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.

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3

by Bregs Blog admin team

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BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3

Recent  readers may have missed some older posts that are still of interest post-implementation of SI.9 in our 500+ post archive. In our third “Look Back” Post we re-examine the role of Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) in the formation of SI.9.

The BRAB was set up under the 1990 act to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations. The 5 year term of the last panel was up in 2012, and for reasons unknown was not re-convened. Over 20 separate groups had a presence on the board including consumer bodies. Following May 2012 these organisations no longer had any input into the new regulations. The Department consulted with a much smaller key stakeholder group comprised of members of the industry: representative bodies for chartered surveyors (SCSI), engineers (ACEI), architects (RIAI) and builders (CIF).

Remarkably BRAB never met after May 2012 to discuss the new regulations. Effectively there was no consumer representation in the subsequent formation of SI.9.

At around the same time the BRAB was suspended mid-2012, the reporting of Building Control inspection rates was also discontinued (see post “Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9“)

At the EGM for the representative body for architects on 12 August a speaker from the floor confirmed that BRAB had been disbanded and he called for BRAB to be urgently reconvened to bring together the appropriate range of stakeholders and expertise to deal with the fallout of SI9.

The BRAB is a statutory board and the Minister of the Environment is supposed to make appointments. Former Minister Phil Hogan last referred to BRAB in November 2012 during a debate on pyrites when he confirmed that he had abolished it:

The Building Regulations Advisory Board was no more and no less than an advisory board, but the Government, on my recommendation, abolished it in recent days. The information matters that have arisen from this, from Priory Hall and other issues will form part of the solution in terms of future building regulations which I will bring to Government shortly. It is not acceptable that those who took money from consumers on the basis of a structural guarantee did not discharge their responsibilities, which is what HomeBond and Premier did. They were set up by the Construction Industry Federation to provide certainty to consumers about structural matters and they let everybody down in that regard. Professionals let people down. Unfortunately, those who were affected were the consumers. I am very much in the space of helping consumers to overcome the difficulties which were created through no fault of their own. I am pleased by the constructive approach of most members of the committee who are trying to find a resolution to this

Perhaps the new Minister will take action on this … and perhaps he might also take their advice?

The post below was first published on Breg blog on 14th March 2014.

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BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9

 
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The Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) is set up under the Building Control Act to advise the Minister for the Environment on the building regulations. So, what does the BRAB think about the regulations brought in last March? Were they consulted about draft regulations in 2012? Presumably so. Do the BRAB think the 2013 regulations protect the consumer against future Priory Halls? Do they think the regulations protect businesses against the risk of intellectual property theft from all the drawings to be given to the local authority? Did BRAB discuss the possibility of independent inspections, which so many organizations called for in their submissions to the Minister on the draft regulations?

Presumably BRAB meets regularly and somebody keeps a record of what is discussed. There is no detail on the Department of the Environment website about this though. Presumably, too, all this information is available under an FOI request. Is there anybody with any information on when the BRAB last met – it must be since these regulations were introduced last March – who can offer any advice on this?

Link to BRAB – Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/BuildingStandards/BRAB/

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extract from site:

BRAB (Building Regulations Advisory Body)

The Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) is a statutory body appointed by the Minister, under Section 14 of the Building Control Act, 1990 to advise him on matters relating to the Building Regulations. Membership of the body includes representatives from the construction industry and regulators at national and local level. BRAB was originally established in 1992. The current BRAB was appointed for a five-year term by Ministerial Order dated 14 June 2007.

The DEHLG (Building Standards Section) provides secretarial services to the BRAB. The DEHLG develops proposals to amend the Building Regulations and related Technical Guidance Documents (TGD) in consultation with BRAB.

Members of the BRAB:

  • Mr. Jay Stuart, Chairperson, Integrated Sustainable Design Const.
  • Mr. Michael Brown, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
  • Mr. Brian McKeon, Construction Industry Federation.
  • Dr. Eugene Farrell, Home Bond.
  • Mr. Mark McAuley, Building Materials Federation.
  • Ms. Denise Germaine, Chartered Inst. of Architectural Technologists.
  • Mr. Gerard Grogan, Tánaiste’s nomimee
  • Mr. Jim Keogh, Electro-Technical Council of Ireland.
  • Mr. Jack Callanan  National Disability Authority.
  • Ms. Emer O’Siochru, An Taisce.
  • Ms. Maria Melia, Chief Fire Officers Associations.
  • Ms. Ann Mills, City & County Engineers Association.
  • Mr. Johnny McGettigan, Irish Building Control Institute.
  • Ms. Minka Louise McInerney, Royal Inst. of the Architects of Ireland.
  • Mr. Jimmy Keogan, City & County Managers Association.
  • Ms. Krystyna Rawicz, Society of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Mr. Gary Treanor, Irish Timber Frame Manufacturers’ Association Ltd.
  • Mr Sean Balfe, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
  • Ms. Sarah Neary, Senior Building Adviser, Building Standards, DEHLG.
  • Mr. Noel Carroll, Senior Housing Adviser, DEHLG.
  • Ms. Jacqui Donnelly, Architect, Heritage Policy & Architectural Protection, DEHLG.
  • Ms. Terry Prendergast, National Consumer Agency
  • Mr Cian O’Lionáin, Principal Officer, Private Housing Sector & Building Standards, DEHLG
  • Ms Edel Collins, Office of Public Works
  • Mr Kevin O’Rourke, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
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Top 7 for 7- September 5th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Top 7 for 7- September 5th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

Here are the 7 most popular posts for the first week in September on the Bregs Blog. BC(A)R SI.9 is 6 months old this week, and a opinion piece on the past 6 months post-implementation is the most popular post.

