RIAI meet Minister Alan Kelly | “mind the gap”

by Bregs Blog admin team

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by Bregs Blog admin team on 26th September 2014

Over the past six months the BRegs Blog has catalogued a multitude of implementation issues and concerns of self-builders, legal advisors and consumers since the implementation of S.I.9 in March 2014. Of particular focus has been the consensus view, as expressed by RIAI architects and architectural technologists, that they consider S.I. 9 to be defective. This view was clearly re-stated at a recent RIAI EGM on 12th August 2014.

It will be surprising therefore for ordinary RIAI members to read below of the discussions held earlier this month between the RIAI CEO John Graby, President, Robin Mandal and the new Minister for the Environment,  Alan Kelly T.D. These are extracted from a notice sent to RIAI Practices on 24th September 2014. It would appear that quite a number of members’ concerns were not on their agenda.

PDF of document BETTER BUILDING STANDARDS- PAPER 1 final

From reading this account it would appear that Minister Kelly could well assume that all is well in the construction industry, that the new systems have not caused serious disruption or delays and professionals are happily undertaking the new Design and Assigned Certifier roles without any reservations. Indeed one could infer from the report of the meeting that most architects, architectural technologists and their clients are not experiencing any problems on live construction projects.

We wonder is the Minister aware that some of the largest architectural firms in the country are currently not undertaking the new S.I.9 duties? On independent legal advice these companies are sub-contracting out the new roles to specialist certifier firms. Have his officials told him  SI.9 is impacting on housing construction, competitiveness and job creation? Was the Minister told of the current Competition Authority complaints regarding joint appointments in public contracts?

For those trying to implement S.I.9 there are numerous concerns that are not listed in the above notice: industry readiness, no new consumer protection, no code of practice for Local Authorities, inadequate staffing of Building Control Sections, inadequate Local Authority resources to police materials and quarries, liability concerns, no revised guidance as to the scope of the new roles to name but a few.

There would appear to be a divide between what architects as practitioners are saying about S.I.9 and what the RIAI administration is portraying. If this situation is repeated by the other key stakeholder groups (SCSI, ACEI and CIF) the new Minister may not be getting accurate feedback on what is happening ‘on the ground’. Central Statistics Office and Building Control Management System data relating to falling commencement notices, declining residential planning applications and depressed housing completions may be more objective and appropriate indicators for the new Minister that all is not well in the industry.

This information gap is likely to become a point of discussion at the upcoming RIAI AGM scheduled for Monday 29th September next.

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Extract from RIAI Practice Note of 24th September 2014

RIAI MEETING WITH RECENTLY APPOINTED MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNITY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, ALAN KELLY TD
The RIAI President, Robin Mandal, and CEO, John Graby, were invited to meet with the new Minister to discuss issues of concern to the RIAI.

Below are links to documents on Planning, Housing and BC(A)R that were discussed at the meeting:

  1. Maximising the efficiency of the planning system
  2. Housing
  3. Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (pdf BETTER BUILDING STANDARDS- PAPER 1 final)

BUILDING CONTROL (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 

1. BETTER BUILDING STANDARDS 

  • While BC(A)R has an important role in delivering better building standards consumer redress can really only be provided by an effective system of Latent Defects Insurance. The commitment in Construction 2020 to a working group is welcomed.
  • RIAI should be in a position to announce by year end a much enhanced, in comparison with what was available on the Irish Market, system of Defects Insurance, backed by some of the largest re-insurance companies in the EU.
  • RIAI welcomes the commitment in Construction 2020 for the Heads of Legislation to be prepared for the registration of builders in preparation for legislation in 2015.
  • The Register should address the question of build quality which is a major factor in legacy building problems.
  • The provision in SI9 for builders/developers to have employees act as Design Certifiers has the potential to undermine the credibility and independence of the system.

2. REVIEW 

  • The commitment by the Department to review, with all the stakeholders, of the operation of SI9 in late March, early April 2015 is welcome. Any new system needs review. There are operational and transitional difficulties which need to be addressed, in addition to possible new initiatives.
  • Delivery of Commitments While RIAI welcomes commitments on Latent Defects Insurance, the builders register and review, it is critical that these commitments are delivered.

3. SINGLE HOUSES AND SELF BUILDING 

  • RIAI would welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Department and the Housing Agency a possible system of inspection and compliance with building regulations, on a simplified basis, for single houses, not speculative housing.
  • While the regulations do not prevent self-building, the RIAI would be interested in discussions with Officials and possibly with the Housing Agency as to methodologies for dealing with this issue.

4. BUILDING CONTROL AUTHORITIES 

  • With construction out at 6% of GNP Building Control Authorities can possibly deal with BC(A)R but any increase in construction as foreseen in Construction 20/20 will place considerable strain on building control.
  • Consideration should be given to legislation which would allow cease work orders to be issued by building control, as is the case in Safety and Health legislation.
  • A small re-allocation of Property Tax could be used to provide the limited number of building control staff needed to provide an appropriate level of oversight and inspection as output increases. This one measure would signal and confirm Government.
  • Architects have an expectation of an increased level of oversight and inspection by Building Control Authorities.

5. TRAINING 

  • 1,000 architects and architectural technologists had attended RIAI Information Meetings and CPD beginning December 2013.
  • By end of this week 520 architects would have attended RIAI CPD on acting as a Design Certifier.
  • The next CPD will be held on the Assigned Certifier.

Other posts of interest:

A Profession Divided? Reflections on an RIAI EGM

‘All Ireland’ | BC(A)R Boycott

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus? 

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

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