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.

Month: March, 2014

Building Control (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation SI. 105

by Bregs Blog admin team

Here we have the first post-March 1st revision to Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Link to SI. 105 (part-deferral) :

S.I. No. 105 of 2014

Less than one week after the implementation date of 1st March we have a deferral for particular buildings types. It would appear there will be an application process and a new committee set up to administer and decide on exclusions from SI.9. Possibly due to recent efforts and submissions to the Department and other Ministers  promoting deferral of SI.9 it is expected architects will not be invited on this committee, despite being key stakeholders in the formation of SI.9.

Many commentators and stakeholders believe acute problems with SI.9 will start appearing this month post introduction of BC(A)R SI.9. In the rush to meet the deadline for commencement notices under the old system some local authorities have experienced a 200% increase in commencement notices in February.

It is widely believed that this revision is just the first in a series of “patches” that will be applied to BC(A)R SI.9. It will be interesting to see the rationale behind this and if there are specific differences between these project types and say self-build domestic houses where the same criteria have been met: i.e. significant expenditure to date, planning permission in place, additional costs due to BC(A)R SI.9, acute need for accommodation and delays due to lack of professionals willing to undertake certifier roles.

In a recent informal survey the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) canvassed a number of “competent persons”, engineers, chartered surveyors and architects to see if anyone would be in a position (or willing) to certify self-builds from March 1st onwards under the new regulations. They received a 100% negative response. We have yet to see comprehensive professional guidance concerning the implementation of the Design and Assigned Certifier roles from any of the representative organisations- the ACEI, SCSI or RIAI. The representative bodies for the key stakeholders: engineers, chartered surveyors and architects, are all remarkably silent in advice to members at this point, heading into week two after the introduction of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014).

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Part Deferral of BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

deferral1

This would appear to be a new Statutory Instrument (S.I. No. 105 of 2014) that allows part- deferral of some building types that qualify under Building Control Amendment Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Is this the first in a series of part-deferrals? When is this due to be implemented? We wonder why this seems to have been rushed into place less than one week after the introduction of SI.9.

There have been very vigorous submissions to Ministers and Government Departments by the representative body of architects (RIAI) on many of the adverse and unintended consequences of BC(A) SI.9. The representative body for chartered surveyors (SCSI) has publicly aired concerns over lack of local authority readiness to implement BC(A)R SI.9. There is also widespread criticism from the industry and consumer groups affected, in particular self-builders, who have escalated complaints to europe and mounted a nationwide political and public lobbying campaign. Self-builders will see nearly 2,000 families this year unable to afford to construct their own homes as a result of the extraordinary additional costs the regulation. We await an explanation or guidance on this new statutory instrument with interest. Link to pdf:

http://www.irisoifigiuil.ie/currentissues/Ir070314.PDF

Extract:

_________________

S.I. No. 105 of 2014.

BUILDING CONTROL (AMENDMENT) (No. 2)

REGULATIONS 2014.

These Regulations provide for alternative but equivalent means of complying with the requirements under the Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2014 to assign a person to inspect and certify the works (the Assigned Certifier) in line with a plan lodged at commencement and implemented during construction. The alternative means of compliance applies to a limited range of public and privately owned buildings classified as first, second or third level places of education, hospitals or primary care centres.

The alternative means of compliance applies only to projects subject to each of the following circumstances:—

(i) planning permission, where appicable, has been obtained before 1 March, 2014;

(ii) contract documents have been signed before 1 November, 2014; and

(iii) a valid commencement notice has been lodged with the building control authority no later than 1 March, 2015.

These Regulations also clarify that such fee as is required under Part V of the Regulations in respect of Article 9 applies to all commencement notices. Copies of the above may be purchased from the Government Publications Office, 52 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Phone 01-6476834.

Price: €2.54.

si105.pdf [Converted]

Government statement: BC(A)R SI.9 “the end of self-certification”?

by Bregs Blog admin team

endawordcloud-390x285

In the recent government publication “Programme for Government: Annual Report 2014” the recent Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9) was mentioned on page 5o. Quote in italics- (text in bold for emphasis by Breg Blog Admin):

Housing                                  

Legislate for Tougher Building Controls

Strict new measures for the control of building projects came into force on 1 March 2014 to prevent the future reoccurrence of poorly constructed dwellings, pyrite damage and structures breaching fire regulations left as a legacy of a poorly regulated housing boom. Under the new regulations ending the system of self-certification, building works will be inspected at key stages of construction by assigned certifiers such as registered architects, engineers or building surveyors.

Link to: Programme_for_Government_Annual_Report_2014

http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Work_Of_The_Department/Programme_for_Government/Programme_for_Government_Annual_Report_20141.pdf

This is an extraordinary statement and is a complete contradiction to industry interpretation and Minister Hogan’s own description of BC(A)R SI.9. The lack of any reasonable level of independent government oversight of the construction industry in SI.9 has been the subject of much criticism by numerous industry stakeholders and observers. Both representative bodies for architects and chartered surveyors (RIAI and SCSI respectively) have been critical of the lack of resources made available to local authorities to implement the new regulations. Commentators  such as Frank McDonald have suggested that BC(A)R SI.9 reinforces the government system of “light touch” self-regulation that created construction scandals such as Priory Hall and the pyrite scandal.

Here is an extract off a recent letter to members from the president of the architects representative body (RIAI) Robin Mandal from 28th February 2014.

“While the building regulations themselves have not changed, the way in which compliance with the regulations is controlled will change.  This new system extends the level of self-certification involved in the building process. Building owners must now engage a registered architect, a registered building surveyor or a chartered engineer to act as an assigned certifier on most building projects. The building owner is also obliged to appoint a competent builder…The RIAI estimates that these new roles will increase the time involvement of the professionals by 30-50 percent, depending on the nature of the project.”

Listen to Robin Mandal, RIAI President on RTÉ Radio 1: News At One Media Player:

http://www.rte.ie/news/news1pm/player.html?20140228,20535683,20535683,flash,232

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In the following article the director of housing in the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Hubert Fitzpatrick discusses the requirements for CIRI, the privately owned and operated voluntary register of contractors.  CIRI is the only government recognised register in Ireland and has been subject to widespread criticism from consumer groups such as the self-builders representative organisation (IAOSB), who feel it is restrictive and anti-competitive. Link to article here:

http://www.engineersjournal.ie/new-register-of-contractors-and-builders-to-promote-best-practice/

Many industry commentators suggest BC(A)R SI.9 merely reinforces the current defective system of self-certification at the expense of the consumer, and facilitates the Minister his Department in avoiding costs, duties and responsibilities associated  with independent inspections normally carried out by local government in other EU countries.

Frank McDonald on this Newstalk programme on Monday 3rd March 2014 noted that the government and department have introduced SI.9 to avoid any role in inspections of buildings and to avoid responsibility in the building process. He states the consumer has not been well served by this new regulation. Link to Newstalk Moncrief Show (Part 1) 22:36 to  29:00

http://newstalk.ie/player/listen_back/8/8128/03rd_March_2014_-_Moncrieff_Part_1

Quoting from the IAOSB complaint to the European ombudsman:

The core issue is the restriction on the market to membership of a voluntary (non statutory) private organisation, The Construction Industry Federation voluntary register of contractors (CIRI) . This is a restrictive practice. Industry estimates over 60% of houses built in Ireland are self-build projects, owners acting as main contractors. The consequence of SI.9 is that it will prevent self-builders from building their own dwellings and may result in many not being able to enter the housing market. Industry estimates an annual drop in house starts of 17% or 1,800 self-builder that will abandon projects a result of this legislation (out of projected 10,500 completions annually).

This situation can be rectified and solutions are available which allow for self-builders to build homes for their families. These solutions have been proposed to the Irish Minister for the Environment. The Minister of the Environment (Minister Phil Hogan), under the Building Control Act 1990 has the authority to establish a system of independent local authority inspections. Minister Phil Hogan has the authority to extend the Regulations to include a Register (held and administered in the Republic of Ireland under this legislation) for an independent system of building control inspectors (approved inspectors) directly managed by Local Authorities. I suggest that this be executed without delay and that the Minister immediately extend the Regulations to provide for an independent system of inspections similar to that operated in the UK and elsewhere in the EU.

The UK system permits self-building unlike the Irish system of building control which is a complete self-certification system with codified roles and professions. An independently regulated system allows self-builders and others not codified to fully participate in the procurement process: risk-based assessment is applied by a local authority inspectorate which may trigger more frequent inspections if a main contractor is not formally appointed to a project.”

_____________

Extract from article “ The Engineers Journal- CIF: New register of contractors and builders”:

Entry on the Register is open to all building and construction companies, partnerships or individuals who:

▪ Submit their current Tax Clearance Certificate;

▪ Undertake to adhere to the required Industry Code of Ethics and Commitments;

▪ Demonstrate that they have the required competence and experience of construction. In this respect, practical hands on experience of working in construction, generally for a period of no less than three years should be demonstrated;

▪ Have a knowledge of building practice, building regulations and regulatory obligations;

▪ Commit to ongoing training and development so that membership can be maintained and renewed; and

▪ Where applicable, an acceptable record which demonstrates compliance with regulatory requirements pertinent to the industry.

Prospective members will be required to undergo an initial induction/training programme so that they are fully aware of the obligations that they commit to under the registration process.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 oblige owners who commission works to which the 2014 Regulations apply to appoint competent builders who will undertake the works concerned and that any persons employed or engaged by them to undertake any of the works involved will be competent to undertake the works.

Provision is also included in the statutory Commencement Notice for inclusion of the Builders’ Construction Industry Register Ireland Registration Number when registered. This registration number should also be included in the statutory undertaking by the builder and in the statutory Completion Certificate to be filed with the Building Control Authority on completion of developments.

 

RTÉ Radio, Today with Sean O’Rourke: Priory Hall

by Bregs Blog admin team

priory-hall

Tuesday 25th February 2014 radio piece on Priory Hall. This project, along with the pyrite scandal, are the two issues often quoted by Minister Hogan as the motivation behind Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Link to RTE Today with Sean O’Rourke:

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9:20532760:15036:25-02-2014:

Incredibly after the evacuation of his projects the developer is convinced he is not at fault. To date we are not aware of any independent audit or report completed on Priory Hall so a critical analysis of the systems failure that resulted in Priory Hall may not have informed  Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Residents of Priory Hall have been very critical of BC(A)R SI.9 and in particular the lack of independent local authority inspections, and the continuance of self-certification. Graham Usher speaking on Marian Finucane 13th October 2013:

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A20453821%3A0%3A%3A

Extract from previous post “Graham Usher raises concerns about the New Building Regulations”

The state has a massive responsibility in what happened to Priory Hall. The state passed this legislation, this self-certification, and they introduced a building regime which essentially allowed builders to build property to whatever standard they wanted. And Priory Hall shows there is no protection to the homeowner…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 other countries you have local authorities going carrying out inspections at various stages of construction and you don’t have the sort of problems we have in Ireland

Irish Times: BC(A)R SI.9 to add costs but also peace of mind?

by Bregs Blog admin team

images-3

Letter to the Editor printed in Irish Times on Friday 7th March 2014:

Extract:

Sir, – The new building regulations require builders and “assigned certifiers” to sign-off to local authorities for new building works.

