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.

Practical Post Series 1-20

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In response to a number of comments to the Blog and queries in our two recent surveys (see posts here and here) we ran a series of twenty Practical Posts, written by and aimed at the home/ business owners, SME’s, and professionals about the new regulations.

Our starting point was extensions, given a large number of comments/ queries we have received relate to questions like “does this minor extension/ alteration qualify under BC(A)R SI.9?“.

Posts cover a multitude of aspects of the new regulations and are a useful place to start if you have any initial queries. Posts are intended to be short and to the point and most headings are dealt with elsewhere in the Blog at greater length. Issues discussed affect end-users such as vitners, offices, employees of larger professional firms and insurance issues, lack of retrospective compliances, off-license and creche fit-out issues, phased completion and contractor issues.

Many new subscribers may not have seen some of these so we have consolidated into one post here for ease of access. Given the range of questions received we will continue this series for another ten posts.

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Posts in this series:

Practical Post 1: BC(A)R SI.9 Extensions & Refurbishments– click link here

Practical Post 2: completion- FAO Vintners & Retailers– click link here

Practical posts 3: Change of Use – FDI and offices – Click link here

Practical post 4: What if the builder goes bust?– Click link here

Practical Post 5: Small retail extension- problem with certifier – Click link here

Practical Post 6: no one wants to do certifier roles! – Click link here

Practical Post 7: Existing Shopping Centres – Click link here

Practical Post 8: Employees won’t certify: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 9: Fees & numbers of inspections?: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 11: Phasing and BC(A)R SI.9? – Click link here

Practical Post 12: “architects only” club?–  Click link here

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 –  Click link here

Practical Post 14: Supervision vs Inspection –  Click link here

Practical Post 15: “architects only” club? –  Click link here

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification? – Click link here

Practical Post 17: Off-License fit-out –  Click link here

Practical Post 18- material alterations: Creche  – Click link here

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 –  Click link here

Practical post 20: Are builders off the hook with BCAR? – click link here

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope this list in one area is useful, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working within these new and difficult regulations. 

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Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following exchange took place in the Dáil this week on 10th June concerning the Pyrite Remediation Programme

Pyrite Remediation Programme- written Dáil answers 10th June 2014. (click link here)

Clare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)

403. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the services being provided by HomeBond to thepyrite board. [24689/14]

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

Discussions have been on-going for some time between the Pyrite Resolution Board and HomeBond on services to be provided byHomeBond in connection with the implementation of the pyrite remediation scheme. The discussions have recently concluded and my Department understands that an agreement has now been reached under which HomeBond has agreed to contribute technical and project management services to the value of €2million, and such services will include assisting in the auditing of Building Condition Assessments, organising and managing the testing of dwellings and project management of remediation contracts. HomeBond has also agreed to make available to the Pyrite Resolution Board/ Housing Agency the results of testing undertaken by it prior to the operation of the scheme.

All services will be provided under the direction and supervision of the Pyrite Resolution Board and/or the Housing Agency and in this context it should be noted that HomeBond staff will not be making decisions on the eligibility of applicants under the scheme. In addition, while working on the pyrite remediation process, staff from HomeBond will not be acting as agents of the Pyrite Resolution Board/Housing Agency to whom they will be answerable.

Clare Daly (Dublin North, United Left)

404. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the number of building condition assessments reporting damage condition rating 2; and if this is less than, in line with, or greater than the estimates made of the numbers of houses potentially requiring remedial works in the estates concerned by the pyrite board. [24690/14]

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

It is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Pyrite Resolution Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2. To date the Pyrite Resolution Board has received approximately 500 applications, almost all of which are accompanied by Building Condition Assessments with a Damage Condition Rating of 2.

The level of applications under the scheme is broadly in line with the expectations of my Department and the Pyrite Resolution Board. It was anticipated that volumes would be high initially and would then level off and continue at a steadier rate; this has been the experience under the scheme and applications are now averaging 10 per week. This would suggest that the total number is likely to be within the figure of some 1,000 derived from the figures of the report of the independent Pyrite Panel and substantially less than some of the speculative figures which have been publicly quoted.

Other posts of interest:

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80 – click link here

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert – click link here

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read – click link here

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks – click link here

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification? – click link here

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel – click linkhere

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

 

Building Inspector view of BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece was received on 17th June 2014 from a building inspector for the insurance industry.

Building Inspector view of BC(A)R SI.9

What is clear from any assessment of BC(A)R SI.9 is that the result of the ‘new’ system of Building Regulation compliance/enforcement has not improved consumer protection.

The consumer has been afforded no greater protection under the new requirements than what previously existed. However, the cost to the consumer of achieving the same result will no doubt be greater due to the clear and auditable paper trail now required of the professionals involved.

BC(A)R SI.9 has in effect just created a paper trail to support the previous system of building regulation ‘sign off’.

