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.

Month: October, 2014

“The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den” Rory O’Donnell, solicitor

by Bregs Blog admin team

rory

Rory O’Donnell, solicitor, is a former president of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, a former vice-president of the Law Society and a consultant to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Committee. He was the main author of the Law Society Practice note ‘Update on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 issued in April.

In an interesting and very comprehensive interview Mr O’Donnell explains to “Self build and Improve Your Home” magazine (Winter 2014) what the future holds for the industry under BC(A)R SI.9. See complete online version of the magazine here (link to pages here– see pages 36- 41 inclusive).

Extract from article:

When CIRI becomes mandatory:

“according to the legislation, if the register is mandatory then the builder will have to be on the register, so unless the [self-building] owner is able to get on the register (among other things, the requirements include having previously worked on three projects) they will not be able to sign the statutory forms. Even if they were willing to sign the statutory forms I doubt that they would be able to get an Assigned Certifier to work with them. What this implies is that the owner will have to appoint a builder other than himself.”

On Completion Stage invalidations:

“This would be a potential disaster area for any property owner. The legal process is very unwieldy for taking action in these cases and while a claim for expenses may arise, that can often be a long, hard road. Every effort should be taken to ensure that this does not happen.”

On Architectural Technologists:

“Unless and until Architectural Technologists are formally recognised I do not see how anyone could recommend appointing someone, no matter how competent, with such a qualification in any important role  in connection with a building project to which these regulations apply.”

On claims to be made under the new regulations:

If there is a major problem, the person that is most likely to be sued is the Assigned Certifier. On the other hand as mentioned, solicitors will almost certainly advise that action be taken against all members of a team that could possibly be liable for a problem.

If  CIRI becomes mandatory, who will be liable for faulty work undertaken by a self-builder?”

Before and after the most likely person to be held to account is the Assigned Certifier because his work is the most onerous part of the project. The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den.

Other Law Society Posts:

S.I. 9 | Your Questions for the Law Society

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

Law Society of Ireland Update on BC(A)R SI.9 | BRegs Blog

Law Society response to self-builders

Self builders escalate to Law Society: BC(A)R SI.9 

New Law Society Guidance Note on BC(A)R SI.9

BC(A)R SI.9 and Law Society of Ireland? 

Other posts of interest:

S.I.9 – Where are we now? 27 October 2014 

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

3 must-read posts for employees

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

SI.9 costs for a typical house

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

Commencement notice problems | Does size matter?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Megaphone

The following opinion piece was submitted by a Registered Architect on October 31st 2014.

Opinion- Commencement notice problems (the 40 sq. metre issue)

The BRegs Blog has on a number of occasions referred to reports of Building Control Officers invalidating commencement notices, which building owners believed were perfectly valid, and acting in a fashion  which readers suggested were not supported by the legislative wordings.

This was becoming most apparent in the whole issue of whether the full measures of S.I.9  itself applied in full, or whether a reduced commencement notice submission was required.

Eight months into the workings of S.I.9, the BCMS (the content management system, and not as we were led to believe in their responses to us in May, the arbitrator of what is valid or not) have published advice on the most contentious distinction – that relating to the requirement to invoke the full S.I.9 for domestic extensions greater than 40 sq metres.

The advice is published on the BCMS site itself, as follows : –

“QUESTION: Can you clarify the circumstances in which an extension to a dwelling comes within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification under the Building Control Regulations?

ANSWER: In the case of an extension to a dwelling, the requirements for statutory certification of design and construction in line with the Building Control Regulations apply when the total extended area of the dwelling exceeds 40 square metres.   Every new dwelling has a permitted area determined by its planning permission.   Any works which extend the building by more than 40 square metres beyond this permitted area must be certified.

The regulations refer to the total extended area because separate extensions can be added to different areas of a building at the same time or different times.  It is therefore not possible to avoid certification requirements by building a series of small extensions each of which is less than 40 square metres but which together give a combined extended area greater than 40 square metres.”

There must now be real  anxiety, that based on the proposed BCMS advice, that professionals, acting in good faith, and having read the S.I.9 legislation carefully, have submitted and had validated the wrong commencement notice – and by the implications of the BCMS advice, these people now have projects under construction illegally on site!

It is reasonable to complain that it is not possible to  see any comment whatever relating to previous extensions or the like in the S.I.9 legislation.

One colleague has suggested that the Breg Blog put an open call out to readers as to whether their already submitted projects are compromised by this, and to see if we can assemble data on the matter.

Another reader has told me she cannot find  where the “regulations refer to the total extended area” and if readers can find this, or any wording in the legislation which supports the BCMS interpretation [BReg Blog Admin Team note: If readers can find this Breg Blog would be happy to publish it].

But in short, and following the BRegs post earlier in the summer, it does seem, from the point of view of the BCMS at least – that, yes SIZE MATTERS ! You may need an Assigned Certifier to build a porch !!!

No doubt Local Authorities are relishing the opportunity of using careful resources policing all of this !

Will bouncy castles be next ? Or tree houses ?

Other points of interest:

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

Catch 22 Commencements 

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

Help Required | Dept. of the Environment | Deadline Monday 3rd November 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

SSCOVER1.pdf [Converted]

 Help Required | Dept. of the Environment | Deadline 3rd November

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) are inviting submissions from the public to help inform the development of their future Strategy on or by 3 November 2014. This review will include Building Control. Link to request for submissions here.

In the previous Statement of Strategy 2011-2014 the DECLG wrote:  “We will examine what services could be converged between two or more local authorities, such as technology support, human resources and fire services. We will introduce a single national building inspectorate service.

Link to previous statement PDF here: DECLG Statement oF Strategy 2011- 2014

It is important that the DECLG receives informed submissions from industry and consumers on the impacts of S.I.9 to date. Any suggestions as to how to address current issues such as costs, delays, the exclusion from the register of professionals etc. should be submitted. This is a great opportunity to try and contribute to future strategy.

Given the many negative impacts on the construction sector and in particular building commencements since the introduction of S.I.9  an immediate review of the current building control system would seem to be imperative.

In light of the above we note that one of the proposed motions at this Tuesday’s RIAI EGM  is one that asks for a proper Regulatory Impact Assessment to be completed for S.I.9 and immediate industry-wide review of the new regulation.

This would be of great benefit to the Minister for the Environment  in the context of this immediate call-out for submissions. Submissions can encompass all areas of our built environment, not just building standards. Topics can be planning, housing supply, social housing, self-building, Part L and sustainability issues, water policy and harvesting etc.

Please feel free to send any submissions to BRegs Blog also where we will consider all material for publication.

RIAI EGM Motion No. 3 is shown below:

ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_3

Extract off DECLG website:

“Call for Submissions – Statement of Strategy 2015 – 2017

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government is currently preparing its Statement of Strategy for the three-year period from 2015 to 2017.

The Department’s new Statement of Strategy will serve as a framework for it’s work during the three year period.  The current Statement of Strategy (pdf 1,737kb)can be found here.

The Department is inviting submissions in relation to its Strategy Statement to be received by close of business on Monday, 3 November 2014.

Submissions should be emailed to: strategystatement@environ.ie or sent in writing to:
Statement of Strategy
Strategic and Business Support Unit
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Newtown Road
Wexford

Please note that in the interests of transparency, all written submissions received will be publicly posted on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government after Monday, 3 November 2014.

Previous Strategy Statements

Statement of Strategy 2011 – 2014 (pdf, 1,737kb)

Statement of Stragey 2008 – 2010 (pdf, 1,917kb)

Statement of Strategy 2008-2010 (html)

Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 (pdf, 1,101kb)

Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 (doc, 531kb)

Statement of Strategy 2003-2005 (pdf, 1,271kb)

Statement of Strategy 2001-2004 (pdf, 169kb)

Statement of Strategy 1998-2001 (pdf, 189kb)

Senators ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (2 of 4)

by Bregs Blog admin team

seat-table

Calls to revoke SI.9 have come from County Councils, the Dáil, Seanad, along with Oireachtas Committees.

A Motion proposed by Senator Mark Daly and seconded by Senator Darragh O’Brien was debated on Thursday, 10th April 2014. The debate was directed at the the making of better construction regulations in response to the Priory Hall and Pyrites scandals. The motion was “That Seanad Eireann resolves that Statutory Instrument No 105 of 2014. Building Control (amendment) regulations 2014 be annulled.

It turned out to be a robust Seanad debate on the new regulation, which resulted in numerous senators adding to the calls to revoke SI.9. Many will remember the debate where there were exchanges between Senators and the former Minister about the fitness for purpose of the new regulations.

See post on Seanad Debate: SI.9 (SI.105) here, for transcript click here.

Numerous senators voiced opposition to the new regulations and called on former Minister Hogan to revoke SI.9. Here are some extracts:

Senator David Norris:  “If the government introduces regulation and then exempts some of its own operations from those regulations there is something very fishy going on…

The certificate does not contemplate fraud, concealment…set up an artificial paper trail … self certification does not work…no requirement for the building control to check design or the work…the architect used to be able to rely on the advise of consultants, now the architect is solely responsible. We’re actually going to criminalise architects.

an honest architect can be trapped by dishonesty and he can still become a criminal…500 to 8 voted that this was a dangerous proposal

…ancillary certificates cannot be relied upon, so offer no protection for the architect…the certificates do not have let out clauses for fraud, dishonesty or concealment…I am very very worried about what the impact of the introduction of these regulations will be.

…this won’t protect the consumer”

Minister Hogan: “professional bodies making outlandish quotations…not allow any body to think this will be an easy way to financial extortion, make easy money…There is a not a majority of architects against  these proposals, the majority are in favour of these proposals… in fact the former president of the RIAI, Michelle Fagan is on the oversight group that is monitoring all of these regulations and has come out in support of these regulations.

…in the past…professionals, particularly architects.. signed off on buildings without even seeing them…people should be able to do this for a modest amount of money.. an average of €3000 in rural areas”

On 16th April after the Seanad Debate Senator Paschal Mooney wrote to former Minister Phil Hogan on behalf of the Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB). The IAOSB separately had written a letter of complaint to the Minister and have requested a formal investigation into statements made in the Seanad (see post here). Senator Money concluded by requesting the Minister to instigate an immediate review of SI.9 taking account of the issues relating to the self build sector. Read post here: Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate

At recent EGM and AGM held by the representative body for architects (RIAI) it was suggested that asking the Minister to revoke SI.9 was inappropriate and that members would not be listened to by the Department and the Minister. Architects would ‘loose their seat at the table’.

Members of the RIAI should click on the Senate Debate link to hear plenty of passionate and reasoned debate on the matter in the Seanad, where it appears a consensus exists that SI.9 is defective and should be revoked.

Senators like David Norris and Mark Daly would agree that the table is not a place to be seated and say nothing- rather it is a place to give voice to your opinion. And the opinions of the people they represent. The people they should look after- the consumer.

Other posts of interest: 

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

Complaint to Minister re Seanad Debate: BC(A)R SI.9 (SI.105)

Seanad SI.9 (SI.105) Motion Thursday 10th April

Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate 

Architectural Technologist: Minister “disrespectful and misleading” in Seanad

Senator Mooney letter to Minister Phil Hogan

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Commencement Notice issues

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

Mass-Confusion

BRegs Blog admin on October 30th 2014

There has been a lot of discussion (some heated!) over the last few days about the legality of small house extensions carried out by home owners since March 2014 based on their floor area. This is as a result of revised advice, in relation to S.I.9, issued by the BCMS and the RIAI last Friday (link here).

Unfortunately there is also another significant problem with S.I.9 involving Short Form Commencement Notices that seems to have gone largely unnoticed but its impact will be just as serious with similar conveyancing and financing problems for homeowners as with the potential floor area problem.

On 12th May the RIAI issued an advice note* to members (see link here). On 19th May the RIAI issued a further advice note* to Practices  about Short Form Commencement Notices lodged between 1 March and 19 May 2014. This was contrary to the advice issued just one week earlier on 12 May.

The RIAI Practice Advice* is evidence that for the first 11 weeks of S.I.9, Local Authorities issued and validated the wrong form for Short Form Commencement Notices (seemingly unaware that S.I.9 required them to be in the new format signed by the building owner). This was compounded by the fact that BCMS was not set up for Short Forms so each of the 34 Building Control departments were working in the dark. The leaflet issued by the Department at the time was unclear (link here)

If you were involved with such a project what should you do now?

Home-owners should be advised that this issue has not been resolved and even where the local authority confirmed a Short form Commencement Notice as valid between 1 March and 19 May 2014 the extension may not be in compliance with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. As there are no remedies in S.I.9 there is no going back to rectify administrative errors and genuine mistakes.

Note: The BCMS have little advice for anyone who may have inadvertently failed to submit the correct Commencement Notice, where applicable, for building work carried out since the 1st March 2014. The BCMS advice is that it is up to the building owner to submit proposals for how they intend to regularise the situation to the relevant Building Control Authority.

*PDF of RIAI advice (12th and 19th May): RIAI BCAR ADVICE 12 + 19 MAY 2014

Other posts relevant to this topic:

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

Invalid “short form” commencement notices: BC(A)R SI.9 | BRegs Blog

CATCH 22 COMMENCEMENTS

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE- Local Authority advice | BRegs Blog

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9 

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working under the new regulations. 

60 new schools delayed due to SI.9 | Independent.ie

by Bregs Blog admin team

delayed-1.gif [Converted]By Bregs Blog admin on 30th October 2014

Despite the special exemption (aka ‘derogation’) from Building Control Regulations for some pressing public sector building projects it would appear that S.I.9 is continuing to have an impact on capital budgets and programmes, particularly, on schools. See this recent Independent article here.

Quote:

the Building Section in the Department of Education and Skills has been under severe pressure over the past six months because of the new building regulations as have been architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors, and that 60 new school building projects similar to the New Ross project have been stalled

Earlier in the year TD’s like Kevin Humphries were particularly active in asking various Government Departments if any  assessment had been made of the cost impact of S.I.9 on capital budgets at the time of its introduction in March 2014. Many did not reply. However the Department of Education was quick to get former Minister Phil Hogan to introduce a part deferral or ‘derogation’ for educational and health  projects already in progress. Despite this, since its introduction on 7th March, only a handful of school projects have availed of the process, known as S.I. 105 as it is quite onerous and lengthy.

This will not come as welcome news to contractors and members of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). We note delayed capital projects is normally a hot topic for the CIF, whose members turnover is affected by any delayed government capital spending.

Issues associated with the new regulations include additional construction costs and delays, vague and conflicting wording in the regulations, legal uncertainty, concerns regarding liability and consumer benefit, huge additional consultant and contractor costs, additional red-tape and industry readiness have beset the introduction and roll-out. Reduced residential output and falling commencement levels post-implementation have been masked somewhat due to the upturn in the commercial sector in Dublin. Two cohorts remain seriously affected by S.I.9: self-builders who are effectively banned under the new regulation, and Architectural Technologists whose income and livelihoods are seriously impacted upon by their exclusion from privately run statutory registers of professionals allowed to undertake new roles.

However for rural based contractors delays in public projects such as schools i.e. ‘bread and butter’ projects, will be of serious concern.

Other posts of interest:

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

Time needed for School Certifier 

Jobs in Construction

Drop in Commencements

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

IMG_3531

“The BC(A)R train has left the station!”

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (1 of 4)

Wexford Co. Council recently voted to call on the Minister for the Environment to revoke SI.9. In an article in the Independent newspaper “Going through the motions at speed” on 30th September 2014, it was noted that the motion to “Revoke Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Statutory Instrument Number 9” was unanimously approved by Wexford Co. Council.

Wexford is now the third County Council to formally write to the Minister of the Environment formally to revoke S.I.9. Co. Wicklow was the first county council to do this (see post below). In April 2014 Wexford Co. Councillors voted to write to the Minister for the Environment to request that once-off houses be exempt form the new BC(A)R SI.9 regulations.

Sligo Co. Council went one step further and passed a council motion to formally write to the Minister to revoke SI.9. The motion “I, Councillor Thomas Healy, now table a Motion to call on the Minister of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan, to revoke the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Statutory Instrument Number 9” was passed on 7th July 2014. (see self-build post below).

There is widespread disapproval of former Minister Hogan’s Building Regulation S.I.9.  In April 2014, Fingal Councillors called for S.I.9 to be reversed (see previous post below).

Councillors in Dublin City Council and Donegal, Kerry and Kildare Co. Councils are currently discussing the effects of S.I.9 on house building. Numerous Co. Councillors have responded positively to the continuing nationwide campaign by self-builders confirming they will be taking the motion to revoke S.I.9 forward for a formal vote.

At a  recent EGM of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), opposition to a motion to revoke S.I.9 appeared revolve around one issue- whether it was ‘appropriate’ to ask for this at the moment and if it might offend the Minister and his Department.

At the subsequent AGM of the RIAI, a meeting between RIAI CEO, John Graby, President Robin Mandal and Minister Alan Kelly was discussed. The impression given was that robust representations of members’ concerns somehow would be ‘inappropriate’. Proponents of this position previously suggested that asking for S.I.9 to be revoked would be like ‘blowing up the tracks’ and risking the minister’s door being shut in architects’ faces.

This silent acceptance of S.I.9, with all its obvious flaws, is not unique to the leadership and staff of the RIAI. It seems to be mirrored in other key stakeholder representative bodies, all keen not to upset the status quo, stick their heads over the parapet or voice members genuine concerns more robustly.

It is interesting to note a growing number of local politicians, consumer groups, Senators and elected members of the Dáil hold a very different view of the building regulations. Or ask any self-builder or Architectural Technologist what they think……

Other posts of interest:

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update 

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.9

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

by Bregs Blog admin team

WB

By BRegs Blog Admin. Team on 29th October 2014

The World Bank ‘Doing Business’ Report 2015 was published earlier today. The good news is that Ireland’s overall ranking has improved- we have moved up 4 places to 13th out of 189 countries*. See Ireland’s overall ranking here.

However Ireland’s ranking for “Dealing with construction permits” in the  report goes down from 117th to 128th – a drop of  11 places in one year.

Could BC(A)R S.I. 9 be to blame?  