  • Eoin O’Cofaigh, past president and current council member of the representative body for architects (RIAI) wrote a thought-provoking personal opinion piece on the past 6 months of the new regulations.
  • A registered architect’s assessment of the additional costs due to the new regulations for a typical house was published. SI.9 costs were estimated at €21,000 for a typical dwelling, increasing to over €40,000 for a ‘self-build’.
  • We posted a warning in 2013 by Fine Gael Senator Cáit Keane on the serious flaws in the new building regulations- quote: Allowing one person to legally be the designer, builder and certifier could be very damaging in terms of protection for consumers.” Senator Keane represented a Fine Gael expert group established to evaluate and make recommendations on the registration & training of architects in Ireland.
  • We noted recent and upcoming revisions to the building regulations. From 1 September all new homes are required to install carbon monoxide meters.
  • An informative opinion piece on what constituted ‘consequent classes’ was submitted by Seán Breen, Chartered Engineer.
  • The issues associated with conflicts in SI.9 and the difficulties now facing certifiers trying to issue absolute guarantees of compliance where conflicts exist in the building regulations and where no transition arrangements are provided for was highlighted (Part L in particular).
  • In our final post we discussed the considerable costs of ‘defensive specifications’ and the difficulties now for contractors in ‘value engineering’: the practice of looking at more cost-effective alternative products and components during the course of construction.

Posts listed in order of reader popularity. Enjoy!

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations

Part J (2014): Carbon monoxide detectors mandatory 1 September

Consequence Classes – What are they?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Value-engineering, defensive specifications and BCAR SI.9

 

Other top posts:

Top 7 for 7- August 30th 2014

Top 7 for 7- August 23rd 2014

Top Posts for July 2014

Top 20 Breg Blog posts for June 2014.

Top 10 for June 7th | BRegs Blog

Top 12 posts- week ending 31st May

TOP 10 for the week ending 17th May 2014

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May

ALERT | Pyrite & Ground Floor Construction?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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ALERT | Pyrite & Ground Floor Construction?

There is a lot of uncertainty among Certifiers about the possible consequences of issuing certificates for pyrite and other defective building materials. Recent outbreaks, several  years after we thought the problem had been solved, are reported here (see links below for housing in Drogheda and Dublin Zoo).

Inevitably the day will come when an SI9 Certifier has to defend a new pyrite claim. The scale of the problem might be big enough that the Professional Indemnity (PI) insurers decide to defend the case (see the €64,000 Question)  rather than settling quickly and paying out from the policy excess.

As a Design or Assigned Certifier you might think that contaminated building material is not your responsibility (see link below). But what about the basic ground floor construction?

In submissions to the Pyrite Panel two years ago both the CCMA (City & County Managers Association) and Consulting Engineers Sutton Cronin raised concerns about the ground floor construction of houses affected by pyrite. They explain-

If a house is built correctly and the floor slab is exposed swelling of the stone infill beneath then the slab will move upwards in isolation to walls of the building which are not attached to the floor slab. This will result in a clear visible step in the floor slab at all doors. This is clear evidence that the infill is swelling as the slab is lifting. This is NOT happening in the majority of cases reported.

A simple mathematical equation will show that if a floor slab is tied to an internal block rising wall and if the seasonal movement is a mere 1.5mm then a crack of 5mm will result over the door contained in this wall. This is a detail problem and not pyritic heave in the infill

Sutton Cronin Engineers 2012 (Link:) Pdf: Cronin & Sutton report

The County and City Manager’s Association (CCMA) make a recommendation:

“Consideration should be given to reviewing ground floor construction in areas of the country where aggregates that could potential have pyrite, particularly limestone aggregates. The use of suspended floors with walls and roof acting independently is the recommended design for such areas in Canada. In built-up areas such as London, an expandable lining is introduced to mitigate against movement due to vegetation / roots. In sectors most affected by problems of swelling, it has become common for buyers to make and to offer purchase, conditional on analysis of the backfill under the slab”

CCMA 2012 (Link:) Pdf: CCMA Pyrite report

Are the CCMA and the engineering report suggesting effects of pyrite in ground floors can be mitigated by detailing? If this is the case it is surprising that neither the Department of the Environment Building Standards or the Professional bodies or the CIF have issued any warnings to industry.

Perhaps readers of the blog can point us to any advice issued by the professional bodies to their members about this?

Other posts mentioned in the above post:

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Pyrite in Dublin Zoo? 

The €64,000 question: How big is the pyrite problem? 

Are Design and Assigned Certifiers risking professional suicide with Pyrite and S.I.9?

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?