Private contracts for new homes, extensions and other buildings are private. They are arranged between the clients and their chosen main contractors and/or their subcontractors. Developers and home builders decide what they want in a building. Designers help to achieve the required result. Most building work is carried out in accordance with building regulations.

A small number of projects received planning permission but were not inspected nor monitored by fire regulators or other local authority supervisors. To whom will the new regulation bring peace of mind?

It is surprising that any professional institute would be prepared to back this regulation. The law in this country does not imply a warranty that a professional will achieve a desired result, eg a surgeon cannot guarantee that their patient will be cured by the treatment given to them and a solicitor cannot guarantee that their client’s case will be won in the courts. But designers are now expected to guarantee that a building they designed will be fit for the purpose for which it was designed and that it was carried out to the design, specification and building regulations by signing a document certifying those works, which must then be submitted to the planning authorities.

Will the planning authority take direct legal responsibility if the assigned certifier or the registered builder has gone out of business before any building defects become apparent because this regulation is now legally required? The appointment of a full-time “clerk-of-works” individual for the duration of the contract, plus an “assigned certifier” who will have to be available to alter drawings and specifications in accordance with the contract, will be a minimum requirement.

Those costs will certainly eliminate self-building and a considerable amount of small to medium building works throughout the country.

The registered builders will need to be on constant alert to all design details and variations, which will have to be recorded under the registration certificate and changed under the terms of building contract. Separate contracts may be required for assigned certifiers. Building contract conditions will be used more than ever in order to shift responsibility between the designers and the builders.

A greater likelihood of litigation will arise as the contracts for certification compliance are not time limited. Insurance is renewable annually.

The additional building costs to the developer and home builder are going to be considerable. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL FINAN,

Glencar,

Sligo.

 

Still time to book places for CIF roadshow events

by Bregs Blog admin team

Tom Parlon 7

Here are some dates for the diary for the Construction Industry Federation’s (CIF) public briefing events on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Current and potential new members of the CIF can look forward to more work as a result of BC(A)R SI.9. Based on a total output of 10,500 new houses per annum approximately 4,500 self-builds will now have no alternative but to employ registered contractors for their projects, with a further 1,800 abandoning their projects due to the increased costs of employing main contractors. Industry estimates this may cost the industry €325m in projects delayed or abandoned, while the net gain to established builders will be the increased turnover due to the legal obligations to employ a main contractor for all qualifying projects under BC(A)R SI.9.

4,500 house projects may net established contractors over €800m in additional turnover (€180k average house cost). Unfortunately the extensive additional costs of employing a main contractor and additional professional roles in SI.9 will be borne by the owner (self-builder) in these cases (conservative estimate 15% extra on construction cost of home).

The CIF own and operate the only government recognised private register of building contractors in Ireland. As this register is specifically written into SI.9 membership of the CIF register (CIRI) it is considered de-facto compliance of competence as builder. There has been widespread criticism in the industry and consumer groups of the government avoiding responsibility for independent regulation of the construction sector. The new voluntary private register of contractors CIRI is currently the subject of a european ombudsman complaint by the representative body for self-builders the IAOSB. Link here:

Link to IAOSB website: Take Action, Join the Campaign and stand Up for your rights

http://www.iaosb.com/take action, join the campaign and stand up for your rights.html

Link to “Still time to book places for CIF roadshow events”:

http://cif.ie/news-feed/news/383-still-time-to-book-places-for-cif-roadshow-events.html

___________

Extract off link “Still time to book places for CIF roadshow events”:

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is currently holding a range of free briefings around the country on the new bulding regulations and the construction register.  Members and non members of the CIF are invited to attend, the only requirement is that they register in advance.  There is no payment for these events.

The roadshow started 5th March in Limerick and there has been a strong events at the events held so far.

The remaining dates and the booking details are:

Midlands
Venue: Tullamore Court Hotel, Co. Offaly.
Date: Monday 10th March at 5pm.
To book please contact Brid Cody on bcody@cif.ie or by calling 021 4351410.

Galway & Mayo
Venue: Pillo Hotel, Galway.
Date: Wednesday 12th March at 9am.
To book contact Brid Cody on bcody@cif.ie or by calling 021 4351410.

Sligo, Leitrim & Donegal
Venue: Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo.
Date: Wednesday 12th March at 4pm.
To book please contact Brid Cody on bcody@cif.ie or by calling 021 4351410.

Dublin, Meath, Kildare & Louth
Venue: CIF, Construction House, Canal Road, Dublin 6.
Date: Thursday 13th March at 2pm.
To book please contact Gillian Heffernan on gheffernan@cif.ie or by calling 01 4066016.

Quote from site:

The new building regulations took effect from 1st March 2014 and this has generated a lot of discussion and interest throughout the construction industry. There has also been a lot of confusion about how these regulations will impact on local construction companies and sole traders. The CIF briefing aims to provide clear details on the building regulations and how they will impact the sector locally.

Information will also be provided on the new register for the construction industry. Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) is being set up to help distinguish competent, experienced construction companies from those who have given the industry a bad name.

Under the new building regulations anyone listed on CIRI will be deemed a competent builder and this has generated a lot of interest amongst those involved in the construction industry. The CIF briefing will provide construction companies, sole traders and builders with details on how CIRI works, why it has been set up and how they join the register.

There will also be information on all the other areas of interest to the sector, covering topics such as industrial relations & human resources, tendering and contracting as well as health and safety.

Speaking about the briefings, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “These briefings are aimed at providing useful information to construction companies and sole traders. Undoubtedly the new building regulations and the CIRI register will have implications for everyone involved in the construction industry, so we want to help ensure those in the industry are kept informed.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion about the CIRI construction register and the new building regulations, so we hope these briefings will help clear up some of those misconceptions. We’ll outlining clear, easy to follow information about the regulations and CIRI, how they will operate and what changes they will mean for construction companies and sole traders.

“We would like to invite anyone representing construction companies and sole traders to attend the briefings. CIF members and non members are welcome. That goes for builders, plasterers, sub contractors, carpenters, painters, glaziers, plumbers – anyone who is involved in any aspect of construction is welcome to attend. Our only request is that all those who would like to attend book a place in advance. There is no payment for attending the briefing.

“As well as the two big issues of concern we will also be using this briefing to discuss a range of other issues concerning the construction industry. A more informed construction industry is a better industry so we hope this will benefit everyone who attends and there will be a strong attendance as the roadshows tour the country,” Mr. Parlon concluded.

 

Impact of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 | McDowell Purcell

by bregs blog admin team

DownloadedFile

Interesting legal advice on impact of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) from this McDowell Purcell:

http://www.mcdowellpurcell.ie/impact-of-the-building-control-amendment-regulations-2014/

From reading this it would appear that the validation timescale may be “at the discretion” of the local authorities. The note suggests that if a completion certificate is deemed invalid, time may be “at large”. This may have significant implications for clients waiting to occupy completed buildings. The impact of delays on completion will be of concern to SME’s and commercial fit-out projects in particular. Under BC(A)R SI.9 buildings may not be occupied until the completion submission by new certifiers has been validated by local authorities. There has been widespread criticism and concern at under-resourcing of local authority Building Control departments, in particular by two key stakeholders involved in the formation of BC(A)R SI.9, the SCSI and RIAI (representative bodies for chartered surveyors and architects respectively).

Delays due to validation may have significant contractual implications on claims for delays and extra costs. The new roles of design and assigned certifiers have not being incorporated into the current standard forms of building contracts and many feel that introduction of SI.9 may be premature as a result. This area has been highlighted in RIAI current policy and calls for deferral submitted to Ministers Hogan and Bruton in advance of implementation in January 2014.

Extract off legal advice:

“The Regulations suggest a timeline of up to 21 days for the determination of the validity or invalidity by a Building Control Authority of the Certificate submitted.  It is at the discretion of the Building Control Authority to adhere to these timelines.

Where the Building Control Authority considers the Certificate as valid, the Building Control Authority is required to enter all particulars on the register and notify the builder.”

Highland Radio – Commencements fell in Donegal in 2013

by Bregs Blog admin team

PLanning-process

The latest edition of the National Housing Construction Index compiled and issued by Link2Plans reveals a decline for Donegal, with planning applications down 9% and project commencements down 7% in 2013.m Link to Highland Radio Piece here:

http://www.highlandradio.com/2014/03/03/planning-and-commencements-fell-in-donegal-in-2013/

However, the company says this is an improvement on the 2012 statistics, when the figure for commencements was down 27%.

The company says it is closely monitoring the commencement figures for the first months of 2014 to see what impact strict new building regulations will have.

The Donegal figure is above the national average which saw a 1% drop in planning applications and a 4% drop in commencements.

However, Danny O’Shea of Link2PLans says Donegal still punches above its weight…………

http://www.link2plans.com/

Irish Building Magazine: Surveyors appeal to Government: BC(A)R SI.9.

by Bregs Blog admin team

354194-land-surveyor-chelmsford-ingatestone-simon-matter-&-co-chartered-surveyors-surveying

New Building Regulations in force – Surveyors appeal to Government to increase resources for local authorities « Irish Building Magazine on 4th March 2014. Link:

http://www.irishbuildingmagazine.ie/2014/03/04/new-building-regulations-in-force-surveyors-appeal-to-government-to-increase-resources-for-local-authorities/

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) is a key stakeholder involved in the formation of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). In this article Kevin Hollingsworth, Chair of the Building Surveying Professional Group of the SCSI said;

The new system will give a clear and auditable trail of responsibility for buildings which is good news for prospective home purchasers. The Society is also calling for the allocation of increased resources to local authorities for higher targeted inspection levels to ensure full compliance with the regulations

Comment:

We note under the Code of Practice there may not be a  “clear and auditable trail” or record under BC(A)R SI.9. Under the Code of Practice local authorities have avoided the necessity to retain submitted documents made under the new regulation. They are required only to retain a register or list of documents, not the actual documents themselves. In fact the responsibility for maintenance of all records resides with private companies or individuals, the Design and Assigned Certifiers, who could be employees of development companies. This would appear to be a key flaw in the new system. If Certifiers go bankrupt, are wound down or simply mislay electronic records key information required by consumers trying to obtain redress for defects post-completion through the courts may not be available. We note our previous post on the BCMS Elodgement system currently in operation in Local authorities. As this system has no security protocols there is no way to guarantee the veracity of information lodged at present. These are two major shortcomings in the current system.

Link to the code of practice:

2014-02-07 Code of Practice Building Control Regulations 2014

The above opinion piece was submitted by Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds on 5th March 2014.