Doing Business 2015′  is the 12th in a series of annual reports measuring the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it across 189 economies—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

PAGE 9.pdf [Converted]

Fig1.4. page 9 WB report “Ireland Economy profile 2015”

When compared to other mid-population countries Ireland is 40th (between Jordan and Bolivia) on a table of 63 which has Libya and Eritrea at the bottom and Hong Kong and Singapore at the top.

Among OECD High Income Countries the comparison is even more stark. Ireland is down at 29th of the 31 countries listed for ‘Construction Permits’, worse than every country except Poland and the Czech Republic. On this comparison the UK is ranked up at 5th place with Denmark at 1st. (Link to OECD High Income data)

In this sector the UK is placed 17th this year, well over 100 places ahead of Ireland on these construction indicators.

These latest statistics will be of concern to the Government particularly for their impact on stimulating the construction sector. Ireland’s  ranking in last year’s World Bank ‘Doing Business’ report  “Dealing with construction permits” was specifically mentioned as one key area for improvement by Minister Richard Bruton in January of 2014.

It should be noted that these figures only take partial account of the additional costs associated with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations introduced earlier this year and they do not take account of new water connection costs. As Building Control is now privatised in Ireland the associated impacts on costs and delay incurred have not yet been fully captured in this survey.

The report gives guidance on how reforms may stimulate performance (see link below) and this must be something the Government needs to address as a matter of urgency if we are to improve on our performance in 2016.

For the full report on Ireland download the PDF here: IRL World Bank Economy Profile 2015: Ireland

*World Bank Rankings for 2014 have been adjusted for change in methodology.

Useful Links:

World Bank  rankings:

World Bank ‘Doing Business’ Report 2015

‘Ease of Doing Business’ Data on Ireland

‘Ease of Doing Business’ Data on UK

Link to Reform Simulator:

Other posts of interest:

Collins & O’Cofaigh | “the 38 steps” and the complexity of our regulations

World Bank Rankings [2014], Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

S.I.9 – Where are we now? 27 October 2014

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

by Bregs Blog admin team

Dr. Philip Lee (Philip Lee Solicitors), Joe Millar (RIAI)

Joe Miller – RIAI  Practice Director

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has recently clarified a key element of the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations i.e. that the Design Certifier must have a separate agreement with the building owner (even if the Design Certifier is also the Architect and/or the Assigned Certifier).

Speaking to ‘Self Build & Improve Your Home’ magazine (link to magazine here– see page 130) RIAI Practice Director, Joe Miller, is quoted as saying that “while registered architects will continue to use the standard contract for their design services, the additional time and risk associated with signing off on the design could translate into additional costs. Indeed the RIAI is advising architects to use a separate appointment for the Design Certifier role (and if appointed as such, the Assigned Certifier role)” [emphasis by BRegs Blog]

Firms that are appointed corporately as the architects for a building project will need to name an individual from among their employees, in the separate appointments as Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier (if taking on these roles). For the professional this brings clarity to an issue that has caused much confusion since 1 March this year. This advice for a separate appointment (to that of the architect) coincides with similar advice issued recently by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland on the same subject.

However it may not bring much clarity to building owners who now have to make at least five* separate appointments for a simple domestic extension or commercial fit-out. They must be wondering why an initiative intended to improve on-site standards in the construction industry has in reality just meant more and more paperwork and increased costs.

*Architect, Design Certifier, Assigned Certifier, Project Supervisor Design Process, Project Supervisor Construction Stage and competent builder.

Jpeg of ‘Self Build & Improve Your Home’ magazine, p130

joemillarSB

Other posts of Interest:

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

Design Certifier – Can we leave it to the builder to sort out?

RIAI CPD July 2014: Design Certifier in the Design Process- SI.9 

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI

Specialist Ancillary Certifiers, Template Inspection plan & form, 7 day notice

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion)

Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9?

10 ‘must-read’ posts for Certifiers | S.I.9

Practical post 26: Design changes on site?

Results | S.I. 9 Assigned Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

Survey logo

The BRegs Blog conducted a survey of its readers between 16th and 20th October 2014 in relation to their level of engagement and experience of undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier  (or not as the case may be) in accordance with S.I. 9. Thanks to all who took part in the survey. Once again we are indebted to the huge number of you who added comments to elaborate on your answers. These will provide very useful guidance to us in determining subjects for future blog posts.

The make-up of our respondents in terms of professional groups seems to accord with the BCMS indicators for those submitting commencement notices. The clear majority of you were architects (60%). The BCMS are currently advising that “there are a number of Building Surveyors registered as Assigned Certifiers on the BCMS system but the percentage is very small compared to Architects and Engineers”. We had a higher response from building surveyors (20%) and lower from chartered engineers (18%) which probably reflects our readership.  It is understood that the BRegs Blog surveys are unique in that they have been conducted among an industry-wide group comprising all three approved professional groups.

Chart_Q1_141027 Click on graphs to enlarge 

Almost 60% of respondents had submitted at least one Commencement Notice with the average being two. It was observed that certain respondents had undertaken multiple commencement notice submissions with one chartered engineer claiming to have submitted 15 commencement notices. It was also noted that the other respondents who had submitted multiple commencement notices (from 6-10 each) were mostly chartered engineers with one architect alleging to have completed 10 commencement notices.

Of the 40% of respondents who had not undertaken the role of Assigned Certifier the largest group (almost 40%) gave as a reason that they were unwilling to accept the level of liability involved with the role. In the comment section on this question many respondents, who had undertaken the role of assigned certifier, indicated that they would be reluctant to do so again.

Comment: “The whole thing is a minefield with a genuine lack of real guidance provided. We will not be acting as Assigned Certifier again in the foreseeable future “

Chart_Q2_141027

Chart_Q7_141027

Q7 a

The fees being charged for acting as an Assigned Certifier varied considerably although 64% of fees were below 2% of the project contract value. The lowest fee indicated was € 1,200 for a seven-day notice with the highest fee being €15,000 on a € 500,000 Public Sector extension project.

Comment: “I have undertaken some projects at a low fee in order to get the experience of getting familiar with the requirements of the revised legislation”

Chart_Q3_141027

60% of respondents continue to experience problems with the BCMS. These varied from the speed of the system to subsequent problems with individual Building Control Authorities. The comments submitted with this question will be the subject of a future post for assistance to our readers as many of the problems would appear to stem from lack of familiarity with the BCMS process.

Comment: “The BCMS is technically a very poor and clunky site, slowly improving but should be far better. A ‘help’ or ‘FAQ’ section is imperative”

Chart_Q4_141027

About one third of respondents who had acted as Assigned Certifiers had submitted Commencement Notices in more than one Building Control Authority. Two thirds of these had encountered variations between how the Building Control Authorities were interpreting the regulations. These included requests for different levels of information to completely different procedures for accepting seven-day notices.

Chart_Q5_141027          Chart_Q6_141027

Eight months after their introduction only 21% of respondents, who are undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier, feel that they are confident to implement the regulations. Most concerns stem from defects arising with the legislation in practice and the fact that the construction industry was so ill-prepared for such a massive shift in how it did business.

Only 15% of respondents are satisfied with the documentation provided by their professional organisations with EI and the SCSI coming in for particularly strong criticism. Concerns were expressed about incomplete and draft documentation from the RIAI. It is worrying to note that all of those undertaking multiple commencement notice submissions (see Question 2 above) were also indicating that they were not confident to undertake the role of Assigned Certifier nor were they satisfied with the documentation available from professional organisations.

Comment: “Not enough experience or documentation yet – but this is not the fault of the RIAI. It is the inevitable result of a poorly written piece of legislation. I believe that the RIAI are doing their best in a difficult situation”.

Chart_Q8_141027 Chart_Q9_141027

Only 8% of respondents are willing to consider undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on a self-build project and only then with strict terms and conditions in relation to the building owner’s experience of construction.

Comment: “Only in very limited circumstances where the self-builder can prove to me that they have the experience and competence to carry out the building work, and are willing to pay the requisite fees that will be required as I would envisage a weekly site visit being required for a project such as this”

Chart_Q10_141027

The good news from the survey is that half of respondents believe that S.I. 9 will increase compliance with the Building Regulations on building sites.

Chart_Q11_141027

Almost 90% of respondents would favour a system of independent inspections instead of the existing S.I. 9 system.

Comment: “While I can implement the administrative structure and carry out the inspections as outlined in the code of practice, I remain apprehensive about the ‘certification’ of work carried out by others, particularly outside my area of expertise as the status of ancillary certs is also uncertain”

Chart_Q12_141027

Other links:

BRegs Blog  | 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

BRegs Blog: Snapshot Survey – Building Control Officers

RIAI Assigned Certifier | Results

 

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

legal alert

By BRegs Blog October 28th 2014

Hundreds of homeowners have been left in a legal mess following new advice from the government run Building Control Management System (BCMS). The RIAI issued the new BCMS advice to their Practice members at around 5 pm on Friday 24th October 2014 and Building Surveyor, Nigel Redmond, received the advice from the BCMS yesterday, 27th October (Link:).  This is 8 months after the new rules were introduced and means that many domestic extensions started since 1 March 2014 may be illegal.

The implications for homeowners are stark – there are no remedies under the new regulations and if the “commencement” (building start) was not correctly notified before work started there is no way back. While this situation may not prove to be a problem in the short term, as Building Control Authorities are unlikely to enforce the regulations in such instances,  this will be a significant obstacle for owners when they come to sell or finance their homes without the correct paperwork for an extension that is “unauthorised”.

It was generally understood that the new system which came in on 1 March last applied only to larger home extensions over 40 square metres (430 sq ft). However, almost eight months later, when hundreds of domestic extensions have started and finished around the country, the goal posts have been moved and all extensions to the house since 1964 are being counted cumulatively. So if your home had a new porch in 1965 then your extension in 2014, that you thought was exempt, may well be over the limit.

Professionals are divided over whether this BCMS interpretation is legally correct. Some legal commentators do not agree and believe confusion may have arisen in the interpretation of the very different Planning and Building Control legislation due to the commonality of the 40 square metre classifications.

Either way this is yet another significant oversight in drafting and it will add to professionals’ concerns that they have been put to work in an untested system that is proving to be a legal and practical minefield.

Extract from RIAI Practice News: 24th October 2014

The RIAI posed the following questions to the Building Control Management System:

Question: Can you clarify the circumstances in which an extension to a dwelling comes within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification under the Building Control Regulations?

Answer: In the case of an extension to a dwelling, the requirements for statutory certification of design and construction in line with the Building Control Regulations apply when the total extended area of the dwelling exceeds 40 square metres.   Every new dwelling has a permitted area determined by its planning permission.   Any works which extend the building by more than 40 square metres beyond this permitted area must be certified.

The regulations refer to the total extended area because separate extensions can be added to different areas of a building at the same time or different times.  It is therefore not possible to avoid certification requirements by building a series of small extensions each of which is less than 40 square metres but which together give a combined extended area greater than 40 square metres.

N.B. from RIAI
Existing extensions which are to be demolished and reconstructed must be added to the floor area of the proposed extension to the dwelling, and if the cumulative floor area of the demolished floor area (to be reconstructed) and the new extension exceeds 40 sq. m. then BC(A)R apply.

Question: Do loft/attic conversions come within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification?

Answer: The position regarding loft/attic conversions has not changed.  Loft/attic conversions do not therefore generally come within the requirement for statutory certificates.    Where upgrade works may combine a loft/attic conversion with an extension, it is the size of the extension only (i.e. not counting the pre-existing attic space) that would determine whether the requirements for statutory certificates apply.   The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has produced a guidance note on Loft/Attic Conversions.

Homeowners, builders and designers are reminded that the relevant requirements of the building regulations generally apply to works irrespective of whether the works are subject to any building control procedures.

BCMS FAQ

Recently added advice on the BCMS FAQ

Links to earlier posts:

Catch 22 Commencements 

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with S.I.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (S.I.9 of 2014). 

S.I.9 – Where are we now? 27 October 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

question-get-answers-button-258x300

Recently a reader asked a general question about S.I.9 impacts on housing and the industry in general. She was due to address an industry group and had been asked to talk about the new building regulations, BC(A)R S.I.9.

Here is the briefing summary of posts we forwarded. These are a mix of factual pieces, commentators’ articles as well as contributors’ opinion pieces.

How much is S.I.9 costing and how is the industry affected?

See a breakdown of where the additional SI.9 costs are coming from, a detailed architect’s  cost estimate for a typical house and the range of new professional duties the Certifier roles entail. For the big picture we see the extraordinary costs to residential and non-residential sector as a whole, the huge costs of pyrite remediation up to 2012 (based on current DECLG estimates) and note by 2020 our continuation with a reinforced system of self-regulation could cost us €5bn. For little or no additional consumer protection and no increase in technical building performance standards.

Factors affecting housing at the moment gleaned from commentators and objective sources such as the Central Statistics Office are noted. According to government data (BCMS register) commencements are still down 30% compared to last year, with residential sector output is down 8%. This data must be of concern to legislators and policy-makers at the moment.

How complex is S.I.9 and our regulations?

Has the cost impact on the industry and the consumer been adequately assessed? Remarkably it would appear not, as no regulatory impact assessment was undertaken in 2013 on the last version of S.I.9.

How complex are our regulations now? The answer is very and our guest post shows there are 38 steps now involved in getting the appropriate permissions and permits in place for a simple warehouse building. In a separate post one architect tables on one sheet the multitude of regulations that are needed for a simple house. Hardly ‘lean’ construction.

Solutions and how much will they cost?

How can we fix this and how costly are the solutions? Travel over to Holyhead in Wales and look at the simplicity of the much-praised and proven UK system of 100% independent Local Authority inspections and the ‘Approved Inspector’ model. We used to have a similar system here. How do we compare to the UK? the World Bank ranks the UK at 27th out of 189 countries and Ireland is at 115th.

Surely a proper system like in the UK would cost a fortune? Think again, the cost of S.I.9 for 2014 would probably fund a nationwide system for 60 years.

How to immediately kick-start a solution for low-cost and social housing? Revoke S.I.9 and let self-builders build again.

This alone could create 12,000 additional dwellings at no cost to the taxpayer by 2020. Use funds allocated for social housing to immediately tackle the housing crisis: get people off the streets for Christmas 2014. One stroke of Minister Kelly’s pen and he can blame the mess on the former Minister, Phil Hogan.

If you think that is unreasonable, ask the three County Councils that have already written to the Minister to ask just that: Sligo, Wicklow and recently Wexford.

Remember if doing CPD these all count as ‘unstructured’- Enjoy!

  • Here is a good overview of where multitude of costs will come from:

Value-engineering, defensive specifications and BCAR SI.9

  • What do new roles entail for professionals? Look here:

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

  • Some interesting posts on cost impacts of SI9 on construction, and housing:

SI.9 costs for a typical house

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

  • Here’s a summary of the main SI.9 costs including pyrite by 2020. Big numbers:

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

  • Where are commencements at now? are we up or down? Look here:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

  • Accurate, non-spun general information, planning application levels, total outputs from Constantin Gurdgiev, and recent CSO figures for residential building output:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

  • And other commentators:

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

  • How much no local authority materials policing will cost the taxpayer (pyrite)?:

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

  • What we should have done- a regulatory impact assessment…

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

  • How complex is our system now? Look here at “The 38 steps”:

Collins & O’Cofaigh | “the 38 steps” and the complexity of our regulations

  • Many self-builds are passive houses. What’s happening in this sector? look here:

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

  • This month the World Bank Report is due out. We ranked 115 out of 189 last year, Uk was 27. “Room to improve!”

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

  • Any solutions?

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

  • What is the UK ‘Approved Inspector’ system like? 

UK + Ireland | take a quick trip to Holyhead with Breg Blog…

  • And we can’t forget our main post:

SI9- where do I start?

SI.9 completion stage and the BCMS | Clouds are gathering!

by Bregs Blog admin team

cloud storage

By BRegs Blog admin on 26th October 2014

S.I.9 completion stage and the BCMS

Sources close to those working on the delivery of S.I9 have indicated that the BCMS system may not be expanded for Completion documents as planned. Assigned Certifiers might only be asked to upload the one single Certificate of Compliance  (Completion), signed by the Assigned Certifier and the builder.

There are alarm bells ringing for some professionals who believe it leaves them right back at the ‘uninsurable’ S.I.80, which named one individual only on the public record. In this case all liability will fall on the Assigned Certifier as the lone ‘mark’ named on the local authority Building Register.

The extraordinary efforts of Assigned Certifiers to compile lists of Ancillary Certificates, Ancillary Inspections Reports, as-built drawings and Testing Certificates might just make a short trip from your desk  to the box under your feet, to lie gathering dust until the day that you, as the lone certifier, have to defend a claim.

So what does the Framework for Building Control Authorities say?

see pdf here: https://bregsforum.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/framework-for-building-control-authorities-july-2014.pdf

It outlines the procedures for receiving, validating and archiving documents at Commencement stage. However it does not require any more than a single Completion Certificate ( with a “table” or list of documents) at the end of the project.

“Completion stage-Overview

The role of the Building Control Authority at completion stage is to validate the submission of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion and, where appropriate, to include details of same in the Register”

“The Annex detailing the Table of Plans, Calculations, Specifications, Ancillary Certificates and Particulars, and other Documents accompanying the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, should be retained on the Building Control Management System by the Building Control Authority”

The retention of documents (Ancillary Certificates, as-built drawings etc.) seems to be a private matter between the Assigned Certifier, his conscience and the limitations of his client’s fees? The next problem for the Assigned Certifier is where to keep it all. With every project the paperwork will keep piling up and you will have to keep it for years. The framework also requires documents to be stored for at least six years.

Assigned Certifiers are fortunate that ‘cloud storage’ is now available at little or no cost so a secure archive of completion documents will not add anything major to practice overheads. The real concern is that homebuyers and building owners will have only two names to go after – the Assigned Certifier and the builder, the latter who may be well gone.

Other posts of interest:

10 ‘must-read’ posts for Certifiers | S.I.9

5 Tips for Completion Certs

Press: RIAI fearful Local Authorities will start “finding something to invalidate as a method of workload control”

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

8 Questions for Professional Insurer

4 tips for sub-contractor Ancillary Certifiers

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

5 POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT BC(A)R SI.9 

4 tips for Design Certifiers… 

4 tips for assigned certifiers

4 things I am putting in my fee agreements

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read 

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Looks like this topical issue is back with us given recent industry advice by DECLG and BCMS suggesting extensions are cumulative.

