothing to do with the new building regulations yet, as they have only been in operation since 1 March. However, standards have been in place for these concrete blocks going back to 1987. The problem is with enforcement and I completely agree with the Deputy that the building authority must do more to enforce the regulations that already are in place. The standards in place, which initially commenced in 1987, were revised in 2003. Consequently, I am conscious that there are people who are not observing what already is in regulation. Moreover, there probably is not sufficient enforcement or visits to sites, as the Deputy advocates, by the local authorities. I intend to take up this matter with the local authorities to ensure they actually engage in more enforcement. An opportunity has arisen in recent years, because of the revised manner in which staff operate in local authorities, particularly in planning sections, for them to have more time to carry out more enforcement works regarding these problems of pyrite and sulphate in concrete blocks. However, there are people in all these cases who have not gone into liquidation or receivership. There are people who certainly have decided they do not intend to observe the regulations and they will be pursued.”

Mick Wallace: “It was obvious back in 2007, when the first regulation on checking for pyrite in stone was brought in, that the regulation in question was not as onerous as the British standard. I acknowledge this was changed in February 2013, which is welcome but the major problem is that all along, the Construction Industry Federation and not the State appears to determine what is happening. Public building control must be strengthened if these problems are to be addressed in the future. The Minister mentioned that what I am referring to has nothing to do with the new regulations which came in March but the principle is the same. The Minister’s system of assigned certifiers will crack up within the next couple of years. He should not ask me how they will deal with the insurance implications arising from trying to stand over absolutely everything without on-site checks. Does the Minister honestly believe the architect will employ someone to be on site continuously to check that things are done right? As I have stated previously, if a load-bearing beam is being used for which a 32 mm steel bar is specified but where no such bar is on site and if the builder substitutes a 16 mm bar instead, how will the architect know what is in it, even though he will be signing off on it? The Government remains reactive, not proactive.”

Mick Wallace.

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

by bregs blog admin team

 

hygrothermal-seminar

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

The following opinion piece was submitted on 8th July 2014 by Joseph Little MRIAI, BArch, MScArch AEES. The author of this piece is an architect and building fabric consultant who carries out thermal bridge and hygrothermal risk assessments. 

As a building fabric consultant I was recently asked by the architect and the builder-developer of a new commercial retrofit project whether a particular internal wall insulation strategy of a solid wall would work.

The architect in question felt that it must work when considered on a ‘first principles’ basis and the builder-developer agreed. Because they shared this view they asked me why they needed to do a formal hygrothermal risk evaluation at all. They hadn’t carried these out in the past and there was clearly a cost involved.

I explained that there is a world of difference between the intuition of a good, well-experienced, architect about something and a formal written appraisal carried out by an individual well-versed in construction and building physics using relevant standards and validated software carefully. It’s worth exploring the difference:

  • First of all the appraisal is in writing with an identifiable author. It can be read, circulated and even criticised. It can be saved on the system. It naturally becomes part of the documentation that underwrites the decision making in the design process.
  • The assessor of the higher risk assembly or junction must have professional indemnity insurance related to the assessment process. They are specialists – not architects on the ‘Clapham omnibus’.
  • The need to make careful, objective judgments is not new – it existed long before S.I. 9: 2014 however the latter has brought this requirement into sharp focus. A report generated will inevitably find its way into the compliance paper trail.
  • The architect and developer have mostly likely spent most of their careers constructing new buildings to much poorer insulation and airtightness standards than now required and it is only in recent times that traditional or historic buildings are being insulated at all. Greater levels of insulation and airtightness can effect hygrothermal risks, particularly in where older buildings are being retrofitted. There simply has not been enough construction work done at the new levels of insulation for new build or retrofit for the Profession and Industry to have learnt the lessons imposed by these more onerous standards. What then is an intuition or ‘first principles’ view based on?

The architect’s intuition about the IWI strategy may be right in which case the report is now available to support that view. It may be partially right in which case the report can advise one or more specifications substitutions that ensure a hygrothermally appropriate buildup result, or it may be very wrong for whatever reason: the report could then prevent a costly mistake.

In general when setting out services and proposing fees architects and design certifiers needs to widen the net when they consider what bodies of work need to be undertaken to prove that ‘yes, this building is 100% compliant in design’. The following two blog posts may be useful in aiding Architects and design certifiers in understanding:

What is the basis in Irish regulations and guidance for carrying out thermal bridge and hygrothermal risk assessments &

What construction forms are of higher risk.

How would this play out under SI.9?

by Bregs Blog admin team

evidence-of-dampness-leeds-house

Couple win €291k in damp home ordeal” by Tim Healy – see article here.

While reading the following article in the Herald on 25th June 2014, we wondered how this legal case would play out under the new building regulations?

Extract:

___________

A COUPLE have been awarded €291,000 after a court heard they had to leave their newly-built dream home because of damp.

Dolores and Stephen Nimmo sued builders Mulreid Construction Ltd over its failure to install a proper damp course in their house at Tallansfield Manor, Dundalk, Co Louth.

The couple paid Mulreid, of Ardee, Co Louth, €326,000 to build the house which they moved into in May 2006.

