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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following article appeared in The Engineers Journal on 24th April 2014: “Building Control Regulations: how it works in practice“.

In it, architect Orla Fitzgerald MRIAI notes the time required to discharge duties of new certifier roles under Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (SI.9 of 2014): “there is…a requirement for an additional 18 days of input“. One of the group of three that made up a key stakeholder group on behalf of the representative body for architects (RIAI), this time assessment is at odds with Minister Phil Hogan’s repeated estimate for additional costs for BC(A)R SI.9 at between €1000 to €3000 for a typical project. Not bad for an estimated 18 days. The test project noted has a similar administrative burden as a typical €180,000 house.

The RIAI issued advice at a CPD event on Monday 24th February 2014 in the Aviva stadium to over 500 members on the issue of hours required to undertake these new roles under the regulation. The presentation suggested 160 hours was required for a typical house for these roles. Based on the Minister’s cost range this would indicate €6.25 per hour as an hourly rate including vat at 23% for a competent engineer/ surveyor or architect to undertake these duties. Many practitioners and commentators feel that is a significantly below cost figure, and that the Minister’s figures also distort the market for any other EU registered professional wishing to compete for services in Ireland.

The RIAI, ACEI or SCSI have not made any statements contradicting the Minister’s assessments of costs for BC(A)R SI.9 to date.

Link to article here

Extract from article:

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Building Control Regulations: how it works in practice

Orla Fitz.Gerald explains the workings of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations and writes that the focus for compliance with S.I.9 can be summarised as: competence, resourcing, co-operation, documenting and certifying

Architects have heretofore provided services for design, contract administration and monitoring/inspection of construction works sufficient to issue an opinion on compliance with Building Regulations. The requirements under S.I. 9 are such that there is now a statutory requirement for the following:

  • Competence;
  • Formal review and certification of design;
  • Registration on the Building Control Management System (BCMS);
  • Requirement for formal submission of documents to the BCMS;
  • Inspection plan and records of inspection;
  • Overall record keeping;
  • Certification.

S.I.9/2014 is supported by the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, which gives guidance with respect to inspecting and certifying works or a building for compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. Many of the queries pertaining to ‘how’ are well dealt with in the Code of Practice (CoP) and familiarity with the document would serve practitioners well.

Take, for example, ‘competence’, which might reasonably be deemed as a prerequisite for a construction professional. Within the CoP, there is strong emphasis on competencefor all involved in the design, construction and certification of works or a building.

The limitation of certain functions (design certifier and assigned certifier) to registered architects, building surveyors or chartered engineers is a new requirement. The fact of being registered or chartered does not, of itself, give licence to certify. Every practitioner must consider the nature of the works they are being asked to certify and consider if they are competent to undertake such work.

The nature of construction has become quite complex and it is recognised that few, if any, will possess the broad skill-set at a sufficient level of competence so as to execute aDesign Certificate or Certificate of Compliance on Completion in the absence of reliance on third parties. Said third parties will provide Ancillary Certificates.

Of relevance and interest is that the CoP recognises that persons other than those entitled to sign the statutory certificates may provide Ancillary Certificates provided that they are competent and “exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence in the exercise of their duties”. It is probable that ‘specialists’ will emerge, particularly architectural technologists, with expertise in particular elements.

The above requirements have a cost consequence, as at various stages of the project, there are additional inputs necessary so as to undertake the following:

  • Ancillary Certificate for Design;
  • Design Certificate;
  • Preliminary Inspection Plan;
  • Submission of Commencement Notice;
  • Ancillary Certificate for Inspection for Completion (to provide to assigned certifier so to support the Certificate of Compliance on Completion);
  • Certificate of Compliance on Completion.

As a practitioner, I am of the opinion that the provision of services to accommodate the demands of S.I.9/2014, for the purpose of fee proposals and agreements, will need to be broken into elements relevant to each statutory certificate and also the provision of Ancillary Certification. Where projects would otherwise have had ‘full service’, there will be areas of overlap and therefore an economy in engaging the lead designer as the assigned certifier.

Projects that heretofore may not have benefited from ‘full service’, i.e. those understood to have been primarily ‘partial service’ prevalent in the ‘spec development’ arena, will have a greater adjustment to make in adapting to the new regime.

Taking a notional project as an example, consider the above in the context of a non-complex building project with a project value of circa €500,000 and a construction period of 26 weeks. The context of the following is as an architect who will undertake both the Design Certificate and the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, i.e. the role of the design certifier and the assigned certifier.

Inputs relating to the provision of third-party ancillary certificates – such as those from engineers – are not included, although will be necessary.