2 problems facing self builders: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

self-build-is-childs-play-with-buildstore

Link to the IAOSB website page: “The two main problems that self builders are facing following the commencement of S.I 9 on 1st of March 2014”

http://www.iaosb.com/the_two_main_problems_that_self_builders_are_facing_following_the_commencement_of_ s.i_9_on_1st_of_march_2014.html

Extract (with permission from IAOSB) here:

Following the commencement of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 and the feedback that we are getting, it seems that there are mainly two points that are still a big concern for the self builders.

The first one is still the illegal sentence on the certificates which requires the self builders to sign a legal document and declare themselves to be a principal or director of a building company when they are not. Even though the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan has mentioned in the media and through other correspondence that it would be perfectly ok for them to sign the certificate. Most self builders are understandably reluctant to declare something about themselves they know to be untrue. There is a lack of trust in the Minister and his Department for the way they have handled this whole mess.

On a visit to the offices of local Building Control today 5th of March 2014, I was informed by the County  Engineer that they know that the sentence is wrong and they know that if you sign the document  you are breaking the law. However, it should be ok as no one would pursue you for it. I asked him, would you sign a legal document as a fireman even though you are not one? His answer was no. So, he was asked that if I write the comments regarding the things that he mentioned would he sign it and stamp it? After hesitating a bit he said yes.

Therefore, if you wish to go ahead at the moment with your build and take a chance on the legal question, please write the following and ask the local Building Control to sign and stamp it for you so that you have something to cover you in case they changed their mind in the future.

Dear Local Authority

I intend to self build my house through Direct Labour route and I would appreciate it if you could clarify the following for me as far as the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I 9.

1) Can I Self Build using Direct Labour including myself?

2) Can I nominate myself as the builder for the purpose of the certifications?

3) At commencement stage can you provide written undertaking that my builder’s completion certificate where I sign as builder will not be rejected?

4) In the certificate for Undertaking by the Builder, Form Of Certificate Of Compliance and the Certificate Of Compliance On Completion where it is indicated “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a Building Company only”, can you please confirm I not be breaking the law if I sign it as I am not a principal or director of a company?

Thank you for your help and co-operation.

To be signed or stamped by the representative of the Local Authority .

Date:

If you wish to print one in Word Doc.

The second problem is that there are a lot of concerns regarding the refusal of the professionals (Architects,Engineers and Building Surveyors) to be the certifiers should the build go ahead as a self build using Direct Labour. We already know that there has been objections to Amendment  S.I.9 by some of the representative bodies for the above professionals as they can see a lot of problems with the set out of this regulation.

In a recent report on Six One News, Mr Robin Mandal, President of RIAI asked for clarification of the document for the self builders as far as the sentencing mentioned above and on his letter dated 16th of January to Minister Hogan, he requested a deferment of the Regulation as there were great concern for delays, cost increases and potential disputes. However, Minister Hogan rejected these concerns and commenced as planned.

The professionals who have to certify your build are concerned regarding the legal clarification of the document S.I 9 and in many cases are refusing to accept the role of the certifier until the government gives them the confidence that certifying a self build done according to the regulations is safe.

Message to the Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government

Minister Hogan, we are still waiting for clarification on the points raised on our previous correspondence to your department. It is now over seven days since we had a letter from your Assistant Principle, Mr Martin Vaughan telling us that he will get back to us quickly on those issues which can all be explained. Nothing yet.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 needs to be revised or replaced. As it stands, it is not to the benefit of Self Builders, the professionals and even the local Building Control Departments.

You constantly try to defend the Amendment S.I 9 by referring it back to Priory Hall and the Pyrite problems. With all due respect Minister, Priory Hall was built by a developer called Tom McFeely, not a self builder. And Pyrite is a chemical reaction that happens in rocks which had been used for filling under floors. This problem again was caused by Quarries, Builders and Developers who could not be bothered to do the appropriate tests, not the self builders. So Minister, you are punishing the wrong people. Where is the fairness in that?

The construction industry in Ireland has suffered severely during the recession and on top of the financial crisis that families have had to go through for the past five years, this Amendment (S.I.9) does nothing except for making the situation a lot worse for them.

Self Builders have been talking to you for the past few months regarding the effect this Amendment (S.I.9) would have on their situation and as a representative of the people you should listen to them before it is too late for some to ever be able to provide a home for their family.

And finally, I was informed by my Local Planning and Local Building Control Department that everything regarding this amendment is online. Even submitting all the required certificates has to be done online. I have been fortunate enough in my life to be in a position to learn how to use a computer but I do come across people all the time who do not even understand the meaning of the word Internet. My Building Control Department could not give me anything in writing as far as the information on this Amendment . I do not think that your Departments are as ready as you think they are and maybe Mr Robin Mandal was correct when he said in his letter to Minister Bruton that delays, confusion and frustration may be expected.

Shane McCloud
Irish Association of Self Builders
5th of March 2014

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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RTÉ Radio 1 Clip from Friday 28th February 2014: the show re-plays earlier footage of Minister Hogan stating that the current representative body for architects (RIAI) call for deferral has been made by a minority of Architects and is not official RIAI policy. In the earlier clip he notes current building regulations are fully-supported by the current president and the director of the RIAI. Link to audio clip here:

http://www.rte.ie/news/news1pm/player.html?20140228,20535683,20535683,flash,232

The current president of the representative body for architects (RIAI) Robin Mandal provides corrections to the Minister’s earlier comments. In an interview and contrary to statements by the Minister he makes reference to the RIAI letter on January 15th requesting deferral sent to Minister Hogan. Mr Mandal summarises some of the issues contained in the letter requesting deferral and current RIAI policy on the matter. The Minister’s refusal to entertain a deferral is mentioned. Mr Mandal is unable to explain why the minister appeared unaware of current official RIAI policy in his earlier interview. “We are where we are”. We note there was a subsequent letters sent to Minister Bruton and other key government sub-committees and representatives stating the compelling case, and call for deferral in January 2014 also. The rationale has been noted in previous posts in the Blog- extract to follow.

We wonder if the previous RIAI policy on deferral will become a policy to revoke BC(A)R SI.9?

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Previous Breg Blog post

“The compelling case for Deferral of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)”

There is widespread concern regarding the timing of the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, S.I.9 of 2014 and potential consequences for the building industry and public projects. 

Background

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2014, S.I. 9 of 2014, was signed into law earlier in January 2014.  Two separate Senior Councils have examined previous versions (SI.80 of 2013) and found the wording of the regulation to have serious liability issues with consequences for Professional Indemnity Insurers.  The Minister and his officials started a process to review some wording in late 2013 and published a revised document (S.I.9 of 2014) which was circulated late Thursday the 16th January and which retained the same implementation date, the 1st March 2014.

Basis for concern

The new Regulations mark a significant change in the way building projects are managed and a new regime of certification, documentation and records is involved. Many of the fundamental systems that are necessary to achieve a proper and realistic implementation of S.I.9 on the 1st March are not in place and are unlikely to be in place for several months. The fear is that the confusion and problems that will inevitably arise in the absence of readiness will lead to delay in the roll out of badly needed projects, contractual claims from Contractors which may be difficult to defend against and reputational damage to our building control system with consequent impact on Foreign Direct Investment.  In essence, with the best will in the world and with every party working together, it is not possible for all those involved and affected to be ready in time.

Main issues.

• The new inspection and certification regimes will need to be provided for in all forms of Building Contract.  The two principle forms of contract (GCCC and RIAI) have yet to be amended.  For example, it is thought that 14 clauses in the standard RIAI Contract will have to be amended or rewritten.   These revised forms of Contract are not ready and will not be ready in time.  Ad hoc clauses will probably be drafted as stop gap measures but that is a high-risk way of dealing with building contracts.  New or revised forms of building contracts have to be extensively scenario tested a checked to ensure risk if positioned where it belongs.  This cannot be achieved before the 1st of March.

• In order to procure valid and reliable tenders, the exact details of the contract that a successful tenderer will be asked to sign need to be included in the Tender Documents.  Many private and public sector projects out to tender at present but do not have the relevant contract clauses or the new requirements for Builders, Suppliers and Sub-contractors in relation to certification.    The tender documents are unavoidably incorrect or incomplete, delays will ensue as these issues are trashed out before a Contractor can be appointed and in many cases there is a risk of the tender award being challenged..

• Client procurement of the Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier.  These roles do not exist at present.  Where Design Teams are currently appointed on public projects, the issue of compliance with procurement rules will arise.  This issue does not seem to be in the process of being addressed and typically takes several months to complete.

• Inspection Plan. The Assigned Certifier is obliged to prepare an Inspection Plan before construction commences.  This plan may have cost implications for the Contractor and arguably should to be a tender document.  Negotiations with the preferred tenderer once the Plan is done will inevitably take time; the alternative is to proceed with the contract and deal with contractual claims for delay afterwards.

• Building Control Authorities will have to manage a large amount of documentation at various stages of the new process.  It was intended that a national I.T. system would be in place in all BCAs to handle this and much good work has been done, led by David O’Connor in Fingal County Council, to progress this.  Unfortunately the systems aren’t yet ready and haven’t been road tested.  Many BCAs have only one Building Control Officer and s/he has not been trained in the operation of the new Regulations.  Without systems to ensure a steam-lined administration, delays, confusion and frustration are guaranteed

• Practical Completion.  Normally defined as being when the building can be used for the purpose it was designed, this will fundamentally be changed with the new Completion Certificate.  The building will now be capable of being used for the purpose it was designed when the Completion Certificate is accepted by the BCA.  In an environment where the local Building Control Officer is under resourced and trying to deal with completely new systems and extensive amounts of documentation, it is foreseeable that delays will occur.  These delays will be seen as intolerable by many international companies central to the recovery.

Foreseeable consequences

Hiatus.  A significant hiatus in the Construction Industry is foreseeable in both private and public sectors.  Anecdotally, this is already happening with some project tenders being delayed until there is more clarity.  This risk arises as tender processes already in train need to be revisited and tender processes about to start do not yet have the necessary contract forms to be referenced.  Further delays will occur as the two principles Certifier appointments are advertised or negotiated.

Confusion, Disputes and Litigation.  

In an environment where people are not prepared properly, an ordered and controlled process cannot be realised.  The resultant confusion is breeding ground for disputes, litigation and unwelcomed reputational damage to the building process in Ireland, which is already well down in the World Bank’s ratings.  A significant number of GCCC projects are already in some sort of dispute resolution process.  The premature implementation of these Regulations will increase the areas of risk in the Contracts and will have financial and delay implications for many important projects.

Solution

Defer the implementation date.  There is no one calling for the regulations to be introduced  by the 1st March and many calling for postponement to ensure readiness.  It is the general belief that all stakeholders in this matter would welcome a deferred implementation date.  What could be achieved during the time allowed by deferral?

• An implementation task group can be quickly set up with various stakeholders involved to coordinate the preparation and development / completion of systems.

• Agree a realistic end date from the liaison groups dealing with GCCC and RIAI contracts and ensure all work towards that target.