The High Court heard that instead of a proper damp course, a thin plastic barrier similar to a radon barrier was put in during construction of the foundation with the result that dampness seeped into the house.

Judgment was entered last year against Mulreid Construction in absence of a defence, and yesterday the case came before Mr Justice John Hedigan for assessment of damages.

The judge said it was the type of case relating to poor quality building that was too often before the courts.

It was supposed to be the couple’s dream home, but it has turned out to be a nightmare and he was sorry for the trouble they had endured.

He also said damp was a terrible feeling in any house and to varying degrees turns the dwelling “into enemy territory rather a home”.

He awarded them €131,609 for the cost of repairing the damp along with €160,000 for trauma and suffering.

Mrs Nimmo said she, her husband and three children had moved from Dublin to Dundalk into what they expected would be a dream home.

The house was very costly to heat and there were a number of other problems which Mrs Nimmo brought to the attention of Mulreid’s Shane Rogers, who lived in one of the houses in the small Tallanstown development.

He said he would deal with the problems, but eventually refused to engage with her and she decided to take legal action.

Other posts of interest:

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?

Practical post 4: What if the builder goes bust?

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

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

RTÉ Radio- CIF: professionals to Guarantee under BC(A)R SI.9

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

Five fatal flaws in S.I.9…

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Five fatal flaws in S.I.9…

  1. A homebuyer is no better off now than those who purchased in Priory Hall. There are no new rights for consumers. For more read Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9
  2. The pyrite problem has not gone away and there is nothing in the new system to tackle it. For more read Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?
  3. There is no test of competence for builders, only that they are tax compliant, have insurance and have worked in the building trade for 3 years. For more read Tom Parlon – The Last Word
  4. Developer-builders can have everything ‘self certified’ in house by an architect, engineer or surveyor (from anywhere in Europe) on their own staff with no oversight. This makes the current situation even worse than before. For more read How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations
  5. The local authorities have even less time to spot check sites as they are now overloaded with extra paperwork and an IT system that’s still being built. For more read Response- Workload on Local Authorities

Other posts of interest:

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

BCMS: Data protection or tax collection?

by Bregs Blog admin team

online-surveillance

BCMS: Data protection or tax collection?

On 31st July 2014 one of our readers has brought to our attention the Data Protection notice from the Department of the Environment that says Building Control Management System (BCMS) information is held on the Revenue Commissioners (tax) servers. The BCMS is the online Elodgement system for information such as commencement notices for the new building regulations introduced in March 2014.

She speculates that gathering information on construction activity through the BCMS (Building Control Management System) and storing it in Revenue may be connected to HEMG the “Hidden Economy Monitoring Group” a non-statutory multi-agency group (currently chaired by the Revenue Commissioners) comprising of business representative bodies (including the Construction Industry Federation)”. See link here*.

Last year the CIF (Construction Industry Fedararion) made a submission to government on stamping out the shadow economy (see link here**)  and included a proposal that “Revenue should review all commencement notices lodged with building control authorities to ascertain location/scale of construction activity and monitor who is undertaking the construction work

Could the BCMS really be about making architects, engineers and surveyors an (unpaid) army of tax auditors, uploading details and filing names of all of the builders, Ancillary Certifiers and suppliers?

It is ironic that one arm of the government can mobilise to inspect building sites (for tax compliance), which is in all our interests as tax payers, but also levels the playing pitch for CIF members. It is a shame that another arm of government can’t mobilise to monitor construction standards on building sites to level the playing pitch for the consumer.

Links mentioned in post:

*Hidden Economy Monitoring Group Meetings: 10 Jun 2014: Dail Written answers

**CIF publishes range of measures to curtail construction black economy

Other posts of interest:

CIF: “extend inspections to stamp out shadow economy”

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS

BCMS: Are we getting what it said on the label?

CIF Construction Confidence Survey

Top Posts for July 2014

by bregs blog admin team

top-post-for-april

Here are the top read posts for July. Notwithstanding the holidays we equaled our second highest ever monthly level with over 20,600 views, we were nominated for a Blog Award Ireland and reached a milestone 125,000 views. Many thanks again to all our readers. This month we saw:

  • Vivian Cummins and Caomhan Murphy, architects and council members of the representative body for architects (RIAI), both had personal opinion pieces on the difficulties faced by practitioners under BCAR SI.9.
  • The evolving status of the Architectural Technologist featured. We detailed a Department meeting with both the RIAI and Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) on a separate register for Architectural Technologists. We noted the CIAT Register going live on 31st July.
  • The alarming lack of consumer protection for developer-led speculative projects under SI.9 was highlighted.
  • We noted an RIAI EGM which is scheduled for the 12th August 2014. It has been requested by members to call on the new Minister to Revoke SI.9.
  • Readers were getting into the technical issues associated with design certification, inspection plans and ancillary certifiers  in a number of more technical posts this month.
  • Ex-president and current council member of the RIAI Eoin O’Cofaigh provided a detailed examination of smaller retail fit-out projects and the rationale for their exclusion under the new building regulations.

Top posts for July 2014:

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

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

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

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

Architects are Revolting – Revoke BC(A)R S.I.9!

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

SI9- where do I start?