BRegs Blog

download-11

The following post was written by the Breg Blog team on 8th September. Following recent correspondence received from readers on the issue of S.I.9 exemptions for minor works and invalidated short form commencement notices, we urgently call on our readers in the professional bodies and Local Authorities for clarification.

More than 6 months after the implementation of S.I9, it would appear that there has been confusion over the interpretation of the requirements for domestic extensions. There are now serious concerns that the generally accepted application of the new regulations may be wrong. Perhaps it is a drafting error or perhaps the guidance did not spell it out, either way it looks as if it does not matter if you build under 40 m2  because every previous addition of floor area to the house may be cumulative! 

If this is the case, there are a number of very serious consequences.

  1. Many domestic projects may have gone on site (post March 2014)…

View original post 338 more words

Gurdgiev: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

house-prices-on-the-rise

We table the following post from Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev’s blog “True Economics” to explore current residential price issues. As readers of the BRegs Blog are aware we are keen followers of Mr Gurdgiev as he tends to “drill down” into actual figures and frequently gets beyond spin and other anecdotal commentaries on topics. Link to: True Economics: 23/10/2014: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014

Although not directly related to building regulations house prices are one ingredient contributing to a perceived housing crisis at present, along with new building regulations, increased costs and lower commencement levels.

When viewed alongside the continued fall in commencement notice levels and CSO figures confirming falling residential construction output, the house price and rental cost increases may continue due to lack of supply and continuing demand.

Extract:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

23/10/2014: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014 data

Latest data for residential properties price index for Ireland is out, covering September. Instead of repeating all the analysis provided elsewhere, here is a look at quarterly data series and longer-term comparatives.

Firstly, on quarterly basis, Q3 2014 ended with index averaging at:

  • 79.1 in Dublin, up strongly on Q2 2014 reading of 72.0. This brings property prices to the levels of Q2 2010 or on pre-crisis comparative basis close to Q4 2002 (80.8).  Year on year prices in Q3 2014 stood 23.9% above Q3 2013 reading, which is a modest increase on Q2 2014 y/y increase of 21.2%.
  • Outside Dublin, index read 71.4 in Q3 2014, marking a rise of 5.8% y/y. In Q2 2014, y/y increase was 2.2%. Outside Dublin prices are currently trending at the levels comparable to Q1 2012 (71.2) and on pre-crisis basis – at the levels between Q2-Q3 2001
  • National prices index is at 76.9, up 14.4% y/y and this compares to a rise y/y of 10.6% in Q2 2014. National prices levels are around Q2-Q3 2011 averages and on pre-crisis basis these are up at the levels of Q2-Q3 2002.

Chart to illustrate:

chart 1

Rates of growth in prices are worrying, as they were for some time now. Chart below shows y/y increases in price indices for quarterly averages:

chart 2

The chart above clearly shows that Dublin price increases have been running well above the historical averages for the main periods since Q1 2000. Q3 2014 marks full year since price appreciation in Dublin market has risen above sub-period (2013-present) average and this now becoming a serious issue.

At the same time, long-term level indices suggest that prices remain below historical trends:

chart 3

So once again, data is showing troubling developments in the rate of price increases in Dublin and below-trend price levels. Based on historical evidence, real price bubble concerns are still outside the scope of index readings by some 25-30 percent. But we are closing that gap very fast.

Other posts of interest:

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

FAO Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht- commencement figures

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

UK + Ireland | take a quick trip to Holyhead with Breg Blog…

by Bregs Blog admin team

Ireland via Holyhead

By bregs Blog on October 20th 2014

Following our recent post about Newry & Mourne District Council, we decided to travel a bit further- to Holyhead!*

Building Control in a Holyhead is delivered by  the Isle of Anglesey County Council (Link here).

This local authority  service “ensures that (Building Control) standards are met, by checking and approving drawings and calculations as well as inspecting work in progress”

In Wales, there are two methods of applying:

  1. the deposit of full plans
  2. the giving of a building notice

What is the difference?

Full plans

For a full plans application, plans need to be produced showing all constructional details, preferably well before you begin building. The application will be thoroughly checked by us, and we may request amendments to the plans prior to approval being given. We may add conditions to an approval, with your written agreement.

Building Notice

With the building notice procedure, the building work will be inspected as it proceeds. You will be advised by the building control surveyor if, at any stage, the work is found not to comply with the regulations. However, if we require any further information about your proposal either before the commencement date or during building, you will be asked to supply us with the details requested. You must feel confident that the work will comply with the regulations or you risk having to correct it at the request of the council”

And the fees? The Building Control fees for a single house are £200.27 for approval of plans and £391.93 for inspections, a total of £592.20 (approx. €725.00).

(Link to pdf here)

As we noted before, In Ireland the fee to Building Control for a one-off house is only €30. a fee that hasn’t increased since 1997.

The cost of a system of independent building control for Ireland will be expanded in future posts.

*Bregs Blog have a very limited travel budget.

Posts of interest:

UK + Ireland | take a quick drive to Newry with Breg Blog…

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost? 

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

SI.9 costs for a typical house

O’Cofaigh letter to senators BC(A)R SI.9

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

Clampdown on self-building is stymying construction industry | Irish Examiner

by Bregs Blog admin team

constructionGeneral_large

The Irish Examiner published the following letter by Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds on October 21st 2014. Link  here.

Extract:

Clampdown on self-building is stymying construction industry 

Good news in the construction industry? Central Statistics Office figures indicate an increased number of smaller residential extensions. But the number of commencement notices lodged in local authorities continues to be depressed, now at 30% below 2013 levels, a historic low.

A major drag on the industry is building control system, S.I.9, introduced in March 2014.

Criticised for having little or no additional consumer protection, it was a rushed, paper problem-solving exercise by former Environment Minister Phil Hogan before he went off to Europe. The problem for the new Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, is to reverse these alarming trends, but how without causing embarrassment in the Department?

S.I.9 has added between €20,000 and €40,000 for every new house. It is having a negative effect on speculative residential housing, depressing site values and delaying starts. However, the main fall-out is for self-builders, ordinary people who manage their own building projects and who are now in a legal minefield.

Self-building is one of the biggest sectors in residential construction — one third of all houses built in any year have owners as main contractors. SI.9 is adding a whopping 22% onto the cost of a modest house — for no increase in technical performance.

The IAOSB, the consumer group representing self-builders, has obtained independent legal advice that SI.9 precludes self-building.

The legislative vagueness of S.I.9 is having a catastrophic effect on self-building, particularly at the lower-cost end. The IAOSB estimate that one third of all self-builds will be indefinitely postponed or abandoned, due to S.I.9. Self-builders who have stalled are remaining in rental accommodation or in council housing, or on waiting lists.

Construction is straining to get started. Perhaps the Minister should cut ineffectual red tape rather than provide dog-box apartments and reduce standards?

Due to the impact of S.I.9 on self-builders, three local authorities, Wicklow, Sligo and, most recently, Wexford, have called on the Minister to revoke SI.9.

Many of these problems were forecast last year, in advance of the introduction of S.I.9, by consumer groups and professionals, who called for deferral of the new regulations.

One thing is for sure: unless the Minister acts fast, current housing problems will only become more acute. Do we really need to be saying “I told you so” in 12 months’ time?

Mel Reynolds

Other posts of interest:

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

Irish Times: Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term

“Size isn’t important” | Are shoe box apartments really the solution?

RIAI Complainee investigates IAOSB Complaint

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

IAOSB Letter to Minister Alan Kelly

Fine Gael Report opposed new building regulations- 2013

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

by Bregs Blog admin team

Red-house-down-rates-decrease-graph

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) September 2014 release  is mixed news for the construction industry and for those tasked with solving the housing crisis. Construction is improving, however residential activity and output is decreasing. See link to CSO webpage here.

Quote: “The volume of output in building and construction increased by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding period… The annual rise in the volume of output reflects year-on-year increases of 23.4% and 8.5% respectively in non-residential building work and civil engineering.

Residential Building decreased by 8.8% in the year to Quarter 2 2014.  See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.” [emphasis in bold by Bregs Blog]

Not good news for policymakers attempting to deal with spiralling rents, house prices and supply issues. Indeed not good news for consumers, housing lists or first-time buyers. This reinforces anecdotal accounts of a Dublin-centered commercial property resurgence and runs counter to recent media spin on the issue.

Reduced residential activity is marked by a continuing fall in commencement notices since implementation of new building regulations S.I.9 in March 2014. Current levels are 30% below 2013 levels, a historic low for construction output.

Extract off CSO website:

CSO statistical release, 10 September 2014, 11am

Production in Building and Construction Index

table 1

Building and Construction Output increased by 4.1% in 2nd quarter 2014

table 2

The volume of output in building and construction increased by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding period.

This reflects increases of 9.3% and 4.7% in civil engineering and non-residential building respectively while there was a decrease of 1.9% in the volume of residential building*.  The change in the value of production for all building and construction was +5.9%. See tables 1(a), 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph. 

On an annual basis, the volume of output in building and construction increased by 10.1% in the second quarter of 2014*.  There was an increase of 11.1% in the value of production in the same period. See table 1(a).  The annual rise in the volume of output reflects year-on-year increases of 23.4% and 8.5% respectively in non-residential building work and civil engineering.  Residential Building decreased by 8.8% in the year to Quarter 2 2014.  See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.

table3Other posts of interest:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

FAO Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht- commencement figures

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

0831_fiscalcliff_630x420

The latest Building Register was published by the Building Control Management System (BCMS) on 22nd  October 2014 at 8.46 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘proposed building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland.

The Building Register now records a figure of 3,476 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past 34 weeks since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014. This is quite a jump since 6 months figures were posted.

Of these 692 (20%) are Short Form (minor works) and 201 (6%) are seven-day notices (Fire Safety Certificates).

At the moment the average number of commencement notices being lodged is 102 per week. However in 2013 the average number lodged per week was 143 (7,456 in total).

Currently commencement notices are running 30% below 2013 levels which was an historic low point in construction industry output. Notwithstanding the late pick-up of commencements and recent hype in the media, we still have some way to go to even equal the very weak output achieved last year.

Let’s hope some of the budget initiatives will have a positive effect.

Link to Building Register: 

PDF: buildingregister Oct13 2014

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

FAO Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht- commencement figures

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

Minister Damien English “have to get construction right – this time”

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By Bregs Blog on October 19th 2014

Minister Damien English (pictured above) at Nzeb conference last week called for the passive house standard to be introduced in housing and suggested moves be made by the construction industry to address skills shortage problems in construction. He suggested we could have a lot of jobs associated with new technical standards that we can’t fill unless the industry gets moving to upskill. Link to conference programme here

Minister English, who told the Conference that he had built his own passive house said that …”we have to get construction right – this time“.

He called for higher construction standards so that houses are cheaper to run. He also gave a timely warning that if the construction industry doesn’t upskill “we could have a lot of jobs we cant fill

In the article in the Journal.ie from 15th October 2014  “Pressure is on to get building, but those in construction need to learn new skills“, the message from the Better than Best Practice building-skills conference was that construction professionals and contractors needed to ‘up their game’ in the face of increasing building performance requirements.

Extract from article:

“BUILDERS, ARCHITECTS AND engineers are under huge pressures to get building as the country is in the midst of a housing crisis, says the Irish Green Building Council.

However, they said that the game has changed for many developers since the boom, and there are a lot more stringent checks and balances that need to be met.

Under new rules, the construction sector must meet the EU Near Zero energy requirements for buildings by the year 2020, with the council stating that buildings “effectively have to start paying for themselves”.

Learn new skills 

To achieve this many builders will need to learn new skills, something the government addressed in its Construction 2020 document published earlier this year.

The report states: “Address skills gaps relating to the ‘greening’ of construction … including the piloting of training initiatives.”

A spokesperson for the council said that Ireland is undergoing a “revolution in standards and regulation” adding that everyone involved in the building industry have to meet stricter and more stringent regulations than they did a few years ago.

Due to the building catastrophes like pyrite and the likes of Priory Hall, all eyes are on the construction industry to not only build sustainable and “green” buildings, but safe ones too.

Signing-off on builds

“The laws have tightened and there are a lot more regulations to meet than there were five years ago. Now architects and engineers have to sign-off on buildings and make sure that builders do it right. There is huge pressure out there for people to get building and we can’t have the case where people flout the regulations and not bother with the rules. Architects and engineers are not going to sign off on buildings that are not done right, so we are going to need more professionals in the industry and upskilling will be needed, ” said the council spokesperson.

The Better than Best Practice building-skills conference opening today, aims to address one of the biggest challenges facing the Irish construction industry.

Pat Barry, Executive Director of the Irish Green Building Council, said:

We are in a totally changed regulatory environment to that existing in 2006. It is now all about quality and attention to detail.”

zeta-features

Other posts of interest:

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Part L- is compliance worth the paper its written on?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

BC(A)R SI.9 or… green alternative No 1

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

by Bregs Blog admin team

ct-no-closing-cost-refinance

17th October 2014 (Quotes with consent of IAOSB)

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

Let’s look at social housing and the new building control regulations.

We know all the headline issues, the costs and legal issues in the new regulations that has forced over 800 to 1000 self-builders this year alone to indefinitely postpone or abandon planned home builds.

In parallel we see new Minister Alan Kelly pledging to  build up to 1,000 new homes for social housing next year. Including rentals and leased properties this will rise 10,000 in 3 years. A welcome development but also costly at €2.5 billion to the taxpayer.

However there may be another far more cost effective way to achieve the same result. Self-building.

Self Build is a political problem

Acknowledged as a major political headache, one unintended consequence of S.I.9 is the banning of self-building since implementation in March 2014. The Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB) have protested vigorously on this issue nationally.

As a result three County Councils have voted formally requested the Minister Alan Kelly to revoke S.I.9. They are Sligo, Wicklow and more recently Wexford. More are expected to follow suit.

To put the issue in a more personal context we looked at the example Amanda Gallagher and her family. In radio interviews and written pieces she noted her planned family home was to be built using direct labour. Her electrician husband Raymond would manage the project on a site given to them by her father-in-law in Sligo, a site on the family farm.

Amanda and her family are currently tenants in Local Authority Housing and have indefinitely postponed their build, citing the increased costs under S.I.9 as the main reason. Estimates from her Architect suggest the extra-over cost now to build her house using a main contractor are almost double (we have separately tabled a conservative cost estimated for S.I.9 for a typical house at between €20,000 to €40,000- see below).

There are a number of people in a similar situation, electing to put in the hard graft of managing their own house build in stages. Self build means removing developer’s profit and a main contractor’s management costs thereby reducing the cost of home ownership. Frequently self-builds are of a higher standard than speculative housing.

This is a difficult personal situation to be in, to have plans ready to go only to be confronted by poorly-worded and vague legislation that imply there may be legal completion problems later on.

However there is one other observation that may have been lost in the personal story here.

Is self-build the practical solution to social housing?

Housing supply in Amanda’s situation is a bit like money velocity in the economy.

If Amanda and Raymond built their own house, their current council house would become available to others. At no cost to the state. If they were renting it would be another rental unit becoming available, adding to supply and reducing rental costs. If they were living with family and on a housing list, they would be one less name on the list.

In Amanda’s situation her self-build completed is equal to two social/rental houses. At no cost to the taxpayer.

So if S.I.9 was either revoked or amended to facilitate self-building, the 800- 1000 self-build houses abandoned this year could translate to 1600- 2000 social/ affordable units. Every year. At no cost to the taxpayer.

Imagine if the government released details of support schemes (like those in the U.K.) for prospective self-builders, persons currently in local authority housing to build on state-owned sites and build their own houses in a more economic fashion?

So, immediately Minister Kelly could create 12,000 social/ affordable houses by 2020. At no cost to the taxpayer. One stroke of the pen- revoke S.I.9.

Could it be that easy?

To read more of Amanda’s commentary visit her blog here.

Other posts of interest:

IAOSB Letter to Minister Alan Kelly

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost? 

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

UK and Ireland: Take a quick drive to Newry with BReg Blog…

by Bregs Blog admin team

ford-model-t-touring-car-09

By BRegs Blog on October 20th 2014

It was commented in an earlier post about independent inspections  (see posts below) that:

one need only take the train to Newry or the boat to Holyhead. Such system can and does work, deliver better building, and can cost the State a net nothing

So to save you the drive along the new road, we took a look at the Building Control Service provided in Newry & Mourne District Council*, a short distance from Louth County Council where “responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations lies with you, your designer and construction teams” (Link louthcoco.ie )

In Newry, the role of Building Control includes “assessing your plans and inspecting your house at various stages as it is being built” (Link newryandmourne.gov.uk )

This is an extract from the section about building your new house in Newry:

Inspections

Surveyors from Building Control will arrange to inspect your new house at various stages as it is being built.

Whilst it is ultimately your responsibility to notify us, in advance, of any inspection you can arrange for your builder to do this for you.

The building Regulations require you to give us 2 days notice prior to any inspection, but if we receive a request before 10.30 am we will do our best to carry out an inspection that day.

It is also important to note that 5 days notice is required prior to you occupying or completing your house. Please therefore ensure that we are given the appropriate notice at the following [eight] stages:

  1. Commencement
  2. Excavation of foundations
  3. Substructure / hardcore
  4. Damp proof courses
  5. First fix
  6. Drainage
  7. Pre-occupation
  8. Completion

If we do not receive notice and you or your builder cover up work before we have inspected it, you will be asked to expose all or part of that work to allow us to determine whether it complies with the Building Regulations.

Completion Certificate

When your house has been built and we are satisfied, in as far as we can reasonably tell, that the requirements of the Building Regulations have been met, we will issue you with a “Completion Certificate”.

This is an important document and you should file this away for safe keeping. If you ever sell or re-mortgage your house your solicitor, bank or building society may request a copy of the Completion Certificate for the house. It may also be required for the purposes of reclaiming VAT.

Fees

There are two occasions when you pay us fees.

  1. When your plans are sent to us for approval.
  2. When we carry out the inspections.

The fees for the inspections is payable in one lump sum and we will send you an invoice for this, once we have completed our first inspection.

For your convenience you can pay by cash, postal order, cheque, debit card, or credit card”

That sounds like a great service- it must be expensive? Same day call out, eight independent inspections, approval of plans and a Completion Certificate!

There’s a handy fees calculator at http://buildingcontrolfees.tascomi.com/

The fee for one-off house (under 250 sq. m.) for the full Building Control service is:

  • Plans £90
  • Site Inspections £210

That is a total of £300.00 (approx. €370.00) and this service is largely self-funding.

In Ireland the fee to Building Control for a one-off house is only €30 – a fee that hasn’t increased since 1997.

The cost of a system of independent building control for Ireland will be expanded in future posts.

In the The World Bank “Doing Business” Report 2014 Ireland ranks 115th out of 189 countries in “Dealing with construction permits”. The UK ranks 27th. The World Bank Report is due out at the end of the month- it should make for interesting reading.

And better still………………. they have no pyrite in Newry.

*Bregs Blog have a very limited travel budget.

Other posts of interest:

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost? 

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

SI.9 costs for a typical house

O’Cofaigh letter to senators BC(A)R SI.9

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Pat Barry, Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant: 20th October 2014

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

How often have you heard the expression on site “ aaah jaysus ….this is the way I have always done it”  Well you are not alone. Construction workers are not known for filling in their CPD points at the end of October.  Is this all about to change?

At the recent conference Better than Best Practice  Zoe Wildiers of the European commission spoke about the need to tackle the lack of skills among Europe’s three million strong construction workforce, if we are to  meet the energy efficiency targets set by the EU. But she added it was not just construction workers but Architects, Engineers and other Construction professionals , who also lacked basic skills and knowledge in energy efficiency.

It was also  interesting to hear Thorston Windmueller of Kozmet,  speak  of his experience of training Irish Craft workers in their facility in Germany under the EU project CESBEM. Whilst the German craft workers understood basic building science and could carry out simple condensation risk analysis whilst the Irish construction workers did not. They also lacked understanding of the importance of quality and attention to detail in achieving energy efficient construction.

The Build Up Skills report from 2014 found that Irish trades do have the the ability and skills to build to high quality. They just lacked the knowledge to put this together in a systems thinking way, with the other trades. It also found construction workers were confused by terms such as green or energy efficient, but  they did understand the term “quality”

Qualibuild is an EU funded programme made up of a consortium of Blanchardstown, Dublin and Limerick Institutes of Technology, the Irish Construction Federation and the Irish Green Building Council  – to provide foundation energy courses  in energy efficiency to trades and operatives. These are not designed to turn trades such as plumbers, electricians, plasterers, bricklayers etc. into passive house experts. The idea is to create a mind altering change over three days …. but without the drugs!  We want to create thinking members of an onsite collective delivering a damn fine building.  We want to give them the collective goal of QUALITY!

This is a pilot programme with the intention that it will become a requirement like safe pass for all construction workers.The programme will be accompanied by a communications campaign to house owners on what quality means in construction. This is intended to equip them with the language to ask trades the right questions and demand the right result.

With the new, Construction Industry Register Ireland  (CIRI) requiring contractors on the register to upskill all of their staff at every level, including engineers, site managers, foremen and site operatives, we may just start to get a more educated workforce.

The next time you hear the expression, “ …this is the way I have always done it” and you are pondering your liability under BC(A)R just say ……www.qualibuild.ie

 About the author: Patrick Barry

Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant

Patrick Barry (Dip.Arch, M.Sc. MRIAI, Dip. Project Man), is an architect with twenty years experience in architectural practice in France, Germany and South America, working with leading architectural practices in Ireland on residential, mixed use, social housing, healthcare and education. He holds a Masters in Environmental Design of Buildings from University of Cardiff, and has completed studies in Leadership in Strategic Sustainability, He is a Certified European passive house designer, and a qualified DGNB international auditor,  He is currently executive director of the Irish Green Building Council

Other posts of interest:

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Sound advice and SI.9 – PART 1

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

BC(A)R S.I.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

Only a few more hours to go- great response so far we need as many as possible!

BRegs Blog

tell-us-what-you-think

 

BC(A)R S.I.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

This weekend don’t forget our 33 week BC(A)R SI.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey. It is a very simple 3 minute survey and we have had a great reaction so far- the more responses the better!

We want to see to what extent our readers are embracing, or not, the new roles in view of recent concerns about increased liabilities and the adequacy of documentation etc. The information provided helps us to prepare appropriate future posts. We have not included any questions about Completion Certificates as the numbers on the Building Register are still too few.

The survey will close on Monday 20th October at midnight and we will publish the results later that week.

Link to survey here: Assigned_Certifier_225_Days 

Please note that we do not monitor those who respond to the survey and please share it with your contacts particularly in other professional groups.

the…

View original post 52 more words

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By BReg Blog October 20th 2014

There are about 67 building control officers in Ireland , many doubling up as fire officers (see post below).

We have not been able to extract out the current cost of building control as these are lumped in with planning and enforcement for Local Authority budgetary purposes. In earlier posts, based on the UK model, we estimated that 200 additional Local Authority staff were required to undertake a 100% nationwide inspection of all buildings .

Recently the Irish Times reported – “Dog wardens issued more fines last year than in past decade“. According to this article there are the same number of dog wardens – 67 (46 full-time & 21 part time) as there are Building Control Officers (BCO) at a nett cost €3.9m when income from fines is accounted for.* This is a cost per Local Authority staff member of €58,200.

Based on these recent figures, the cost of 200 additional BCO staff to achieve 100% Local Authority independent inspections nationwide would be €11.64m.

This cost for independent Local Authority inspections seems like very good value when compared to an estimated cost to the industry and consumer for S.I.9 of over €700m per annum and a cost to remediate pyrite of €780m (DECLG estimate of pre-2012 cases).

An annual cost to the taxpayer of a little over €11m to regulate a €10bn industry would give the consumer the benefit of a proper independent building control inspectorate, as opposed to continuing with our defective system of self-certification at vast cost to both taxpayer and consumer.

The bill for poor regulation at just one development, Priory Hall, is currently running at €30m. S.I.9 costs for one year alone would fund 100% Local Authority independent inspections for 60 years. Self building could resume and this would create 800 more houses this year. Consumers would be protected – no more Priory Halls. Pyrite would be policed at a taxpayer saving of over €780m.

Is the Department of the Environment being penny wise and pound foolish?

Notes: *Net cost less income from fines. We believe there are 5 staff separately employed now processing claims for pyrite remediation. 

Other posts of interest:

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

SI.9 costs for a typical house

More dog wardens than building inspectors in Ireland- Self Builders to be made extinct 

BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team 19th October 2014

Don’t forget our archives!

Click on the following link and read through over 80 posts for March, the month SI.9 was implemented. Many of these forecast  issues subsequently encountered- lack of industry preparedness, BCMS issues, Building Control Sections resources and legal implications on practitioners. Many questions asked still remain unanswered, 6 months on. Scroll through our posts which are in reverse chronological order. Enjoy!

Click link: BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014

  • The most popular post in March was one by past presidents of the representative body for architects (RIAI) Collins and O’Cofaigh’s “A better way”. Widely seen as preferable and more cost-effective to our current system of self-certification this clear and articulate proposal is currently being considered by the RIAI as formal policy to be recommended to the Department in advance of an EGM on 4th November 2014.
  • Former Minister Hogan’s cost estimate of €1000 – €3000 for SI0 for a housing unit was shown to be very conservative. We have since established the costs for a typical house at between €20,000 to €40,000. See post here
  • The exclusion of Architectural Technologists from the register of professionals to undertake new roles under SI.9 was a very well read topic (see here). Former Minister Hogan in a Dáil debate urged ‘draughtsmen’ to register as competent professionals under the register to operate roles of design and assigned certifiers under SI.9. see post here. The significant implications for the entire Architectural Technologist sector were explored in  “The architectural technologist and BC(A)R SI.9
  • Past president of the representative body for architects (RIAI), Eoin O’Cofaigh lists out the winners and loosers under the new regulation and says” The regulations do nothing to prevent another Priory Hall or pyrites disaster…They are a huge missed opportunity, from a Government who knew the proper solution and who ignored it.” (see here)
  • In typical strident fashion former Minister Phil Hogan took issue with concerns raised by Brian Stanley TD in the Dáil, and takes head-on the issue professional fees for SI9 :”I am concerned about the possibility of customers being exploited by professionals under these regulations.See post here.
  • SI.105 was Implemented on 7th March and allows part- deferral of some public building types. We believe only a handful of projects have availed of this provision. See post here. Former Minister Hogan explained the rationale behind SI.105 to Stephen Donnelly TD in the Dáil- see here.
  • We noted the Law Society Guidance Note on BC(A)R SI.9  “In the 12 months up to the introduction of a mandatory register this note suggests that whether self-builders can sign the builder’s completion form or not isn’t the main issue halting self-building this year. Rather it will be whether any members of these three professional bodies will assume certifier roles for self-build projects.” See post here.
  • We posted a consolidated piece on legal firms advice for readers this month also on SI.9 (see post here). Has the situation been clarified for professionals 6 months on?
  • We published a guest post of a talk delivered at the Engineers Ireland CPD event by Deirdre Ni Fhlionn, Consultant, Reddy Charlton Solicitors. The lack of consumer protection under SI9 was clearly highlighted “There are no new legal rights or remedies for consumers created by BCAR 2014. Rather, the benefits to consumers are intended to result from improvements in the building process, such as the requirement for an assigned certifier to devise and implement an inspection plan.” see here
  • Self-builders wrote to the Attorney General: BC(A)R SI.9 – the IAOSB are still awaiting a response 6 months later (see here). A problem can’t exist without a solution. We assembled one from a number of sources- it still very relevant: The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?. SME issues and SI9 were outlined by Eoin O’Cofaigh his post here.
  • We also noted that staff should take care when undertaking new certifier roles “In the event of a wind-up or voluntary liquidation, of if employers elect to remove or alter policies, employees (current and former) may find themselves exposed to liability for certifier roles.’ These concerns remain and we await input from representative bodies on these issues. See here.

Previous Archive posts (click title):

BRegs Blog Archive 4 – FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

Other popular “top read” posts:

BC(A)R S.I.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

tell-us-what-you-think

 

BC(A)R S.I.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

This weekend don’t forget our 33 week BC(A)R SI.9 Assigned + Design Certifier Survey. It is a very simple 3 minute survey and we have had a great reaction so far- the more responses the better!

We want to see to what extent our readers are embracing, or not, the new roles in view of recent concerns about increased liabilities and the adequacy of documentation etc. The information provided helps us to prepare appropriate future posts. We have not included any questions about Completion Certificates as the numbers on the Building Register are still too few.

The survey will close on Monday 20th October at midnight and we will publish the results later that week.

Link to survey here: Assigned_Certifier_225_Days 

Please note that we do not monitor those who respond to the survey and please share it with your contacts particularly in other professional groups.

the BRegs Blog  Team.

Other posts of interest:

BRegs Blog 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

BC(A)R FIRST 100 DAYS SURVEY

CIF Construction Confidence Survey

Building Control Officers: Survey 

Breg Snapshot Survey: BC(A)R SI.9 

Specialist Certifier 1- ENGINEER: questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 2- ARCHITECT: Questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 3- SURVEYOR: Questions and Answers

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Cowboy Up

by Simon McGuinnes architect, on 14th October 2014

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

The following opinion piece relates to Part L  compliance under SI.9 . Part L of the Irish building regulations is  “CONSERVATION OF FUEL AND ENERGY – DWELLINGS” (Part L Download HERE and the TGD Part L Download HERE).

_______

Let me state at the outset that I believe the fRsi regulation is not a mistake but is actually a carefully drafted text by an expert who understands the risks and the complexities and is primarily interested in ensuring the health of future occupants of compliant buildings.  It is both correct and justified. It is also extremely onerous.

The TGD Part L, Appendix D, section D4, page 61 clearly states that we must prove DESIGN compliance for ground floor junctions by numerical calculation in 3D using validated software.  Other details can be modelled in 2D using similarly validated software. [Blog Note extract from TGD in bold, italics]

D.4 Calculation procedures

The calculation procedure to establish both temperature factor (fRsi) and the linear thermal transmittance (ψ) is outlined in BRE IP 1/06. Details should be assessed in accordance with the methods described in I.S. EN ISO 10211. These calculations of two dimensional or three dimensional heat flow require the use of numerical modeling software. To be acceptable, numerical modeling software should model the validation examples in I.S. EN ISO 10211 with results that agree with the stated values of temperature and heat flow within the tolerance indicated in the standard for these examples. Several packages are available that meet this requirement.

There is currently only one independent Thermal Modeller approved by NSAI for the entire country.  I am reliably informed that he has not undertaken 3D fRsi calculations for any Assigned or Design Certifier since BC(A)R SI.9 was introduced, leading me to conclude that in all probability, few of the certificates signed for domestic buildings (or extensions) issued to date are valid.  He has, apparently, quoted for this service several times but not once was he contracted to undertake it.

This is a very dangerous state of affairs that demands immediate action on the part of all three professional bodies whose members are entrusted with responsibility for certification under BC(A)R. Ignorance of the law is no defence so, at the first sign of mould, the assigned certifier and the design certifier could find themselves  in court and be unable to defend themselves against charges of negligence.

Mould is becoming a significant issue of building failure as a result of the introduction of Part L 2011 with its high U-values for flanking elements.  This focuses the surface condensation problem on the linear joints between the flanking elements as these become the lowest temperature surfaces.  Such linear corners, with their associated low air movement conditions, are ideal locations for mould growth. Old assumptions that inadequate ventilation is the cause of mould have been thoroughly sidestepped by the fRsi regulation: this is strictly a design compliance issue, not a use issue. You cannot blame a user for your design decisions.

Unfortunately, there is no alternative to 3D modelling to prove that the fRsi  has been achieved.  There is no rule of thumb.  The Accredited Construction Details (ACDs) cannot be relied upon to achieve the fRsi because the scope of what they cover is too broad, even very slight (trivial) variations in dimensions or material conductivities will result in breeches of the fRsi.  DIT have modelled several examples of  ACD-compliant junctions which fail the surfaced temperature test.  Furthermore,  the limits on ACDs are such that the applicable range of U-values is often breeched to achieve the EPC and CPC performance indicators required in DEAP.  If you exceed the approved U-value range – the tabulated ACD psi-value in Appendix D cannot be used and even the erroneous assumption of fRsi compliance falls.  This is not an accident.

I would therefore strongly advise anyone considering signing a design certificate for a domestic project to pay the €3,000 – 4,000 for an fRsi compliance check of all the junctions before putting pen to paper.  Once signed, if mould does appear, there is no defence; you are liable for the full cost of remediation including relocation of the occupants.  If you are quoting fees for a house or an extension, add the fRsi compliance check cost to the fee quote and make the ancillary certification by a NSAI approved Thermal Modeller conditional on the issue of the design certificate.  The way the TGD is formatted indicates that fRsi compliance applies equally to material alterations and extensions in addition to new build, so there is no escape.

Now that you know what is required to achieve compliance, will you ever again sign a certificate of design compliance for a residential project without an fRsi check? There is a word for a person who signs such a certificate: a “cowboy”.  I am sorry if that hurts, my intent is not to hurt but to warn colleagues of significant risk that they may ignorantly fall into. I didn’t write the regulation; I just read it, understand it and agree with it, but only after significant personal upskilling in this highly technical area.  Irish Thermal Modellers are the most highly qualified in the world: they need to be, Irish building regulations in relation to fRsi are by far the most onerous in the world.  That is why there is an NSAI Register of Thermal Modellers (the only one in the world), why they need to undertake a postgraduate course of study and sit an exam to gain access to the register, why they have to have PI cover and why they have to pay a fee to have their work audited annually.  This is not the work of a Government intent on ignoring fRsi. You should not ignore it either.

In all likelihood, the fRsi regulations currently applying to residential construction will be extended to all construction once the revised Part L (Non-Residential) is published.  It is right that occupants of hospitals, offices, schools, etc. should not be exposed to dangerous moulds.  Even if you don’t do residential work, now would be a good time to begin the journey to understanding fRsi.  It is a fundamental technical requirement of the delivery of the European nZEB building standard.  The Irish government is to be congratulated for staking its claim to the nZEB territory in this most exportable of high-level technical design services. The projected demand for these services is breath-taking.

But to return to present realities, I find it worrying that my professional colleagues in the Surveying, Architectural and Engineering professions who undertake residential work may already have signed compliance certificates under S.I.9 without fRsi assessments undertaken by a competent Thermal Modeller.  I also find it strange that there have been no warnings from any of the professional bodies to their members advising of the risks they are taking in such projects, and only high-level admonition for those colleagues who decline to take such risks with their PI cover.  Clearly, something is wrong with the system of professional oversight and support.

In spite of the former minister’s ham-fisted attempts to cap the fee for building regulations certification, there is an onus on professional certifiers to ensure that the letter of the regulations is applied fully, regardless of the cost.  If the minister wants to revise the regulations to make them cheaper to implement, then that is entirely his prerogative.  It is decidedly not for certifying professionals to second guess the written regulations and opt out of any they find difficult. That is the road to perdition.

Simon McGuinness is an architect in private practice, a passive house design consultant and a part-time lecturer in digital analysis and retrofit technology at DIT.

Other posts of interest:

BC(A)R S.I.9 | 33 Weeks | Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

Don’t forget to take 3 minutes to do our BCAR SI9 survey!

BRegs Blog

survey

 

BC(A)R S.I.9  | 33 Weeks | Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

As we are in our 33rd week of S.I. 9 we thought it would be a good time to conduct a survey but one aimed at individuals who have commenced projects since March 2014 which more accurately reflects the requirements of the legislation. It is a very simple 12 question (max.) survey to see to what extent our readers are embracing, or not, the new roles in view of recent concerns about increased liabilities and the adequacy of documentation etc. The information provided helps us to prepare appropriate future posts. We have not included any questions about Completion Certificates as the numbers on the Building Register are still too few.

The survey will close on Monday 20th October at midnight and we will publish the results later that week.

