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

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.

 

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

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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…

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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. 

 

Builder’s Liability under S.I.9- part 1

by Bregs Blog admin team

858871-builder

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

BUILDER LIABILITY UNDER S.I.9- part 1 

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.

1. How has the builder’s/contractor’s liability been limited under S.I 9?

Under the article 9 of the Building Regulations:- “Every works or building to which these Regulations apply shall be designed and constructed— (a) in accordance with the appropriate requirements set out in the Second Schedule, and (b) in such a manner as to avoid the breaching of any other requirement of that Schedule.

The builder has a statutory duty to build per the building regulations, no matter what instructions the engineer or architect may issue. Under S.I. 9 however, the builder does not need to certify that he has built in accordance with the building regulations. The actual text of the “Certificate on Completion” reads:-

I certify, having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, that the building or works as completed has been constructed in accordance with the plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars as certified under the Form of Certificate of Compliance (Design) and listed in the schedule to the Commencement/7-Day Notice relevant to the above building or works…..

Reliant on the foregoing, I certify that the works are in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations insofar as they apply to the building or works concerned.

So the builder certifies that he is relying on the documents which the Design Certifier has lodged. The Design Certifier “carries the can”. The CIF negotiators have done a good job in depositing the liability for compliance with the Building Regulations firmly onto the architects and engineers.

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.

 

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

by Bregs Blog admin team

                                                                       CIAT Bus

 It appears as if the prospect of a Register for Architectural Technologists may be a bit like Dublin Bus. You wait ages for one and then two come along together!

On Thursday 17th July 2014 a meeting was held at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) to discuss the registration of Architectural Technologists in Ireland. The issue appears to have gained a certain momentum lately in view of the omission of Architectural Technologists from the list of approved professionals who may act as assigned Certifiers under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations and the fact that there is now a degree of competition between the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) as to who will operate any future register(s).

At the meeting the DECLG was represented by Martin Vaughan and Aidan O’ Connor of its Architecture and Building Standards section. The CIAT was represented by Francesca Berriman (CEO), Colin Orr, Martin Meehan, Diane Dale, James Banks and Tara Page. The RIAI was represented by John Graby (CEO), Margaret Hynds O’Flanagan, Darren Bergin and Joe Byrne.

We have been advised that on Friday 18th July 2014 the CIAT issued the following advice note of the above meeting to its members:

Dear Member

Architectural Technologists’ Register meeting update

Following a meeting with Aidan O’Connor and Martin Vaughan at the DECLG, which was also attended by representatives of the RIAI, I would confirm the following:

  •        Minister Kelly has not yet been briefed (he had been in post less than one-week)
  •        The commitment to develop Architectural Technologists’ Registers is supported by the Minister (this would be ongoing with the new Minister) and Department
  •         There could be two Registers (CIAT’s and RIAI’s)
  •         CIAT made clear our position that our Register would hold competent Architectural Technologists in relation to the intention of acting as an Assigned Certify (sic) and Design Certifier
  •         John Graby, RIAI Director General said that he could make no such statement
  •         CIAT would be working with the various stakeholders across Ireland to gain support for a Statutory Register
  •         Any potential Statutory Register would need to be supported by primary legislation
  •         This is separate to the inclusion in the S.I.09 of 2014 the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations in relation to certification; the Minister can include the Register without the need for additional primary legislation.

CIAT is to launch its Voluntary Register before the end of July.CIAT is to start liaising with the necessary stakeholders in preparation of a Statutory Register for Architectural Technologists. Those on the Statutory Register for Architectural Technologists established by CIAT will be competent to lead projects of all sizes from conception through to completion AND act as the Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier – we will continue to work with the Minister, Department and stakeholders in this regard.

At the time of writing we are not aware of any statement being issued by the DECLG or by the RIAI to its Architectural Technologist members in relation to the above meeting. We asked the RIAI to provide a statement prior to publication but this has not been forthcoming at this time.

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

FRsi screengrab for BregsForum

 

The following opinion piece was received by the BRegs Blog on 17th July 2014. Simon McGuinness is an architect in private practice in Dublin, a certified passive house designer and a part-time lecturer in DIT. Follow him on twitter @PassiveLogical.

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

Building Control Regulations compliance is the public process by which liability for non-compliance with Building Regulations is recorded; Building Regulations compliance is the professional process by which designers of buildings avoid that liability by proving that they have complied.

Why is the focus of professional bodies solely on the former when it is inevitably the latter that will end their members up in court?

The Building Control Act 1990 lays down the penalties for a breech of each subsequent regulation issued, including both BCAR and BRegs. The tariff following conviction on indictment for a serious breech of the Building Regulations could extend to a fine of €12,600, 2 years imprisonment and/or being banned from signing certificates of compliance for 10 years.  Compare this to the penalty for a breech of the BC(A)R procedure, which might, on summary conviction, warrant a fine not exceeding £800.

Where would a risk assessor advise you to focus your attention: BC(A)R or BRegs?

Architects, Surveyors and Engineers are wrongly focused on the mechanics of compliance with BCAR (S.I. 9 of 2014): when documents need to be lodged, how to upload them, who should sign what piece of paper, etc.  Professional bodies are spending endless hours in continuing professional development (CPD) to up-skill members in the clerical document management processes of BCAR, and, in some cases, misleadingly describing it as Building Regulations Compliance training. Private educational providers are also alert to the opportunities for selling similar CPD. But none of it is actually BRegs compliance training, it is simply explaining the procedural process by which BCAR establishes liability for non-compliance with Building Regulations.  Those most skilled in BC(A)R, under the current CPD offerings, will be able to flawlessly establish their own liability for design failures by following the BC(A)R process correctly.  Through this, they could facilitate their being ‘hoist on their own petard’ at some future date.

Professionals in the  Architectural, Engineering and Design (AEC) industry need to focus more on how to prove their designs comply with Building Regulations, and less on how they negotiate the BC(A)R system of establishing liability for design failures.  The former will keep them out of court, the latter merely assists those who are most likely to want to prosecute them, should anything go wrong.

AEC professionals are unlikely to find them selves defending failures of process in the circuit court – the BCMS system will spit back the documents until they are correctly lodged – but they are very likely to find themselves justifying their designs to a court as a result of a design failure resulting from, for example, mould growth within a dwelling.

In the case of mould growth, there is only one way to show compliance with Part L, 2011: prove, by numerical calculation, that an fRsi of 0.75 (or 0.70 for ground floor junctions) has been achieved.  If this calculation cannot be produced for the court, your design is non-compliant.  Period.  If the constructed building varies from the design assessed by the numerical calculation, then the construction is non-compliant.  Period.

The only possible ‘deemed to satisfy’ provision for surface temperature applies to a series of standard details (ACDs) which have been produced by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.  If any detail in your house or apartment falls outside of the very tight parameters for use of the ACDs, you must produce a numeric calculation undertaken by a member of the NSAI scheme proscribed.

It is instructive to examine the limitations on the use of ACDs.  If your roof u-value is better than 0.11 W/m2K, you cannot use any of the ACDs to prove fRsi compliance.  If your wall u-value is better than 0.12 W/m2K, you can’t use any of the wall details.  If your floor u-value is worse than 0.18 W/m2K, you can’t use the ACDs. If your design contains a bay window, an uncertified window, a cantilevered balcony, a rooflight or a threshold you are outside of the ‘deemed to satisfy’ environment.  In the event of mould appearing in that part of the building, you will be required to produce a numeric calculation for the court or your design will be deemed to have failed to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations, 2011.

The TGDs stipulate that that numerical calculation can only be produced by an NSAI approved Thermal Modeller using NSAI approved 3D thermal bridge modelling software.  Few AEC professionals have ever heard of a Thermal Modeller, let alone know what they do.  This ignorance is a measure of their legal exposure when certifying design compliance, even for buildings as simple as house extensions.

As an AEC professional, you must decide where to spend your compliance training budget: on BC(A)R or on BRegs, on following procedural rules (FETAC level 5) or on mitigating professional design risk (FETAC level 9).  Only one of these is likely to effect your insurance premium and, with it, your ability to practice your chosen profession.  Level 5 CPD is easy to deliver, level 9 CPD is an entirely different proposition.

Caveat emptor.

Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

 

 

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

by Bregs Blog admin team

ScreenshotOberfläche_WUFIPLus_Passive-GROSS-1

In the following blog post by Joseph Little Architects on 20th june 2014, the impact of the new building regulations and risk analysis on certain forms of construction are explored.