O’Cofaigh: fit-outs that are exempt from SI.9

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

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Plan (post 1 of 2)

A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer

What is the difference between BC(A)R compliance and BRegs compliance?

Architects are Revolting – Revoke BC(A)R S.I.9!

by Bregs Blog admin team

RIAI EGM

 

In a fortnight’s time, on the 12th August 2014, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) will host an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to debate a resolution calling for the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations introduced in March of this year to be scrapped and replaced with a system which better protects the consumer.

The call for this EGM seems to stem from RIAI members’ frustration with trying to implement the new legislation which to most construction industry observers is not fit for purpose (see detailed list of problems in the resolution below). As one of those calling for the EGM stated, “Architects are not afraid to take responsibility for their own work but how the hell can we be expected to take responsibility for pyrite in hardcore from a dodgy quarry or a faulty factory-manufactured component in a central heating boiler?”

The case for supporting the regulations has not been helped by a recent radio interview with Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation who claimed that Engineers, Building Surveyors and Architects, who act in the new role of Assigned Certifiers, would have to take responsibility and “stand over” any bad workmanship by incompetent builders!

Over 500 architects at a previous RIAI EGM in October 2013  voted almost unanimously that official policy should be that S.I.80 (now S.I.9) was not in the interests of the consumer. These regulations were introduced so that home-buyers would have protection from cowboy developers and that tax payers would not be left to pick up the tab for another Priory Hall or pyrite failure. Neither has been achieved. Dissatisfaction remains high among architects that these concerns were not heeded and pursued more vigorously by the RIAI with the Government before the legislation was enacted. There is also anger that the Department of the Environment introduced exemptions from the legislation for Education and Health projects when faced with the same objections from these government departments.

Should the resolution be adopted, it remains to be seen if  the RIAI can achieve a better outcome with the newly installed Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. Perhaps the fall off in commencements and the threat to jobs programme will now focus minds on finding a solution.

The EGM motion is as follows:

RESOLUTION

The undersigned Registered Members have requisitioned an Extraordinary General Meeting in accordance with Article 40 of the RIAI Articles of Association.

The EGM was requisitioned to address the following concerns in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (S.I.9 of 2014) hereinafter called “the legislation”.

  • Inadequate protection for consumer and building owners in the legislation.
  • Inadequate resources for Building Control Authorities to monitor the legislation.
  • The Building Control Management System is not fully functioning, is not password protected and cannot guarantee security of data (copyright).
  • There is no Building Control Authority (BCA) Code of Practice resulting in individual BCA interpretations of the legislation.
  • The legislation places intolerable and potentially uninsurable levels of liability on the approved certifiers.
  • The majority of legal opinions advise against approved professionals taking on the roles of certifiers as defined by the legislation.
  • There is no Building Contract available that addresses the legislation.
  • The legislation is ambiguous in terms of the status of self-builders, a major component of work for rural-based members. There is no Inspection Schedule or Appointment Agreement available that addresses the role of certifiers under the legislation.
  • Restrictive aspects of public service appointments favour architects for lead certifier roles and may be subject to reversal.
  • No provision for retrospective compliance.
  • No provision for transition arrangements in regulations of conflicts in same
  • The regulations suggest additional exposure and /or delays to costs for owners and reduced protections for clients at completion stages
  • An adequate Regulatory Impact Assessment was not conducted prior to the legislation being introduced.
  • The legislation is proving almost impossible to implement in practice.

The purpose of the EGM is that the Registered Members debate and vote on the following Special Resolution to be adopted or rejected:

Resolution 1: 

For the reasons outlined above and in the interests of the registered members, the consumer and the wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I. 9 of 2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to other groups to seek support for that policy.

Link to petition to Minister for the Environment by 500 architects: 

Link to previous EGM report:

Link to Tom Parlon interview:

Will SI.9 create “Defensive specifications”?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Terrex_wheeled_armoured_personnel_carrier_Singapore_army_defence_industry_military_technology_640

In our previous post “A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer” we noted the procedure for design certifier.

All revisions to design or specification, such as changes to branded materials, must be uploaded in advance of commencement of that phase of work on-site. Such E-lodgments of any new or changed specification must be made to BCMS by the person certifying the design i.e. the Design Certifier. We also noted that many specifiers and architects may be unaware that the role of design certifier also has site exposure, requiring monitoring and input for the duration of a contract.

This has implications when it comes to partial service appointments, traditionally on speculative projects where the architect/ design certifier is not retained for construction phase. The design certifier will have exposure to any and all revisions to specifications made by owner-developers in this arrangement, and should apply caution to all specification changes. The Law Society recently suggested these type of part-service appointments would be a thing of the past.

Many commentators felt that the real hidden costs of SI.9 would be in “defensive specifications”. These are increased specification costs where designers would invariably become more conservative by using branded materials and products only. 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.

Other posts of interest:

A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer – click link here

RIAI CPD July 2014: Design Certifier in the Design Process- SI.9 – click link here

SI9- where do I start? – click link here

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June – click link here

Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9? – click link here

MISSING PERSON- the Design Certifier? – click link here

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.  – click link here

RIAI: time needed for schools- BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

Specialist Certifier 4- COMPANY: Questions and Answers – click link here

4 tips for Design Certifiers… – click link here

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility – click link here

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) – click link here

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better” – click link here

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Where to find everything part 1? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer

by Bregs Blog admin team

Warning-tape

Here is a thought-provoking article from Kingspan UK regarding the performance of a non-branded product.

