Opinion Piece: To Be or not to BC(A)R

by Bregs Blog admin team


The following opinion piece was submitted by a rural-based registered architect to the blog on 7th April 2014.

The more I found out about the potential pitfalls of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R) in relation to intolerable levels of professional liability the more I thought that you would want to be mad to take on the role of an Assigned Certifier on any building project. After the first month’s operation of BC(A)R it appears that the mental health of the three approved professional groups (registered architects, chartered engineers and building surveyors) is quite good as new start-ups on building projects and the submission of Commencement Notices have all but dried up.

This can be partially explained by the ‘mad’ rush to lodge Commencement Notices before the 28th February deadline. Some County Councils reported having received more of these notices in the last three weeks of February, as they had received for the previous six months. This has created an artificial BC(A)R honeymoon period in the construction industry as Assigned Certifier Denial Condition (ACDC)takes hold.

Like most registered architects / small practitioners I feel as if I am caught between a rock and a hard place with regard to implementing the new regulations. Whether it is serendipity or my good planning I have the luxury of not having to decide to take on the roles of Ancillary, Design or Assigned Certifier just yet. But how long can I hold out? Is this a dangerous waiting game that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) and supporters of the new regime are playing with the professional livelihoods of architects, engineers and building surveyors employed in the private sector?

The government needs the construction sector to grow from approximately 6% towards 9% of GDP if they are to meet economic targets and minimise tax increases in the October budget. This target is not going to be met if the derisory level of Commencement Notice submissions, as experienced last month, continues. This seems likely as the self-build house market has all but collapsed. Residential work was the main game in town (and in rural areas).

Virtually no approved professional is willing to take on the onerous liabilities of being an Assigned Certifier on self-build house projects at this time. The impact of this on jobs for sub-contractors and building material suppliers, just as things had begun to pick up, is dire.

However, if the approved professionals continue to hold their ranks, their Commencement Notices and whatever else they can hold onto it until the BC(A)R storm blows out, it seems likely that the DECLG may have to start finding reasons to exempt even more building types than the derogations already issued for all educational and health buildings. Maybe then, they will end up with just speculative housing on their list which is where the problem actually was.

Don’t hold your breath!