S.I.9 | What large firms are doing
by Bregs Blog admin team
The following opinion piece was posted by Bregs Blog on 11th September 2014
On advice from their insurers and legal advisers at least one of Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary construction consultancies, involved in multi-million Euro commissions, has admitted it will not be undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on any of its projects as the risk is considered too great. One would have thought that a large firm employing a combination of engineers, surveyors and architects with large administrative and I.T. support would be well positioned to undertake these roles but apparently the insurance risk is too great when measured against any potential income. In addition several of Ireland’s largest and longest established firms of architects and engineers have indicated to the BRegs Blog that they will not be undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on any of their projects either. The dilemma now for such companies and their clients is finding third party certifiers that are sufficiently competent to undertake these roles on large scale jobs which may have an impact on their ability to progress certain projects.
Furthermore it is understood that a formal complaint to the Competition Authority has been made against the HSE. This is in relation to perceived anti-competitive behavior for the HSE’s insistence, in their procurement documentation, that the role of Assigned Certifier must be undertaken by the architect on a project. There is evidence that other Government departments are making similar demands with some consultants being threatened with loss of existing contracts if they now refuse to carry out the role of Assigned Certifier. Many construction consultants fear that they will lose work to other consultants who have not fully assessed the implications of S.I. 9 in relation to employees’ liability, insurance premiums, the cost of increased supervision and administration. The companies involved do not wished to be named as they feel they are already being placed at a serious disadvantage with competing firms who appear less diligent in how they have approached this issue.
There is also a great deal of disappointment being expressed at how the professional bodies have seemingly collaborated with the Department of the Environment and promoted the implementation of S.I. 9 at the expense of a critical evaluation of the legislation on behalf of their members. The original concept of the role of Assigned Certifier being a separate appointment with a separate fee is being undermined which has long term implications for engineers, architects and surveyors and indeed for an appropriate standard of Building Control. A Government official who has much experience of procuring construction professionals said, “engineers and architects continue to be their own worst enemies. S.I. 9 and Assigned Certifier appointments will be another race to the bottom as professionals underbid each other and offer ‘all-in’ below cost fees as experienced over the last five to ten years particularly in relation to school projects”.
The obvious question now for anyone undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier is that if the ‘big firms’ are steering clear of S.I. 9, is it such a good idea to be rushing in to take their place?
Link to Guidance Note: GN 1.1.1 – BC(A)R 2014 Procurement Implications for Contracting Authorities
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