• Road-test IT systems and scenario-test procedures to anticipate problems, especially in the FDI and Public Sectors.

Conclusion

No one is ready for this and it would be reckless on many fronts to proceed knowing this to be the case. The logical conclusion is that the date for implementation would be put back and it is likely that no one will object and most will welcome this at all levels and in all sectors. Time is not on our side and action is needed quickly but the goal of avoiding foreseeable significant problems is worth achieving. The industry, taxpayer and consumer need deferral of SI.9.

 

 

 

CIF to host Offaly public briefing on BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Here is an event next week- a briefing on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) to be held by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). It will be interesting to see if this will be attended by any self-builders. We are aware that the CIF were one of the first key stakeholder groups to accurately confirm that self-building was no longer possible back at an engineer’s conference on 17th January 2014. This fact was recently confirmed in a speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D. at a business dinner hosted by Sherry Fitzgerald On Tuesday, 4 February 2014 in Dublin.

Link to Offaly Express article “CIF hosting Offaly briefing on new building regulations”:

http://www.offalyexpress.ie/news/business/cif-hosting-offaly-briefing-on-new-building-regulations-1-5916431

The CIF own and operate a private voluntary register of contractors CIRI which is the only government recognised register of contractors in Ireland. Membership of this register would appear to demonstrate de-facto compliance with SI.9 for the role of “competent  builder”.

As most self-builders are aware they no longer are able to nominate themselves as main contractors on their own projects as under BC(A)R SI.9 the builder’s completion certificate “must be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only”. The CIF register was the subject of a recent escalation of a formal complaint by self builders to the European Ombudsman. Although this is not the first complaint against SI.9 to be lodged in Europe by a concerned stakeholder this would seem to be the first one that suggests a possible restrictive or non-competitive practice. This follows a formal unsuccessful complaint by the representative group for self-builders (IAOSB) to the National Competition Authority on the same subject.

Extract from IAOSB European Ombudsman Complaint : “The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI.9 of 2014) coming into force on 1st March 2014 will prevent competent citizens such as myself from continuing to self-build our own houses in the Republic of Ireland. This is a role which many are qualified to perform and have practiced for many generations. This action, I consider, is in breach of European Law in respect of competition, free market and freedom of movement, as well as the basic human right to provide shelter for one’s family. The restriction on the market to membership of a voluntary (non statutory) private contractor’s organisation is a restrictive and anti-competitive practice supported by the Irish Government.

Link to IAOSB website: Take Action, Join the Campaign and stand Up for your rights

http://www.iaosb.com/take action, join the campaign and stand up for your rights.html

Link to Builder’s completion certificate (Extract off SI.9):

SI9 Builder's cert__________

Extract off article here:

Offaly construction companies and sole traders have been invited to attend a free briefing on the new building regulations and the construction register.

The briefing is being organised by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and will take place in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 5pm on Monday, March 10. Members and non members of the CIF are invited to attend.

The new building regulations took effect from March 1 and this has generated a lot of discussion and interest throughout the construction industry. There has also been a lot of confusion about how these regulations will impact on local construction companies and sole traders in Offaly and in the rest of the country. The CIF briefing aims to provide clear details on the building regulations and how they will impact the sector locally.

Information will also be provided on the new register for the construction industry. Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) is being set up to help distinguish competent, experienced construction companies from those who have given the industry a bad name.

Under the new building regulations anyone listed on CIRI will be deemed a competent builder and this has generated a lot of interest amongst those involved in the construction industry. The CIF briefing will provide construction companies, sole traders and builders with details on how CIRI works, why it has been set up and how they join the register.

Speaking about the briefings, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “This briefing is aimed at providing useful information to construction companies and sole traders in Offaly. Undoubtedly the new building regulations and the CIRI register will have implications for everyone involved in the construction industry in Offaly and all around the country, so we want to help ensure those in the industry are kept informed.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion about the CIRI construction register and the new building regulations, so we hope this briefing will help clear up some of those misconceptions. We’ll outlining clear, easy to follow information about the regulations and CIRI, how they will operate and what changes they will mean for construction companies and sole traders.

“We would like to invite anyone representing construction companies and sole traders from Offaly to attend this briefing. CIF members and non members are welcome to attend. That goes for builders, plasterers, sub contractors, carpenters, painters, glaziers, plumbers – anyone who is involved in any aspect of construction is welcome to attend. Our only request is that all those who would like to attend book a place in advance. There is no payment for attending the briefing.

“As well as the two big issues of concern we will also be using this briefing to discuss a range of other issues concerning the construction industry. A more informed construction industry is a better industry so we hope this will benefit everyone who attends and there will be a strong attendance in Offaly,” Mr. Parlon concluded.

Attendance at the briefing is free, however all those interested in attending are asked to register in advance by contacting Brid Cody on bcody@cif.i eor by calling 021 4351410.

Opinion piece: Architectural Technologists and the register: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The implicit assumption in SI9 is that only those already at the table are competent to provide the required services. This is incorrect. To truly protect the consumer, all who play an active part in the construction process should be assessed on their own merits and within their own competence, and then regulated as necessary. On the basis of this assumption, many will now be faced with being ‘shoehorned’ into the existing process, and will be destined to fail, due, at least in part, to the process not being fit for its newly defined purpose.

The Minister’s recent Dail comments urging ‘draughtsmen’ to submit to assessment under the various registration boards display a worrying detachment from the broader issue. There are a wide range of reasons why ‘draughtsmen’, and more particularly ‘architectural technologists’, to whom one can only presume Minister Hogan is actually referring, have not pursued this route before.

Until now there has been no restriction of function under the terms of the Building Control Act, which has instead focused on preventing misuse of the various protected titles, as was its original purpose and intent. It has been possible to legitimately pursue various business models under the descriptors permitted by the Act without fear of censure under the law. ‘Architectural Technician’ and ‘Architectural Technologist’ were specifically included in the Act among a group of prescribed, albeit unprotected titles, to ensure that this situation persisted. This ensured a variety of choice in the market place for the consumer. The very presence of these titles in the original Act highlighted a problem, but failed to address it, a recurring theme for architectural technologists. These amended regulations now zone in on the very essence of architectural technology – Building Regulations – and yet fail to see a role for those trained and experienced in this arena.

The insistence by the Minister that those who have been operating within the scope of the Act should now declare themselves as architects or building surveyors, and submit to assessment for Registration in those fields is deeply flawed. It will lead to many unsuccessful registration applications, and ultimately to more problems for the Department. Simply put, the system as it currently stands is not set up to deal with the Minister’s ‘draughtsmen’, and to suggest that it is is misleading. To present it as a solution to those now faced with re-training or an exit from their profession is much worse than that. The simpler thing to do would be to deal with the issue once and for all. The Minister’s referral of the problem to the Registration bodies is futile. They are powerless to resolve this issue, as the problem lies with the Building Control Act itself.

The irony is that this legislation demands that architectural technologists now rebrand themselves as architects or building surveyors in order to continue to do what they already do. The Minister’s comments attempt to validate that proposal. Worse still they suggest that the system supports it. The facts suggest that the opposite is true. The Minister’s mantra that ‘architects, engineers and building surveyors’ are those most commonly involved in the completion of construction projects is not entirely accurate, and his assertion in the Dail that the new regulations were subject to ‘discussion’ with ‘all’  of the people involved over the past two years is untrue. Discussion is a two way process, at least in the commonly understood sense.

In terms of registration, while many architectural technologists will have successfully completed a wide variety of construction projects, most would have done so solely on the basis of their own particular qualification, often as part of a team, and usually without the necessity to use any of the protected titles at all. Many therefore would be reluctant to now make a declaration regarding the breadth of their duties in comparison to those of an architect or building surveyor on foot of the scope of services they have provided. Some will be limited by the scale of project in which they have been independently involved, and others by their limited exposure to specialised areas such as Conservation, Building Pathology, Administration of Government Contracts and so on. Many will simply find the contradiction of claiming to be something which they do not consider themselves to be very difficult, and attempts at Registration will suffer on the back of this.

Professional architectural technologists carry out some, but not always all of the duties of architects and building surveyors, and do so on the basis of multiple shared competences. Such individuals possess varying degrees of academic training, but with a different focus to that of either regulated profession.

To deal with the Architects Register first, the timeframes outlined in the Act require candidates for Technical Assessment to have been carrying out duties equivalent to that of an architect for 10 years prior to the inception of the Act in 2008. The career path of architectural technologists usually involves an extended period working under the direction of architects, and offering purely technical design services ‘in house’ in architectural practices prior to undertaking any independent work, and indeed many may never do so at all. This, which might be described as ‘practical training’, is carried out in the role of ‘architectural technologist’ rather than ‘architect’, and its focus is directed accordingly. Similarly, the Register Admissions examination requires 7 years experience providing services equivalent to those of an architect, but the same issues apply. Neither is entirely fit for purpose in light of the duties set out under SI9, duties already carried out by many experienced architectural technologists.

Technical Assessment as an Architect is at present a ‘pass or fail’ situation, whereby the Assessment Panel is bound by the terms of the Act, and can only deem candidates to be either suitable or unsuitable for registration. There is no facility, whereby the Board can make a recommendation that gaps in a person’s knowledge might be filled, to allow a candidate to subsequently progress to registration. Similarly with the Register Admissions examination, while repeat examinations are possible, the practicality of this approach without a facility to address an obvious shortfall in knowledge must be seen as questionable.

The shortcomings of the registration process for architects have already been acknowledged by the Minister in commissioning the as yet to be implemented Fennell Report, a significant missing piece in the 5000 piece jigsaw that is SI9. Another is the lack of any mechanism by which a candidate who has already identified knowledge gaps in their experience can readily and promptly address them without a return to full time education.

Entry to the Building Surveyors Register is similarly fraught with difficulty for even the most experienced architectural technologists. Technical Assessment for entry to this Register is an almost unknown quantity, with little or no information available to prospective candidates, and so the fate of those presenting for Registration lies instead in the hands of one of the prescribed bodies, of whom all but one is UK based. The one Irish body involved, also the Regulator for Building Surveyors, sees few similarities between the competences of its Building Surveyor members and architectural technology professionals.

Essentially, the skill set of the architectural technologist, while relevant to the construction industry and, more importantly in terms of Building Regulations, valuable to the consumer, is outside of the terms of the current Act. The Assessment Boards must operate under the scope of this Act and are constrained accordingly. As a result, the situation of architectural technologists, while alluded to in the Act, is not adequately catered for by it, despite the Ministers fervent assertions to the contrary, and the system is weakened because of that exclusion.

For the current system to be fair, specific provision should be made within the registration process for the particular skill set of experienced, professionally accredited architectural technologists as qualified professionals in their own right. This will not be a straightforward task, and will take time and effort. It will prove to be a bridge too far for many affected by the recent legislative changes, who instead will be either forced through the current routes to registration, or face exit from the profession and from the industry.

