BCMS: Are we getting what it said on the label?
by Bregs Blog admin team
Building Control Management System : Are we getting what it said on the label?
Anyone who experienced the abysmal failure of the attempt at a nationwide validation system for planning applications welcomed the stated vision behind the Building Control Management System (BCMS) of “A single standardised fully electronic BCMS with standardised approaches and common protocols to ensure nationwide consistency in the administration of building control functions”. Most professionals involved in the construction sector understood this to mean that Commencement Notices would be lodged to a national / central portal where they would be validated before being issued to the individual Building Control Authorities for monitoring.
That does not seem to be the case with validations being determined by individual Building Control Authorities. Already word is getting back on confusion between authorities as to what constitutes a valid Commencement Notice submission in terms of drawings and specifications. Some seem to be happy with a few general arrangement plans and a written specification. Others are requesting drawings showing full compliance with every Technical Guidance Document diagram from the Building Regulations. Cork County Council reported at the Irish Building Control Institute Conference of having invalidated all 20 Commencement Notices that it had received during March.
The Building Control Authorities have highlighted their concerns about this process with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG). These include:
- No Code of Practice has been issued by the DECLG to the Building Control Authorities on dealing with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R).
- The DECLG did not conduct a public information campaign with each Building Control Authorities having to deal with a huge number of inquiries from both the public and professionals e.g. the status of the self-builders.
- There is no DECLG / industry standard of what constitutes a Commencement Notice submission. Definitive guidance is required.
- Anomalies in the online forms to be completed.
- The required qualifications of the Building Control Officers assessing the submissions by the competent professionals have not been defined e.g. should these be equivalent or greater than the Assigned Certifiers.
- Building Control Authorities have not received training or additional resources for managing BC(A)R. The previous goal of inspecting 15% of buildings once must now expand to inspecting buildings four times.
- There is no standard building inspection sheet for the Building Control Officers.
- The BCMS is not fully functional and the Local Government Management Agency has indicated recently that it will not be fully functional for 18 months.
Unfortunately it appears that 34 Building Control Authorities may equal 34 interpretations of the BC(A)R legislation which may make the planning validation fiasco a mere walk in the park compared to trying to lodge a Commencement Notice under BC(A)R!
The BReg Blog would appreciate receiving feedback on readers’ experiences of using the BCMS.
Other Breg Blog posts on this topic of interest:
Press Piece- A “perfect storm” for certifiers: BC(A)R SI.9– click here
No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on #BCMS – click here
The BCMS System – A Quickstart Guide… – click here