Click original link here

What forms of construction are of sufficient risk that assessment using WUFI is needed

The recently strengthened Building Control Regulations – under S.I. 9 (2014) & ancillary instruments – have highlighted the fact that the Architect and Design Certifier (DC) need to take greater responsibility for the specification of all apects of the construction works (be they new build or retrofit). Clearly some proposed wall, roof and floor buildups have greater hygrothermal risks than others, as do some climates and exposure levels, etc. Those risks need to be evaluated and sober careful judgments formed by experts who are competent, trained users of the relevant type of evaluation tools (underpinned by a good knowledge of building physics) and experience of construction systems and practice. That may be the architect him or herself or an external provider. The architect can then use such reports to influence and support their overall specification and the DC can use it to underpin the relecant aspects of the design certification.  The following are constructions that we understand should only be given desktop hygrothermal risk evaluation using WUFI or Delphin numerical software (under IS EN 15026) not Glaser Method software (under IS EN ISO 13788). The list is not exhaustive:

SOLID WALL & INTERNAL WALL INSULATION

Any buildups where capillary action can deliver liquid water from driving rain deep into a construction such as a solid masonry wall, even more so internally insulated solid walls, and even more again for internally insulated solid walls that have an outer surface that is highly absorptive, such as brick.

Note 1: where the vapour pressure at the centre of the wall is greater than that within the room the presence of a vapour barrier can result in greater mould and freeze-heave risk, as it will reduce the solid wall’s ability to dry to the room (as it did before the retrofit).

Note 2: the water absorption characteristics of the outer surface (known as the a-value) of one wall compared to another can vary by as much as 500 times, a range of 30 between common renders and bricks is usual. That is an extraordinary range for a key characteristic that is seldom discussed or measured in the UK.

GAPS AND CRACKS

Any buildups where vapour convection (through gaps and cracks) can be significant (such as a ceiling where insulation is laid on flat as described in IP 5/06), and systems where airtightness and thermal bypass is not clearly addressed (such as insulation on dabs on masonry, or light gauge steel frame constructions) – regardless of whether the insulation and other layers are considered to be of low hygrothermal vulnerability or not.

Note 1: This is because vapour convection can deliver as much as a hundred times more moisture than will occur through diffusion: in buildings where extract ventilation may be compromised and moisture loads high there is particular vulnerability. While WUFI Pro is not a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software it can model the moisture impacts of different levels of airtightness.

Note 2: An example of a buildup that would appear to have low hygrothermal vulnerability is a rendered cavity wall with unfilled cavity and wet plastered internal finish).

EXPOSURE DUE TO LOCATION OR HEIGHT

Most constructions in areas of greater driving rain (shown as Zones 3 and 4 in in BR 262).

Note: Table 1 of BR 262 gives a very good sense of how hygrothermal risks increase for cavity walls depending on the outer surface, the width of cavity, the location and type of insulation and the width of cavity. The study pre-dates computer simulation and is based on the experience of building control officers over many years. It corresponds closely to results using hygrothermal numerical simulation under BS EN 15026. The Table should be reviewed in assessing which constructions may be considered ‘at risk’.

Most constructions experiencing locally exposed conditions such as the upper floors of tower blocks. WUFI Pro can model the impact of increased wind speeds at height.

POTENTIAL IMPACT OF DRIVING RAIN PENETRATION BEHIND A LAYER OF COMPONENT

Where there is a clear potential that gaps could be present or open up in the outer layer of a component allowing driving rain to penetrate behind. A resilient buildup is one that can successfully withstand likely levels of imperfect construction and water penetration and dry out after. Some constructions will prove to be sufficiently resilient when assessed, others could show failure.

Note 1: There is a large body of case studies from the US, Canada and Sweden of failure of EPS EWI on timber frame: these failures occurred only after water penetration: the buildup may have been hygrothermally acceptable up to the point that water penetrated behind the EWI depositing water on the hygroscopic racking board, timber studs or base plates, then everything changed. It is the worst case that should be evaluated, not the best.

Note 2: WUFI Pro can model the impacts of different levels of water penetration: ASHRAE 160 states that simulating the impact of 1% driving rain penetration behind the outer layer of ther assembly is enough.

SPRAY FOAMS

The retrofit of open- or closed-cell spray foam onto a pitched roof of what had been a ‘cold attic’ (i.e. a ventilated attic where some level of insulation is still present on its floor). Based on simulation and site testing we have carried out we are aware that the timbers of north facing roofs can be quite vulnerable.

Note 1: As a general principle insulation should only every be located on one plane, it should be continuous, air should not be allowed pass between insulation layers and the air and vapour control layer (AVCL) should be on or near to the warm side of the insulation.

Note 2: It has become common practice for spray foam to be sprayed on the pitch between rafters, sometimes onto 50mm deep vent spacers isolating it from the original sarking felt, sometimes not (there are BBA certs showing both conditions). An AVCL is generally not used on the attic side of the spray foam despite the fact that it is exceptionallyvapour open. The continuity of an AVCL at ceiling level is depended upon despite their widespread absence in reality and the guidance of IP 5/06.

Note 3: The resulting condition is actually exceptionally complex hygrothermally because a third climate is created between the internal and external climates. Due to the difference in area of the surface that gains heat and moisture from below (i.e. the ceiling) compared to the surfaces that loses heat to the external climate above (i.e. the two sides of the pitched roof)) WUFI Pro, 2D and Plus must all be used together to estimate the impact and acceptability of such a fast and cheaply installed buildup.

GREEN ROOFS

Flat roofs with ‘cold deck’ buildups are quite reliant on reverse diffusion to evaporate any inter-stitial condensation that has formed and drive it away from the vulnerable roof deck. (Reverse diffusion generally occurs when external surface temperatures are higher than internal ambient temperatures.) This allows decks to last many years longer than they might otherwise. The soil/medium and planting of green roofs isolate the roof structure from the sun’s radiant heat thereby weakening the valuable impact of reverse diffusion. As Ireland also has higher levels of ambient relative humidity and lower standards of construction than Germany (the country where many green roof systems come from) Irish architects and DC should act with care when specifying  or certifying green roofs: risks are elevated.

Information about WUFI

Visit http://www.wufi.ie/architecture/wufi for more information on hygrothermal risk evaluation, on training or purchasing the software, and on the risk evaluation service that Building Life Consultancy offers. You can also call Joseph Little at 01-8746573.

Date

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ireland v Spain: Property Markets Signal Fundamentals-Linked Growth Potential

by Bregs Blog admin team

shopping-channels

 

Here on the BRegs Blog we are big fans Dr Constantin Gurdgiev’s blog “True Economics”- click blog here. In the following post he examines possible factors behind Ireland’s recent robust growth in residential property prices. Two factors indicate that recent growth is not a result of either current government policy to stimulate the construction sector or potential “bubble” dynamics. Although not directly related to BC(A)R S.I.9, upsurges in values can incorrectly be quoted as proof of successful government stimulus policies.

Rather the current upsurge may be a leveling-off of a previous over-correction in the market. To illustrate the point he compares Ireland’s property market to that of Spain.

Link to blog here:  http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2014/07/1372014-ireland-v-spain-property.html

___________

Extract:

13/7/2014: Ireland v Spain: Property Markets Signal Fundamentals-Linked Growth Potential

Two charts showing why Ireland can expect more robust correction in the property prices post-crisis trough:

First, investment in new construction:

investment in construction

The above shows that Irish construction investment dropped more significantly than in the case of (relatively comparable) Spain. This implies that we have been facing longer and deeper reductions in new stock additions than Spain, implying greater pressures on new supply.

Second, House Price to Income ratios (ignore caption):

house price income

Irish property prices have fallen more relative to income than Spanish prices. Which implies that penned up demand is greater in Ireland.

So there you have it, two (not all, of course) fundamentals driving prices recovery up in Ireland and both have little to do with the potential bubble dynamics.

Note: above charts are from IMF’s Article IV Consultation Paper for Spain.

Other posts of interest:

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014 – click link here

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis – click link here

Commencement notices- Building Register @ 17th June 2014 – click link here

Press: Construction and property bouncing back as jobs surge – click link here

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June – click link here

Press: Fears construction recovery will stall – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey – click link here

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started – click link here

 

SI.9- Everything you wanted to know Part 2: WHO’S WHO.

by Bregs Blog admin team

who_s_on_first

Who are the stakeholders in Building Control?

Your essential ‘who’s who?’ of the Building Control ( Amendment) Regulations. Do not take our word for it go to source. Here is a list of all relevant bodies and organisations frequently referred to in any discussion about the regulations. There is a link below to the Part 1 of this ‘Who’s Who?’ series.

Click on the link after each title to get to the relevant site:

The Government:

Minister of the Environment, Community & Local Government (DECLG), Alan Kelly T.D. – click link here.

Building Control Authorities:

There are 34 City and County Councils. For list click here.

The construction professionals:

There are three registered professionals allowed to certify-

  • Engineers Ireland chartered engineers, click link here.
  • SCSI registered building surveyors, click link here (not quantity surveyors).
  • RIAI architects, click link here.

Other professionals involved in construction include architectural technologists, project managers, quantity surveyors, fire safety engineers, access consultants etc.

The Contractors:

The builders, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. The representative body is the CIF http://cif.ie/

The suppliers, manufacturers and importers of building materials.

The Building Owners:

The ‘consumer’ is represented by the Consumer Agency, click link here.

The Insurance Industry who provide insurance to builders, professionals and building owners.

The Legal Professionals, represented by the Law Society, click link here.

Other posts of interest:

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

 

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

by Bregs Blog admin team

Bregs Blog admin team:

We believe the department met with organisations representing ARchitectural Technologists yesterday (CIAT and RIAI) to progress the establishment of an independent register for ARchitectural Technologists. We will post details of this meeting shortly.

Originally posted on BRegs Blog:

20110520-2-pillars-bucksome-boomer

In the Dáil this week the Minister stated he may be placing two new Architectural Technologist registers on a statutory footing following receipt of proposals recently.

In response to questions from Claire Daly TD and Jim Daly TD on the status of Architectural Technologists under SI.9, Minister Phil Hogan confirmed he would be meeting with both CIAT and the representative body for architects (RIAI) in July 2014 concerning separate registers for Architectural Technologists for the new building regulations. Link to Dáil exchange here.

Extract as follows:

_______

Written answers, Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government- Architectural Qualifications

Clare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)

301. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he will respond positively and promptly to the proposal to operate a voluntary register for architectural technologists in Ireland with a view to it becoming statutory subject to ministerial…

View original 344 more words

Press: Shocking CSO figures detail startling slump in building sector

by Bregs Blog admin team

7ffb382f781b7281dbd5df28a6221313

The following article in the Westmeath Examiner on 14th July 2014 illustrates the two-tier construction sector recovery previously commented on in Breg Blog. In “Shocking CSO figures detail startling slump in building sector” – Westmeath Examiner, recent figures from the Central Statistics Office for Westmeath are discussed. See full article here.

Extract to follow:

______

Shocking CSO figures detail startling slump in building sector

by John Madden, engineer (pictured), Monday, 14th July

The way the startling slump in Ireland’s building trade has manifested itself in Westmeath is displayed clearly in figures released recently by the Central Statistics Office.

The figures show that in the first quarter of 2014, planning permission for just 20 houses was granted in Westmeath – all of them one-off dwellings.

Even more strikingly, just 66 housing estate houses have been granted permission in the six and a half years since the end of 2006.

By contrast, when the Celtic Tiger was at its peak, the number of permits granted for houses in Westmeath reached four-digit levels.

The fall is dramatic when set against the peak figures. For example, in the final quarter of 2005, permission for some 739 houses was granted; in the final quarter of 2005, permission for 7111 houses was granted.

In fact, in the whole of 2005, the number of houses granted permission amounted to 1,497 – and permission was also granted for the construction of 871 flats or apartments.

Over the 12 months of 2004, permission for 1,449 houses was granted, together with permission for 569 flats/apartments.

However, the figures show that in the final quarter of 2013, just seven houses were approved for construction by the council – and in the entire 12 months of 2013, permission was granted for just 73 houses in Westmeath, together with seven flats/apartments.

Engineer John Madden, of John Madden and Associates, confirms that firms such as his, in the business of preparing house plans and submitting applications for clients, have seen a massive slump since the peak.

However, the introduction earlier this year of new planning regulations means that there is something of a mini-boom going on in the construction sector.

“A lot of people put in their commencement notices before the end of March, so that kicked off a bit of a building boom,” he says.

In the last few weeks, he has had a number of clients approach him with a view to having him draw up plans for one-off houses.

“But not one of them has been sitting opposite me,” he declares, explaining that the clients are in good jobs in Australia or Canada or elsewhere, and sending family members in to start the ball rolling for them.
Another trend he has noticed is that a lot of foreign-born workers are buying houses in estates here.

“They’re from all over the world,” says John, explaining that mostly, they are in the market for family homes to live in.
That said, eh recently had an enquiry from an investor in Australia – not Irish – interested in having two houses here surveyed, as he saw potential in the Irish rental market.

Floor size

The CSO figures also show that while the house numbers are well down, the average floor area per house has shot upwards – due, most likely, to the fact that practically all the houses granted permission going right back as far as 2008 have been one-off houses.

Back in 2001, the typical one-off house squared up at between 182 and 188 square metres. That began creeping up gradually from 2002, and increasing on a more or less consistent basis right through the mid 2000s until, by 2008, one-off houses ranged, on average, from 275 to about 288 square metres in size.

In 2013, those one-off sizes were back somewhat, ranging from an average of 217 square metres to 291 ssquare metres.

An increased taste for innovation in design, and for something other than the old style “bungalow bliss” type houses, fuelled a lot of the growth in house sizes, says John, adding that increased energy efficiency construction made it feasible to build larger house.

Other posts of interest:

Construction Recovery- watch this space. – click link here

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop – click link here

Taoiseach: get building back to ‘sensible, sustainable levels’- click link here

Press: Construction and property bouncing back as jobs surge – click link here

Press: Fears construction recovery will stall – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey – click link here

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article – click link here

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started – click link here

Commencement notices fall: BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Opportunity-is-missed-by-most

Having identified that these new building regulations will bring “peace of mind” to nobody, your correspondent Mr. Michael Finan writes (Irish Times letters to Editor on 7th March) that “It is surprising that any professional institute would be prepared to back this regulation”.

Indeed.

The RIAI Council agreed unanimously last January that “self-certification (such as the regulations provide for) will not adequately protect the consumer” for whom the Government introduced these regulations in the first place. No backing there! This position is close to that of the National Consumer Association, who in their submission on the draft regulations said that independent inspections were needed; as, indeed, did the report of the Government’s own Pyrites Panel, who wrote the same thing.

The building regulations which came into law last week create a huge structure under which the construction industry regulates itself, by getting the architect to certify that everybody else has done their work properly. Now who, with the most rudimentary understanding of human nature, could imagine that a system which allows X to dump responsibility for what they do onto some other private person, will result in that same X carrying out their work better?

The new regulations do bring winners and losers.

The winners? Contractors and subcontractors, who are distanced from liability for their own work, this being covered by the “Assigned Certifier”; lawyers, who are circling the regulations in happy anticipation of future growth in litigation; and the Government, who gain plaudits for, as they tell us, “sorting out the Priory Hall mess” and for some tough talking about construction sector cowboys.

The losers are a rather wider category. They include the self-builders who, notwithstanding Ministerial promises, will be compelled to employ registered builders if they want to borrow to build or to sell their houses. They also include businesses saddled unnecessarily with increased compliance costs in what international surveys identify as already one of the least competitive construction regulation systems in the developed world; architectural technologists, whose livelihood has been largely closed down; and large numbers of architects, lumbered with liability for certifying other peoples’ work, for an hourly recompense in the region of the national minimum wage. But the biggest loser by far is the Irish people, who have once again been sold a building regulations pup.

A proper system of independent inspectors of construction design and execution was and remains possible. Analogous to company auditors, such a system would be at no cost to the public purse. It would “tick all the boxes” for people taking responsibility for their own work, leading to better building.

Such a system can be seen in operation on the adjoining island, anywhere east of Holyhead. No Priory Hall or pyrites problems there.

The new building regulations spawn mounds of paper and digital information. They distance the local authorities from any duty of inspection. They continue with self-certification in a sector of industry which, of all sectors, needs the most stringent public inspection.

The regulations do nothing to prevent another Priory Hall or pyrites disaster. They will not prevent a future Minister having to again dig into the public pocket to underwrite the next round of repairs to distressed homeowners’ dwellings. They are a huge missed opportunity, from a Government who knew the proper solution and who ignored it.

The above letter to the editor (Irish Times) was submitted on 16th March 2014 by Eoin O’Cofaigh RIAI President, 1998-1999


 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Bregs Blog admin team:

In case you missed it here’s a very popular post from earlier on in July. Enjoy!

Originally posted on BRegs Blog:

property-development

The following opinion piece was written by Breg Blog Team and is based on submissions on 1st July 2014 by an architect and others who are involved in the speculative build-for-sale sector.

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

  • Assigned Certifier employees: Under SI.9 an Assigned Certifier can be employed directly by the developer as an employee. This can be an engineer/ surveyor/ architect from anywhere who registers in Ireland for the duration of the project. In one case a registered professional engineer is being indemnified by his employer, a development company, against future claims. A developer can indemnify the Assigned Certifier under his own current Professional Indemnity Insurance policy (which can be stopped at the end of the project). Effectively, the Certifier is a ‘man of straw’ against whom there is no redress. In the event of a claim post-completion by a homebuyer if the Assigned Certifier has no Professional Indemnity Insurance there…

View original 670 more words

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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

Priory Hall: There is some light at the end of the tunnel

by Bregs Blog admin team

StephanieMeehan_large

In the following article “Priory Hall: There is some light at the end of the tunnel” By Caroline O’Doherty in the Irish Examiner on July 15th, Stephanie Meehan looks forward to moving this month into a new home after the personal devastation wreaked by her experience as  Priory Hall resident. Quote:

“It will be difficult but Stephanie is determined to look forward. “Fiachra wasn’t given a chance but I’ve been given another chance,” she says of the house that will become her long-awaited permanent home…

That it took one family’s tragedy to get action remains a painful issue for the residents. “Unfortunately it was a turning point and the catalyst was Stephanie,” says residents’ spokesman throughout the crisis, Graham Usher…”

For full article click here

Extract:

______

Priory Hall: There is some light at the end of the tunnel By Caroline O’Doherty, Irish Examiner,  July 15th

Stephanie Meehan is moving into a new home following the Priory Hall debacle, but not all former residents have made a fresh start, Caroline O’Doherty reports

THIS could be the hardest time of the year for Stephanie Meehan but somehow she’s managing to see it as a fresh start.

On July 31 she and her two young children move into their new home and she can’t wait to put the key in the door.

But before she gets there, the woman whose heartbreak came to epitomise the personal devastation wreaked by Priory Hall must first face the anniversary of the death of her partner, Fiachra Daly, who took his own life on July 15 last year, and deal with the knowledge that he never got to see his family’s plight resolved.

It will be difficult but Stephanie is determined to look forward. “Fiachra wasn’t given a chance but I’ve been given another chance,” she says of the house that will become her long-awaited permanent home,.

“It’s local. It’s only about five minutes away from where we are now, it’s five minutes from Priory Hall and it’s 10 minutes from my parents, so it’s absolutely perfect and I can’t wait.

“That’s our good news and with Fiachra’s anniversary on the 15th, it feels it’s kind of the start of a new year. I kind of feel that there is some light at the end of the tunnel and we can close the door and just live quietly and happily.”

Eighty-nine other Priory Hall apartment owners are working towards that same modest, but to them precious, goal. After their evacuation from the firetrap complex in north Dublin in October 2011, they lived with constant uncertainty, battling banks demanding mortgage payments for homes they could not live in, fighting Dublin City Council for the provision of temporary accommodation and pleading for help from a government that displayed cold indifference.

The breakthrough came when Stephanie, still raw with grief, put pen to paper last August and told Taoiseach Enda Kenny of the stress that finally proved too much for Fiachra to bear.

Within weeks meetings had been convened between the residents, the banks and the council and a plan was being drawn up that would see the council take over the complex, the 90 owner-occupiers have their mortgages written off and 27 buy-to-let owners have their repayments frozen for two years to allow the apartments be extensively refurbished.

That it took one family’s tragedy to get action remains a painful issue for the residents. “Unfortunately it was a turning point and the catalyst was Stephanie,” says residents’ spokesman throughout the crisis, Graham Usher.

“There’s no point in saying otherwise. That is what seemed to focus attention on it and got things moving. I think it’s an absolute tragedy and it shouldn’t have to come to that.”

The plan is still being worked through and there are legalities to be finalised, but around 15 former residents have bought new homes since the deal was struck and others are in the process of buying.

Not everyone has been able to avail of the new mortgage on offer as the Priory Hall scandal broke just as the economy plummeted but part of the deal was that social or affordable housing options would also be provided.

But new obstacles arose in the form of soaring demand for property and rocketing house prices.

“Myself and my wife are looking for a house and at times there’s a sense of deja vu,” says Graham. “It’s like it was when we were looking before we bought Priory Hall in 2006 — you can go out to view a house and there may be 30 or 40 other people viewing the place as well.”

As he speaks, he’s standing on the balcony of the “temporary” accommodation where he has lived for more than two years, with the view taking in Priory Hall, now surrounded by hoarding in preparation for refurbishment.

“I know people who would drive a different route to avoid it. They wouldn’t go up the road because they didn’t want to drive past it,” he says of the emotional impact the ordeal has had.

It has made Graham wary of buying again and he won’t buy a home less than 20 years old so he can be sure any glitches will have come to light. It has also made him sceptical about the State’s ability to deal with other potential Priory Halls and developers like now bankrupt Tom McFeely whose corner-cutting left the development a potential death-trap.

“It’s a sad indictment of how things work that he and his company, and the other people who were responsible for hundreds of people losing their homes, walked away scot free.

“It just shows how the building legislation and the inspection regime here were stacked in favour of the developers and very much against the homeowner.

“The next few years will be interesting because it seems as if we’re going to have another spate of new builds.

“My own view is the only way of preventing something like Priory Hall is for independent inspections to be carried out and I’m not convinced that that’s going to happen. I’m not sure the local authorities have the resources.”

Stephanie Meehan shares those concerns, which is why she wants to keep the issues raised by Priory Hall in the spotlight.

“If it pricks a builder’s conscience, even only slightly, to not skimp on materials and to do things properly then that’s a good thing.”

The good things are what Stephanie concentrates on. “We’ve been absolutely through the mill but I’ve had a huge amount of support.

“There are a lot of people far less fortunate than me who don’t have a good support network when they’re going through a really rough time, so for that I’m really grateful.”

For the moment, she’s focused on the children, Oisin, 8, and Carys, 3, but she’s also gone back to her work in restaurant management one night a week and says she’ll start thinking seriously in September about her own future.

Without Fiachra to share care of the children, the anti-social hours of the restaurant business may not suit her, but she’s hopeful of finding something family-friendly.

In the meantime she’s looking forward to the simple things like having post delivered to her own front door.

“I haven’t had a postal address in six years because in Priory Hall my post was never delivered because it was an unfinished site, and then we were in two hotels and two other temporary homes so I had everything re-routed to my parents.

“Oisin is going into third class in school and his address has always been my parents’ house so it’s going to be really nice for him to have an address of his own.”

The one thing that’s not on her agenda is bitterness. “What happened was at a huge loss to myself and the kids and to Fiachra’s family, but life goes on.

“My mam always said to me life is for the living and that’s my motto at the moment. Some days I’d love to close my curtains and just not get up, but I’ve got two little kids who need me more than ever so that’s my job now and that’s what keeps me going.”

Other posts of interest:

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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

How to complete ghost estates + Priory Hall?:BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Chartered Surveyors: “More Priory Hall scenarios could happen if the laws are not enforced”  – click link here

Home-owners will be no better off at the next “Priory Hall” – click link here

Radio Clip- O’Cofaigh: self building, self-regulation & the consumer – click link here

“Building Control and the Common Good”: Architecture Ireland – click link here

 

Practical post 21: Variations

by Bregs Blog admin team

number-21-ai

Practical post Variations

The Undertaking by Builder says that “I undertake to construct … in accordance with (Design Certificate).. or as subsequently issued to me AND certified AND submitted to the Building Control Authority”

Does this mean that variations have to be submitted to BCMS with new Design Cert BEFORE they can legally be constructed?

On large projects this could require BCMS submissions on a weekly basis, where for example, structural changes are required because of ground conditions or a boiler isn’t available and an alternative supplier is used.

There is a risk that contractors (when a programme is already late) will use this to delay variations while they wait for the Assigned Certifier to get revised Design Certs and confirmation from the BCMS.

Registered professionals need to make sure that the contract covers this and that they have an Assigned Certifier who can respond quickly to changes.

____________

For Practical Post Series 1-20 | BRegs Blog 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 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. 

CATCH 22 COMMENCEMENTS

by Bregs Blog admin team

catch_22_cover_by_mattcantdraw-d55fli2

The following post was submitted by a registered architect on 15th July 2014.

CATCH 22 COMMENCEMENTS 

In May 2014, two months after the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations came into effect the RIAI issued an alert to practices about ‘short form’ Commencement Notices (see post Caution RIAI warn short form commencement notices invalid).

Effectively, this meant that:

  • the new short form was not available in March & April
  • the new BCMS (Building Control a Management System) was not ready
  • Local Authorities were not aware that there was a new short form and they continued to provide building owners with an out of date version
  • the professional bodies and builders were also not aware of this change
  • no public information was issued

As a result, many illegal notices were lodged and validated (it is estimated that approx 174 Short firm notices were lodged in March & April 2014- see post here).

It gets worse. Local Authorities then began spot checking building sites and sending letters to owners about illegal works. Some of these letters were not issued for weeks or even months. In the meantime building works proceeded on sites in the genuine belief that all was in order.

We are now receiving reports from many parts of the country of these CATCH 22 COMMENCEMENTS- once you start building you cannot turn back the clock and start again so these illegal works can never be rectified. There is no provision for retrospective compliance under SI.9 (see post here).

This has very serious implications for all of the owners involved as they may have difficulty selling or financing these buildings in the future. More worryingly some owners have now been told to stop illegal building work by the local authority and they are currently caught in an impossible Catch 22 situation.

Under the law, the only remedy is to demolish the part-completed building, lodge a new Commencement Notice and ‘start’ again.

This is patently unworkable and an amendment to the law to regularise these projects is urgently needed.

Other Posts of interest:

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

Invalid “short form” commencement notices: BC(A)R SI.9 | BRegs Blog – 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

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started – Click linkhere

Building Control Officer issues: Conference April 2014 – Click link here

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE- Local Authority advice – Click link here

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Building Control Officers Survey – click link here

 

Press: Will CIRI be a platform for progress?

by Bregs Blog admin team

skyscraper

In the following article in the Independent on 10th July 2014, the author wonders whether the new private register of contractors CIRI will be effective.

Quote: “The primary goals here are to secure more tax revenue and to protect the construction establishment via the CIRI’s unstated mission to wipe out the black market builder once and for all…The body which administers the CIRI is voluntary, organised under the CIF and it meets in the CIF’s premises. So far not very promising….There must however be serious doubts about whether this process has any real teeth at all…will bad builders really be knocked off the list, or simply asked politely to pull their socks up?...”

New building register provides platform for progress, by Mark Keenan, Published 11/07/2014|02:30 – click link here

Extract to follow:

_______

IF the lawnmower you’ve just bought goes jabberwocky then you can take it back to the shop and they’ll sort you out with a working replacement at the counter.

If the retailer refuses to change it then you have enforceable rights to fall back on – as underlined by Irish consumer law.

There are higher authorities to take your case to – the consumer Ombudsman being an obvious one.

The same pretty much applies to anything or any service that you pay for which doesn’t work or do what it says on the tin.

From baked beans, to cars to holidays to restaurant meals you have rights. For financial packages and insurances there is the financial ombudsman to turn to for recourse.

Until this week, however, the same has not been true for a new home purchaser or the homeowner who commissions renovation or extension work. As a result, the Irish new home buyer has arguably been the most exposed consumer of all.

And there have been plenty of wonky homes and shoddy building work throughout Ireland these last few decades – particularly during the property bubble.

Through the boom when 60,000 plus homes per annum were being sold, buyers had to contend with lengthy snag lists that were often never put right.

Neither did they have any means of enforcing proper home completion and the making good of unfinished and shoddy workmanship.

Neither, as we have discovered, did they have any comeback when it all went wrong.

From recent years, when any numpty who could wave a hammer classed himself as a “builder”, buyers in new schemes had to tolerate tradesmen who deliberately messed up their work just so they could come back in the evenings to earn big nixers from their victims – paid twice to put their own mistakes right.

We came to accept shoddy new home standards when we’d never have accepted a dodgy toaster.

At its worst, Irish consumers were left with real structural disasters of unsaleable, unsafe and unsound properties (the 1,000 plus pyrite cases), homelessness and, in at least one poignant case (Priory Hall), suicide.

There have been past pretences at covering the consumer’s corner, not least local authorities who took big levies to pay fat-cat wages but failed to inspect buildings as was their responsibility.

There was the industry’s one-time guarantee scheme. Homebond promised to protect homeowners for a 10-year period against problems which might arise.

The reality was that the guarantee wouldn’t cover faults unless they were wholly “structural” – it didn’t count if your driveway sank, if your electrics were cross-wired or your plumbing leaked.

And when faults which were indisputably structural arose in the form of pyrite damaged properties, Homebond ran for the hills and refused to cover the 1,000 plus homeowners affected.

So now, finally, there appears to be some hope for real consumer rights for the Irish public when dealing with building contractors, sub-contractors and tradesmen. Because this week “Big Phil” Hogan finally launched his long-promised register of approved construction professionals.

Under the new Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI), developers, builders, sub-contractors and tradesmen who achieve a set of predetermined standards will appear on a list of recommended tradesmen.

The register, which is available to members of the public online, will show construction companies, sole traders and builders operating in your region.

The primary goals here are to secure more tax revenue and to protect the construction establishment via the CIRI’s unstated mission to wipe out the black market builder once and for all.

The body which administers the CIRI is voluntary, organised under the CIF and it meets in the CIF’s premises. So far not very promising.

But Minister Hogan insisted on a public complaints process being built in and therefore, for the first time ever, the Irish public finally has some comeback.

For the consumer of construction, the new CIRI system is important for three reasons.

First: real standards are required for contractors and sub-contractors to join the list. These cover tax compliance, insurance, education and a committal to regulation compliance and ongoing training.

Second: As we mentioned, there is a complaints procedure and members of the public can make submissions in an attempt to have parties removed from the register.

Third: we are promised that the register’s 10-member panel of appeal will only be half-filled with construction industry heads. The promise is that the other five are government appointed.

There must however be serious doubts about whether this process has any real teeth at all: for example, no one in the sector can seriously imagine non-paid appeals committee members plodding out to a West Dublin estate to inspect Mrs Murphy’s badly plastered ceiling. And will bad builders really be knocked off the list, or simply asked politely to pull their socks up?

But it’s a start.

And on its foundations perhaps some truly decent measures can at last be built to ensure a safe house for the small consumer of Irish construction.

For a start, I see that my old builder isn’t on the list.

Indo Property

Other posts of interest:

Minister Hogan launches new construction register – click link here

UPDATE: Construction Industry Register of Ireland – click link here

Is CIRI the only register of contractors? BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey  – click link here

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

Radio Clips: RIAI and CIF differ on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)  – click link here

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

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

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

Construction Recovery- watch this space.

by Bregs Blog admin team

tight_rope_walker_530w13

Construction Recovery- watch this space. 

It has been widely reported that Commencement Notices spiked in January and February of this year as building owners tried to avoid the new building control regulations. The number of commencement notices submitted during the first two months of 2014 was equivalent to 70% of the entire number of construction starts for 2013 were notified in just the first two months of 2014. (see post here)

One would expect that if Commencements were up, that this would be reflected in construction spending. (After all before you start on site you need to tender the job and contract a builder). It is widely believed, however, that a significant number of the early Commencement Notices are not live construction projects.

The Ulster Bank PMI [Purchasing Managers Index] shows very confident growth in construction spending in the nine months to May 2014.

Link to Ulster Bank PMI here.

The June figures are out and the figures for residential and commercial construction remain strong at 59.9 and 61.3 respectively- see pdf to follow. Although only slightly lower than in May there is nothing yet to suggest the spike in commencement notices has worked its way through the industry. Civil Engineering activity is down however to 45.1 from 47,9- possibly a reflection of continued depressed infrastructure spending.

All eyes will be on the July and August figures to see if this trend continues or if the sharp fall off in commencements since 1st March starts to bite.

In a recent Irish Building Magazine article “Construction output up strongly in Q1″ (view article here), the current rise in construction sector activity in the non-residential sector was noted from Central Statistics office figures.

Quote: “…the latest release indicated sharp falls in residential (-4.2% qoq, -4% yoy) and civil engineering work (-3.7% qoq, -2.6% yoy) in Q1. The sharp fall in residential work is a little surprising given the strength of the PMI surveys in Q1. The PMIs had been indicating strong gains in both commercial and residential work throughout the quarter. Moreover, early year housebuilding statistics showed completions up 1.6% in the year to February.

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

PDF of Ulster Bank Construction PMI Report (June 2014):

UlsterBank_RIEconomics_UB Construction PMI_20140714

Other posts of interest:

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop – click link here

Taoiseach: get building back to ‘sensible, sustainable levels’- click link here

Press: Construction and property bouncing back as jobs surge – click link here

Press: Fears construction recovery will stall – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey – click link here

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article – click link here

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started – click link here

Commencement notices fall: BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

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

The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014 – click link here

 

 

“Building Control and the Common Good”: Architecture Ireland

by Bregs Blog admin team

the-common-good

Here is an article from the representative body for architects (RIAI)  publication ‘Architecture Ireland’ from February 2014 (Issue 272) on building control by Orla Hegarty, Course Director for the Professional Diploma (Architecture) at UCD.

It examines the new regulations in the context of the “Duty of Care” that professionals are supposed to have, their responsibility to the community. A “Social Contract” exists between professionals and citizens; architects, engineers and surveyors are supposed to protect their clients’ interests, and the well-being of the community. In principal, this responsibility should underpin the professional’s role and override all other concerns- professional liability, fees and career opportunities.

For any professionals that have struggled with answers to a client’s question “what is SI.9 all about, what benefit will I get from it?”, that in itself should indicate that the rights of the consumer, home-owner, ordinary citizen, are not being adequately addressed in the new building regulations.

There are winners and loosers under SI.9. Unfortunately there is no win for the consumer.

Link to PDF: BCAR_Arch Ireland

Extract as follows:

____

BC(A)R- OPINION

‘Building Control and the Common Good’

By Orla Hegarty

There is still much work to be done to overcome the challenges of implementing an effective Building Control system in Ireland; the details may be worked out in the coming months and although this seems technical and complex, we should not lose sight of why this is so important.

The experience of the Stardust families, recounted again on RTE Radio (20 January 2014), are a very timely wake-up call. In 1981, 48 young people died and over 200 were injured in a fire at a disco on the north side of Dublin. The Tribunal Report[1] found that ‘the conversion of the Stardust complex failed to comply with twelve public resort bye-laws, twelve fire protection standards and six draft building regulations’. The aftermath of this tragedy lead to the introduction, nine years later, of the Building Control Act and a robust third party inspection of fire safety design.

This month, some of the families in pyrite homes (400 of an estimated 12,000 affected) are starting court proceedings for redress, seven years after the problems in their homes were first identified.  The reasons for this catastrophic material failure have been identified by the Pyrite Panel[2] who point out that ‘even if the remediation work is successfully undertaken, an indelible mark has been left on the lives of homeowners and families – and the past few years have been a nightmare for them’. As Graham Usher, Priory Hall resident, has reiterated: ‘It is a lesson that doesn’t seem to have been learned on this. You can have the best regulations in the world, you can have the best laws, but there’s no enforcement. Even under Minister Hogan’s new legislation, which strikes me as a bit of a half measure, there is no onus on local authorities to carry out any inspections whatsoever. The state is still abdicating their responsibility’.

In Priory Hall, Thornfield Square, Gleann Riada, Foxford Court, Balmayne, Kentswood Court and many other developments throughout the country families are living with the consequences of the boom. In many cases homes were built and sold quickly, with little or no oversight in an ad-hoc system that did not have safeguards to catch sub-standard practice. These families have suffered not only the impact of poor regulation and a lack of enforcement but in many cases they have no comeback.

The safety and wellbeing of all of us, as citizens, is the responsibility of architects, not in the narrow sense that we will accept liability, but in the very fundamental sense that we understand how buildings are designed, we understand how procurement operates and, most importantly, we understand what really happens on building sites and in occupied buildings.

Architects know the fault-lines in existing design, procurement and construction practices. As construction professionals, we must now advocate better solutions that are effective and then stress-test them so that they are legally, contractually and practically robust. Anything less is an abrogation of our professional duties as members of an Institute whose main object is to ‘undertake and encourage the general advancement of architecture for the benefit of the community[3]

An effective building control system cannot function without the essential supports of latent defects insurance, a statutory register of builders and it must be underpinned by workable enforcement mechanisms. Partial solutions may formalize the existing inadequate ad-hoc systems but as noted by the World Bank[4]the strongest reforms will be those that promote transparency and effectively increase the accountability of construction regulators, enforcement agencies, and building practitioners’.

Building Control is not an abstract or technical problem; its core principle is safe, accessible and sustainable buildings. It is at the heart of consumer confidence in us as professionals.

We have an opportunity now to learn from international best practice, to reassess where we are and to get this right. It may be another 20 years before building control legislation is re-visited. The Stardust families have been looking for closure for 33.

[1] Report of the Independent Examination- Stardust Fire, 2008 justice.ie REPORT.doc

[2] Pyrite Panel Report, 2012 PyriteReport.pdf

[3] RIAI Memorandum and Articles of Association, 2012 RIAI_MemorandumArticlesofAssociation.pdf

[4] Good Practices for Construction Regulation and Enforcement Reform, 2013 bginvestmentclimate.org/publications

OH ai article feb 5 2014

Other posts of interest:

Newstalk: 3rd March 2014- BC(A)R SI.9 “is not a consumer protection measure” – click link here

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

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

Press Piece- A “perfect storm” for certifiers: BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

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

The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014 – click link here

How do we fix BC(A)R SI.9? – click link here

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

The RIAI recommends separate appointment of Assigned Certifier under BCAR SI.9- click link here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

archive

Don’t forget our archives!

At time of writing (on 12th July 2014) we have over 116,000 views of 430 posts on the Bregs Blog.

The BRegs Blog would like to congratulate our new Minister for the Environment, and we invite him to subscribe, log on and scroll down through our archive posts to brief himself as to the issues many see as still relevant to the new regulations.

Many recent readers will not be familiar with our January 2013 posts. Click on the following link and scroll through the second month’s posts we published- subjects are very relevant to many issues we are currently experiencing.

Click title: BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

In this month we posted:

  • Hubert Fitzpartick of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF Director of Housing)  Director of Housing stated that on 1st March self-build will no longer be possible in Ireland. Listen to radio interview here.
  • Along with the CIF the representative body for architects (RIAI- another key stakeholder) had a crucial role in the implementation of this legislation. The  President of the RIAI Mr Robin Mandal wrote to  Minister Hogan requesting a deferral of SI9 on 15th January 2014 (See letter here).
  • The RIAI advised members this month: …members should be cautious …prior to accepting appointments as ‘Design Certifier’ or ‘Assigned Certifier’ …Note that the ‘Assigned Certifier’ role is a separate appointment to that of ‘Architect’ …
  • This month there were numerous Dáil questions regarding SI.9: Claire Daly and other TD’s asked should SI.9 be revoked? (see here); Pearse Doherty TD asked what was the financial burden of SI.9? (see here); Olivia Mitchell TD & Tommy Broughan TD asked about the status of self-builders? (see here)
  • More senior council advice warned of the onerous legal implications of the regulations and what was seen as “extraordinarily loose and vague” language- see post here.
  • The ban on self-building under the new regulations was explored. It was noted that the increased costs for a typical house could be upwards of €23,000 to employ a main contractor. This, in combination with additional professional fees, may put many projects out of reach of self-builders looking to enter the housing market. (see here)
  • We looked at the various sectors that were set to loose and gain under the new regulations. See post here.
  • A different way” is a professionals’ critique of the current system of building control by Michael Collins and Eoin O Cofaigh, both past-Presidents of the RIAI- see post here. Written with the benefit of extensive experience in the sector, it makes the compelling case for an alternative system of building control from the point of view of consumer protection.
  • The costs to the consumer of the new system and the cost of an alternative UK system was explored in two posts (see here and here). Based on the UK model it was suggested we needed only 270 experienced inspectors to provide 100% local authority inspections nationwide.
  • RIAI Council Policy with regard to the BC(A)R SI9 was adopted on 17th January 2014 (see here). Quote: “ We have asked (and we ask again) that the implementation date of the 1st March be postponed because systems and documents are not ready for implementation. Self certification as set out in the SI, especially in the speculative residential sector, cannot be relied on to protect householders. An appropriate system of LDI must exist alongside the Regulations, initially for the Residential sector. A statutory Register of Builders must exist alongside the Regulations. Legislation facilitating the putting in place of adequate enforcement mechanisms (including ADR) must be prioritised. The documentation relevant to the consumers’ (legitimate) interest in a building or property should be readily available.”
  • In “World Bank rankings & BC(A)R SI.9″ we wondered where Ireland’s rankings would end-up given the delays and lack of industry preparedness with the inttroduction of the `”blizzard of red-tape” and added delays associated with SI9. See post here.

Scroll through our earliest posts which are in reverse chronological order-

Previous Archive posts (click title):

BREGS Blog Archive 1- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

Other popular “top read” posts:

SI9- where do I start? – click link here

Top 20 Breg Blog posts for June 2014. – click link here

Top 10 for June 7th – click link here

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

Top 12 posts- week ending 31st May – click link here

TOP 10 for the week ending 17th May 2014 – click link here

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May – click link here

Top 10 Posts for Easter break – click link here

TOP 10 Breg Blog Posts for March:BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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

Recent revisions to GCCC form of contract.

by Bregs Blog admin team

change-roadsign

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issued revisions to GCCC form of contract on 27 June 2014. Introduction by SIAC Construction to the GCCC here. Quote from SIAC introduction:

“Back in the 70’s Max Abrahamson in his famous Construction Law textbook “Engineering Law and the ICE Contracts” used the phrase “in construction the rewards should go to the efficient not the lucky or the litigious”. It looks like there will be interesting times ahead for both the efficient and the two other contracting types.”

Breg Blog understand that over 70% of all public projects operating under the GCC form of contract since introduction in 2007 ended up in dispute post-completion.

For Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Changes to Capital Works Management Framework template documents (Construction Procurement Reform)- click link here

We are not aware of any review or recommendations published by any of the representative bodies for engineers, surveyors or architects (ACEI, SCSI or RIAI) to date on these most recent changes.

The big change would appear to be Substantial Completion. Claims are usually about two things-time and money. As the ‘time’ is now under the control of the Building Control Authority, any delay will be ‘money’ for the builder.

Extract:

________

27 June 2014: Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Changes to Capital Works Management Framework template documents

Further to the News Item of 6 March 2014: Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Procurement Implications for Contracting Authorities and the publication of GN 1.1.1 v1.0 06/03/2014, the template documents published under the Capital Works Management Framework have now been amended to reflect the changes.

The Particulars to the Instructions to Tenders – Works, indicate that the form of contract applicable to the tender is the one published on the Construction Procurement Reform website 10 days before the latest date for the receipt of tenders.  Contracting authorities should take note of this requirement should they choose to apply the new form of contract in any current tender competition.

The revised Form of Tender and Schedule (FTS9) should be used for all Construction Service Provider tenders.

The changes made to the standard template works contractors and service providers’ documents are set out in detail below.

Pillar 1 – Public Works Contracts – Amendments to PW-CF1, PW-CF3, PW-CF5, and Schedules

CLAUSE 1 – THE CONTRACT

Sub-clause 1.1 Definitions

The following new definitions have been included:

▪Ancillary Certificate

▪Assigned Certifier

▪Building Control Regulations – note there is a slightly different wording for PW-CF3 and PW-CF5 in recognition that the Building Control Regulations will not apply to all aspects of civil engineering projects.

▪Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works

▪Inspection Plan

▪Inspection Notification Framework

The following existing definitions have been amended:

▪Consent – ‘Ancillary Certificate’ added to the first sentence.

▪Contractor’s Documents – ‘Consents’ added to the first sentence.

▪Employer’s Personnel – ‘Assigned Certifier’ included as the last item in the list of bullet points

▪Substantial Completion of the Works or a part of the Works [including a Section] –  ‘the details in the Certificate of Compliance on Completion of the Works or a part thereof have been included on the Register maintained under Part IV of the Building Control Regulations.’ has been added as a new point (5).

CLAUSE 4 – MANAGEMENT

SUB-CLAUSE 4.8.2 – ‘[INCLUDING OTHER CONSENTS]’ HAS BEEN ADDED AT THE END OF POINT (2) –CLAUSE 4.8 NOT USED IN PW-CF5

Sub-clause 4.8.4 – ‘and any other Consents’ has been added to the end of the last line – Clause 4.8 not used in PW-CF5

Sub-clause 4.9 – ‘having regard to the requirements of the Inspection Plan and Inspection Notification Framework’ has been added to the end of the first sentence. ‘and any Inspection Plan requirements’ has been added into the square brackets at the end of the second sentence.

Sub-clause 4.11.1 – ‘including any requirements arising from the Inspection Plan and Inspection Notification Framework’ has been added to the end of the sub-clause.

new sub-clause 4.12.2 has been added to sub-clause 4.12 Documents.

CLAUSE 5 – CONTRACTOR’S PERSONNEL

Sub-clause 5.5 – ‘(i)’ has been included after both references to the Schedule, part 1F to accommodate a second matrix in the Schedule, part 1F.

new sub-clause 5.8 Ancillary Certificates has been added.

CLAUSE 8 – QUALITY, TESTING AND DEFECTS

Sub-clause 8.3.1 – ‘Assigned Certifier’ has been added into the first sentence.

Sub-clause 8.3.2 – ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added after both references to Employer’s Representative.

Sub-clause 8.3.3 –  ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added after the first reference to Employer’s Representative.

Sub-clause 8.4.1 – ‘[including the Inspection Plan]’ has been added into the first sentence. ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added into the second sentence.

CLAUSE 11 PAYMENT

Sub-clause 11.4.1 – ‘(i)’ has been included after both references to the Schedule, part 1F to accommodate a second matrix in the Schedule, part 1F.

Schedule

Part 1 F has been split into part 1 F (i) Collateral Warranties and a new section – F (ii) Ancillary Certificates.

Pillar 1 – Public Works Contracts – Amendments to PW-CF2, PW-CF4, and Schedules

CLAUSE 1 – THE CONTRACT

Sub-clause 1.1 Definitions

The following new definitions have been included:

▪Ancillary Certificate

▪Assigned Certifier

▪Building Control Regulations – note there is a slightly different wording for PW-CF4 in recognition that the Building Control Regulations will not apply to all aspects of civil engineering projects.

▪Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works

▪Design Certificate

▪Inspection Plan

▪Inspection Notification Framework

The following existing definitions have been amended:

▪Consent – ‘Ancillary Certificate’ and ‘Design Certificate’ added to the first sentence.

▪Contractor’s Documents – ‘Consents’ added to the first sentence.

▪Contractor’s Personnel – ‘Design Certifier’ added to the first sentence.

▪Employer’s Personnel – ‘Assigned Certifier’ included as the last item in the list of bullet points

▪Substantial Completion of the Works or a part of the Works [including a Section] –  ‘the details in the Certificate of Compliance on Completion of the Works or a part thereof have been included on the Register maintained under Part IV of the Building Control Regulations.’ has been added as a new point (5).

Clause 4 – Management

Sub-clause 4.8.2 – ‘[including other Consents]’ has been added at the end of point (2)

Sub-clause 4.9 – ‘having regard to the requirements of the Inspection Plan and Inspection Notification Framework’ has been added to the end of the first sentence. ‘and any Inspection Plan requirements’ has been added into the square brackets at the end of the second sentence.

Sub-clause 4.11.1 – ‘including any requirements arising from the Inspection Plan and Inspection Notification Framework’ has been added to the end of the sub-clause.

new sub-clause 4.12.2 has been added to sub-clause 4.12 Documents.

Clause 5 – Contractor’s Personnel

Sub-clause 5.5 – ‘(i)’ has been included after both references to the Schedule, part 1F to accommodate a second matrix in the Schedule, part 1F.

new sub-clause 5.8 Ancillary Certificates has been added.

Clause 8 – Quality, Testing and Defects

Sub-clause 8.3.1 – ‘Assigned Certifier’ has been added into the first sentence.

Sub-clause 8.3.2 – ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added after both references to Employer’s Representative.

Sub-clause 8.3.3 – ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added after the first reference to Employer’s Representative.

Sub-clause 8.4.1 – ‘[including the Inspection Plan]’ has been added into the first sentence. ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added into the second sentence.

Clause 9 – Time and Completion

Sub-clause 9.1.1 – ‘The Contractor shall give the Employer at least 20 working days’ notice prior to the date that the Contractor intends to commence constructing the Works.’ has been added as the last line of the sub-clause.

Clause 11 Payment

Sub-clause 11.4.1 – ‘(i)’ has been included after both references to the Schedule, part 1F to accommodate a second matrix in the Schedule, part 1F.

Schedule

Part 1 F has been split into part 1 F (i) Collateral Warranties and a new section – F (ii) Ancillary Certificates.

Pillar 1 – Public Works Contracts – Amendments to PW-CF6

Clause 1 – The Contract

Sub-clause 1.1

The following new definitions have been included:

▪Assigned Certifier

▪Building Control Regulations – the same definition as used in PW-CF3, PW-CF4 and PW-CF5 is used here.

Sub-clause 1.2

▪The following new condition has been included under ‘substantially complete and substantial completion’ :

‘the details in the Certificate of Compliance on Completion of the Works or a part thereof have been included on the Register maintained under Part IV of the Building Control Regulations.’

Clause 2 – The Site, starting and completing the Works

Sub-clause 2.9 – ‘and shall provide any document necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Building Control Regulations’ has been added to the end of the sub-clause.

Clause 3 – The Works

Sub-clause 3.7 – ‘Assigned Certifier’ has been added into the first sentence.

Sub-clause 3.8 – ‘and the Assigned Certifier’ has been added after both references to Employer’s Representative.

Pillar 1 – Public Works Contracts – Amendments to PW-CF11 Term Maintenance and Refurbishment Works

Clause 1

Sub-clause 1.2 – a definition of Building Control Regulations has been added

Sub-clause 7.3 – ‘(including Contractor’s Personnel)’ has been added after the first reference to the Contractor.  ‘in conformance with the Building Regulations’ has been added after ‘good practice’, and ‘Where requested by the Employer’s Representative, the Contractor shall provide the certification necessary to comply with the Building Control Regulations.’ has been added as a new last sentence.

Pillar 1 – Forms of Tender and Schedules FTS1 to FTS5

Part 1 F has been split into part 1 F (i) Collateral Warranties and a new section – F (ii) Ancillary Certificates.

Pillar 2 – Standard Conditions of Engagement – Amendments to Instructions to Tenderers

 ITTS1(a); ITTS1(b); ITTS2(a); and ITTS2(b)

▪New Section 5.12 Assigned Certifier.

▪New Section 5.13 Design Certificate.

▪Additions to Particulars to indicate whether the service provider will be required to provide the Assigned Certifier role (Instructions Section 5.12) or to sign the Design Certificate (Instructions section 5.13).

▪Additional rows added for quality criteria and sub-criteria.

Pillar 2 – Standard Conditions of Engagement – Amendments to Form of Tender and Schedule (Service Providers)

FTS9 and COE1 Schedule

Schedule B

▪Two new sections added on first page to indicate whether the service provider will be appointed as Assigned Certifier or whether they will be required to sign the Design Certificate.

▪Consultants Stage Services has been updated to include all Whole Stages/Sub-stages.

▪Project Supervisor for the Design Process Service section updated to reference Safety Health and Welfare (Construction) Regulations 2013.

The proposed review of the CWMF Guidance Notes will reflect the changes above.

___

Other posts of interest:

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read – click link here

For Practical Post Series 1-20 – click here

3 must-read posts for employees – click link here

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Alarming Legal opinion: BC(A)R SI.9 –  click link here

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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

Difficult Senior Council Opinions: BC(A)R SI.9 –  click link here

BREG Blog Archive 1- November 2013 – click link here

Dáil: Data Protection Issues and the new regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team

dataprotection

Dáil: Data Protection Issues and the new regulations

In response to questions from Catherine Murphy TD, outgoing Minister Phil Hogan confirmed that data protection issues and online access to sensitive information on the new public building control register (BCMS ) was not his responsibility. This was the remit of the data protection commissioner, not an issue for his department. Link here.

Building Regulations Application: 1 Jul 2014: Written answers (KildareStreet.com) – Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Building Regulations Application

Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)

303. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the commencement notices are no longer being published at local authorities for viewing by members of the public; his plans to rectify same by making the centralised database of commencement notices available for inspection online; if he is further planning to include a mechanism to allow an opt-out for those not wishing to have their information used by suppliers and marketing companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27832/14]

Phil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)

The Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2014 specify that a local authority acting as a building control authority shall keep a public register of building control activity which will include, among other things, brief particulars of the building works being undertaken, the name and address of the owner, and details of various persons assigned to build, design and certify the works.  Prior to 1 March 2014 each authority was responsible for maintaining its own register relating to building activity in its own functional area.  The introduction of the new online Building Control Management System (BCMS) on that date facilitates the administration of the public register requirement by electronic means and dispenses with the need for local authorities to maintain a physical register for inspection at their offices during office hours .   It is expected that each local authority will now fulfil its statutory obligation by extracting the relevant information from the BCMS database and publishing on its website a register of building control activity relevant to its functional area.

It is understood that the provisions of the Data Protection Acts, which are outside the scope of my remit as nister, place clear limits on the use of publicly available data for marketing or other purposes.  It is further understood that third parties who propose to use such information in this way are themselves considered to be data controllers for the purposes of the Data Protection Acts.  Section 2(8) of the Data Protection Acts provides that where a data controller anticipates that personal data will be processed or used for the purposes of direct marketing, including personal data that is required by law to be made available to the public, the data controller shall inform the persons to whom the data relates so that they may object, by means of a request in writing to the data controller and free of charge, to such use.

Breaches of Data Protection legislation are a matter for the Data Protection Commissioner who has the power to investigate such matters and, where appropriate, prosecute offences under the Acts.

Other posts of interest:

BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS – click link here

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

SI9- where do I start? – click link here

Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate – click link here

O’Cofaigh: Competitiveness issues & BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

 

Pyrite in Dublin Zoo?

by Bregs Blog admin team

lk

In the following article in the Herald.ie, fears that Dublin Zoo, an award-winning state project from 2005 by the OPW, may be affected by pyrite are discussed. We wonder will the public restaurant be closed due to health and safety concerns in light of possible structural issues mentioned?

Inadequate market policing by Local Authorities and lack of additional resources allocated for quarry regulation by Minister Hogan and the Department of the Environment have sparked fears that recent incidences of pyrite re-occurring are widespread in the industry. Professional Certifiers are concerned that they may become liable for defective materials. Due to the State’s lack of action on pyrite many professionals fear they have been made the single-point of responsibility under the new building regulations for an area they see as being the remit of the Department and Government.

Many consumers and home-owners see no change to the regulatory system since the first examples of pyrite affected homes appeared over 6 years ago.

Dublin Zoo’s cracks spark pyrite fears, by Conor Feehan – 10 JULY 2014 12:00 AM- see link here

Extract:

DUBLIN Zoo has engaged engineers to determine if worrying cracks in buildings at the site have been caused by pyrite.

The cracks were noticed in recent months in the zoo’s offices and Meerkat Restaurant area, and a decision was taken to call in experts to establish if they present any sort of indication of structural damage.

Specialist measuring equipment has been placed across a series of the cracks to see if they are widening over time or if they have stabilised.

A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo confirmed the tests are taking place, but added that the process would take time and results were not yet available to identify the cause of the defects.

“A routine check is being carried out in the office building and restaurant area of Dublin Zoo at the moment,” said the spokesperson.

“There are small cracks in the main office building and restaurant area which we are monitoring. “We are checking for all possible issues, including pyrite,” they added.

There are no reported cracks in the areas where animals are enclosed, and no threat of any escapes by potentially dangerous species. Neither is there any threat to the safety of people using the buildings being examined.

Pyrite has caused havoc to many buildings in recent years, at a huge financial cost.

foundations

The mineral, which has been found in some of the stones that are used in the foundations of buildings, expands slowly when it is exposed to the air, causing walls to shift and crack.

If it is found pyrite is the problem it could lead to expensive works to put things right.

Problems with pyrite first came to prominence in recent times in 2007 after the massive celtic tiger building boom.

Residents in some houses in estates in Drynham in Kinsealy, Myrtle in Balgriffin and Beaupark in Baldoyle were among the first to notice cracks in their newly-built homes.

Investigations led to the discovery of the mineral in the infill in their foundations which expands as it oxidises, and pushed up floors as well as moving walls.

It has been estimated that the ongoing cost of repair could be €70,000 for each house affected.

In 2012, pyrite was discovered in three national schools in Dublin, St Patrick’s in Diswellstown, Castleknock, St Canice’s Boys school in Finglas, and St Peter’s in Phibsboro, which was extensively refurbished in 2007.

cfeehan@herald.ie

Other posts of interest:

SI9- where do I start? click link here

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?  – click link here

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

Dáil Questions: Minister Hogan and Pyrite – click link here

Radio: Drogheda houses affected by pyrite – click link here

PYRITE & THE ASSIGNED CERTIFIER – click link here

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite – click linkhere

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert – click link here

 

 

 

SI9- where do I start?

by Bregs Blog admin team

 trade-show-planning

SI9- where do I start?

New to SI.9- Confused? Following on from an influx of new readers to Bregs Blog we received a number of comments like “help- where do I start?“. We have compiled a list of the most read posts of the past 3 months with headings to guide readers. You can delve into each topic in depth as most posts have “other posts of interests” at the bottom. With well over 420 posts in 6 months along with industry alerts, getting the specific information you need on one topic can be difficult at the best of times.

You can type in a key-word search and relevant posts will pop up in reverse chronological order. We also have two “archive” posts that allow you to scroll down through the first two months of posts here on Bregs blog for November and December 2013 (click November and December). Don’t forget you can configure bulletins to come to you daly or weekly, see post: Note to readers Bregs Blog on Post format. Sign-up and along with over 1,000 others received daily or weekly updates, news and opinion pieces on the new regulations as events unfold.

Take your phone (or iPad air) down to the beach and browse through these at your leisure. Remember to log all reading as “unstructured” CPD- nearly as informative as the RTE programme “Room to Improve”!

Enjoy!

Where are all the source documents?

Where to find everything part 1? BC(A)R SI.9 

I am a home buyer-what new protections will si9 afford me?

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

Newstalk: BC(A)R SI.9 “is not a consumer protection measure”

10 steps to repairing your defective home under SI.9

If one of my projects has pyrite what happens now?

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

Do you have any helpful documents?- A Surveyor’s view of BCAR SI.9

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

Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Form (post 2 of 2)

Registered surveyor letter to TD’s: BC(A)R SI.9

What do we charge when we don’t know what services we will be providing?

4 things I am putting in my fee agreements

Is my project exempt? It’s only small…

Practical Post 1: BC(A)R SI.9 Extensions & Refurbishments

Industry documentation- what’s involved and what are drafts like?

Engineers Ireland – Building Regulations Certificates 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

BC(A)R SI.9 + Construction Product Regulations 2013

OK I don’t want to be a certifier- Are there any specialist certifiers who will do these duties separately?

Specialist Certifier 1- ENGINEER: Questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 2- ARCHITECT: Questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 3- SURVEYOR: Questions and Answers

Any tips? I’m a designer, specifier, contractor….

4 tips for Assigned Certifiers…

4 tips for design certifiers

4 tips for sub-contractor ancillary certifiers

5 posts every builder should read

I am employee are there any implications for me?

3 must-read posts for employees

What’s the best guide for BCMS issued by Local Authorities for the new regs?

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

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE- Local Authority advice

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS “must do better”

Is there a Q+A section for quick answers to practical questions?

Practical Post Series 1-20

Why are clients quoting me very low budgets for BC(A)R SI.9 duties?

Complaint to Minister: Fee fixing & BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 9: Fees & numbers of inspections? BC(A)R SI.9

Press piece: professionals “engaging in financial extortion” says Hogan

What are the legal implications of BC(A)R for all of us?

Summary of Legal Posts – BC(A)R SI.9

Is there one document to give to clients to show how complex house permissions are now?

Architect’s Overview of Regulations for a Dwelling

What are spec builders and developers going to do now? 

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

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

Tell me about CIRI the new register of builders?

Minister Hogan launches new construction register

What is the latest CPD advice on the new roles under BC(A)R SI.9?

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

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

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

What do stakeholders think of the new regulations?

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

Is BCAR affecting jobs? Are clients delaying projects?

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

I’m a self-builder why won’t anyone certify my build? Do I need to employ a main contractor?

Building a house in Ireland- Irish Association of Self-Builders

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

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

Law Society response to self-builders

Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate

I’m an architectural technologist what is going on? 

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Have there been any industry surveys completed on BCAR SI.9?

Building Control Officers: Survey 

BRegs Blog 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

CIF Construction Confidence Survey 

BC(A)R FIRST 100 DAYS SURVEY

Do TD’s know about SI9?

Alert to TD about new regulations

How do we fix BC(A)R SI.9? 

How do we fix BC(A)R SI.9? 

 

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