Link to survey here: Assigned_Certifier_225_Days 

Please note that we do not monitor those who…

View original post 69 more words

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Linenhall

Dublin School of Architecture, Linenhall, Dublin 1

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

The draft constitution of the Architectural Graduates Association (AGA) of the DIT School of Architecture would appear to be attempting to promote a spirit of industry inclusivity by proposing a united AGA that includes Architecture and Architectural Technologist graduates. The proposed constitution is to be voted on at an Annual General Meeting to be held at 6 p.m. this Monday 20th October 2014 in the School of Architecture, Linenhall, Dublin 1.

Approving this constitution would appear to go some way towards recognising the contribution that DIT Architectural Technologist graduates make to the architectural and construction industry that was inexplicably overlooked in the S.I. 9 legislation. This is a subject very dear to the hearts of the BRegs Blog readers which we are aware of from viewing statistics.

Other items on the agenda include the election of AGA officers and the nomination of the RIAI Council Representative. The AGM is open to all graduates of the Dublin School of Architecture.

Draft constitution PDF: Draft Constitution October 2014

DIT AGA AGM

At 6 p.m.

On Monday 20th October 2014

In the School of Architecture, Linenhall, Dublin 1.

Other posts of interest:

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Architectural Technologists and BC(A)R SI.9: CIAT

Architectural Technologist – Platitudes, Head Nodding and BC(A)R SI.9.

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

Audio Clip: Dáil Debate 27th May- Architectural Technologists & SI.9 

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

by Bregs Blog admin team

Money_pit500

In a previous post “The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R S.I.9 of 2014” we attempted to summarise the possible costs of S.I.9 to the consumer and industry. Now, seven months post implementation, not only are we seeing the continued drag on commencements, the “BC(A)R effect”, but we’re also better able to quantify the costs of the newly introduced regulations. We note at the time of writing, commencement notices lodged with the BCMS are running 30% below 2013 levels, a historic low for construction activity.

The BReg Blog has attempted to bring all of the relevant S.I.9 cost posts into one here. Included also is the Department of the Environment’s projected total cost for Pyrite for pre-2012 projects. This figure may be a lot higher. As the current construction industry recovery takes hold the annual costs for S.I.9 will increase in tandem with increased output. The following table is based on 2012 detailed outputs which was a historic low point. Costs exclude future pyrite/mica remediation and once-off taxpayer costs (e.g. €30m for Priory Hall to date).

We know that self-regulation was looked at in the U.K. in 2012, but dismissed as the most expensive form of building control to the consumer and industry (see post below). A proper Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) would normally quantify figures like the table below in advance of implementation of any new regulation. Unfortunately in the case of S.I.9 no comprehensive RIA was undertaken in 2013.

ESTIMATED ANNUAL COST 2014 FOR BC(A)R SI.9

Private Residential Projects (€2.464bn qualifying)

  • Self-build houses abandoned =                €144m
  • Increased costs for self-builders- =          €181m
  • Increased costs for consumer =                €181m
  • Delays due to validation procedure=       €26m

Subtotal Residential annual cost=                     €532m 

Private Non-Residential Costs (€606m qualifying)

  • Private non-residential =                           €66.4m
  • Social Infrastructure=                                €67.7m
  • Productive Infrastructure=                        €33.7m
  • Subtotal non-residential projects=            €168m

Total BCAR SI9 cost (2014)=                              €700m

Once-off Pyrite Cost (pre-2012 only)                 €784m

*Pyrite remediation at €64,000+ per house for 12,250 pre-2012 properties affected: €784 million

The cost of continuing with our current system of self-certification of our construction industry i.e. S.I.9, with little or no independent local authority inspections or market policing of materials by 2020 (ex future pyrite/mica issues) is estimated at almost €5 billion.

This equals 50,000 construction jobs lost by 2020.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

by Bregs Blog admin team

House-rates-rise

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

In a recent blog post UCD Economist, Karl Whelan, suggests recent costs associated with the the new building regulations S.I.9 are partly responsible for the slump in housing supply. The post “The Central Bank and the Irish Property Market”  dated October 13th 2014, issues associated with the housing market and the Central Bank’s latest steps are discussed. See full post here.

Current price to rent ratios are shown as being cost to levels last seen in the 1990’s:

ltvpic31

Quote: “The Central Bank’s new policies are focused on restricting the downside of house price declines by restricting the provision of mortgage credit.  However, the current trend of rising prices is not in any way related to easy mortgage lending. Indeed, the Central Bank’s own statistics show that the total stock of mortgage credit continues to decline at about the same pace as it has over the past three years (see the red line below)

Rather than being driven by credit, the evidence points to a shortage of supply as the main factor driving house prices.  After the building binge of the Celtic Tiger years, housing completions have slumped. Indeed, given trends in population and household formation, we now appear to be at the point where the previous period of over-building has now been offset by the cumulative under-building of recent years.”

ltvpic4

 

“Nor does it appear that recent price increases are doing much yet to provoke a supply response.  Planning permissions remain at historically low levels. Anecdotal evidence suggests restrictions on the supply of credit to builders as well as a raft of cost-increasing building regulations are at least partly responsible for this lack of supply response” [emphasis by bregs blog]

ltvpic6

His assessment is that conditions in the Irish housing market do not currently point towards the need for a sudden large change in LTV limits, and he wonders if a gradual introduction of higher LTVs is desirable is a more open question.

However, what is required now is more than that: Ireland needs a coherent joined-up housing policy. Ideally, it would be better to debate restrictions on LTVs as part of this broader discussion instead of imposing them for financial stability reasons irrespective of the other parts of the policy framework.

One wonders if the recent credit restrictions proposed by the Central Bank, combined with higher costs due to recent building regulations introduced, will combine to give a new market: lower demand matching lower supply with spiraling rents?

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

BC(A)R S.I.9 | 33 Weeks | Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

survey

 

BC(A)R S.I.9  | 33 Weeks | Assigned + Design Certifier Survey

As we are in our 33rd week of S.I. 9 we thought it would be a good time to conduct a survey but one aimed at individuals who have commenced projects since March 2014 which more accurately reflects the requirements of the legislation. It is a very simple 12 question (max.) survey to see to what extent our readers are embracing, or not, the new roles in view of recent concerns about increased liabilities and the adequacy of documentation etc. The information provided helps us to prepare appropriate future posts. We have not included any questions about Completion Certificates as the numbers on the Building Register are still too few.

The survey will close on Monday 20th October at midnight and we will publish the results later that week.

Link to survey here: Assigned_Certifier_225_Days 

Please note that we do not monitor those who respond to the survey and please share it with your contacts particularly in other professional groups.

the BRegs Blog  Team.

Other posts of interest:

BRegs Blog 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

BC(A)R FIRST 100 DAYS SURVEY

CIF Construction Confidence Survey

Building Control Officers: Survey 

Breg Snapshot Survey: BC(A)R SI.9 

Specialist Certifier 1- ENGINEER: questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 2- ARCHITECT: Questions and Answers

Specialist Certifier 3- SURVEYOR: Questions and Answers

Irish Times: Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term

by Bregs Blog admin team

image

(Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times)

Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term

In an Irish Times article today (15th October 2014) by Olivia Kelly “Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term recent plans in the budget regarding the provision of 3,000 homes a year, 10,000 over 3 years, for a housing list of 90,000 are discussed. In the face of a stalled residential recovery, increased costs due to badly-conceived regulations and a ban on self-building, indicators at present all point towards a short-term situation which will result in a continued depressed levels of of housing supply, increasing levels of homelessness and increasing rental costs.

Another political paper solution?

Extract to follow:

An additional 3,000 households will be housed by local authorities through the leasing of houses in 2015, Brendan Howlin said. However, this is also unlikely to make much of a dent in the city’s housing waiting list.

Housing measures announced by Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin in their budget speeches yesterday will have the greatest impact in the capital, where the housing crisis is at its worst.

Last week, it emerged that Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list had risen to almost 20,000 applicants, up 3,000 on last year.

In the private sector, house prices and rents in the city are increasing at a greater rate than anywhere in the State, corresponding to a lack of supply in the market.

Capital investment of more than €2.2 billion for more than 10,000 social homes over the next three years will allow local authorities and housing bodies to build new homes, but also to buy or lease existing housing .

Limited impact

The ability to acquire existing housing would have the most immediate impact on the housing crisis, but its effect in the capital will be limited, according to Simon Brooke, head of policy at Clúid Housing, one of the largest voluntary housing bodies in the State.

“We are delighted at the trebling in capital funding for social housing, but it is not an instant solution. If construction starts tomorrow, it would take two years for that house to be completed, and there aren’t really any houses in Dublin available to buy for social housing.”

An additional 3,000 households will be housed by local authorities through the leasing of houses in 2015, Mr Howlin said.

However, this is also unlikely to make much of a dent in the city’s housing waiting list as landlords are currently removing their properties from the rental accommodation scheme (RAS) in Dublin city at three times the rate that they are offering them for social housing use. Ninety more landlords had given the council notice that they want to quit the scheme by April this year.

Only six homes have become available to Dublin City Council this year under the scheme, which was set up in 2004 to offset the lack of social housing construction. Under the scheme, local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people who have been on the waiting list for more than 18 months, and pay rent directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

The extension of the home renovation scheme to rental properties could bring currently uninhabitable properties to the market in Dublin. Mr Noonan said he expected the savings realised by landlords would be reflected in rent levels. Whether or not that materialises remains to be seen.

Residents of older and historic houses in Dublin will finally benefit from the Living Cities initiative. The measure, which enables residents of pre-1915 buildings to claim tax relief at a rate of 10 per cent a year over a 10-year period for the cost of refurbishment works, was launched in Waterford and Limerick 2012 and extended to Dublin in the last budget. There will be “a full roll-out of the initiative in early 2015”, Mr Noonan said.

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

DAVY Research: surprising fall in residential output Q2 2014

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices: Building Register – 5th August 2014 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

Commencement figures- June 25th 2014

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

Engineers Ireland Journal | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI Ancillary Certificates + Self-certification

by Bregs Blog admin team

eoin-ocofaigh

Eoin O’ Cofaigh FRIAI | Past President, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, (1998-1999)

In the Engineers Ireland Journal published on 14th October 2014, Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI writes that the self-certification system set up by the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations does not properly protect the consumer and the regulations will not prevent a repeat of residential building disasters. For link to article click here.

Ancillary Certificates – new rules regarding self-certification:

I refer to the article by Cormac Bradley FIEI that was published on 15 September. Starting his article, Mr Bradley writes: No précis on the consultation process would be accurate if it did not record the fact that the new regime of building control has not been greeted with universal accord. Some professionals have concerns about the new regime and the liability issues that they perceive arise from the new responsibilities that emanate from the Regulations.”

I am one of those who have been highlighting such concerns for some time. But Mr Bradley is silent on the real problem. The real problem is that the self-certification system these regulations set up does not properly protect the consumer – the house-buyer and especially the first-time house-buyer. For all their intentions, the regulations will not prevent a repeat of the residential building disasters we have all seen and paid for in recent years.

BC(A)R 2014 affects every significant building and fit-out project, not just the speculative residential sector where all the problems started. The regulations allow the building owner appoint only chartered engineers, and registered architects and surveyors, as design certifier or as assigned certifier. They thus confer de facto control over the majority of building design in Ireland on these groups. Furthermore, by requiring a competent building company to be appointed, the regulations stop the centuries old tradition of ‘self-build’ in rural areas, a tradition still flourishing elsewhere, including the UK.

In return for handing control of the process to these groups, the regulations require those professionals to sign certificates that everything designed and built complies in every detail with the building regulations. This will indeed increase the number of inspections on those few construction sites where there were few or none hitherto.

However, by placing the certifier between the house buyer and the builder by means of these Certificates, the principal thing the regulations actually do for the house buyer is set up a paper trail for them to follow in the event of building failure. They distance the local authority from the entire process. They expose FDI intellectual property to internet theft. Furthermore, they introduce two key gateways to every project: a Commencement Certificate and a Completion Certificate, which the local authority can reject as invalid, putting the opening of new projects at risk. No wonder the number of valid residential Commencement Notices has tumbled in 2014 compared with this time last year.

Pyrite Panel report recommendations

The Pyrite Panel, set up to examine the ‘pyrite problem’ and to recommend how to avoid a recurrence, reported to the Minister for the Environment in June 2012. While the Priory Hall and pyrite scandals differ, these scandals were the genesis for the 2014 regulations. Most significantly for consumer protection, the regulations do not implement all relevant recommendations of the Pyrite Panel report.

Pyrite Panel Recommendation 18, a “mandatory certification system” recommends that “the system of independent inspections, carried out by the building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process for buildings”. BC(A)R 2014 does not do this. There is no strengthening the system of independent inspections by building control officers to complement the mandatory certification. For Priory Hall residents, independent inspections by building control officers might have made all the difference.

No architect can enforce good building on a greedy client or on that client’s incompetent contractor. To make the assigned certifier responsible for everything creates a ‘blame trail’ but will not improve standards where good building is most needed. Aside from that, the fact that the builder/developer can appoint their very own design and assigned certifiers, makes a nonsense of the claim that this will bring independent pressure to comply. To get compliance, there must be the likelihood of statutory independent inspection backed by the building control authority. The Pyrite Panel report said so.

Recommendation 21: General Insurance issues, recommended (b) “a requirement for project-related insurance whereby cover for each specific project is available and adequate and is related to the project only”. The regulations should have been written to require evidence of project-related insurance (Latent Defects Insurance or LDI) at the time of commencing the works. Even if mandatory LDI is unnecessary on every project, it should be implemented in projects involving dwellings for sale.

By not implementing this recommendation, the regulations ensure litigation and distress for home-owners will continue to feature where buildings go wrong. Griffith and Armour, the professional indemnity insurance brokers, are recorded as saying that relying on professional indemnity insurance to rectify defects in such circumstances is not the correct solution. The problem is simple. The regulations did not implement those recommendations of the Pyrite Panel report which are the most relevant to consumer protection. So much so, that last January the RIAI Council agreed unanimously that the self-certification system the regulations embody does not adequately protect the consumer.

Mr Bradley refers to “liability concerns”. So what are those concerns? The regulations make the design and assigned certifiers personally liable in perpetuo for the entire design and construction. Signing the 2013 regulations into law, (former Environment Minister) Phil Hogan said as much. Minister Alan Kelly has confirmed it as regards the 2014 regulations. Hogan said: “The new Building Control Regulations are a major step forward and will for the first time give home-owners clarity, traceability and accountability at all stages of the building process.”

The regulations are about “traceability and accountability”, not about better building. Minister Kelly recently confirmed: “The regulations require both the design professional and the assigned certifier to sign statutory declarations (the latter in conjunction with the builder) certifying that the building/works has been designed and constructed in compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations.”

The Minister says the certifiers are signing statutory declarations that the works have been designed and constructed in compliance with the building regulations. And for the builders, Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation said last July: “There are penalties already under the new building regulations, everything must be signed off by a competent assignee, who can only be an architect, a building surveyor or an engineer, and in signing off on behalf of the builder, there are obligations there and they have to stand over those.” So the assigned certifier “signs off on behalf of the builder”.

The Certificates

A professional opinion is one thing. A certificate of fact is altogether more certain. At the start of the consultations to which Mr Bradley refers, the Minister ruled out any “signed opinions”. He wanted certificates of fact – and got them – because he senses certificates are certain and wants the buyer to use these as the sole means of redress. Parsed plainly, the design certificate reads: I certify … that the proposed design is in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. As regards the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, signed by the Assigned Certifier, the cornerstone of the regulations, the builder certifies that he has built per the plans – not per the building regulations. The assigned certifier “certif[ies], having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, that the building or works is in compliance with the Second Schedule to the building regulations.”

In plain language, this is not an opinion, but a certificate. It certifies not “substantial compliance” but compliance tout court. As the Ministers intended, there are no let outs. No Code of Practice can rescue the certifier, because regulations override Codes of Practice. No system which allows the builder stay silent, while requiring somebody else to certify that it complies in every respect with the building regulations, is likely to actually make builders build better.

Which experienced engineer or architect would say every client was 100% honest? Have we never met a client who wants to stop a job to avoid paying a bill, or who relishes litigation as a high-stakes hobby, or whispered poison by a lawyer seeking work? Many slips, trips and falls, are manufactured or exploited dishonestly. Mr Bradley says we should “embrac[e] the opportunity to show our ability to comply with best practice as a means of defending ourselves against vexatious claims”. I would agree, if I believed no dishonest claim is ever settled out of court and that I would never have to pay.

The honest consumer needs better building and speedy, cost-free redress. Good building control regulations should deliver both. These regulations do not. They are a charter for the dishonest and opportunistic litigant.

Some say Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) will protect the certifier. The underwriters are indeed offering cover – this year. And they will pay out. But what about the second claim? And the third? Insurers are commercial companies with their primary duty to their shareholders. When this problem manifests itself, they must and will walk away, as over asbestos or pyrites. The design and assigned certifiers have the personal liability for the rest of their lives. Insurers do not defend every claim, even if unfounded. An insurer’s duty to his shareholders is not necessarily in the insured’s interest. Settling a claim can cost less than fighting it.

Those who act as design or assigned certifier shall be burdened with litigation; insurers will not renew PII cover, and in a few years they will face ongoing claims, with no insurance. Mr Bradley’s “ISO system” will not suffice as a defence, because the legal test to be applied is not that of “reasonable skill and care in arriving at an opinion”. The test is: “Was what the certifier signed, true?” Finally, while the designer and/or assigned certifier is an individual person, who signs in a personal capacity, PII is taken out and controlled by a practice or company. A design or assigned certifier who changes employment, leaves employment or even has no say over continuation of a PII policy will be exposed with no insurance cover.

What do the lawyers say?

The concerns of those of us who oppose the regulations in the interests of the public and the professional alike are not based on hearsay but on the views of some of Ireland’s most experienced construction lawyers. Writing on the liability attaching to Design Certifiers under these regulations, Mr Denis McDonald SC wrote last March: “It is the certifier who is taking the responsibility of certifying compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. In addition, it would appear that the certifier is undertaking to certify compliance with the “plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars listed in the Schedule …”. This is a significant responsibility and there does not appear to be any provision made for the fact that the certifier may have had no input into all of the plans, calculations, specifications and ancillary certificates and particulars referred to.