If the Minister and the Department are intent on using the existing registers to provide the pool of professionals required to implement the amended Building control Regulations, then there must be change, and this change must centre not only on the underlying intent of SI9 – consumer protection in terms of Building Regulations Compliance – but also on the entire range of professionals competent to ensure it.

Architectural Technologists are at the forefront of this group, and should be recognised accordingly. The system and the consumer will be the better for their inclusion.

The above opinion piece is posted on 5th February 2014 by Bregs Blog admin on behalf of an Architectural Technologist

Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D. At a Business Dinner hosted by Sherry Fitzgerald On Tuesday, 4 February 2014 « MerrionStreet.ie Irish Government News Service

In a speech on 4th February 2014 the Taoiseach Enda Kenny outlines the thought process behind the government endorsed private register of contractors, the cessation of self-building and Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). This would appear to be final confirmation that self-building is gone.

Link here:

www.merrionstreet.ie/index.php/2014/02/speech-by-the-taoiseach-mr-enda-kenny-t-d-at-a-business-dinner-hosted-by-sherry-fitzgerald-on-tuesday-4-february-2014

Rationale would appear to be “continuing clampdown on activity in the shadow economy … driving out reckless and non-compliant contractors from the industry.” At least the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) finally have a straight answer for their members about to embark on commencing their own houses.

Extract from the Taoiseach’s Speech:

“This new regime of design, inspection and construction by registered professionals and competent builders will guarantee that Irish consumers are delivered the high quality homes and buildings that they expect and deserve.

In addition, the cornerstone of quality construction in Ireland will be the registration of builders, contractors and tradespersons.
This will enable consumers to ensure they 
hire competent persons, while simultaneously ensuring that all statutory, regulatory and legal requirements are complied with in a verifiable and transparent manner.

The Construction Industry Register Ireland will be up and running by 1 March on a voluntary basis, and will be placed on a statutory footing by 2015.

The register will play a vital role in the continuing clampdown on activity in the shadow economy and I expect industry to work together with Government in driving out reckless and non-compliant contractors from the industry.”

Phil Hogan TD to Minister Gormley on “premature” and “market distortion effects” of register in 2010

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In the context of Minister Phil Hogan’s statements in the Dail on 27th February 2014 urging underqualified draughtsmen to register as “competent professionals” to operate roles of certifiers under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014), we wondered if the Minister was adequately briefed on the register and the qualifications involved. Here is quote:

I assure Deputy Cowen that all of the nonsense on RTE this week is absolute misinformation to the extent that it is being claimed that the cost of building a house by direct labour in a rural area will increase by as much as €50,000. Additional compliance should cost between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on market forces and where the best deal can be secured. I encourage small business professionals, such as draughtsmen, to register with the professional bodies in order that they can act as assigned certifiers. I will careful monitor the position to ensure the regulations are implemented fairly.

Here is a previous Dail exchange from 4 years ago when Minister Hogan was in opposition. The Minister appeared concerned at the restrictive nature of the register and it’s premature introduction. One would think that 4 years is long enough for the issues associated with codification of professions under the new regulation to be worked out sufficiently to mitigate any adverse consequences. Instead the current situation has arisen: hundreds of highly qualified technically competent architectural practitioners excluded from the register are being impacted up on negatively and may find their current employment affected. Some interviewed in the media last week confirmed that they would in effect be made redundant after 1st March and the introduction of BC(A)R SI.9.

Link here:

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/02/18/00136.asp#N2

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extract:

Written Answers – Professional Bodies.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

178.  Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government      if he is satisfied with the manner in which the Building Control Act 2007 has been implemented regarding the registration of non-Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland architects; if the new registration process will be fully completed before officially launching a register [900]of architects; his views on whether the premature launch of this register will have significant consumer choice or market distortion effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8530/10]

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): Responsibility for implementation of the registration provisions of the Building Control Act 2007 in respect of architects, including the official register, is a matter for the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), as registration body. I am currently examining a submission from the RIAI on all registration fees under the Act in respect of architects and I hope to reach a decision on that submission shortly. The ongoing implementation of the Act is kept under review by my Department.

Senior Council advice on BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

Here is the legal opinion on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) and opinions on previous versions of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) by Mr Dennis McDonald S.C.

Link to pdf here: DMcDonald SC 3-2-1 140304

We have posted various legal advice previously and there appears to be nothing new here unfortunately. The extremely difficult legal issues for certifiers that were present in previous drafts of Si.9 (previously SI.80) remain.

We note the last section on possible professional insurance issues:

Extract: “In light of the difficulties outlined above, there may well be insurance implications for certifiers. In circumstances where the certifier is providing confirmation not only that the certifier himself or herself has exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence but that other members of the design team and specialist designers have likewise exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, the certifier may find himself or herself liable in the event that there was a lack of reasonable skill, care and diligence on the part of others. It would obviously be essential in those circumstances that the certifier should have appropriate insurance. It will be a matter for the insurance companies to decide on whether insurance will be made available and at what rates of premium. I do not know what approach insurance companies will take, but there must be a significant prospect that, at the very least, insurance companies will wish to reflect the increased risk for certifiers in the premium paid. Whether those premiums will be affordable by certifiers is another matter. One suspects that the proposed new system relies upon the certifier having professional indemnity insurance. If such insurance is not available to the certifier at acceptable rates, the rationale for the new regime will be entirely undermined.”

Kilkenny Journal: THE BAD NEWS: Up to 50,000 extra to build your house! BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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“Hogan adds thousands to building your own home.  1000-3000 Euro more, he says. But could be up to 50,000 a house!”

In this Kilkenny Journal article from 3rd March 2014 Michael McGrath explores the local impacts of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation ( SI.9 of 2014) in Minister Hogan’s own constituency. Link to article here:

http://www.kilkennyjournal.ie/news/item/469-the-bad-news-up-to-50-000-extra-to-build-your-house-thanks-to-hogan

Quote from article:

“I have listened over the past week when various commentators over RTE have said that these new house-building regulations could mean increases by as much as 50,000 Euro in the building of a house, that is if you want to build your own home. …Worse still the Minister is rushing in this new measure next month in all undue haste. It’s an unmerciful increase on top of young people starting out trying to build their own house. And it’s an increase that has been sneaked in amid all the more public controversy about all the other more well-known increases in charges and taxes, and of course with the austerity cuts hogging the limelight. 

So here we are now with a measure being brought in that there’s not much known about. From what I can gather it’s to stop another Priory Court occurring, but young folk starting out are not building apartment blocks like Priory Court. We think that this is a very extreme charge introduced by Phil Hogan, it’s sneaky, it’s not justified, it’s a bad charge, it’s very mean.  It’s unjust and even anti-social.”

Architect takes issue with political “rebuttal”: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

Truth-and-Lies

The following email was sent by an architect to a Fine Gael representative,  in connection with a “rebuttal” piece issued by the Department posted on her website recently. Link to website here. Text from the website follows the email. The correspondence was submitted to us on 4th April 2014. As it was a personal complaint the name of the author has been removed. We believe this briefing document is being forwarded to all Fine Gael local representatives at the moment.

Link: Clarification/rebuttal connection with the Building Control Regs

______________________________

Ms Brennan

Perhaps you could explain the following to me:

How does a self builder sign the part of the form which must be signed by a director of a building company?

Are you deliberately misleading your electorate to hide the fact that self building is essentially no longer legal?

All the legal advice -not political advice, but actual proper legal advice from actual proper solicitors and barristers is that self build is simply impossible. For you to say otherwise is both wrong and potentially storing up huge problems for self builders when they come to sell their house and discover their certificates are worthless and therefore so is their house?

Where will you be found then?

Secondly, can you confirm on what basis you have calculated the costs of between €1,000 and €3,000 for carrying out the role of assigned certifier? Surely if you personally are giving the advice, it is incumbent on you to have actually looked into it carefully.

Have you consulted with anyone who is providing the service to see what work is required, how many hours and what they might charge ?

If you haven’t then surely offering unsupported information is a dereliction of your duty as an elected representative.

Finally, if this legislation really is the panacea to all building problems, why did the government effectively give itself a years derogation. Surely it can’t be because various Government Departments are neither ready nor willing to take on board it’s implications..?

I look forward to your reply.

yours sincerely

______________________________

 

Extract from FG representative of DOELG advice:

CLARIFICATION/REBUTTAL CONNECTION WITH THE BUILDING CONTROL REGS

IN BRIEF

Please find below clarification / rebuttal on the latest issues being raised in connection with the Building Control Regs. These are:

– the factual position in relation to self-build scenarios

– an update on the Fennell Report and recommendations on registration of architects

– the factual position in relation to the Construction Industry Register

– the issue of additional costs associated with the new building control regime.

IN FULL

Self-Build Scenarios

On 26 February 2014 Dept Environment issued an Information Note on the Implications of SI No. 9 of 2014 for Self-Builders to local authorities and industry stakeholders, including the Irish Association of Self-Builders.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 place no restrictions on self-build. There is no difficulty with a self-builder signing the statutory form of undertaking by the builder at commencement stage or the statutory certificate of compliance on completion.

The twin aims of the new regulations are to:

  • ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations,
  • and strengthen competence and professionalism on site.

        From a self-build perspective, the new regime will work as follows:

  • The owner will, as before, assume responsibility as the builder for ensuring that the building works will comply with the building regulations.  They must also satisfy themselves that any one they employ to undertake part of the works is competent to do those works.
  • At commencement, they will notify the local authority that they themselves are the builder and sign the builder’s undertaking required for building control purposes.
  • At commencement a Self-Builder must also assign a competent, registered construction professional (i.e. architect, building surveyor or chartered engineer) to: certify the design, and inspect the works and certify the completed dwelling (the assigned certifier).
  • The Assigned Certifier will be the point of contact with the building control authority for lodgement of compliance documentation and certificates, etc.
  • At completion the Self-Builder and the Assigned Certifier will both certify the building.

Work involving repair, renewal and renovation work or extensions less than 40 square metres to existing dwellings do not come within the scope of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations.

Fennell Report and Recommendations

The Minister has confirmed that he will implement the recommendations of the Fennell Report of the review of the registration process for architects in full. An implementation plan has been drawn up by the Dept for the 20 or so recommendations.

A number of the recommendations have already been implemented. In particular steps have been taken to facilitate:

– Applications for Technical Assessment to be run on a cyclical basis where briefing, so that guidance and support can be given to applicants in a structured manner

– Mentoring to be offered to applicants for Technical Assessment from architects who have succeeded in this route to registration

– Recent projects (and not just those undertaken pre 2008) can now be used for the purposes of Technical Assessment

– Applicants eligible for Technical Assessment can undergo reassessment/reapply (i.e. it is no longer a one chance only route to registration)

Other important measures taken on foot of the Fennell Report include:

-“Quality Qualifications Ireland” role in prescription of courses/qualifications has been reaffirmed

– Professional Indemnity Insurance for all registered Architects will be subject to oversight by the registration body from 2015

-Guidance materials are being reviewed and simplified and practically trained architects will be given a direct role in this process

– Pre-application screening of Technical Assessment candidates is being explored

– ARAE Ltd. has confirmed that a reduction in the cost of the prescribed register admissions exam route to registration will be possible, commensurate with the level of take-up by candidates.  They have also confirmed they will explore the capacity for online administration of modules and exams.

