Turning a blind eye | ‘Drawings not for Construction”
by Bregs Blog admin team
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: