Another way forward: The cost of Independent Local Authority Building Control Inspections #bregs #MaoilíosaMelReynolds

by bregs blog admin team

mel's image 2013

We should look at the real costs for a properly resourced local Authority building control inspectorate. For the full range of building types it is sensible to adopt a sliding scale costs based on the building type, method of procurement, whether an architect would be providing a full service and whether a contractor is registered or not. The procurement methods would be declared by the client on commencement and trigger a sliding scale of fees. For this exercise we are assuming a salary cost for a building control inspector at €48,000 per annum. Appointment of an architect to provide full service still is best way to ensure building quality and compliance. Fees to be borne by developer/client and process to be self-funding at zero cost to taxpayer.

Where a full service appointment in in place for a once-off dwelling we would assume the lowest control inspection level is required: 3 inspections at cost €375.

For a multi-unit residential development with a main contractor and design team giving partial service this development would have minimum of say 6 inspections at €750 each per unit. This rises to say 9 inspections for self builder at cost €1125.

Other categories would be on sliding scale with provision for fines caused by non compliant work requiring additional inspections and admin (warnings issue etc)

In this system most existing categories of procurement accommodated: from self-building once-off housing to “for-sale” multi-unit developments where a full architectural service is not provided. The variable is the cost of additional inspections based on risk analysis etc.

Cost would be the similar whether developer uses Local Authority building control directly or elects to use a licensed operator (like UK model).

The costs above are within the established range of costs for inspections in Northern Ireland (£300 per house) and scotland (£700).

A target of 100% Building Control Authority (BCA) inspections should be in place at the commencement of any new certification process. Now is the time to get a proper system up and running when construction output is depressed. BCA inspections and fees could be a valuable source of income for local authorities given loss of income from the impending roll-out of Irish Water in January 2014.

The Department has stated a mid-range additional cost per dwelling of €2000 for S.I.80 (RIA 2012). Why continue a defective system of self-certification at an increased cost when properly resourced independent building control inspections could cost as little as €375 for the same dwelling, less than 1/4 the cost of S.I.80?

Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds BArch (NUI) DipPM (TCD) MUBCons (UCD) MRIAI RIBA