Frequently contractors carry out “value engineer exercises” on projects wherein contractors request substitution of more cost-effective alternatives to those specified by designers- “or equal and approved”, e.g. 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 uploaded in advance of commencement of that phase of work on-site. Such E-lodgments of any new or changed specification must be made to BCMS by the person certifying the design i.e. the Design Certifier.

This is a glitch in the BCMS as currently the only person with access to the Local Authority online system during the construction phase of a project (post commencement) is the Assigned Certifier.

Many specifiers and architects may be unaware that the role of design certifier also has site exposure, requiring monitoring and input for the duration of a contract.

The formal procedure involved now in value-engineering suggests specifiers will be reluctant to entertain specification changes post-commencement.

“A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer”- Kingspan Insulation BlogKingspan Insulation Blog link here

Extract off article:

__________

A warning from a concerned Building Control Officer

One of our technical team had a call from a concerned Building Control Officer who had just returned from a site inspection. Here’s the story…

During the site visit the Officer inspected a brick and block cavity wall. On plan the target U-value was 0.27 W/m2K – achieved using 50mm Kingspan Kooltherm K8 Cavity Board in a 100mm cavity with dense block inner, brick and plasterboard on dabs. What was actually constructed used a different insulation board with an inferior thermal performance (a worse lambda value) which achieved a U-value of just 0.29 W/m2K.

Clearly the client had been short-changed on the thermal performance, and it left the Building Control Officer with no option but to state that the wall had not been built to the designed specification.

What was most worrying is that the builder insisted that the insulation installed was the same as that specified. It clearly wasn’t as it didn’t carry the correct branding, but this can be a problem when a brand name like ‘Kingspan’ is used generically to cover or describe any rigid insulation board – a bit like ‘Hoover’ or ‘Sellotape’ is used to describe vacuum cleaners and, in the words of Blue Peter, ‘sticky-backed plastic’.

The advice given was that confirmed U-value calculations need to be gained for whatever was constructed and installed – either from the product brochures or from a bespoke calculation carried out according to the BBA/TIMSA Scheme for Calculation Competency Part 1 — U value and condensation Risk.

The moral of the story is that not all insulation is the same – it may look similar, but the performance can be very different.

Other posts of interest:

RIAI CPD July 2014: Design Certifier in the Design Process- SI.9 – click link here

SI9- where do I start? – click link here

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June – click link here

Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9? – click link here

MISSING PERSON- the Design Certifier? – click link here

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.  – click link here

RIAI: time needed for schools- BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

Specialist Certifier 4- COMPANY: Questions and Answers – click link here

4 tips for Design Certifiers… – click link here

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility – click link here

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) – click link here

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better” – click link here

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Where to find everything part 1? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

125,000 Thanks to our Readers

by Bregs Blog admin team

thankyou_ArizonaThis past weekend the BRegs Blog reached 125,000 unique views, has published its 465th post, and has been nominated in the ‘Best Newcomer’ category of the Blog Awards Ireland 2014.

This post is a big thank you to those 125,000 viewers and to our email, Twitter and Facebook followers. Most of all it is a huge thank you to our many writers and contributors that have helped to make this Blog what it is. These contributions come from a unique collaboration of economists, politicians, solicitors, journalists, civil servants, building control officers, builders, building owners, surveyors, engineers, architectural technologists and architects.

The BRegs Blog has become the ‘must-go-to’ open source for information in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations for anyone involved in the construction industry. It has stepped up to fill the gap.

Our favourite social media comment over the weekend was from a solicitor:

“That is great news [125,000 views] particularly for a Blog about (let’s face it) building control!”

While we continue to enjoy your support we will continue to blog and to welcome your comments and contributions.

Regards,

BRegs Blog Admin Team

blog_buttons_NOMINATED

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble!

by Bregs Blog admin team

bubble

 Are house prices susceptible to large jumps until the supply is fixed?

Ireland’s fascination with house ownership and prices seems to be continuing unabated if this week’s newspapers are anything to go by. Both the Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post feature articles on how to solve the perceived housing crisis and property price bubble that has appeared in some urban areas most noticeably in Dublin.

Both articles identify a possible problem with a shortage of credit for insolvent developers who cannot get the funds to begin building. However the articles differ in the availability of “shovel-ready” house projects with the Independent claiming that Dublin has three year’s supply of sites with planning permission and the Sunday Business Post stating that permission for 46,000 units may be due within a year.

Earlier in the week both the Irish Times and Irish Examiner had pieces on “the bubble”.  Conor Pope in Thursday’s Irish Times wondered if it is “a sustainable recovery or another bubble waiting to pop?” Earlier this month we posted Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev’s take on this issue. He wrote about the possible factors behind Ireland’s recent robust growth in residential property prices and that the current upsurge may be a levelling-off of a previous over-correction in the market. In direct contrast to his theory, Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation has been claiming since May this year that the housing market in Dublin will be susceptible to large house price jumps until the supply issue is resolved.