Some of the recommendations will require legislative change, and the Minister has confirmed he will bring forward legislative proposals at the earliest opportunity. These include:

– Nominating an independent construction professional to chair the advisory panel of architects who advise the Technical Assessment Board

– the age limit of 35 years on registration under the prescribed register admissions exam administered by ARAE Ltd to be removed

– The Admissions board to be given a role in confirming the continued competence of persons restored to register.

Further legislative reform, including alternative routes to registration (i.e. in addition to the Technical Assessment approach), are possible within the spirit of the Building Control Act 2007, and the Dept in conjunction with the RIAI have begun discussions with the relevant stakeholders to explore the potential for same.

Construction Industry Register

The Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) has been established by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) as a register of builders and contractors.  Registration of contractors is not a mandatory requirement in Ireland at present.

Participation in the CIRI register is currently voluntary.  The CIRI register provides owners (with no background in construction) with a means to source competent builders.  For this reason CIRI registration numbers can be quoted on the statutory building control forms but it is not necessary or mandatory to do so.

It is understood that there is a registration fee of €600 to be placed on the CIRI. The administration of the register is a matter for CIRI. However, Govt has signalled its commitment to placing the register on a statutory footing in 2015. In this regard, legislative proposals will be brought forward by the end of this year, and it is likely that the amount of any fees involved (when the register is put on a statutory footing), will be subject to the consent of the Minister.

Potential additional costs involved

The new arrangements being put in place for the control of building activity may result in additional design, inspection, certification and, possibly, insurance costs. These additional costs are deemed justified given the enhanced quality and standard of design and construction of building projects, especially in light of several notable instances of non-compliant buildings which failed to meet minimum building standards.

The new regime will reduce the incidences of defective works on site and the resultant associated costs of carrying out remedial works will reduce accordingly.

Owners/developers will now be required to assign a competent person as an Assigned Certifier to inspect and certify building works where previously they may have opted not to appoint such a person. It is estimated that this requirement could add between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs. In practice, the costs of construction activity and related professional services are determined by market forces.

The Assigned Certifier role can be fulfilled by Architects, Building Surveyors or Chartered Engineers and owners are advised to seek quotes from a variety of sources to obtain the best value for money.

For domestic projects, an all-in service (planning, design and inspection) is likely to yield the most competitive price.

 

 

 

 

No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on #BCMS

by Mark Stephens

qualifications

One of the key omissions with the new Building Control Management System (BCMS) is that there appears to be no checks on the legitimacy and qualifications of the person registering for the system and the legitimacy and qualifications when assigning the Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier.

Currently (as the system stands) you can undertake the following:

• Register for the system under a fake email and user name, as this is all that is required. There would appear to be no checks upon the identity of the person actually registering for the system. Other public service websites such as Revenue Online Service (ROS) require certificates/passwords to be sent out in post.

• There would appear to be no checks upon the legitimacy or qualifications of the Designer or Assigned Certifier. This could possibly mean that fictitious names and qualifications can be used to assign the Designer or Assigned Certifier and it may also allows legitimate registration numbers of Architects, Chartered Engineers and registered Building Surveyors to be used illegally by others without check. This may be of concern to professional firms advertised publicly on the Homebond register.

• There would appear to be no checks upon the name or qualifications of the builder. You could possibly use a fictitious name of a builder and the system may allow this to be an Assigned Builder.

These key omissions should have been implemented as part of S.I.No.9 and are why deferral had been requested. The above post does not in any way seek to promote fraudulent use of the BMCS system.

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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BC(A)R SI.9 is discussed on Newstalk Moncrief Show (Part 1) 22:36 to  29:00

http://newstalk.ie/player/listen_back/8/8128/03rd_March_2014_-_Moncrieff_Part_1

Frank McDonald discusses Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) on this Newstalk programme on Monday 3rd March 2014. He notes that the government and department have introduced SI.9 to avoid any role in inspections of buildings and to avoid responsibility in the building process. The new building control regulation SI.9 has been widely criticised. He states the consumer has not been well served by this new regulation. It still remains a system of self-certification, and he sugests there is no reason why a system of independent local authority inspections could not be rolled-out similar to most other european countries. SI.9 will impose more costs, more bureaucracy and additional costs. “SI. 9 is not a consumer protection measure and its a huge failing”.

Minister urges draughtsmen to register for BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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It has been widely reported that BC(A)R SI.9 will impact seriously on many hundred technically proficient and experienced professionals in the weeks and months to come, many becoming redundant this week.

In the following Dail debate from 27th February 2014 Minister Hogan urges draughtsmen to register as competent professionals under the register to operate roles of design and assigned certifiers under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). The following is of great concern to those impacted upon by BC(A)R SI.9 as it would suggest the minister is either unaware of their situation or is unable to distinguish between a draughtsperson and someone who is vastly more qualified.

This statement will add insult to injury to a great many experienced and well qualified Architectural Technologists who are excluded from the same register. The current situation they find themselves in, along with self-builders, is far from “nonsense”.

Minister Hogan: “ I assure Deputy Cowen that all of the nonsense on RTE this week is absolute misinformation to the extent that it is being claimed that the cost of building a house by direct labour in a rural area will increase by as much as €50,000. Additional compliance should cost between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on market forces and where the best deal can be secured. I encourage small business professionals, such as draughtsmen, to register with the professional bodies in order that they can act as assigned certifiers.

Link here: 

http://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2014-02-27a.328&s=Building+control#g333

_______________

Extract to follow: Dáil debates Thursday, 27 February 2014

Building Regulations Application

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle, for allowing me to raise this issue, given that the new regulations are due to commence next week.

I recognise the need to have a strong regulatory system to maintain a high quality standard of building for family homes. The experience of hard-pressed residents in Priory Hall and in other developments underlines that. However, the regulatory measures coming into effect on 1 March will penalise own-build home owners who want to build their own family home. One-off homes will be hit with a regulatory framework designed for large-scale developments in major towns and cities. This will dramatically increase costs and has the potential to damage the construction industry at a time when the Government claims it is trying to boost it. There has also been a failure of the Government to communicate the changes, leading to speculation about their impact, further damaging the construction industry. It may well be seen as another anti-rural bias of the Government.

The regulations can essentially be broken down into three broad principles. Anyone wishing to building anything – with the usual exemptions – must, by law, employ what is referred to as an assigned professional, such as an engineer, architect or surveyor, to inspect the property on-site. This assigned professional must inspect the building, and at the end of the procedures, issue a certificate warranting that they have inspected the works and that they comply with the regulations. The professional also warrants that he or she accepts responsibility for the legal liability for the inspection of all works as necessary, to ensure they are neither defective nor contravene any requirements of the second schedule of the building regulations “notwithstanding the responsibilities of other persons or firms in relation to the works”. What implications does that have for indemnity insurance? Some would say that some have left the market or are planning to do so because of what does not appear to be a clear delineation between the owner and the inspector. The assigned professional must submit a full set of completed drawings to the building control authority on completion.

There are various problems with these regulations. The cost of the regulations will place a hefty and disproportionate burden on one-off housing. There has been no public information campaign, leading to speculation about the consequences of the changes that may potentially harm the construction sector. What level of resources have been given to local authorities to handle the deluge of information and paperwork that will result from the new system? When we consider the crisis in respect of roads and housing and the fact that development charges have diminished to such an extent that the income does not exist any more and there are recruitment embargoes in local authority planning departments, we should acknowledge the pressure all this will put on the system. Up to 500 architects’ practices may well be out of the loop with these inspections, with all the implications this has on that sector.

Perhaps the Minister can respond to those issues, and maybe then I will make suggestions if I do not feel he plans to examine them. Ultimately, I ask him to consider a deferral in the first instance, with a review panel and a targeted approach. It is incumbent on him to consider a deferral for six months, re-engagement with the stakeholders, and to take on board some of the suggestions that have been made to me and to many of the Minister’s colleagues.

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

The new building control amendment regulations will greatly strengthen the arrangements currently in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with building regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, the lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. These new regulations are necessary following the widespread instances of failure by owners, designers and builders to comply with their statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990 to design and construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations.

Every effort has been made to ensure arrangements are in place for a successful transition to the new building control arrangements from 1 March 2014. Discussions have taken place with all stakeholders for the past two years in respect of implementation. The new online building control management system has been developed to provide a common platform for clear and consistent administration of building control matters across the local authority sector. The local government sector has been involved from the beginning in dealing with these measures. Briefing and guidance on the new system has been provided for local authority staff and representatives of the key construction sector professional bodies, as well as for the Construction Industry Federation in recent weeks. The definitive code of practice for inspecting and certifying buildings and works was circulated to industry stakeholders on 7 February 2014.

Standard forms of contracts used for both private and public sector projects fall to be revised to reflect the new regulatory environment. The Government construction contracts committee and the key construction professional bodies both report strong progress in advancing this work within their respective sectors. The Government has established an oversight group to ensure no unavoidable delays will occur in critical public infrastructure projects at a time when construction activity and employment depends so heavily on public sector investment. Briefing and guidance is available within the Government and within the private sector to deal with contractual challenges and procurement issues that will inevitably arise as change takes place. The above measures are the key supports necessary to ensure the new regulatory arrangements can work well in practice.

The training for professionals has been taking place for the past few months. The Construction Industry Federation, the chartered building surveyors, the chartered quantity surveyors and the local authorities have all welcomed these particular measures. The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland has been a bit reluctant to come to the table in respect of these matters, and there has been a difference of opinion within its own membership, and I am sure the Deputy alluded to that. In the past ten days, however, I understand that 1,200 architects have been subject to training and are now very familiar with the new contractual obligations and regulations.

Concerns that the new regulations prevent a self-build situation are unfounded. I notice that on four occasions this week, misinformation was provided on Mr. Duffy’s programme, in spite of the fact that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has been providing the appropriate information, which he refuses to read out. These allegations on cost are unfounded, although all house builders and owners must comply with the regulations. An owner who intends to self-build – known as direct labour – will, as before, assume legal responsibility for ensuring the building or works concerned are compliant and he will be required, as builder, to sign the undertaking by the builder and the certificate of compliance on completion.

As local authorities and industry move to full implementation next week, the Department will continue to work with all parties to ensure they understand their obligations and the steps necessary to meet them. These changes are essential to deal with the disgraceful legacy issues we have seen with Priory Hall, unfinished estates and the supply of pyritic material.

