BCMS: Open Letter
by Bregs Blog admin team
Further to the BRegs Blog request (Link here:) for questions to submit to the Building Control Management System (BCMS) we sent the Open Letter below to the BCMS Senior Engineer at Fingal Co. Council who had very kindly offered to try and answer questions on the system. We will circulate any response received as soon as possible.
We noted your very generous offer to accept questions on the Building Control Management System (BCMS) in the absence of responses to emails sent to the contact form on the BCMS website over the past five months. We are writing on behalf of our 1100 Blog followers, 700 Twitter followers and 600 Facebook followers. We have collated and edited the 37 questions we received below to be representative of those received. We feel it would make the most efficient use of your time if you were able to respond to us directly on these and we could then disseminate your reply to a wider audience via Social Media.
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
BRegs Blog Admin Team
Q.1 By far the most frequent questions we received related to possible S.I.9 exemptions e.g. borderline extensions with floor areas circa 40 m2 where our followers sought reassurance on behalf of building owners. Is it possible to apply to the BCMS for a formal Declaration or Certificate of Exemption from S.I 9 similar to a Section 5 under the Planning and Development Acts? If not, do the BCMS intend to issue guidance on exempt works or will this be left to the courts to determine?
Q.2 Do the BCMS intend to publish sample BCMS validated submissions for a selection of project types as industry standard examples? If so, when do the BCMS hope to do this and are the professional bodies involved in this process?
Q.3 Is there any appeal process if a building owner feels that a Commencement Notice was incorrectly invalidated by the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority? If not, is the only redress to take court action and would this be against the BCMS or the Building Control Authority?
Q.5 When will it be possible to submit Completion Certificates online?
Q.6 Is it correct that it is not possible to submit ancillary certificates and supporting documentation with Completion Certificates?
Q.7 Who is responsible for ensuring that an Assigned Certifier is suitably qualified.
Q.8 Does the BCMS check the identities or qualifications of Design and Assigned Certifiers?
Q. 9 What action will the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority take if they are made aware that someone acting as a Design or Assigned Certifier is not suitably qualified?
Q.10 What advice should be given to a self-builder, who is not a Principal or Director of a Building Company, when signing Section 4 of Part A of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion e.g. should they scratch out the relevant phrase “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a Building Company only”?
Q.10 Does the time period for notification of a change of builder i.e. 14 days refer to a notification that you intend to change builder or is one expected to provide details of the new contractor within 14 days. The latter may prove difficult in practice and it is noted that failure to do this is an offence? What is the procedure for doing this e.g. can it be done online??
Q.11 Does the BCMS intend to conduct any public information campaign through national media to inform the public and building owners of their responsibilities in relation to the BCMS?
Q.12 Is it possible to introduce a facility to edit documents prior to and/or post validation?
Q.14 What advice would the BCMS give to someone who inadvertently carried out building work since the 1st March 2014 that was not exempt from S.I. 9 and who did not submit a valid Commencement Notice?
Q.15 In the event that the BCMS discover an irregularity in documentation submitted post-validation what action will be taken?
Q.16 Do the BCMS intend to provide a user guide to the system?
Q. 17 Do the BCMS intend to provide comprehensive predictive answers or hints on the system?
Q.18 Do the BCMS maintain contact details of those using the system in order to advise them directly of ongoing changes e.g. the recently introduced “role acceptance”?
Q.20 Are Commencement Notices validated by the BCMS before issue to the 34 individual Building Control Authorities?
Q. 21 How does the Design Certifier upload additional documents for design changes during the construction phase or ensure that the correct documents have been uploaded at or before completion?
Q.22 What is the timescale for validating design changes and/or designs not submitted at commencement notice stage?
Q. 23 Is it possible to resign as Design and/or Assigned Certifier post Commencement Notice validation e.g. in part service appointments to developers who have in house assigned certifiers some design certifiers may be unwilling to continue in the role, particularly if sites are sold on to persons other than the original owner who commissioned and appointed the design certifier. If such cases, what is the process for doing so?
Q.24 How does one address the situation of a change in Design Certifier mid-project e.g. changing from a Civil Engineer on the piling for an enabling works contract onto an architects as the Design Certifier for a Main Contract. Do such changes have to be notified to the BCMS and if so, how is this done?
Q.25 In instances where Assigned Certifiers become aware of non-compliant work and resign, or where builders are not undertaking recommended remedial works during the course of construction, Assigned Certifiers may have no option but to resign. Is there a responsibility on the Assigned Certifier to notify the BCMS and/or Building Control Authority of such infringements?
Q.26 Are there any plans to increase the speed for uploading documents and negotiating between pages on the system?
Q. 27 Is there a limit on the capacity of the system and/or individual uploads?
Q.28 Is the Local Government Management Agency correct in their statement that the BCMS will not be fully operational for 18 months after 1st March 2014?
Q. 29 Under S.I. 9, and not the Code of Practice, is the submission of a Commencement Notice and accompanying documentation officially considered an ‘application’ or a ‘validation’?
Q. 30 Does the BCMS have a published API such as REST that external applications can use to read and write to the BCMS system? If yes, are there examples of its usage? If not, do you plan to introduce this functionality?
Q .31 There has been speculation that the BCMS is linked to the Revenue Commissioner’s system and may be used to identify tax evasion. If so, why has this been kept secret?
Q.32 What rights do those engaging with BCMS have under data protection to see and/or correct personal data and in particular to be made aware of any ‘red flags’ against them and any right of redress?
Q. 33 What advice, if any, was sought in relation to Freedom of Information (by any future building owners) and Intellectual Property and confidentiality of information loaded to the BCMS.
Q.34 Who are the website developers and were they procured through the public / E-tender procurement process? There is a story (attributed to you) doing the rounds that the reason there are so many glitches with the system is that the developer’s first language was not English!
Q.35 Of the 1645 Commencement Notices submitted since the 1st March until the 5th August 2014 how many, if any. have been ‘red-flagged’ at validation stage?
Q.36 Is it planned that a Commencement Notice can be deleted once started (prior to submitting for validation)?
Q.37 Is it planned to have an easier online method of unlocking documents to upload newer versions other than contacting the Building Control Authority?