With the newspaper articles’ focus on finance there is no mention of the impact of the new Building Regulations on construction costs or on the programme for the delivery of new housing units. There is certainly no suggestion of a change in the way the Government should think about providing housing as proposed by Housing Agency Chief, John O’ Connor during the week. Mr. O’ Connor said that while supplying stock for families must be an immediate priority, there will be smaller households and a greater need for apartment dwellings in the future. He said: “55% of our new housing stock will be needed for single-person households, or two-person households.”

We will leave the last word to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny who is quoted in Friday’s Irish Examiner:

“I don’t accept there’s a bubble, but I do accept that prices are rising because of the law of supply and demand……..”

 

Link to Sunday Independent article:

Link to Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev’s Blog:

Link to RTE interview with  Housing Agency Chief, John O’ Connor:

Link to Construction Industry Federation statement:

Link to Irish Examiner article:

Link to Irish Times article: 

Note: we are unable to provide a link to the Sunday Business Post

BRegs Blog Admin Team

 

Other posts of interest:

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014 – click link here

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations – click link here

CIF: “extend inspections to stamp out shadow economy” – click link here

UPDATE: Construction Industry Register of Ireland – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey  – click link here

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?  – click link here

CIF suggest self-building no longer possible after March 1st 2014 – click link here

Press article: Government promotes developers over self-builders? – click link here

Self-Builders escalate to Europe: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

SI.9- Everything you wanted to know Part 3: ACRONYMS

by Bregs Blog admin team

acronyms-300

What is the terminology used in Building Control?

Your essential Building Control ( Amendment) Regulation what’s what. Don’t take our word for it go to source- here is a list of all acronyms frequently referred to in any discussion about the regulations. Where to find Part 1 lists off all frequently noted source documents also. Who’s who Part 2 also is listed at the bottom of the post also.

BUILDING CONTROL ACRONYMS

AC (or AsC) – Assigned Certifier

AC (or AnC) – Ancillary Certifier

ACEI – Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland

AsubC AsubsubC – Ancillary subCertifier and Ancillary subsubCertifier

BCA- Building Control Authority or Building Control Act

BCARs- Building Control (Amendment) Regulations

BCO – Building Control Officer

BCMS – Building Control Management System

BO- Building Owner

CIF- Construction Industry Federation

CIRI- Construction Industry Register Ireland

CN- Commencement Notice

CoP- Code of Practice

DAC- Disability Access Certificate

DC- Design Certificate or Design Certifier

DoE- Department of the Environment

EI- Engineers Ireland

FSC- Fire Safety Certificate

7DN- 7 Day Notice

INF- Inspection Notification Framework

LGMA – Local Government Management Agency

PIP- Preliminary Inspection Plan

RIAI- Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

RIA- Regulatory Impact Assessment

SCSI- Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

TGD- Technical Guidance Document (TGD A-TGD M)

UBB- Undertaking by Builder

 

Other posts of interest:

SI.9- Everything you wanted to know Part 2: who’s who. – click link here

Where to find everything part 1? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

SI.9- where do I start? – click link here

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

For Practical Post Series 1-20 | BRegs Blog click here

BREG Blog Archive 1- November 2013 – click link her

BREG Blog Archive 2- December 2013  – click link here

10 steps to repairing your defective home under SI.9  – click link here

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9  – click link here

3 must-read posts for employees  – click link here

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations – click link here

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?  – click link here

 

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Bregs Blog admin team:

Heres a good informative post on specialist certifiers in case you missed it. Recent posters have suggested sub-contracting out the roles of design and assigned certifiers: this is a good place to start. Enjoy!

 

Help-by-LiminalMike

Specialist Ancillary Certifiers

For anyone who missed them we did a series of 4 question and answer posts with persons and a firm who are providing ancillary Certifier services to the industry. As with previous posts these standard questions are the ones a client or design team would ask of any potential specialist Certifier. We invited submissions from surveyors, engineers and architects who intend to provide separate specialist services for SI.9 to the construction industry. Many registered professionals are not happy to undertake the roles of Assigned or Design Certifier.

If you do not intend to undertake the roles of Design or Assigned Certifier these posts are very useful to assess fee proposals you will be getting in from other specialist sub-consultants.

We think these four posts are very practical information for practitioners and consumers alike regarding  anticipated duties and timescales, and consequent costs to design teams and clients of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Click on the title for to read the post:

Templates: Inspection Form and Inspection Plan. The Bregs Blog also received correspondence along with a sample pdf inspection plan kindly prepared by a Chartered Surveyor for Blog readers- This is part 1 of a two part post. The second part has a sample Draft Inspection Form. Standardised templates and duties are pretty thin on the ground from the representative bodies so these are a useful base for practitioners to get their minds around what the roles involve, then what to base fee proposals on.