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

I agree with the Minister’s final statement. A strengthening of regulations is required to maintain and confirm that a high quality standard of building is put in place. Notwithstanding the fact the Minister said he will not agree to a deferral, I ask him again to consider a specified term of three to six months before this comes into effect. Would he also consider putting a review panel in place to monitor the new regulations thereafter? This will assure us it will not have a detrimental effect on rural Ireland and on the elements of the industry that find themselves outside the loop in respect of their ability to carry out inspections. Will he make a committed effort to launch a public information campaign to allow us to be sure the public is well aware of the implications of the changes?

Would the Minister consider a national building inspectorate? There could be targeted inspections, a system of licensing or registration of builders, and information on builders shared among the relevant authorities, with full prosecutions of any designers or contractors who are negligent in their duties. An open register of inspections and prosecutions and reports of inspections could be made public.

The Minister acknowledged that developers should lodge a bond with the local authority. This should be a mandatory rather than discretionary requirement, as is currently the case. The bond should not be returned until such time as the council is satisfied that the development is complete and meets the required standards. Under the current process, it may be too late when the council initiates proceedings.

I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to the four or five proposals I have made before proceeding as intended on 1 March. We must not misconstrue or misrepresent some of the comments we have heard on the public airwaves and elsewhere in the past week or two. Many members of the public honestly believe there are means and methods to strengthen the process the Minister proposes to enable us to stand over them. We need certainty that the system will not fail to achieve the objectives set for it, as it did in the past with detrimental results.

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

I do not know for how long or how often people have been refusing to listen and acknowledge that we are proceeding with new building regulations on 1 March 2014. The new regulations have been the subject of consultation with all of the people involved in the construction industry for the past two years. I am prepared to establish an oversight group, as suggested by Deputy Cowen, to monitor the implementation of the regulations. I concur with him that the implementation of a new regime inevitably gives rise to teething problems. Nevertheless, comprehensive consultation documents have been published, including a document strengthening the building control system, a document to inform public consultation on the draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which sets out the context in which the reforms will operate and their regulatory impact for building owners and industry stakeholders. This document remains available on the Department’s website.

The arrangements being introduced for the control of building activity may result in some additional costs. Certification will be required if one proposes to build to a higher quality design or have a risk-based inspection system. It is not expected that single houses in rural areas will require many inspections. However, inspections will be required for blocks of apartments and commercial developments, as we know from the past. The costs will be modest compared to the outcome.

A register of builders will be established on a voluntary basis in 2014 and will be made statutory in 2015. I am proceeding with this measure, with which the Construction Industry Federation agrees.

Owners and developers who are worried about these matters, for example, draughtsmen, who tend to work in rural communities, will be able to proceed as present on a direct build basis. They will, however, be required to have an architect, building surveyor or chartered surveyor sign off the job to certify it has been done properly. This requirement has always been in place but was not always complied with. If individuals who do a good job want to register with the professional bodies, I appeal to them to do so. I have commissioned a report from the chairman of the architects admissions board, Mr. Garrett Fennell, to examine how to make it easier to register with the professional bodies. I will immediately implement Mr. Fennell’s recommendations to enable people to become the assigned certifiers in respect of the regulations.

I assure Deputy Cowen that all of the nonsense on RTE this week is absolute misinformation to the extent that it is being claimed that the cost of building a house by direct labour in a rural area will increase by as much as €50,000. Additional compliance should cost between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on market forces and where the best deal can be secured. I encourage small business professionals, such as draughtsmen, to register with the professional bodies in order that they can act as assigned certifiers.

 

Press Article: ‘This is just like using shotguns to kill mice’: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

shotgun_cat

The following is an extract off the Dundalk Democrat on 26th February 2014 “This is just like using shotguns to kill mice”:

http://www.dundalkdemocrat.ie/news/local-news/this-is-just-like-using-shotguns-to-kill-mice-1-5902477

Bernadette McArdle, Building Control Officer with Louth County Council, gave a presentation to the council’s February meeting about the new system and the changes that it will present for owners and developers and for Councils.

Cllr Peter Savage said this is bureaucracy gone mad.

“This means that if you’re anyway handy yourself,” he said, “you can’t do the work. We are using shotguns to kill mice. My father was a tradesman and he could built a better house than all the guys would arrive in their white coats.”

But Cllr Marianne Butler believed the new regulations would help improv e matters for consumers.

Cllr Tomas Sharkey said it will not work. “We can change regulations but the culture of a good building trade is what is needed,” he said.

Cllr Colm Markey said there was a problem in the construction industry that needs to sorted. the legislation didn’t work.

RTÉ TV: Six-One news 27th February 2014: RIAI on BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

Bryan-and-Sharon-Six-One-new-set-20092

Here is a TV clip from Friday 27th February 2014 with a number of contributions discussing the end of self-building under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014).

The representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) have recently mounted a nationwide campaign to alert TD’s to their concerns. IAOSB members have lodged multiple objections to the European Ombudsman with respect to the Irish government promotion of a private register owned and run by the Construction Industry Federation.

The representative body for architects (RIAI) have sent letters requesting deferral of SI.9 to Minister Hogan and Minister Bruton in January 2014. The RIAI would appear to be the only stakeholder involved in the formation of BC(A)R SI.9 that has requested deferral of this regulation and has made this official policy.

On the TV clip self-builder Amanda tells of ordinary citizens difficulties caused by the new regulation. President of the RIAI Robin Mandal calls on Minister to clarify status of self-builders.

Here is TV clip on realplayer: 34.35 to 36:45

http://www.rte.ie/news/player/six-one-news/2014/0228/

Extract: http://www.iaosb.com/RTE%20Six%20one.avi

Link to IAOSB European Ombudsman Complaint:

http://www.iaosb.com/complaint details to the commission of the european communities concerning failure to comply with community law.html

The cost of professional fees: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

hourly-rate

In a recent radio interview on 28 February 2014, Morning Ireland RTE News, Minister Phil Hogan was very certain on the costs of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) for a typical house, and other non-residential projets.

Quote: No it will not be expensive! All this exaggeration about thirty, forty, fifty thousand and that direct labour was going to be out the window or banned as a result of this is absolute nonsense. It’ll cost about one to two thousand euro depending on what figure they negotiate with professionals”

In previous posts we have noted the huge additional costs for self-builders having now to employ CIF registered competent builders to manage qualifying projects (+€18,000 for a typical house).

The representative body for architects (RIAI) currently recommend separate appointments for Design and Assigned certifiers on all projects. In a recent CPD event attended by over 500 architects at the Aviva stadium the RIAI tabled a membership survey that indicated only one in twenty architects were ready (or willing) to take on these new certifier roles under BC(A)R SI.9. It would appear these new roles, as a result, will be undertaken primarily by the other registered professionals, certified engineers and chartered surveyors. Currently other technically competent persons are precluded from undertaking these duties such as highly qualified and experienced architectural technologists.

At the same RIAI CPD a keynote speaker Shane Santry presented the additional time required for professional service by new certifiers under BC(A)R SI.9. The initial estimate of additional time required for a typical residential project would be in the region of 160 hours over and above normal professional duties.

A conservative salary for an engineer qualified and competent to undertake these new roles would be in the region of €60k. For 1600 hours on average worked per annum this would give an hourly rate of between €75 and €112.5 per hour including overheads, professional indemnity insurance, office rental costs, light/heat, travel and other overheads and expenses. This range would depend on whether the practitioner is a sole trader or works in a larger firm. By this simple calculation the extra costs for certifier roles only (excluding additional ancillary certifiers) for a typical house could be:

€93.8 (av. ph) x 160 hours = €15,000

Even with a heavy discount this cost is a considerably higher cost that that quoted in the Regulatory Impact Assesment  2012 (RIA) figures of between €1,000 and €3,000 per housing unit. This is what we assume is the source of the minister’s figures quoted in his interview. We are aware that, notwithstanding any consumer discounts, the cost to the industry and consumer remains €15,000, a significant multiple of that quoted by the minister.

We wonder if the Minister and department were adequately briefed by the stakeholder groups involved in the formation of SI.9? The Minister appears to know the number of attendees at recent professional CPD events but we wonder is he aware of the content of presentations and information on extra hours being circulated by key stakeholders to their members?

The Minister has noted that this regulation has been well telegraphed and has been on the cards for 2 years. We wonder why no revised RIA was completed during this two year period to establish an accurate cost for SI.9.

________

The above opinion piece was submitted by Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds on March 3rd 2014

Irish Times: SCSI comment on BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Opinion: New building regulations will add costs but also peace of mind – Irish Homes & Property | Latest News & Advice | The Irish Times – Thu, Feb 27, 2014

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/opinion-new-building-regulations-will-add-costs-but-also-peace-of-mind-1.1705395

In this opinion piece Kevin Hollingsworth, chairman of the building surveying professional group of the Chartered Surveyor of Ireland, explores the pros and cons of the BC(A)R SI.9. While on the one hand additional safeguards may give piece of mind, the deficiencies of a poorly resourced local authority combined with a reinforced self-certification system are highlighted. As the new certifier roles can be employees of developers their effectiveness may be subject to undue influence.

The inherent contradiction of BC(A)R SI.9 is noted: that in order to regulate contractors (under SI.9) a register is needed. However by establishing a privately owned and operated CIF register it precludes other forms of procurement such as self-build. The president of the SCSI confirms that owners can no longer operate as their own builder on projects. He notes that this restriction to employ a main contractor after 1st March 2104 may be costly and very difficult for many self-builders.

The SCSI have consistently queried the level of resources allocated by local authorities to the the implementation of the new regulations and have questioned the effectiveness of SI.9 unless independent local-authority inspection rates increase significantly. In 2007 we had less than 70 qualified Building Control Inspectors for the entire country. The SCSI is a key stakeholder in the formation of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

RTÉ Radio 1, Transcript: Minister Hogan defends BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Minister for the Environment defends new regulations. Released 28 February 2014 – Morning Ireland RTE News. Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government discusses the new Building Control Regulations. Transcript of radio interview previously posted to follow:

________

Cathal Mac Coille RTE News Morning Ireland

New Building Control Regulations come into force tomorrow, as Aisling was saying the first of March…now Environment Minister Phil Hogan spoke to me earlier and I asked him first what the legal position of people building their own homes will be under the new Regulations

Minister Phil Hogan

Well first of all we are bringing in these new Regulations Cathal because of all of the poor standards that we’ve seen which have been signed off by professionals in many instances over the last number of years which has resulted in cases like Priory Hall, unfinished estates and pyritic materials in buildings, but in relation to self build, I cannot understand the type of wild exaggeration that has gone on for the last couple of days in relation to this matter. There is no change in the technical performance standards in respect of a newly finished home. The people that engage in direct labour or self build will be able to continue to do so because there is no change in the Act and the statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990.

Well, what were doing here is that we’re expecting a professional to sign off on the work that it is actually done in accordance with the papers that are lodged and that it is up to a high standard.

Cathal Mac Coille

Mmmh you need a professional to certify the design and to inspect the works, and professional is defined as an architect, a building surveyor or a chartered engineer?