And, in relation to the assigned certifier and the certificate of completion, he wrote: “While it is certainly helpful that the final paragraph allows the certifier to rely upon the ancillary certificates scheduled, it is important to bear in mind that, as I read the penultimate paragraph, it contains a confirmation on the part of the certifier that the ‘others’ have each exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence in certifying their work as set out in the ancillary certificates. I therefore cannot read the certificate as a whole as permitting the certifier to simply rely on ancillary certificates without investigation. It seems to me that the certifier is undertaking a liability in respect of ancillary certificates in that the certifier is confirming that those certificates have been provided by persons who have exercised skill, care and diligence in certifying their own work.”

Mr Bradley refers to “concerns about liability issues”. He omits to mention that our concerns are founded on the considered views of Senior Counsel experienced in construction law and practice.

Readers, especially those not involved in construction, can be forgiven for confusing the various ‘certifier roles’ arising under these regulations. There are three. The two principal ones, ‘design certifier” and ‘assigned certifier’, are obligatory. The third is optional and less important in the system. An ‘ancillary certifier’ may certify elements of work, such as structural design; but they, and their certification, are not defined under Law.

These regulations apply to buildings. The DoECLG intended that the lead consultant, who for building projects is usually the architect, take the statutory design and assigned certifier roles. They also intended other project designers (such as consulting engineers) to act as ancillary certifiers. But does not the ancillary certifier have a responsibility?

The answer is: not a lot. The ‘ancillary certifier’ role is of little legal importance. This can be seen by examining the advice of the Law Society Conveyancing Committee. Solicitors conveying property need not bother collecting ‘ancillary certificates’. They only need the Certificate of Compliance on Completion with the assigned certifier’s name. The target of subsequent litigation is to be the assigned certifier in person, while the ancillary certifier’s firm, whose name will not be recorded by the lawyers, will not appear in the proceedings.

Is there is another way?

Ireland needs effective building control. The RIAI has repeatedly called for an independent system of inspection of both design and construction under the control of the Building Control Authorities. The regulations do not provide this. Independent inspection or audit has been found necessary in many other sectors:- financial regulation, accountancy, hospitals, the Garda, agriculture and food safety. The idea that construction, alone, is uniquely trustworthy is astonishing.

Building control authorities must have real involvement, with adequate resources and powers to oversee and enforce an effective system of inspection of design and construction. In addition to enforcement, they should be enabled to promote better building practices through systems of feedback, notifications and education. An effective system will actively support good design and construction by small but positive interventions, while retaining the power to enforce proper standards by escalating procedures.

Similar to company auditors, the independent inspector can be appointed by the building owner/developer prior to commencement of construction. Independent inspectors would be suitably qualified experienced persons – architects, engineers, technologists: answerable to the Building Control Authority (BCA) as well as to the building owner.

The inspector would inspect design and construction for compliance with the building regulations in accordance with a code of practice, and confirm to the BCA that inspections have been made and no non-compliant design or construction observed. The design team remain in full control. Having an experienced independent inspector, selected and paid by the client, audit the design would raise standards and, in a time-effective manner, assist the client’s building professionals achieve compliant designs.

The certainty that an experienced independent inspector would inspect the construction site periodically, for the sole purpose of auditing compliance with building regulations, would act to raise construction standards. The inspectors would issue reports to the BCA to accompany a commencement notice and also prior to occupation of the building. They would report all un-rectified cases of non-compliance, for the BCA to issue enforcement notices (an “escalating degree of intervention”, which experts identify as an appropriate way to ensure regulatory compliance in complex situations.) They would carry professional indemnity insurance to cover the services provided.

The BCA would also inspect designs and construction, based on their risk analysis of relevant projects. (This would keep inspectors ‘up to the mark’!) As well as enforcement, the BCA would oversee a system of defects prevention based on feedback from the inspectors. (This would catch defects earlier.) The BCA would charge a fee at commencement notice stage to cover the cost of the system. The system could be self-funded.

A system of independent inspection of designs and construction sites, paid for by the client but licensed by and answerable to the BCA, has worked for years in England and Wales. Such a system will:

  • Deliver a higher standard of building;
  • Better protect the consumer;
  • Apportion liability equitably among all of the participants;
  • Allow architectural technologists work as they have done in the past;
  • Allow “self-builders” to continue with their projects;
  • Reduce cost and speed up the construction process;
  • Protect the State from primary liability and additional cost.

It could also make different requirements around projects which under the present regulations are treated identically, from the fit-out of a small unit in a shopping centre, to a major new hospital.

A process to achieve change

Such a system needs input from many stakeholders. This includes representative bodies of those who acquire or use buildings, including purchasers and tenants of residential buildings, commercial and industrial clients, state agencies such as IDA and Enterprise Ireland, and government departments with significant building programmes. It includes government agencies such as the Competition Authority, National Consumer Agency and Competitiveness Council. It includes materials suppliers, standards organisations, construction technicians, self-builders, fire officers and building control officers. The Minister’s own Building Regulations Advisory Body, which hasn’t been convened for several years, should be consulted in detail. None of these were involved in the “stakeholder discussions” before the 2014 regulations.

Mr Bradley starts his article by acknowledging concerns among his fellow professionals. He ends by exhorting us to “embrac[e] the opportunity to show our ability to comply with best practice as a means of defending ourselves against vexatious claims”. He says we should do this, because of the “comprehensive consultation process undertaken before the regulations passed into law”. To quote John Maynard Keynes: “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

The restricted consultation process which gave us these regulations has led to the wrong result: better paperwork, not better consumer protection. The people of Ireland – house-buyer and taxpayer alike – deserve proper building control. The sooner, the better.

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI
• President, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, 1998-1999
• President, Architects’ Council of Europe, 2000
• Honorary Member: American Institute of Architects; Bund Deutscher Architekten; Bund Deutscher Baumeister; Union of Architects of Russia
• Member, Building Regulations Advisory Body, 1991-1997
• Architect in private practice and company director, McHugh O Cofaigh architects, Dublin; 1985 to date
• Author of section ‘Building Control’ in Construction Projects: Law and Practice, Thomson Round Hall, 2007 to date

Other posts of interest:

Engineers Ireland Journal | S.I.9 “is an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the building sector”

Response to Engineers Ireland article

Engineers Ireland – Building Regulations Certificates 

S.I.9 Stakeholders | Your questions please for Engineers

Who should be a Certifier- Part 3: Chartered Engineers + Building Surveyors?

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice

The Engineers Journal: Building control regulations key features

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders 

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

As part of our “BUILDERS’ DAY” we are re-blogging one of our most popular posts: essential reading for any contractor.

BRegs Blog

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Following on from a number of contractor email queries here’s a short selection of 5 posts on BRegs Blog that are of interest to contractors.

  • In our first post we discuss  implications for clients for contractor appointments to projects under SI.9. We discuss some issues involved for new contractors taking over part-completed projects where the original builder has either resigned, gone bust or has been dismissed. Completion certification will be more complex for contractors under the new system.
  • In our second post we suggest all sub-contractors have their draft certificates agreed at the outset of projects with the Assigned Certifier to minimise delays later on. Under SI.9 this paperwork may be extensive. One report of an early project completed under SI.9 noted there were over 120 individual certificates required for completion validation. We expect Local Authority guidance soon to be revised to require only the Ancillary Certificate to be lodged on completion. However the Assigned Certifier will require all…

View original post 400 more words

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following post was submitted by Joseph Little, Architect and environmental consultant, on 13th October 2014. If you are unsure as to terminology used please see Introduction to thermal bridging: The basics of thermal bridge heat loss (courtesy of Joseph Little Architects).

IF you are a Certifier and you don’t know what the following conversation means, or if you don’t know what a temperature factor (fRsi) is, you probably should not be certifying Part L compliance.

THERMAL BRIDGE CALCULATION 

Author: Joseph Little, Architect and environmental consultant

Some aspects of compliance with Part L of the regulations are far more complex and costly than they need to be. Currently this complexity isn’t fully recognised in the Department of Environment or by Industry. Accredited Construction Details (ACD’s) are sets of junction details for various types of construction that have been proven to have relatively low thermal bridges and no risk of surface condensation: the related psi-values for selected junctions are used to generate a Y-value (a figure that represents the full amount of non-uniform building fabric heat loss as an expression of the area of the building envelope) in the Dwelling Energy Assessment Programme software (DEAP). After many other inputs the latter generates a building energy rating (BER), an energy value, a CO2 emissions indicator and an energy performance coefficient (EPC) for a dwelling. Several outputs from DEAP, including the EPC, are used to demonstrate compliance with Part L (bearing in mind that other aspects of Part L compliance, such as thermal bridging, are proven without use of DEAP).

There are two default Y-values: 0.15 W/m2K which may be used for all dwellings of any age where the ACDs don’t apply, and 0.08 W/m2K if all details comply with the ACDs. Alternatively one can calculate a Y-value using the ACDs (which can give a value better or worse than the default of 0.08 W/m2K depending on geometry) or a mix of psi-values from the ACDs, manufacturers catalogues and bespoke thermally modelled details, etc.. If a designer is able to use ACD details appropriately and consistently for the design of a particular dwelling s/he will be able to calculate a Y-value easily (check out the SEAI Y-value calculator), simplifying one aspect of creating a BER and EPC.

So far so good.

PROBLEMS

The problems are that:

(a) The thermal bridge heat loss of ACDs details (which were published a few months after TGD L(2008) and are closely based on even older UK details) is not sufficiently low to result in the kind of Y-values one should aim for (i.e. 0.04 or 0.05 W/m2K) to achieve a compliant maximum permitted EPC in DEAP without resource to unnecessary amounts of renewables. Indeed some ACD junctions such as external wall insulation – window junctions are badly detailed and result in relatively high thermal bridges.

TBs typical house_BLC copyright 2014(b) The ACDs are incomplete: this means, strictly speaking, that NO Y-value calculation can be made for even the simplest housing estate dwelling without thermal modelling. In the ‘zero tolerance’ world of SI.( (2014) that matters. For instance, the ACDs don’t contain a door threshold detail of any kind (though all houses have entrances), nor a detail for patio or folding door thresholds (that could constitute a significant proportion of the ground junctions in modern houses), nor a detail for a floor over a garage, a floor or roof of a window projection, a warm slab or raft slab, nor any sort of dormer or velux type window, nor even an EWI sill (excluding the bizarre Appendix 2 detail);

(c) The Department of the Environment recently confirmed that changes to the ACD sheets have been completed but not yet implemented. The changes are already shown in Appendix D of TGD L(2011). The following is a quote from an email I recently received from the Architecture/Building Standards Section “L 2011 encourages the development of customised details by certified designers.  This is a conscious effort to spur the market towards informed project specific solutions rather than generic approaches.  We have no plans to produce higher performing ACDs for generic use”. Hardly a case of the Department trying to support small, hard-pressed practices. Therefore Architects that want a wider range of lower thermal bridging details must either wait for manufacturers of major construction systems to calculate exactly the detail needed, or draw it themselves and pay for its calculation by an independent thermal modeller.  So far architects are staying away from thermal modellers in the NSAI scheme ‘in droves’: the market has not been activated.

(d) Default psi-values (that are deliberately high, i.e. poor), such as have been used for some years in the UK, have been proposed by SEAI but not yet adopted. It is not clear why. These values can be a useful way of including short, or seldom used, non-ACD junctions in a Y-value calculation. This encourages designers to undertake Y-value calculations and spend their limited money on calculating the longest or most improved details. Over time they will naturally calculate more details improving their Y-values further. As with any calculated Y-value the length of the junctions is measured, adding significantly more accuracy than a default Y-value.

(e) There is no methodology (such as exists in the UK) that guides an architect or BER assessor through the selection and calculation process of creating a Y-value. For instance the UK methodology states that roof or wall junctions that subtend an angle of less than X degrees can be ignored, psi-values for Y detail type can be substituted for Z type etc. These kind of rules allow a sane and relatively simple way of calculating a sufficiently accurate Y-value. Ironically they encourage low thermal strategies and encourage the use of thermal modellers. Importantly this methodology also allows proof of compliance with procedure: architects, and even more so certifiers, need confidence and a clear compliance path. To date SEAI, NSAI and DECLG have each seen the question of whether a methodology should be created, or simply adopted, as an issue for a different Govt. Department: it is my view the responsibility rests with the Department that ‘owns’ DEAP: SEAI.

In summary without default psi-values and a methodology, in a context where a simple housing estate house may have between 18 and 25 junctions and a unique design could have more than 50 architects face a costly, complex and uncertain path in addressing the thermal bridge impact of their designs. Ironically, in the context of a, b, c, d, e above, installing more high maintenance ‘solar bling’ on the roof is currently an easier way to get an EPC-uplift: it’s also easier to prove its compliance.

IMPLICATIONS FOR SI.9

Part L demonstrates two key areas that undermine the absolute guarantees implicit in SI.9:

  • The actual technical guidance documents themselves are flawed and contradictory (in this case incomplete).
  • Compliance requires expertise that currently is not readily available in the industry.

The hands-off approach by the government, “here’s the regulation now sort it out” has put practitioners in the unenviable position of having to issue absolute guarantees of compliance for situations that are at best unclear, and at worst non-compliant.

Other posts of interest:

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Part L- is compliance worth the paper its written on?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

€37m spent on ‘affordable housing’ sites unsuitable for residential use

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In the following article from September 27th 2014 it would appear that Local Authorities have spent vast sums on sites that are unsuitable for residential use. €37m could have purchased 191 houses nationwide immediately (av purchase price €193k) and eliminated Dublin’s homelessness crisis by this Christmas.

Are Local Authorities the correct instrument for procuring housing?

Recent discussions regarding reducing costs do not address the waste in the public system due to administration, procurement and excessive bureaucracy associated with inadequate and inefficient regulation. Industry estimates have put the cost of SI.9 at over €700m for this year alone. SI.9 is widely acknowledged to give little or no additional consumer protection and does not enhance the technical standards of buildings generally.

€37m could fund 100% local authority independent inspections for 18 years and could simplify and reduce the cost of building control significantly.

See link to article here

extract:

“€37m spent on ‘affordable housing’ sites unsuitable for residential use” by Ciaran Hancock, September 27th 2014.

Comptroller & Auditor General’s report also finds delays and incomplete transfer of sites under land aggregation scheme

The land aggregation scheme was set up in 2010 to ease the financial burden of social housing schemes on local authorities after the economic crash.

Some 25 sites acquired for social or affordable housing at a cost of €37 million have since been deemed unsuitable for residential development, according to the Comptroller & Auditor General’s annual report.

This emerged from its scrutiny of the land aggregation scheme, which was set up by the State in 2010 to ease the financial burden of these schemes on local authorities after the economic crash.

The C&AG also found that in the case of 37 sites accepted for transfer under the scheme, the entire original site did not transfer over. In addition, there were “significant delays” in effecting the transfers of many sites and some were not revalued before being approved for the scheme.

Three valuations were subsequently obtained by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and showed that the land was worth just 20 per cent of the amount paid 12 years previously. When financing costs were taken into account, this figure dropped to 15 per cent.

Some interest payments on the scheme are set to continue until 2038, with local authorities drawing down €2.68 million a year based on current rates. The C&AG said 259 sites covering 775 hectares with a loan value (capital and interest in 2010) of €500 million were deemed suitable for inclusion in the scheme.

Up to June 2012, the department had approved the inclusion of 47 sites, with an aggregate area of 173 hectares. It paid €111 million to redeem these loans – €86.6 million in capital cost and €24.5 million in accrued interest.

The terms of the scheme then changed, and the loans were converted into a 25-year mortgage. Another 25 sites were approved on this basis with a value of €53.2 million, including €12 million in interest. The scheme was closed last December. Local authorities funded land purchases for social and affordable housing with loans from the Housing Finance Agency. These were redeemed from the exchequer when the schemes were developed.

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In this article from the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland Positive change – Surveyors Journalpublished in October 2014, author Andrew Ramsay takes a positive view of the recently implemented and widely criticised building regulation regulation SI.9. The Bregs Blog has recently written to the SCSI with a list of readers questions on SI.9. The SCSI however, remain unwilling to answer these questions at time of writing.

The current support for SI.9 is in marked contrast to previous comments made by SCSI on the regulation, where the organisation was heavily critical of the lack of adequate enforcement and additional resources allocated to building control sections in Local Authorities (see “SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4“)

The article does acknowledge that Department estimates on the cost of SI.9 are completely inadequate “Statements indicating that to sign off on work completed will cost between €1,000 and €2,000, do not take account of the resource or complexity of a project” 

Some interesting points of note in the article:

1) Separate appointment of Design and Assigned Certifier roles

Current SCSI guidance appears to be that Design and Assigned Certifier roles are separate to that of the architect or other members on the design team. We wonder if the SCSI has made any representations to the Competition Authority regarding procurement bodies given current public sector tender requirements for exclusive appointment as design certifier of lead architect on projects? Quote:

“It should be noted as identified under the ‘Code of Practice for inspecting and certifying building and work’ (COP) that the DC and AC may not necessarily be a member of the overall design team. Their appointment, whether standalone or not, should be viewed as two distinct roles, with separate processes and separate appointment agreements.”

We have noted the conflicting advice issued by RIAI regarding the separate appointment of a Design Certifier in our post “S.I.9 & RIAI | The Design Certifier Conundrum- Talk to Joe!“. We are not aware of other key stakeholder guidance on the issue of separate appointment of Design Certifier at time of writing.

2) Costs for Certifiers

As noted the author appears to be confirming RIAI and ACEI guidance on the additional hours needed to undertake certifier roles. We have previously noted the cost element for these roles alone could be in excess of €15,000 (excluding other costs):

“It has been suggested that the additional hours required to fulfil the roles and services of DC and AC under BCAR SI.9, based on the construction of a one-off house with a completion programme of 40 weeks, would be in the region of 155.5 hours over and above normal professional scope of service”

3) Single point of responsibility and Builder’s compliance

The author confirms the Assigned Certifier as the “single point” of responsibility for guaranteeing compliance under SI.9. However the statement that the builder is responsible for ensuring the building is completed and compliant with the regulations may be misleading. The current ancillary certificate issued by the CIF suggests the builder is responsible for ensuring compliance with the design and drawings only. Director of the CIF Tom Parlon has suggested that the Assigned Certifier issues a guarantee on completion that the building has been built in accordance with the building regulations, not the contractor.