Seven Day Notice issues In a previous opinion piece a registered architect noted the pitfalls of using a 7 day notice: S.I. 9 and the 7-day notice – click link here Other posts on this topic: SI9- where do I start? – click link here Design Certifier – Can we leave it to the builder to sort out? – click link here Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9? – click link here MISSING PERSON- the Design Certifier? – click link here Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.  – click link here 4 tips for assigned certifiers… – click link here Certifiers call for help! – click here 3 must-read posts for employees – click link here

Originally posted on BRegs Blog:

Help-by-LiminalMikeSpecialist Ancillary Certifiers

For anyone who missed them we did a series of 4 question and answer posts with persons and a firm who are providing ancillary Certifier services to the industry. As with previous posts these standard questions are the ones a client or design team would ask of any potential specialist Certifier. We invited submissions from surveyors, engineers and architects who intend to provide separate specialist services for SI.9 to the construction industry.

Many registered professionals are not happy to undertake the roles of Assigned or Design Certifier. If you do not intend to undertake the roles of Design or Assigned Certifier these posts are very useful to assess fee proposals you will be getting in from other specialist sub-consultants.

We think these four posts are very practical information for practitioners and consumers alike regarding  anticipated duties and timescales, and consequent costs to design teams and clients of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Click on the title for to…

View original 216 more words

Tom Parlon – The Last Word

by Bregs Blog admin team

Parlon

 

 

Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 6: The Final Word

This week as part of the Construction Annual Holidays 2014 (aka the Builders’ Holidays) we published a series of five posts on the liability of builders under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations S.I. 9. For this the final and sixth post we thought we would leave the last word to the Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Tom Parlon. Parlon is a former Minister of State at the Department of Finance who had a special responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

On Wednesday 16th July 2014 Parlon was interviewed by Michael Reade on the Louth/Meath local radio station in relation to the CIF’s new Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI). The LMfm interview podcast may be accessed here (Link) and runs from the 34 to 45 minute points.

At the 40 minute point the presenter asked,

“What about the issue of somebody who joins the Register [CIRI], 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 he, she or they do a bad job – are there penalties for that individual that they must pay or that they must suffer for effectively, incompetence?

Tom 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 (our emphasis), there are obligations there and they have to stand over those”

It must be reassuring for all those builders enjoying their annual holidays in the comfort that Parlon has looked after their interests so well by placing the blame and liability for any construction fault away from the builder and firmly onto the Assigned Certifiers.

 

The first post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 1

The second post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 2

The third post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 3

The fourth post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 4

The fifth post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 5

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 5

by Bregs Blog admin team

5 building-blocks

The following opinion piece was submitted by a construction professional on June 10th 2014.

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 5

Builders are reasonably well protected as regards their potential liability under the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. As the claims manager for a medium sized contracting company, I would find the situation generally satisfactory. However, contractors should be very careful at certain stages, as follows.

5. Main contractor acting as Assigned Certifier

Some architects are inserting clauses in the Preliminaries Bill of Quantities to require the contractor to act as Assigned Certifier. From the architect’s point of view, this has a lot to recommend it:-

  • Contractor must assemble necessary ancillary and commissioning certificates etc.
  • Timely submission of valid Completion Certificate becomes the contractor’s responsibility (and problem!)
  • Reduces, if not removes, architect’s liability around Practical Completion
  • Contractor (as Assigned Certifier) certifies entire construction.

It is difficult to see how to avoid this responsibility at tender stage without tendering contractors acting in a concerted manner and thus breaching Competition Law. The contractor needs to:

(a) price this workload and responsibility adequately. Given what we hear of RIAI members charging up to 5% of the build cost to act as AC, this gives an indication of the probable cost.

(b) Factor in a get-out clause. Do not submit a fixed price for acting as AC, and be able to charge more if the design and works scope changes.

The first post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 1

The second post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 2

The third post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 3

The fourth post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 4

 

Other posts of interest:

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) –  click link here

Post 2: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Inspection) – click link here

Post 3: Ancillary Completion Cert – Inspection (by others) – click link here

Post 4: Ancillary Certs Design – commencement & completion  (by others) - click link here

Post 5- Addendum to RIAI Contracts – click link here

Post 6: Draft Client Agreement (architect) – click link here

Post 7: Client & Assigned Certifier agreement (architect) – click link here

We hope this information may be useful to professionals implementing the new building regulations. If there are any registered engineers with similar concerns on ACEI documentation we would be interested in hearing these issues also. At time of writing there are no SCSI/CIF (representative bodies for surveyors or builders) draft documents available to their members. We suggest professionals or contractors  contact their respective professional or representative bodies with concerns or queries.

 

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 4

by Bregs Blog admin team

Builder 3

The following opinion piece was submitted by a construction professional on June 10th 2014.

BUILDER LIABILITY UNDER S.I.9- part 4

Builders are reasonably well protected as regards their potential liability under the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. As the claims manager for a medium sized contracting company, I would find the situation generally satisfactory. However, contractors should be very careful at certain stages, as follows.

4. Definition of “Practical Completion”

Under clause 31 of the RIAI contract the architect must certify when, in his opinion, the building is “Practically Complete”. This point of the architect’s “opinion” is being considered by some architects as a device to avoid certifying PC until the BCA have validated the Certificate of Completion. This is wrong. The contractor can rely on the definition of “Practical Completion” in clause 31. PC is defined as “the works having been carried to such a stage that they can be taken over and used by the Employer for their intended purpose”.