1.0 POST GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION TO SUBMISSION OF COMMENCEMENT NOTICE

1.1 Ancillary Certificate for Design, leading to Design Certificate:

  • Undertake Design Audit, including work of third parties to ensure their ancillary certificate is complete;
  • Document/record basis of ability to complete Design Certificate.

1.2 Preliminary Inspection Plan (PIP)

  • Prepare PIP for architectural elements;
  • Gather PIPs from other design consultants and co-ordinate to prepare Inspection Notification Framework (INF);
  • Discuss PIP and INF with contractor and owner and incorporate contractors programme and inspection regime into PIP for submission with Commencement Notice;
  • Co-ordinate and ensure completion of all statutory assignments and undertakings;
  • Gather and upload to BCMS required drawings, specifications, schedules and documents in support of Commencement Notice.

TOTAL TIME ANTICIPATED

Design Certificate work: 3-4 days

Inspection Plan: 2½-3 days

TOTAL INPUT ANTICIPATED: 6 days

2.0 CONSTRUCTION PHASE (BASED ON SIX-MONTH CONSTRUCTION PERIOD – 26 WEEKS)

2.1 Additional administration

  • Formal monitoring of inspections by all parties involved in relation to PIP;
  • Recording of amendments to drawings and uploading to BCMS;
  • Recording of inspections and testing identified as necessary.

2.2 Additional inspections

  • Inspections in addition to those undertaken in normal course of contract administration

TOTAL TIME ANTICIPATED

Additional administration: ½ day/fortnight

Additional inspections: ½ day/fortnight

TOTAL INPUT ANTICIPATED: 1 day/fortnight over 26 weeks = 13 days

N.B. NOT INCLUDED: possible additional inspections necessary due to works not ready or non-compliant at time of inspection.

3.0 COMPLETION STAGE – FINAL CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE CO-ORDINATION

3.1 Co-ordination

  • Contractor to ensure all ancillary certs, et cetera, from contracting side are in place;
  • Design team to ensure all ancillary certs et cetera and amended drawings, specifications and schedules are undertaken and prepared for upload to BCMS.

3.2 Completion and upload of Statutory Certificate

  • Attain signature of contractor on Statutory Certificate;
  • Upload all necessary documents, drawings et cetera to BCMS;
  • Complete Statutory Certificate of Compliance on Completion and upload to BCMS.

TOTAL TIME ANTICIPATED

Co-ordination: ½ day

Uploading to BCMS: ½ day

TOTAL INPUT ANTICIPATED: 1 day

4.0 SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL INPUTS NECESSARY TO COMPLY WITH S.I. 9/2014

Inputs necessary up to and including submission of Commencement Notice:  6 days

Inputs necessary during construction period as set out above: 13 days

Inputs necessary to prepare and upload Compliance on Completion Certificate: 1 day

TOTAL ADDITIONAL DAYS REQUIRED: 20 days

There are no doubt persons who would consider the above is overstated. Nevertheless, if a margin of 10% is deducted, there is still a requirement for an additional 18 days of input.

Is the above realistic? In my opinion, many practitioners are unrealistic in what inputs are required in a construction project. Scheduling the activities assists in demonstrating what is necessary, in this instance, to fulfil the obligations of S.I.9/2014.

Adequate resourcing of projects is also set out in the CoP, under the Building Owner’srole, but this does not alleviate the practitioner in ensuring that they can resource adequately, indeed this is a core component of the RIAI Code of Practice. A race to the bottom in undercutting fees will result in lesser or poor service and expose the practitioner to a greater risk of liability.

Overall support and guidance is essential, particularly in the early stages of implementation. The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland is in the process of developing supporting documentation and guidance to assist members. Ongoing co-ordination with Engineers Ireland, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is also ensuring that all are aware of the progress within each grouping and, where possible, documents are being agreed between all.

There is robust debate and differing opinion, which presents even within a single discipline. It is essential that all who engage in the provision of either Statutory or Ancillary Certification should give active feedback to their respective organisations such that ongoing improvements and understanding of best practice in implementation can be shared and provided to all.

In summary, the focus for compliance with S.I.9/2014 can be captured in the following:

  • Competence;
  • Resourcing;
  • Co-ordination,
  • Documenting/recording and
  • Certifying.

Orla Fitz.Gerald is an architect in practice for over 25 years…FitzGerald was a member of the stakeholder working group liaising with the Department of Environment Community and Local Government in relation to the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works under the Building Control Amendment Regulations 2014, and is a nominee from that group to the Building Control Management System oversight group. She is a current member of Technical Assessment Board as established under Building Control Act 2007.