BCMS Q+A: Part 1 | General Issues

by Bregs Blog admin team

Q+A

On 7th August 2014 the BRegs Blog posed a series of questions to the Building Control Management System (Link:). These were an edited compilation of questions that we received from our readers. The idea was that it would make for an efficient use of the BCMS resources if they replied to us in one email and we shared the information with our followers through Social Media.

We are very grateful to the BCMS Project Manager for her very swift and comprehensive response on 13th August 2014. As it is so detailed we have decided to publish it as a series of posts linked by the subject matter of the questions to ensure maximum exposure. The first post concerns general issues with the other two to follow on Wednesday (I.T. issues) and Friday (Process issues).

To summarise the response below  it would appear:

  • There is no formal process now or being considered for obtaining a certificate of exemption from S.I. 9 although this is being sought by the Law Society for any property conveyance where applicable. The professional bodies have not produced one either. Assigned Certifiers are on their own with regard to borderline projects (Link to yesterday’s post on demolition)
  • A good practice example of Commencement Notices for some project types may be available for the end of September 2014. The answer to whether the professional bodies (ACEI, RIAI and SCSI) are involved directly in this process is ambiguous.
  • The BCMS seems to consider it acceptable to register yourself on a Commencement Notice as a self-builder if you consider yourself “competent” even if you are not registered with CIRI or a Principal or Director of a Building Company.
  • The BCMS will not be conducting any media publicity campaign in relation to S.I. 9
  • The BCMS have little advice for anyone who may have inadvertently failed to submit a Commencement Notice, where applicable, for building work carried out since the 1st March 2014. It is up to the building owner to submit proposals for how they intend to regularise the situation to the Building Control Authority.
  • All Commencement Notices are validated independently by the 34 individual Building Control Authorities and not by the BCMS.

General Issues:

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? 

Answer;

Section 6 of Building Control Act 1990(BCA) as amended by Section 5 of the BCA 2007, provides for the making of secondary legislation by the Minister in the form of “Building Control Regulations” (BCR).

The Act states that these BCR are intended to provide for “matters of procedure, administration and control for the purposes of securing the implementation of, and compliance with, the requirements of building regulations and building control regulations”.

  1. Responsibility for compliance with the Building Control Regulations and Building Regulations is ultimately a matter for the owner or builder of a building.
  2. For the purposes of theBuilding Control Regulations, exemptions to  the requirements for works or a building as regards which a material change of use takes place is set out in Article  6, Part I, of Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR)  S.I 496 of 1997 as amended.
  3. Part II, Article 7, 8, 9 and 10 of BCAR 1997-2014 sets out the application, obligations, form of notice and procedure in relation to the Commencement Notice with and without supporting compliance documentation.
  4. In relation to extensions the regulations specifically state “an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 square metres”, i.e. not circa but “greater” floor area being that bounded by the inner finished surfaces of the enclosing walls.
  5. The BCAR does not provide a mechanism for a formal Declaration or Certificate of Exemption from S.I. of 2013 similar to that provided for in Section 5 of the Local Government Planning  and Development Act 2000 to 2013 “Declaration and referral on development and exempted development”.

However notwithstanding the requirements for the provisions of the BCAR when considering;

“( a ) the design and construction of buildings;

( b ) material alterations or extensions of buildings;

( c ) the provision of services, fittings and equipment in, or in connection with, buildings;

( d ) buildings as regards which any material change takes place in the purposes for which the buildings are used;”

Regard should be also taken of the requirements of the Building Regulations 1997-2014.

  1. It is important to note that the primary purpose of the Building Regulations is to provide for and secure the health, safety and welfare of persons in or about buildings, and persons who may be affected by buildings or by matters connected with buildings to; provide for the special needs of disabled persons in relation to buildings; provide for the conservation of fuel and energy in relation to buildings and encourage good building practice.
  2. Consideration should also be given to the requirements of Section 11 of the Building Regulations whichstipulates the Regulations apply to every part of a buildings affected by the material alteration or extension but only to the extent of prohibiting any works which would cause a new or greater contravention, in such building.
  3. Therefore in cases where there is not a statutory obligation under the BCAR with regard to design and construction there may be a statutory requirement under the Building Regulations.

Therefore in light of the above considerations each case will have to be assessed by the Building Control Authority on its merits having regard to the requirements as set out in the Building Regulations but; with the implementation of the BCMS it is anticipated that a consistent approach for similar situations will be taken across the Building Control Authorities.

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?

Answer;

The BCMS Project Oversight Board and Steering Committee are continuously monitoring the CN/7 Day notice submissions and intend to provide a good practice example submission for some project types. It is anticipated that this will be available the end of September 2014. The professional bodies have representation on the Project Oversight Board.

Q.3 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”?

Answer;

Responsibility for compliance with the Building Control Regulations and Building Regulations is ultimately a matter for the owner and builder of a building.

  1. Builder” means a competent builder appointed, for purposes of the Building Control Regulations, by the building owner, to build and supervise the works;
  2. “Building Owner”means the person who has commissioned or paid for the works and who has legal entitlement to have such works carried out on their behalf;
  3. While the Builder and Building Owner may be one and the same i.e. self- builder who may or may not be a Principal or Director of a Building Company, it is advisable that they ensure that they are competent to carry out the works or building in question.
  4. self-builder should be familiar with the requirements of the Building Control Acts/Regulations and the Code of Practice and note the following;
    1. “Competent Person”:a person is deemed to be a competent person where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size and/or complexity of the building or works, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.
    2. The self-builder being satisfied that the above is in order is then required to register on the BCMS as owner and assign themselves as builder and follow the Commencement Notice application procedure.

There is no requirement to scratch out anything on the form as all the relevant details are captured in the registration.

 Q.4 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?

Answer;

Each Local Authority has added details to their individual websites regarding the requirements of the Building Control Regulations and this is also included in planning notices.

 

Q.5 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?

Answer;

Responsibility for compliance with the Building Control Regulations and Building Regulations is ultimately a matter for the owner or builder of a building. There is no means whereby a BCA can retrospectively grant a Commencement Notice application where work has commenced.

The requirement to give notice to a Building Control Authority of the intention to carry out development was introduced in in the 1991 Building Control Regulations, revoked in the 1997 Building Control regulations as amended 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

It is the responsibility of the building owner to submit proposals to the Building Control Authority on how they propose to regularise the situation.

Q.6 Are Commencement Notices validated by the BCMS before issue to the 34 individual Building Control Authorities?

Answer;

The BCMS of itself does not or cannot validate or invalidate notices but provides the means where this is done automatically or by default for BCAs in support of their administration of the system. The BCMS is a shared service which facilitates the administration of building control notices for BCA’s nationwide.

All BCA’s manage and validate notices through the BCMS. The BCMS does not and cannot make any building control decisions. All decisions are made by the relevant BCA.

The BRegs Blog Admin. Team would like to thank Mairéad Phelan, Project Manager for the BCMS (Local Government Efficiency Review, Programme Management Office), for her prompt and informative response to the  questions above. 

 

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