This definition says nothing at all about the BCA deciding on whether the certificate is valid! The definition is about the works, not about the papers. To minimise his exposure at this stage, the contractor must firmly point out to the architect that he is entitled to a PC certificate, and that if the architect fails to provide this, the architect will be exposed to claims. If the Assigned Certifier makes a mess of the documents to be lodged with the Completion Certificate, the contractor will be well advised to make sure this is the Assigned Certifier’s problem.

 

The first post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 1

The second post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 2

The third post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 3

 

Other posts of interest:

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) –  click link here

Post 2: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Inspection) – click link here

Post 3: Ancillary Completion Cert – Inspection (by others) – click link here

Post 4: Ancillary Certs Design – commencement & completion  (by others) - click link here

Post 5- Addendum to RIAI Contracts – click link here

Post 6: Draft Client Agreement (architect) – click link here

Post 7: Client & Assigned Certifier agreement (architect) – click link here

We hope this information may be useful to professionals implementing the new building regulations. If there are any registered engineers with similar concerns on ACEI documentation we would be interested in hearing these issues also. At time of writing there are no SCSI/CIF (representative bodies for surveyors or builders) draft documents available to their members. We suggest professionals or contractors  contact their respective professional or representative bodies with concerns or queries.

 

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 3

by Bregs Blog admin team

Builder 2

The following opinion piece was submitted by a construction professional on June 10th 2014.

BUILDER LIABILITY UNDER S.I.9- part 3

Builders are reasonably well protected as regards their potential liability under the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. As the claims manager for a medium sized contracting company, I would find the situation generally satisfactory. However, contractors should be very careful at certain stages, as follows.

3. Dangers around the Completion Certificate / Practical Completion stage of the contract

The contractor has potentially a huge problem at Practical Completion stage. Under S.I. 9, the Assigned Certifier must lodge his signed “Certificate of Completion” with the Building Control Authority (BCA) along with revised plans etc., before the building can be occupied or used. At this stage, the Assigned Certifier will probably require testing and commissioning certificates for FDA, lifts, emergency lighting, and performance certificates for doorsets, panic ironmongery and the like. This material is usually not available until Practical Completion under the building contract.

The BCA have several weeks to validate this material. The BCA may reject the material as invalid and require amended or additional material. Given the problems emerging with pyrite in Co. Louth, it is very likely that the BCA will want as much paper as they can get in order to minimise their own exposure “down the line”.

So (a) the building must be more or less Practically Complete; (b) the BCA have some weeks to accept the Completion Certificate or to reject it as invalid; (c) if they reject it, the project cannot be opened until the necessary additional or changed certificates are provided. This is likely to take weeks.

The contractor is then in a position of having finished the contract but may still be exposed to additional costs. If the architect refuses a Practical Completion certificate under clause 31, the contractor will be left in an open-ended situation of not being paid, of having to keep insurances in place and probably of maintaining a site presence.

The first post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 1

The second post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I. 9 – Part 2

 

Other posts of interest:

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) –  click link here

Post 2: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Inspection) – click link here

Post 3: Ancillary Completion Cert – Inspection (by others) – click link here

Post 4: Ancillary Certs Design – commencement & completion  (by others) - click link here

Post 5- Addendum to RIAI Contracts – click link here

Post 6: Draft Client Agreement (architect) – click link here

Post 7: Client & Assigned Certifier agreement (architect) – click link here

We hope this information may be useful to professionals implementing the new building regulations. If there are any registered engineers with similar concerns on ACEI documentation we would be interested in hearing these issues also. At time of writing there are no SCSI/CIF (representative bodies for surveyors or builders) draft documents available to their members. 

We suggest professionals or contractors  contact their respective professional or representative bodies with concerns or queries.

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

VC jpeg blog edit

The following opinion piece was submitted on July 16th 2014 by Vivian Cummins, architect in private practice and Eastern Region Member of the Council of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

There are three people employed at my architectural firm on the Kildare/Laois/Carlow county borders. At the moment the work load is made up almost entirely of private residential work. This is not a complaint as this work seems to be more profitable for us than most public sector projects and much more interesting from a design perspective than, for example, speculative commercial work. Over the years I have been fortunate to be able to negotiate reasonable lump sum fees (country clients hate percentages) that enable me to provide a high level of service to my clients. However professional fees for residential work undertaken by rural/registered/RIAI architects have a ceiling that is directly proportional to what the local draughtsman or woodwork teacher is charging for “doing up plans”. Someone who approached us recently to inquire if we would take on the role of Assigned Certifier for a self-build advised us that the drawings and documents for his grant of planning permission for a 4-bed detached house had been obtained for €500 (five hundred) “all in”. Unfortunately that amount would not even cover our VAT charges!