“The AC also acts as the single point of contact for the Building Control Authority and issues required documentation when requested. The AC role does not include supervision of the building process. The builder is directly responsible for ensuring that the work completed complies with the requirements of the regulations, which is a positive step in ensuring safer and more compliant buildings”

Estimates on the cost of SI.9 for a typical house of between €20,000 and €40,000 have been posted up in the Blog previously. The cost of SI.9 has been estimated by some industry sources as €700m per annum.

For full article: Positive change – Surveyors Journal click link: http://www.surveyorsjournal.ie/index.php/positive-change/

Extract:

Positive change

ANDREW RAMSEY explains how the new Building Control Regulations bring positive change to the building sector.

As part of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland’s public awareness campaign, the ‘Owners’ guide to the new Building Control Regulations’ was published in February this year. It provides clear and practical advice for consumers, explaining the new regulations and associated obligations. In the summer 2013 and spring 2014 editions of the Surveyors Journal we explored the philosophy in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation 2014 (SI 09) (BCAR) and how, as registered building surveyors, we saw its implementation taking place. Six months on, still in the early stages of implementation, the associated roles and the additional processes created by the regulation are still being understood.

Specialist roles and responsibilities
BCAR creates a specialist role for registered building surveyors who are one of three groups of professionals that can act as Design Certifier (DC) and Assigned Certifiers (AC) under the Regulation. In taking on this role, registered surveyors will need to adapt to the new administrative and inspection requirements along with developing a robust management check system to deliver the necessary service. We will need to ACT-PLAN-DO-CHECK-RECORD, and to provide a log of clear documentation to support and substantiate our professional judgement.

Under BCAR, building owners, designers and builders are all responsible for their role in the building process. This includes the provision of plans, documentation, inspection plans and certificates relating to the various processes that are lodged with the Building Control Authority by the DC and AC appointed under the regulations. The processes leading to these submissions and the administrative oversight involved are necessary in order to ensure that failure in compliance with the requirements of the regulations is prevented (or detected and remedied). The responsibility for compliance remains with the certifiers but regulatory oversight is proposed on a risk-based approach to target those who are non-compliant.

With the implementation of the BCAR, since March 2014, a building owner is required to appoint a DC and AC, as well as a competent builder. The launch of the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI), which provides an online directory of registered building contractors and specialist contractors, provides assistance to clients during contractor selection. They know that each firm on the list has passed the minimum requirements of registration and is governed by an Industry Code of Ethics, as are registered building surveyors. It should be noted as identified under the ‘Code of Practice for inspecting and certifying building and work’ (COP) that the DC and AC may not necessarily be a member of the overall design team. Their appointment, whether standalone or not, should be viewed as two distinct roles, with separate processes and separate appointment agreements.

Statements indicating that to sign off on work completed will cost between €1,000 and €2,000, do not take account of the resource or complexity of a project.

Certification
Prior to March 2014 there were no statutory lodgements for building control outside the requirements of a Commencement Notice, Disability Access Certificate and Fire Safety Certificate. Application drawings produced as part of the process were mainly planning drawings and not construction drawings. The ‘selfcertification’ system adopted was not a requirement under building regulation compliance but was primarily driven as a process for title purpose, with certificate providing building sign off as having “substantial compliance”, sometimes only based on a single inspection after the completion of construction work.

The new system through the BCAR places a statutory obligation on the DC to issue a design certificate on the design confirming compliance with building regulations. This certificate, along with necessary project-specific documentation, is handed over to the AC before commencement of work on site. Prior to this commencement stage, general arrangement drawings (as a minimum) outlining how the building works will comply with the requirements of the building regulations, are lodged with the Building Control Authority online. A preliminary inspection plan is also required as part of this process.

The AC’s obligation under the BCAR is to ensure that an appropriate level of inspection is taking place and to co-ordinate the required ancillary inspections completed by others. In the completion of this requirement the AC must identify all design professionals and specialists from whom certificates are required and obtain them. With the support and co-operation of the design team, builder and client, the AC co-ordinates the implementation of the inspection plan and oversees its implementation, which should be reviewed and updated as required. The AC also acts as the single point of contact for the Building Control Authority and issues required documentation when requested. The AC role does not include supervision of the building process. The builder is directly responsible for ensuring that the work completed complies with the requirements of the regulations, which is a positive step in ensuring safer and more compliant buildings.

Inspection plan
The frequency of inspection will be outlined within a formal inspection plan that takes into account the factors relating to the overall building construction risk. The inspection plan is formulated in conjunction with the design team and other appropriate specialists. It will include an inspection notification framework (INF), which identifies the stages or items of work the AC or ancillary certifiers require notification of to allow inspection. While an INF defines the necessary inspections required during the construction process, this does not prevent the AC, or others, from completing unannounced inspections.

On completion of the project, the BCAR requires the AC to certify the building or works as being compliant. Provision of certification will be subject to the AC’s professional judgement, and upon receipt of all required supporting documentation to allow them to do so. The Certificate of Completion must be validated and registered by the Building Control Authority via the (online) building control management system hosted by the local government management agency before the building it relates to may be opened, used or occupied.

Owner’s role
Turning now to the building owner’s role, under the BCAR they have a responsibility to “ensure that adequate resources and competent persons are made available to design, construct, inspect and certify the building work” and with this many believe, an implied requirement to allow sufficient time and funds for completion of the necessary requirements.

The cost of compliance
Statements by senior Government ministers and others, indicating that to sign off on work completed will cost somewhere between €1,000 and €2,000, do not necessarily take account of the resource or complexity of a project, nor the additional work to ensure quality assurance within the new regulations. Each project is unique, with its own set of risks and requirements, and necessitating a range of “adequate resources”. Any increase in professional service costs to allow completion of the required components of the BCAR is directly proportional to the additional resources invested by all parties involved. Properly resourced inspections will be required to ensure that the final project complies. This is in everyone’s interest, particularly the client’s.

It has been suggested that the additional hours required to fulfil the roles and services of DC and AC under BCAR SI.9, based on the construction of a one-off house with a completion programme of 40 weeks, would be in the region of 155.5 hours over and above normal professional scope of service. This will vary from project to project subject to risk analysis and construction complexity. The implementation of the BCAR has created a requirement for all parties involved to invest additional time and resources in construction projects. While this will inevitably result in increased cost (appropriate to the resource invested), the regulation is an important step forward in ensuring building regulation compliance, and should be perceived as a positive change.

Andrew Ramsey
Andrew is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Chartered Project Management Surveyor with McGovern Surveyors.

Other posts of interest:

SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

S.I.9 & RIAI | The Design Certifier Conundrum- Talk to Joe!

RIAI CPD July 2014: Design Certifier in the Design Process- SI.9 

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

The RIAI recommends separate appointment of Assigned Certifier under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Specialist Ancillary Certifiers, Template Inspection plan & form, 7 day notice

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion)

Where is the Design Certifier in BC(A)R SI.9?

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

by Bregs Blog admin team

Graphic for u+ψ_BLC copyright_2014

The following email was received from Joseph Little, Architect and environmental consultant on 10th October 2014. We have formatted it into a post format. If you are unsure as to terminology used please see Introduction to thermal bridging: The basics of thermal bridge heat loss (courtesy of Joseph Little Architects).

IF you are a Certifier and you don’t know that the following conversation means, or if you don’t know what a temperature factor (fRsi) is, you probably should not be certifying Part L compliance.

At the moment, under 1.3.3.2 (iii) of TGD L(2011), ‘reasonable provision with regard to limitation of thermal bridging’ for non-ACD details can be proven by a manufacturer applying to NSAI for agrément certification by ANY thermal modeller (whose calcs are then vetted thoroughly by NSAI), or by someone on an approved thermal modellers scheme (the only scheme we know of worldwide is the NSAI scheme). An architect in private practice must use the latter approach in establishing psi-values for his/her own (non-Accredited Construction Details, non-agrément) designs. Obviously the UK Accredited and Enhanced Construction Details are equal to the Irish ACDs.

Please note that there are clear limits on the use of ACDs that seem to be frequently ignored, e.g. you may have a detail similar to an ACD but sufficiently different in adjoining U-values and/or geometry that the ACD value may not be used.

1.3.3.2 (iv) focuses not so much on limiting thermal bridging but on surface condensation based on the hugely onerous statement in 1.3.3.1 ‘Any thermal bridge should not pose a risk of surface or interstitial condensation’. As a member of the Building Fabric team of DECLG told me in a telcon some time ago one cannot ‘know’ this unless one calculates it… If calculation is indeed needed for every potentially vulnerable junction of every building it would constitute a vast number of calculations. I would argue this requirement does not require all thermal bridges to be calculated, only the ones that may be vulnerable… but who decides which junction is in which of these groups?

1.3.3.2 (iv) states one may ‘use alternative details which limit the risk of mould growth and surface condensation to an acceptable level as set out in paragraph D.2 of Appendix D for all junctions’. This is proven by establishing that the temperature factor (fRsi) of the surface or junction is above an accepted threshold or that building type (0.75 for dwellings). This little calculation is very simple and any design professional could do it, however they must use surface temperature information that can only be established in two ways:

(a) by thermal modelling at design stage (it does not explicitly state that a modeller on NSAI scheme must carry out this do this but I think it would be hard to prove who else would be clearly acceptable given the clarity of the clause above it); and

(b) after the building is completed, by having a thermographic survey carried out under IS EN 13187. Only a trained thermographer (trained in an internationally recognised training programme, such as ‘ITC Level 1 Thermographer’) is likely to be able to do that. Unless you are allowed to certify design after the building is complete and have a survey carried it (in accordance with specific conditions and manner in IS EN 13187) it does seem to push one back to the desktop thermal modelling by someone on the NSAI Scheme again.

Other posts of interest:

Part L- is compliance worth the paper its written on?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

by Bregs Blog admin team

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SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

In following article from the Examiner in 2011 ‘Highly unlikely’ Priory Hall would happen in Britain, the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI) comment on SI.9, formerly SI.80. The SCSI clearly highlight the main defect in the old Irish system of building control was lack of enforcement of the regulations. It is clear that the SCSI at this point had identified a comprehensive system of 100% local authority inspections as the essential part of any new building control system.

Quote: “TOUGHER inspection laws in Britain make it “highly unlikely” that a situation could arise like Priory Hall in Dublin, where residents had to evacuate the development because of serious fire safety concerns, a building expert has claimed.

A leading British authority on building defect recognition, Prof Malcolm Hollis, said a key issue in Ireland appeared to be the lack of independent assessment of the design, together with detailed checking of the building work.

Asked if a situation like Priory Hall could emerge in Britain, he replied: “You can’t rule anything out in terms of defects in buildings but it would be highly unlikely and it is certainly not something you would expect to see repeated in more than one building.

Prof Hollis, who spoke at the annual conference of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland conference in Dublin, said the British model of independent inspections, where developments are examined before, during and after construction, protected occupants and ensured the value of new properties.

It is all the more remarkable that the SCSI remain supportive of SI.9 as introduced. Containing no new provisions for enforcement of the current building regulations and little or no additional consumer protections, the new system continues our defective system of self-certification. No new or additional resources have been allocated to building control sections to administer the new regulations, and the new code of practice indicates that increasing BCO inspections to 4 per project will result in the current unrealistic target of 15% inspections will reduce to less than 4% nationwide.

Why are the SCSI, like the other stakeholders RIAI and ACEI endorsing this new regulations when it clearly does not work in the interests of the consumer? These are questions members of all three representative organisations may well be asking at the moment.

Extract to follow:

‘Highly unlikely’ Priory Hall would happen in Britain

Saturday, October 22, 2011

By Evelyn Ring

TOUGHER inspection laws in Britain make it “highly unlikely” that a situation could arise like Priory Hall in Dublin, where residents had to evacuate the development because of serious fire safety concerns, a building expert has claimed.

A leading British authority on building defect recognition, Prof Malcolm Hollis, said a key issue in Ireland appeared to be the lack of independent assessment of the design, together with detailed checking of the building work.

Asked if a situation like Priory Hall could emerge in Britain, he replied: “You can’t rule anything out in terms of defects in buildings but it would be highly unlikely and it is certainly not something you would expect to see repeated in more than one building.”

Prof Hollis, who spoke at the annual conference of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland conference in Dublin, said the British model of independent inspections, where developments are examined before, during and after construction, protected occupants and ensured the value of new properties.

The professor of building pathology at the University of Reading said it appeared that the lack of legislation requiring mandatory inspections and enforcement in Ireland had resulted in cases where new construction did not achieve the required standards.

“We have already seen the result of this in relation to fire safety. But the health and well-being of occupants can also be put at risk through failures to achieve required standards for ventilation, water-proofing, drainage, heating and energy conservation,” he said.

“In the UK, approved independent inspectors work with the developer before, during and after construction to ensure a stringent approach to ensuring compliance in accordance with the building regulations. A similar system could work in Ireland,” he said.

The president of the society, John Curtin, said they wanted tighter building control. He said local authorities were only inspecting between 10% and 15% of developments in their area. He also said the buildings inspected by the councils were only visited once during the building process.

Mr Curtin said all developments should be visited on a “blanket basis” and the society would favour the British model, where there were constant building inspections on all sites.

The society has also called on the Government to clarify the issue of retrospective banning of upward-only rent reviews in commercial leases, a situation severely impacting on Ireland’s ability to attract foreign investment. It pointed to figures suggesting that investment levels have dropped to about €180 million so far this year, compared to over €3 billion in 2006.

Meanwhile, the country’s planners could be tied up in red tape for years as a result of more un-coordinated rules and restrictions.

Planning expert Conor Skehan, who addressed a conference of the Irish Planning Institute in Dublin yesterday, said “a plethora of environmental restrictions threatens to engulf and overwhelm rural areas, with potentially disastrous results for their future”.

Other posts of interest:

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

BREGS Blog Archive 4- FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

Response to Engineers Ireland article

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

FUTURE CHANGE sign istock

The BRegs Blog received a lot of detailed comments in relation to an article by Cormac Bradley in the Engineers Ireland Journal. Many are suitable for posts in their own right which we intend to publish. The following comment was received from Michael Gillespie in response to this article.

SI 9 is not a common sense approach to the deficiencies in the construction industry. As opposed to taking a hands on approach in improving the skills and abilities of BOTH professional and trades, S.I.9 seeks instead to frighten people into improving not unlike a dictatorship. In a small number of cases this will happen, but it will be too small to make a real difference. For many, it is and will continue to be business as usual, despite the mountain of liability. The hard neck cases will not be deterred by the increased regulation; they can only be deterred by the physical presence of independent inspectors – this is true for both trades and professionals.

The real result of S.I.9 is not improved adherence to the regulations, but rather a reduction in projects and increased flaunting of the regulations. Most of the people responsible for delivering an improved construction sector are not up-skilling, revising or putting into practice measures that will guarantee the aims of S.I.9 as claimed by the Department of the Environment and its former minister. For them the investment is too much or too high of a risk with work projections down, as evident the decrease in commencement notices.

Those behind S.I. 9 will argue to the bitter end, the supposed benefits it will bring and deny the realities such as the end of Self build and fewer projects, which will result in higher rents and people being denied their right, to own a home. But come to an end it must, as the flaws and fears mount by the day and the lies and stubbornness become more and more apparent. S.I.9 needs to be replaced with a better system, taking along the good points but replace the damaging areas. Unless this is done, projects which we could start next year will be shelved or delayed. At the moment trades and professionals are relying on work exempt from S..I9, WHICH WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THE CASE.

What are the good points of S.I.9?

The main benefit was to be the production of comprehensive compliance documents. This would ensure that the design was properly assessed and details of how it is built thought out. This is already being flaunted by all sides. Even Building Control Authorities cannot enforce this requirement, making it almost redundant. Thus Clients, costs are up but the benefits are down.

What are the bad points of S.I.9?

These are seemingly endless but I will point out a few of the worst:

  • Outlawing of self-build’s (check with your LA) when mandatory builder’s registration takes effect.
  • The fact a home owner cannot move into the property before it is completed presents huge obstacles for clients. This is punishing people who were not responsible for Priory Hall and the like.
  • Virtual removal of Architectural Technologists from the industry

What is needed?

A system of independent inspection, with properly resourced Building Control Authorities. It is clear that S.I.9 was intended to escape the cost to Local Authorities. The Department’s belief that self-certification could be enforced is proving to be the death nail for the one off housing industry at least (but maybe it does not care). S.I.9 tries to make sweeping changes and take the construction industry from gutter to elitism in one swoop and it is too much. A less expensive system including independent inspection, would instantly rectify the issues around self-certification and allow for the more reasonable rate of change and improvement, without all the drama or jeopardy to the industry.

Those around the table should have known better. It is now time for them to listen to the people at the coal face. Take a step back lads, open your eyes and be brave and honest. CHANGE IS NEEDED AND IT IS NEEDED NOW.

Other posts of interest:

Engineers Ireland Journal | S.I.9 “is an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the building sector”

Engineers Ireland – Building Regulations Certificates 

S.I.9 Stakeholders | Your questions please for Engineers

Who should be a Certifier- Part 3: Chartered Engineers + Building Surveyors?

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice

The Engineers Journal: Building control regulations key features

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders 

S.I.9 Job Opportunities: Building Control Technical Director €75-90k p.a.

by Bregs Blog admin team

opportunity

The BRegs Blog does not usually post up job vacancies but the following one received on 9th October 2014 may be of interest to our readers.

Given the very low take-up of roles for Assigned and Design Certifier generally, there is a gap in the market at present for specialist certifiers. A number of specialist firms,  along with individuals, have emerged to undertake the new roles under S.I.9 (see previous posts below).

As the largest architectural firms in the state are not undertaking the new roles of Design and Assigned Certifier under S.I.9 there may be significant business opportunities, for foreign- based certifier firms from the UK in particular, to set up a similar “approved inspector” service in Ireland. Given that most state agencies such as the OPW and other Local Authorities are refusing to undertake the new certifier roles there may be significant business opportunities for specialist certifier firms in the arena of public projects also.

One benefit to a foreign-based specialist certifier firm would be limiting Certifier liability in the short term while the vague wording in the legislation is established in the courts system.

The following is an email received advertising one such position. If you are interested please contact the person listed and not the  BRegs Blog.