The same professionals are still going to ‘sign off’ projects, albeit with a differing cap on i.e Design Certifier, Assigned Certifier etc. The Local Authority Building Control officials (BCO’s) will still maintain a ‘hands off’ approach to the inspection of the works i.e a 10-15% target of commencement notices rather than a 100% inspection requirement. Responsibility for building regulation compliance will still ultimately rest with the consumer. Should the consumer require redress for any building regulation non compliance issues that may result in a structural defect, moisture ingress, a risk to life etc. then redress (if possible) will only be achieved through the courts where the consumer will have to prove professional negligence against the professionals involved.

The ongoing regulation of the professionals providing services in this arena appears to be completely overlooked. In the absence of an independent system of ongoing monitoring and evaluating the professionals involved, it is difficult to ensure the integrity of the system of Building Control. The professionals involved need to demonstrate that building regulation compliance will (at design stage) and has (at construction stage) been achieved. There would appear to be an inherent conflict of interest when the Design Certifier may also be the Assigned Certifier. It is only logical that the Assigned Certifier is ‘independent’ of the Design Certifier, i.e. the assigned certifier has no other financial interest in the project other than their involvement as AC.

However, what is done is done. What is the best way to address the issue of consumer protection?

Mandatory Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) may be one solution.

LDI could provide protection to the consumer and in effect provide independent ‘regulation’ of the professionals involved. LDI is not a panacea for the flaws in BC(A)R SI.9. However, as the insurers will only issue unendorsed warranties on projects that present a normal/ acceptable risk, to achieve this, the insurers will monitor the risk stages of a project through independent plan check assessment (design) and onsite inspections (construction) of the relevant risk stages of a project. LDI will not police the professionals per se, however, if any building regulation non conformities are not addressed during the life of the construction process then an unendorsed warranty would not be issued.

The recent RIAI calls for mandatory LDI on projects are laudable. It is only a pity that this was not called for when we were building 90,000 housing units a year.  A note of caution to the professional bodies, be careful what you wish for as you might just get it!

Other posts of interest:

Building Control Officers: Survey  – click link here

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

What is Latent Defects Insurance and how much does it cost? – click link here

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”   – click link here

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Dáil: Proactive vs Reactive Building Control? BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

How do we fix BC(A)R SI.9? – click link here

UPDATE: Construction Industry Register of Ireland

by Bregs Blog admin team

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UPDATE: Construction Industry Register of Ireland

The Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) was launched earlier this year in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DECLG). It is promoted as the only register of construction companies, sole traders and builders that are vetted by Government nominees and industry professionals. It is intended that it will become the Statutory Register for registered building contractors as part of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations S.I. 9. CIRI is a private register and is owned and operated by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Link to website here: ciri.ie

The uptake to date to join CIRI, by construction companies, has been slow. On the 21st June 2014 only 196 companies had registered with CIRI. This figure may be compared with the existing 1500 + existing members of the CIF (who own and manage CIRI) and the 7500+ members of the National Guild of Master Craftsmen (see link to Guild website here). It is worth noting that Homebond have another (unconnected) register: homebond register.ie. Dublin city and county have the largest CIRI listing with 51 companies whereas Co. Longford has none.

The poor uptake for CIRI may possibly be explained by the following:

  • The register has not been placed on a statutory footing so there is no mandatory requirement (yet) to be registered. Recent Dáil statements suggest the March 2015 date for placing CIRI on a statutory footing may be delayed.
  • The cost of being listed on CIRI (€600 excluding VAT) may be a deterrent to small firms. There would appear to be no scale of charges i.e. a sole trader pays the same fee as the largest construction company in the country.
  • While the status of self-builders and the need to use a registered contractor remains ambiguous under the S.I. 9 legislation, there seems to be no advantage for a contractor to be on CIRI. Contrary to the CIF the Minister and Department have stated on a number of occasions that self-builders, owners without relevant construction experience, can still undertake the role of builder under the new building regulations. This suggests that membership of CIRI is unnecessary at present.
  • Many construction professionals remain sceptical of the qualitative assessments for inclusion on CIRI. No data has been issued yet by the CIF so it is not possible to know how many applications were refused or are under appeal or pending.

It is difficult to see how this register will be put on a statutory footing in 2015, as there are bound to be issues in trying to merge the other registers into CIRI.

Other posts of interest:

Is CIRI the only register of contractors? BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

CIF Construction Confidence Survey  – click link here

RTÉ Radio- CIF: professionals to Guarantee under BC(A)R SI.9  – click link here

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?  – click link here

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders  – click link here

Radio Clips: RIAI and CIF differ on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)  – click link here

CIF suggest self-building no longer possible after March 1st 2014 – click link here

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Press article: Government promotes developers over self-builders? – click link here

Self-Builders escalate to Europe: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here