Accordingly there is very little wriggle room to manoeuvre our fees in any upward direction. Our overheads for PI insurance, CPD, Public and Employers Liability, Light and Heat, Practice membership, and printing cartridges…………. remain constant. Any additional legislation that we are obliged to comply with means we have to do more work for more or less the same money. This is becoming a real threat to our ability to sustain the level of service that I believe our clients need compared with what they can afford to pay us for the required labour.  In a recent overview of the regulations involved in the design and construction for an average dwelling prepared by Wexford-based RIAI architect, Zeno Winkens, 29 different stages of work were identified that must be completed:  (Link:)  Absorbing the additional labour costs of Health + Safety legislation and Part ‘L’ compliance to date was just about manageable. However the, as yet, unidentified cost implications of the additional administrative workload brought on by BC(A)R S.I. 9 may be the tipping point for many small rural practices (and urban) towards being unable to earn a basic livelihood.

It would have greatly assisted my job if the Government  had undertaken  to inform building owners of the rationale behind the new laws, their obligations under same and why they should be willing to pay more for the statutory professional services. As it is I am left to explain the whole thing (with great difficulty I might add). It is an instant turn-off for most clients who want to discuss exciting designs not design certifier expense. Inevitably the € 500 chap “doing up plans” looks like a more attractive option.

I have yet to turn a pre-BC(A)R fee proposal into a post BC(A)R one that will pay extra for the extra work. It is very upsetting to lose clients at a post-planning stage but I cannot afford to take on work at below cost or indeed at the minimum wage. For fee proposals after 1st March I have not automatically assumed the role of either the Design or Assigned Certifier. I have allowed for the possibility that these roles could be undertaken separately by being sub-contracted to  third parties at a considerably reduced rate than what I feel I could undertake the work for and by those who may have the necessary skills.  However this is not an ideal situation for every project and it is certainly not what was envisaged by those who supported the introduction of this legislation. I also wonder if there is any one individual in the entire country who has the required skills, competence, training, qualifications and experience to ‘design, specify and certify’ compliance with each of the Building Regulations from ‘A’ to ‘M’. Call me if you are out there!

I have had the huge privilege of sitting on the RIAI Council for the past six months and thereby having access to a lot of relevant S.I.9 information. This has amounted to a Masterclass in the new legislation even if opinions on Council vary widely. The recent RIAI ‘Peer’ review of BC(A)R documents is one such example. The concerns being raised in the industry about alternative interpretations of the legislation and documents is extremely confusing and worrying. I also know that the largest architectural practices in the country are struggling with the legal and insurance implications of the new legislation. For a small country practice to try and address these issues on its own has, I fear, become a bit of a shot in the dark and a form of ‘Rural Roulette’.

“Let’s hope we don’t all shoot ourselves in the foot!”

Vivian Cummins | Vivian Cummins + Associates | Levitstown Lock, Co. Kildare

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 2

by Bregs Blog admin team

Builder 1

The following opinion piece was submitted by a construction professional on June 10th 2014.

BUILDER LIABILITY UNDER S.I.9- part 2

Builders are reasonably well protected as regards their potential liability under the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. As the claims manager for a medium sized contracting company, I would find the situation generally satisfactory. However, contractors should be very careful at certain stages, as follows.

2. How the builder should further reduce his legal exposure under S.I. 9?

The builder should take care that all design work is done and certified by the Design Certifier. Under the standard forms of private sector contract, the contractor has no contractual liability for design. The builder should avoid assuming any responsibility by getting the engineer and the architect to design everything. Then, the architect and engineer have to certify the design and the builder’s responsibility under S.I. 9 is reduced.

All contractors know that the engineer/architect can delay the contract if their design is slow to emerge. The contractor should ensure at the outset to claim under Clause 30 (g) for any delay due to failure of the architect to provide design information.

The first post in this series may be viewed here: Builder’s Liability under S.I.9 – Part 1

Other posts of interest:

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion) –  click link here

Post 2: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Inspection) – click link here

Post 3: Ancillary Completion Cert – Inspection (by others) – click link here

Post 4: Ancillary Certs Design – commencement & completion  (by others) - click link here

Post 5- Addendum to RIAI Contracts – click link here

Post 6: Draft Client Agreement (architect) – click link here

Post 7: Client & Assigned Certifier agreement (architect) – click link here

We hope this information may be useful to professionals implementing the new building regulations. If there are any registered engineers with similar concerns on ACEI documentation we would be interested in hearing these issues also. At time of writing there are no SCSI/CIF (representative bodies for surveyors or builders) draft documents available to their members. 

 

We suggest professionals or contractors  contact their respective professional or representative bodies with concerns or queries.

 

 

Practical post 22: Change of Owner

by Bregs Blog admin team

22

Practical Post 22: Change of Owner

If the ownership of a building changes during construction and prior to completion the regulations say that the NEW building owner must notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days.

What happens if they fail to do so? The previous owner will be recorded in the BCMS system, but the  Building Control Authority will not be able to prosecute him.

There is nothing to stop a cowboy developer ‘selling’ the site to a new owner (another company) before completion. The law does not require the ‘owner’ to sign the Completion Certificate so it will go unnoticed.

In a ‘Priory Hall’ scenario, there is no record of the new owner on the Building Control Register, so prosecution would be difficult.

Conveyancing solicitors will need to be very vigilant in the new system.

____________

Other Posts in this series:

Practical post 21: Variations - click link here

For Practical Post Series 1-20 – click here

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 unenviable 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 them 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. 

 
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