_________

BRG – BUILDING CONTROL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT – DUBLIN – £60000PA / £70000PA+

[€ 75,000 /  € 90,000+]

Good Afternoon,

I hope you are well and have had a good week too.

I have just registered a new Technical Director / Associate Director Building Control-based appointment in Dublin offering a starting salary of £60,000 pa to £70,000 pa plus competitive company benefits.  This newly-created position will require the successful candidate to lead, drive and develop an entirely new business within the Republic of Ireland that will be dedicated to the enforcement and improvement of Building Regulations across the country within a Private Sector entity.

Candidates will already be based or have the capability to be based in Dublin, as well as extensive experience within the Building Control, Building Surveying, Engineering or Architectural sectors.  Applications are encouraged from Senior-level staff, as well as those professionals already working at Associate, Partner and Director levels, who have the drive and ambition to take this new business venture within an already established organisation forward for the next 15-20 years.  High levels of Technical knowledge are not a necessity but the ability to network, develop and drive business forward certainly is.

For more information on this exclusive appointment, please email me at paul.tomkies@britishresourcinggroup.co.uk and I shall be more than happy to provide you with further details on request.  The closing date for applications will be Friday 24thOctober 2014.

In the meantime, have a good afternoon and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Kind Regards,

Paul Tomkies

Other posts of interest:

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers 

Specialist Ancillary Certifiers, Template Inspection plan & form, 7 day notice

10 ‘must-read’ posts for Certifiers | S.I.9 

BAM to switch focus from State-funded projects

Summary of building regulations changes posts 

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9

SI9- where do I start? 

3 must-read posts for employees

The Design Certifier Conundrum | Retraction

by Bregs Blog admin team

The BRegs Blog is in receipt of email correspondence in relation to this blog post published originally on Friday 10th October 2014 under the title “S.I. 9 & RIAI – Talk to Joe! | The DC Conundrum”.

The writer believes that the blog post either mistakenly or mischievously misrepresented what the writer had said about Design Certification and that the writer considered the blog post to be defamatory.

The BREgs Blog has removed the original blog post. The intention of the BRegs Blog has always been to publish informative and objective blog posts. It is never an intention to cause any personal anguish. The Bregs Blog Admin. Team apologises if any upset has been caused in this instance.

The writer has been offered an opportunity to submit an alternative post for publication if the writer so wishes on the subject of Design Certification.

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

 

Turning a blind eye | ‘Drawings not for Construction”

by Bregs Blog admin team

2625.It+is+not+always+a+good+idea+to+turn+a+blind+eye

Posted by Bregs Blog on 6th October 2014.

The BRegs Blog has received three separate reports of building owners requesting services from registered professionals for construction projects specifically excluding BC(A)R compliance services i.e. documentation, Assigned or Design certification. The BRegs Blog Admin. Team would like to hear of any further examples our readers may have encountered.

The attitude of  ‘we will just apply for retention if they catch us’ seems to be growing.  Some building owners simply do not believe it when an engineer, surveyor or architect advises them that there is no retrospective mechanism to allow for regularisation under S.I. 9. It is difficult for building owners in Ireland to believe that this has been omitted from the legislation, even for those of us who have read it with our own eyes when there was such a lax attitude to planning and building control legislation and their enforcement in the past.

It also seems that other, perhaps more experienced owners are now making their own ‘interpretations’ of what works require a Fire Safety Certificate. The requirement for a Fire Certificate is the trigger for non-residential projects coming under the new regulations. It is hard to see how any registered professional can ‘stand idly by’ when these practices are taking place, particularly when fire safety is such a critical public safety issue.

There is a fever to build, build quickly, and get the space let or sold and occupied. There is even talk in the forthcoming Budget of tax incentives to build faster!

We have received one report of professional fees being 40% of the construction costs of a modest retail fit-out project. Costs along with loss of trading (see link) due to the completion period is putting pressure on owners to ignore statutory requirements on some existing buildings. We suspect that this will increasingly become the course followed by developers and some less scrupulous owners – the cost of compliance for small works in particular is prohibitive.  In some cases the BC(A)R fees may even exceed the cost of the works.  This will bring the law into disrepute and we risk a culture of ‘blind-eye building control’ when some Local Authorities have insufficient resources.

Will registered professionals now be asked to issue drawings with disclaimers e.g. “pricing drawings only, not for construction, not for compliance” for fitting out works where the clients refuse to follow the BC(A_R process? What are the risks to a professional who is called out to site later?

Where clients intended to build the works described in the drawings without seeking a Fire Certificate or without lodging a Commencement Notice is there a responsibility on the registered professional involved to alert the Building Control Authority?

Many diligent owners that had followed the rules before BC(A)R are now looking at the extraordinary costs, paperwork and delays involved for minor works and wondering- is it worth it?

Other posts of interest:

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9 

Collins & O Cofaigh- A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The extraordinary cost of BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

Press: RIAI fearful Local Authorities will start “finding something to invalidate as a method of workload control” 

Dáil debates: Enforcement? BC(A)R SI.9

‘No Minister’ | RIAI Annual Conference 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

No Minister

Bregs Blog admin team 8th October 2014

At the RIAI AGM, late last month, a question was asked by a member as to whether the ‘Minister’ would take questions about S.I.9 from the floor of the RIAI annual conference . The officers at the top table seemed perplexed at the mention of a ‘Minister’ and the CEO, John Graby and President, Robin Mandal, claimed that there would be no ‘Minister’ at the conference. The questioner pointed out that the online conference programme had clearly noted an address by the Minister on Day One of the conference. The following day all references to an address by a ‘Minister’ were removed from the RIAI online conference programme.

The Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. and the Minister of State, Paudie Coffey T.D., have been very visible in supporting construction sector conferences of late. Minister Kelly is due to address the Irish Planning Institute conference this Friday. Minister Coffey attended the Construction Industry Federation’s conference last week and will support the National Building and Design Conference this Friday also. So why ‘No Minister’ for the  RIAI Conference?

The RIAI top table would have you believe that the Ministers and officials at the Department of the Environment “are not amused” at the fact that architects have not embraced S.I.9 with open arms; that the RIAI members are now being placed on the naughty step for daring to question the legislation on behalf of the consumer and their clients.

On the other hand most architects believe there is a fear among the RIAI conference organisers that there might not be a big welcome for a Minister from the Department that brought its members S.I. 9? Could such a Minister be greeted with heckling, booing and awkward questions that might mirror the reception usually given to Ministers at Teacher and Garda Unions’ conferences? Would such a response from members give away the carefully crafted message from the RIAI head office to the Department of the Environment that all is well with architects and they are just getting on with the new building control regulations? Are some people afraid that the Ministers will find out what is really going on?

The vast majority of architects do not believe S.I. 9 will help consumers or improve building standards. Most believe it is a lost opportunity and cannot understand why the profession is being misrepresented at its highest level. Most architects do not hold Ministers Kelly or Coffey responsible; they inherited this appalling piece of legislation from Phil Hogan and would welcome an opportunity to be able to explain to these Ministers its shortcomings and how there could be a better way to control building in this country.

We know Minister Coffey, at least,  has looked at the BRegs Blog so leave your comments below!

BRegs Blog Admin Team

The RIAI Annual Conference is scheduled to take place at the RDS on Sunday 12th and Monday 13th October 2014.

Related posts: 

“Size isn’t important” | Are shoe box apartments really the solution?

by Bregs Blog admin team

image001

“Size isn’t important!”

The BRegs Blog has documented the acute fall-off in commencement notices since the introduction of S.I.9 in March of this year. Other industry commentators have noted CSO figures for a 17% decrease in residential planning applications year-on-year. In parallel we appear to have significant property price increases in Dublin while the levels of homelessness appear to have increased also. Faced with an apparent shortage of affordable housing Minister Alan Kelly appears to be about to introduce a 10% requirement for social housing on all new residential developments.

With S.I.9 having a significant effect on the self-build sector with 800 dwellings being abandoned this year alone (source IAOSB), we table a selection of recent articles from various industry lobby groups on how to kick-start the residential construction sector.

One thing is certain- the huge increases in cost for a typical dwelling due to S.I.9 combined with any new more onerous social housing levies may well make speculative housing continue to be unfeasible, even despite recent price increases. In the short term this may well depress residential development further and contribute towards a rental “bubble” and housing shortages. The following letters and articles list out consumer and industry discussion on the matter (click on heading/titles to access link to articles).

Apartment Sizes

The following letter to the editor in the Irish Times from Peter Ennis on October 7th 2014 concerns a Construction Industry Federation (CIF) call for smaller apartment sizes and cynically suggests (seemingly in jest) “…why not a reduction in building standards, a ban on costly thermal and sound insulation, an abolition of any building inspections and a rowback on fire safety standards, as these will surely encourage a building boom and create many jobs? Feeding our children less might also mean future generations will fit into even smaller apartments.

Remarkably key industry stakeholders the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Society for Chartered Surveyors (SCSI) have endorsed the CIF call for a reduction in building standards and sizes to offset costs in new building. Rather than concentrating on the removal of additional red-tape or a reduction in actual construction labour and materials costs, these representative bodies appear to be endorsing smaller units of lesser quality.

CIF says standards hamper development

In a recent Irish Times article the CIF has said “Dublin City Council should change its standards on apartments now to kick-start development, industry representatives have said.”

This article is of some concern to professionals who note that developers tend to concentrate on minium standards and maximising profits rather than market and dwelling sustainability or settlement patterns and urban mix.

Housing Agency calls for smaller apartments in Dublin

“John O’Connor of the Housing Agency is urging the council to reduce permitted sizes of one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments to restart construction and make homes more affordable.

The SCSI said the affordability of construction could be addressed through increasing density instead of reducing size. “We are still 45 to 55 per cent off the prices that were achieved when the regulations were brought in,” said Michael Cleary, the chairman of the society’s planning and development group…The council’s standards should be kept but there has to be a “trade-off” of allowing density to be increased. “We need to achieve more out of a site without the diminution of standards, so that might mean building a 10-storey block instead of eight storeys.”

President of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland [RIAI] Robin Mandal said a reduction in size did not have to mean a reduction in quality.

“…Size isn’t necessarily the most important aspect when it comes to ensuring the quality of apartments.”

On balance this would appear to be a more considered version of the CIF recommendations however dwelling size frequently is directly related to quality of living. What commentators may actually be hinting at is the unintended consequences due to recent changes to planning legislation that remove so-called “pre-63” bedsits and multiple units from the market. Although intended to remove sub-standard smaller dwellings form the market the absence of a workable alternative has resulted in a shortage of smaller cheaper rental units for the entry level or lower level of the rental market.

Council sees no reason to change standards

In this article “Claims that Dublin City Council’s apartment standards were holding back development were “simplistic, premature” and based on a superficial analysis, a senior council official said. Executive manager of the council’s planning department Jim Keogan said he had no reason to advise councillors to reduce apartment sizes…

…If we go back to building micro apartments it’s the owner of the land who will gain from having more units on the site, but the price isn’t going to go down for the buyer or the renter.”

Other posts of interest:

Irish Independent “Private lifts and sunny views- but housing is a real mess” 

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

RIAI Complainee investigates IAOSB Complaint

by Bregs Blog admin team

Self Build 2

The following letter of complaint by the Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB) was posted on their website on Monday 29th September 2014 (click link here). It is a follow-up on an earlier complaint made last February regarding statements made on self-building under the new BC(A)R S.I.9 regulation by the CEO of the representative body for architects (RIAI). The letter is presented here without comment courtesy of IAOSB:

_____________

Letter from IAOSB to Robin Mandal, RIAI President

29th September 2014

Dear Mr Mandal,

Re: Self- Builder status under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

I am writing to you on behalf of the Irish Association of Self Builders regarding the status of self-builders since the introduction of Building Control (Amendment) S.I.9 on 1st March 2014. Despite numerous written exchanges with the previous Minster for the Department of Environment Phil Hogan, correspondence to the Attorney General and the Law Society, the status of self-building still remains unclear. We have also written to the new Minster for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. but have not received a reply yet.

In February 2014 in our letter to you, on behalf of our members, we requested that the RIAI formally correct previous statements concerning the status of the self-builders made by the CEO of the RIAI Mr. John Graby . On 6th February 2014, in a radio interview on Ocean FM, Mr Graby stated that self-building was still possible under Regulation S.I.9. We believe these statements were misleading and bring the RIAI into disrepute.

Link to previous correspondence: http://www.iaosb.com/letter from iaosb to Robin Mandal, RIAI President

In reply to us on 23rd February 2014 you informed us that our formal complaint concerning Mr Graby was forwarded on to the Executive of the RIAI. We were surprised to hear that the Executive of the RIAI, the person dealing with formal complaints appears to be none other than Mr. Graby himself which makes a mockery of the whole system.

Can you please clarify what procedure has applied to this complaint, whether any statements of correction have been or will be made, and whether any steps regarding our complaint have been taken.

We would also be grateful to you as the President of the RIAI to confirm the current advice to your members on self-building, particularly in light of correspondence from the Law Society suggesting professionals should not certify self- builds.

The Law Society have confirmed a self-build owner will have to be willing to complete forms as indicated above and to find an architect, engineer or surveyor that is willing to undertake the task of acting as an assigned certifier – in most cases for a person with no experience acting as a ‘builder’. Doing so will clearly increase the risk for the architect, engineer or surveyor, and such professionals would be best advised not to undertake such a role in this sort of situation.”

We assume you have been in contact with the Law Society and their views have informed RIAI policy on the subject of self-building. See Law Society letter here: http://www.iaosb.com/law society of ireland – update on building control (amendment) regulations 2014.html

And finally, our members experience to date is that R.I.A.I. registered architects are unwilling to take on any certifier roles for self-builds at present under the new building regulations. This contradicts everything that was said by Mr Graby as a representative of your institute. If you and RIAI do not agree with this, we would greatly appreciate the names and contact details of all the Architects who are acting as certifiers for self builds.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 has failed and as one of the main stakeholders responsible for its introduction, you need to take action now.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Shane McCloud
Irish Association of self Builders
www.iaosb.com

Cc To all RIAI council members

S.I. 9 | Your Questions for the Law Society

by Bregs Blog admin team

Law Society

Having already submitted your questions to three of the five stakeholders involved in negotiating S.I. 9 with the Department of the Environment we are now requesting your questions for the Law Society, one of the key stakeholders that was overlooked in the BC(A)R negotiations. This may explain some of the legal difficulties that are already arising with the legislation.

We will publish the responses received so that they may be shared collectively. Please submit any questions that you may have for the above stakeholder group to bregsforum@gmail.com  on or before Friday 10th October 2014 at 17.00 pm.

Conor O’ Donovan, Director of Policy and Communication with the SCSI, has invited the BRegs Blog to an interview at the SCSI offices at 38, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 in order to discuss the 20 questions submitted to that organisation in August. The BREgs Blog Admin Team, while opting to keep Editorial control, would like to put a call out for one of our Dublin city centre contributors who might be able to help out in facilitating this request. Please contact us at the email address above.

Other Post of Interest:

ACEI + EI | S.I.9 Your Questions

SCSI + S.I.9 | 20 Questions

BCMS Q+A  Post1: General Issues:

BCMS Q+A  Post2 – I.T. Issues:

BCMS Q+A  Post 3 – Process Issues:

 

BCMS: My First Validation | Mark Stephens MRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens MRIAI

I have written two previous posts for the BRegs Blog on the Building Control Management System (BCMS).  These posts were:

1. A Quickstart Guide

2. BCMS – an update

Since writing these I have lodged my first successful Commencement Notice with the BCMS for a project that falls under S.I. No.9 of 2014. The following piece is my opinion on the system in practice and how it relates to consumer protection.

Although the BCMS has its faults and it is far from perfect it is a workable system for lodging the required Statutory and Ancillary Documents for a Commencement Notice. In my opinion it will be the users that may or may not use the system that will be the problem and will not the operability of the BCMS system itself.

Let me give a few examples:

  • I believe the system will work fine for the Design and Assigned Certifiers as long as these professionals work to their relevant associations advice and Code of Conduct.
  • In my opinion problems will occur where the person registered with the BCMS is other than the Designer or Assigned Certifier e.g. the building owner or building contractor. The Designer or Assigned Certifier will be relying on the owner or builder to lodge documents that are in accordance with the Building Regulations. It is therefore possible for the Designer to prepare documents that are in accordance with the Building Regulations but the owner or the builder to upload/lodge documents that are not.
  • There is also a risk that the person uploading documents will submit only the bare minimum required to fulfill the validation for the Commencement Notice. The screen-grab from the BCMS below shows the minimum that is required for validation of the Commencement Notice.

bcms_grab

It is apparent that this minimum is set very low and there is a risk that aspects of the construction that are required to conform to the Building Regulations will not be covered in this ‘minimum’ lodgement.

Each Supporting Document type takes time to prepare and upload and an unscrupulous owner or builder looking to save time and money will fail to upload all aspects of the construction that fall under the Building Regulations; hardly inspiring for consumer confidence.

Using the system does take time and additional resources and these will need to be paid for. Some owners/builders may opt to build ‘under the radar’ after deciding the additional time and expense will be too much hassle either for them or their Design/Assigned Certifier to undertake. This would be likely to occur for extensions that are greater than the 40 sq m or for extensions where they have phased the work so that Commencement Notices under S.I. No.9 of 2014 would not be required. Once again consumer protection is shattered.

In summary, the Building Control Management System does work in terms of its functionality (with the proviso that there are faults and problems) but it will be the people using it where the system could fail (in terms of failure to upload enough or correct data). In my successful Commencement Notice, I lodged all the Statutory and Ancillary Documents at 9.00 pm and the Commencement was validated by the Local Authority at 9.30 am the following morning; it is therefore apparent that no checks (at that stage) were undertaken with the documentation other than those from a Building Control validation aspect.

Mayo-based Mark Stephens is one of Ireland’s most prolific architectural bloggers and he has been shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland 2014 (Link to his Blog:)

The BRegs Blog Admin Team welcomes all feedback and comments regarding this post and our readers’ experiences of using the Building Control Management System.

Other posts of interest:

No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on #BCMS

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

BCMS: Data protection or tax collection?

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9

BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS

Building Control Officer issues: Conference April 2014

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9