Minister Phil Hogan

Yes and eh we expect the highest standards and I would have thought that Amanda and her husband would expect the highest standards and I know that they want to have the best possible quality home and they’ll be able to do so by direct labour including our friend from Cavan will be able to continue to report through his architect or professional or through the owner of the particular property to continue as before by direct labour and build their home – their dream home. What they will require, for the first time in addition is a professional person that will have to sign off that the work is done and that will cost somewhere between one and two thousand euro and that’s a small cost to pay for making sure that things are done right for a home that might cost €100,000 or €150,000

Cathal Mac Coille

What do you make of the point made by Amanda’s husband there that it would be foolish for anyone building their own home to make it substandard?

Minister Phil Hogan

Absolutely foolish and what we are trying to do here is to make sure that people like Amanda and her husband would be able to get a guarantee that what is signed up for by a professional in the future means what it says – and that an architect or a building surveyor or a chartered surveyor that signs off on this will be able to say that this is what it has done, this is the whole chain of responsibility

Cathal Mac Coille

Yes but their point is

Minister Phil Hogan

It’s not just an opinion it actually means what it says and we’re empowering the professionals to stand over what they are signing off for.

Cathal Mac Coille

Yeah but that’ll be expensive for a house that you are building for yourself

Minister Phil Hogan

No it will not be expensive! All this exaggeration about thirty, forty, fifty thousand and that direct labour was going to be out the window or banned as a result of this is absolute nonsense. It’ll cost about one to two thousand euro depending on what figure they negotiate with professionals

Cathal Mac Coille

Now there’s also a particular concern as you’ve heard from Amanda there about this undertaking by builder document,  which you must sign. Now, legally they’re concerned that that will expose them to something – which is one thing for a professional builder or a professional contractor to do, but quite different for a homeowner who is just building a home for themselves?

Minister Phil Hogan

Well what we expect is that the consumer will get the top class standard that they should expect from building one of the biggest investments in their lifetime – a home, and whether you’re a self build assigned certifier or whether you’re a professional person we want to ensure that what people sign up for is actually what has happened along the chain of responsibility in the course of the construction of the home. It’s nothing more or nothing less than that. After two years of consultation in relation to this matter I’m surprised at people now like Joan O Connor are actually saying that we haven’t had enough time in order to look at this matter. Two years it’s gone on…two years of all of the various professional bodies have been engaged with the Department and the Local Authorities working out the first of March 2014 as the starting date and you know at the end of the day we want to ensure that we have top quality standards in our housing sector unlike the type of light touch regulation that we’ve had in the past.

Cathal Mac Coille

And yet when you hear the Royal Institute of Architects, who know something about this business, and when they say it’s not ready, things have not been clarified and issues for example like, legal responsibility which is a very serious matter – if they’re calling for a deferral why would you not listen to them?

Minister Phil Hogan

The Royal Institute Architects are not calling for a deferral. There is a small number of people within the Royal Institute of Architects that are calling for a deferral but the President of the Royal Institute Architects and the director Mr Graby – all of these people have written to us to say that they are prepared to comply with the regulations, they have engaged with the Department and with this process for the last two years. They’ve had training programmes for the last couple of weeks – a little bit belatedly, but they had their training in the last couple of weeks where over 1000 architects have been trained so people know that the 1 March 2014 is when these new regulations are coming into effect in the interests of the consumer and the interests of higher standards in the construction sector.

Cathal Mac Coille

There is of course a local election ahead. Are you clear in your mind that any prospective candidate from a government party can go out and say to people who are annoyed about this, worried about this, concerned about the legal position of what they are signing that there is no problem? …that the most this is going to mean is a fee of according to you between one and three thousand euro and that’s it there’s no other added difficulty or reason why they cant build their own homes. Are you sure that they can go and say that? And be believed?

Minister Phil Hogan

Well, all I’m asking people to do in these regulations is that there is nothing new in the regulations that prevents direct labour – I want to make that clear – owners are required to satisfy themselves that persons that they engage to carry out work are competent…and from the self build perspective the owner will as before assume the responsibility as builder for ensuring the building is complying with the regulations, but they must also satisfy themselves that anyone they employ to undertake work is competent to do the job. That’s all we’re asking them to do and I would expect that people who would be building a house by direct labour would require nothing less.

Cathal Mac Coille

That’s Environment Minister Hogan speaking to me earlier.

Radio Clip, Newstalk: Fianna Fáil criticise BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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New rules place increased accountability on those signing off on new buildings

Fianna Fáil are criticising the Government for what they describe as the hasty introduction of new building regulations. The new rules – which will see an increased level of accountability placed on professionals signing off on new buildings – come into effect today. The Department of the Environment say the new rules will prevent any future reoccurrence of badly constructed dwellings. Fianna Fail’s Barry Cowen says the legislation is posing problems for self-builds:

http://www.newstalk.ie/mobile/index.php?id=21533

POLITICAL Q+A: Members excluded from register: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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To quote Minister Hogan “There is no question of persons who are not included on the statutory registers being permitted to sign certificates of compliance.” Recent media coverage has focused on experienced qualified professionals who will face an unemployment crisis due to BC(A)R SI.9. Here is a recent political Q+A session concerning this issue. Many established construction professionals feel their employment will be significantly impacted upon with the implementation on 1st March of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). New registers of “competent persons” from which they are excluded will mean they will no longer be able to practice and undertake roles for which they were well qualified to perform.

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Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:

To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that under proposed legislation the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013, SI No 80 of 2013 which are due to come into force on 1 March, 2014 will expressly prohibit CIAT Members to provide architectural services here; if he will acknowledge that members of this group have the prerequisite experience, knowledge and skills and should be therefore eligible to register under the Building Surveyors Registration Authority as an interim measure until CIAT members are granted a register in their own right; if he will acknowledge that failure to grant them eligibility will ultimately result in many unnecessary business closures and redundancies across the industry; in view of the fact that he has the authority to extend the regulations to include a register for chartered architectural technologists, if he will commit to reviewing the parameters of the register with a view to admitting members of CIAT to it; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– John Halligan.

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider amending S.I. No. 80/2013 – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 to include architectural technologists in the schedule of those eligible to certify under this legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will examine the submission (details supplied); if he will detail the consultations he has had with this body; if he will respond to the substance of these complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Ciara Conway.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 18th February, 2014.

Ref Nos:   8226/14, 8281/14 and 8282/14

 REPLY

 Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr. P. Hogan)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 523, 529 and 530 together.

New Building Control (Amendment) Regulations will, from 1 March 2014, strengthen the arrangements in place for the control of building activity, by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certificates of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspection during construction and validation and registration of statutory certificates. 

The statutory certificates of compliance must be signed by a registered professional i.e. a person who is included on the statutory registers of architects or building surveyors maintained in accordance with parts 3 and 5 respectively of the Building Control Act 2007 or on the register of chartered engineers established under the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969.

Architects, Building Surveyors and Chartered Engineers are the construction professions typically involved in the design of construction works in Ireland and reference to these professions in regulation is entirely appropriate.

Depending on their personal circumstances it may be open to persons who are members of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), and who possess the requisite experience and competence in the design of buildings, to seek inclusion on either of the statutory registers referred to which would enable a person to sign statutory certificates of compliance as provided for under the new regulations when they come into effect on and from 1 March 2014.

There is no question of persons who are not included on the statutory registers being permitted to sign certificates of compliance.

My Department has had detailed engagement with CIAT subsequent to the public consultation on the proposed Building Control Amendment Regulations (which led to S.I. No 9 of 2014).  In this regard, my Department has outlined a number of options in keeping with the Building Control Act 2007 which could be pursued by CIAT with a view to progressing the registration of its Chartered Architectural Technologist members.

In May 2013 CIAT presented a case for recognition of Chartered Architectural Technologists as a route to inclusion on the register of persons entitled to use the title of Building Surveyor in accordance with Part 5 of the Building Control Act 2007, based on benchmarking the competence of Chartered Architectural Technologists against existing routes to registration as a Building Surveyor.    In June 2013 CIAT presented a similar case in respect of inclusion on the register of persons entitled to use the title of Architect in accordance with Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007.  The Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI) and the RIAI, as the registration bodies for the relevant professions under the Act of 2007, and as the competent authorities in Ireland for the purposes of the EU Directive on the recognition of Professional Qualifications, are currently considering the cases put forward by CIAT.  Neither I nor my Department have any role in the assessment or validation of professional qualifications in this manner and cannot pre-empt the outcome in either case.  However, should the SCSI or the RIAI as appropriate determine that the competence of the Chartered Architectural Technologists is equivalent to the requirements for inclusion on either register, it would fall to me as Minister to bring forward relevant suitable amendments to the Building Control Act 2007. 

The BCMS System – A Quickstart Guide…

by Mark Stephens

This is the first post intended as a ‘Quickstart’ guide to the new S.I.No.9 of 2014 BCMS system. It’s only my initial overview and is not a thorough step by step tutorial:

1. Go to https://www.localgov.ie/en/BCMS

2. You’ll then need to register with a User Name & email address;

register

3. Go to your emails to activate the registration and set a password

4. You will then need to register your qualifications as Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier

5. To create a new application click on: New Application:

new_appn

6. Choose either:

New Seven day Notice Application or

New Commencement Notice Application

6. Below is screen grab for New Commencement Notice Application:

application

Complete as required & click SAVE

7. You will then need to give the project particulars:

building

Complete as required & click SAVE

8. You will then need to add the Documentation for the project; this is where you download and upload Commencement Notices etc… The principle is that you download the appropriate notice, print, sign and date an auto-completed notice. Then scan this document to be uploaded as your submission.

documentation

9. To submit the Building Regulation compliant specifications & drawings etc… you click on Add or Edit Document at the bottom of this screen

10. You then choose the supporting document type from a pull-down menu and upload the relevant file:

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11. The final stage is to make the appropriate Payment:

payment

This post will be updated with more detailed information, notes & comments as the system is implemented and we receive feedback. If you have any problems or comments in using the system, please Comment below…

BC(A)R SI.9: on the front page!

by Bregs Blog admin team

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It’s taken a while but the nationwide campaign by the self-builders along with recent media coverage seems to have thrust the impending Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9) onto the front page. The unintended consequences of the legislation will become apparent to many involved in the construction sector over the coming weeks, along with consumers who are in for a surprise if they decide to construct their own home or qualifying extension. Yesterday on the eve of implementation deferral made headline news on RTE.

We will be documenting the fall-out of BC(A)R SI.9 in the run-up to local elections, less than 100 days away, during which time we think this may become a very live topic indeed in constituencies all over the country. Many thanks to all contributors and readers who have helped the debate into the public eye, and we look forward to documenting the feedback from the public on implementation of BC(A)R SI.9 in the coming weeks ahead. Again we welcome all contributions and views on Building  Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). This debate is only starting!

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The above opinion piece is posted on 1st March 2014 by Bregs Blog admin team.