Commencement notices fall: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

house-falling-off-cliff

In this post we look at the trend in commencement notice lodgments nationwide since the introduction of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI9 of 2014). The total number of commencement notices lodged nationwide for 2013 was 7,456, or an average of 620 per month (source: Bernadette McCardle; IBCI Conference 2014- for presentation click here). The same conference noted a surge in commencement notices for the first two months of 2014 (the equivalent of 70% total annual number for 2013).

The Building Control Management System, the new Elodgment system for online commencement notices, currently has recorded the number of commencement notices since implementation date of 1st March 2014 as follows.

Period: Month 1+2 (April + May 2014)

  • Commencement Notices March : 118
  • Commencement Notices April : 209
  • Total for March + April : 327

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) have reported that a total of 209 Commencement Notices (including two 7-day notices) were validated in April 2014 during the second month of the operation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. This figure is the total for the whole of Ireland and includes all buildings types. The LGMA are currently running the reports on the Building Control Management System (BCMS) as the building register section of the system is not yet functioning or available to the public.

A test page with full details of approximately 375 commencement notices (including those for May 2014) may currently be viewed here. 50 have been validated for period 1st to 13th May approximately. A pdf of this page is also attached at end of post. Approximately 174 of the 327 commencement notices appear to be the short form for small works where certifiers are not applicable.

The above figure for April indicates a total of approximately 327 commencement notices having been validated on the BCMS during the first two months since the introduction of the system on 1st March 2014. For comparison purposes the average figure for 2 months commencement notices validated during 2013 was 1,242 notices.

The latest figures above in 2014 represent a -74% drop in actual recorded building activity when compared to the average last year.

This may possibly be explained by:

  • The rush to lodge commencement notices before the 1st March 2014 deadline although these notices will have expired if building works have not yet commenced. There is little evidence emerging of Building Control Authorities policing this situation in any proactive manner.
  •  The lack of clarity on the status of the self-build housing sector. The overwhelming evidence from the legal profession is for Assigned Certifiers to avoid getting involved in this work.
  • The reluctance of the three approved professional groups to take on the roles of Assigned Certifier on projects where they were not responsible for the preparation of the pre-construction designs, drawings and documentation. This is likely to continue for some time in the absence of approved assigned certifier documentation from the professional bodies involved.
  • Commencement Notices are being validated separately by each of the 34 Building Control Authorities as opposed to centrally by the BCMS. Discrepancies are beginning to emerge of 34 differing interpretations being made of what constitutes a valid commencement notice submission which is likely to cause ongoing difficulties with the operation of BCMS.
  • Questions on the system being put to the BCMS, LGMA and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government are not being responded to.

We reported on this trend for March in a previous post and suggested if this did not reverse quickly there would be significant issues for the construction industry. The current surge in commencements due to the January and February rush to beat the implementation date deadline would be short lived. The preliminary numbers for the first half of May (50 commencements only) suggest this worrying trend will continue.

PDF of BCMS information: BuildingRegisterMay14th2014

PDF of IBCI presentation: BCO_Perspective_on_BCMS- Bernadette_McArdle

Other posts on this topic:

BCMS: Are we getting what it said on the label? – click link here

No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on #BCMS – click link here

The BCMS System – A Quickstart Guide… – click link here

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Breg Blog Note: According to the Fingal Co Co website the BCMS will not be fully operational for another 18 months: “The system was designed to be delivered over a number of stages in the months following the initial delivery.  Further development phases over the next 18 months will build on the initial implementation to provide a fully functional Building Control Management system from commencement to completion with a targeted inspection process based on risk analysis.” Link here.

 

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