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: December, 2014

CIAT

by Bregs Blog admin team

8. Architectural Technologists exclusion from the register

Should there not be an extra issue? You will be saying that Architectural Technologists and their exclusion from the register of competent professionals isn’t mentioned in the current EGM resolution. That’s probably because they are getting not one but two separate registers. After a hard fight to have their professional qualifications recognised, the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) have forced the Minister and Department to establish a competing register for Architectural Technologists under the new building regulations.

Well done to our colleagues who never stopped fighting their unjust and dreadful professional exclusion under SI.9. And now, Architectural Technologists will be the envy of every registered architect, paying only €150 per annum for membership of the new register (currently it’s free). Architects should look over their shoulder at take note of their tenacious colleagues who have never blinked in the face of Government and establishment indifference to their concerns. See link here.

Within one month of meeting the DECLG the CIAT register went live (see here).

“Something” had to be done…

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

don-t-keep-calm-just-do-something-about-it

The following comment was posted by a registered architect to the Blog on 8th August 2014. We have posted it here as an opinion piece.

Opinion: Things go wrong in construction all over the world. It’s a messy business out in the rain, too many people, complex decisions, long projects, big money.

In Ireland during the boom, things happened very fast, decisions were rushed, corners were cut. There was no time to check, to learn from the last problem, to delay the sale, to do it again. Problems were stored up and then eventually they all came to light.

“Something” had to be done.

One of the problems was poor construction and bad workmanship. Some developers employed inexperienced workers, built in a hurry, cut corners, plastered over the cracks, handed over the keys. There was money in it. Times were good, you could sell anything. You could even sell off the plans before homes were even built.

There will still be money in it for the cowboy developer, safe in the knowledge that Building Control won’t come around and if they do there’s a policy of ‘settlement by negotiation’ not prosecution.

So the developer just has to get to the finish line, validated completion, hand over the keys and he’s home free. If he winds up the development company he can’t be sued for defects and the only person who can be prosecuted for non-compliance after the sale is the new owner.

Practical post

by Bregs Blog admin team

I have a project for a commercial extension going on site in September. I’ve agreed (reluctantly, as there are no fees on it) to be the Design Certifier. The owner has taken on another professional as the Assigned Certifier (at a modest fee).

A dispute has now broken out as the Assigned Certifier has given me a list of drawings and certificates that he expects me to provide for the Commencement Notice. The list covers everything from the light bulbs to the ridge tiles.

The owner has left it to us to sort out so I’ve re-read the regulations. Can I just give him the general arrangement drawings for BCMS and send him the other information as we go?

 

SI.9 EVENTS- RIAI Assigned Certifier CPD + Homebond courses

by Bregs Blog admin team

cpd-wordle-3

The following programme for representative body for architects RIAI CPD on the role of Assigned Certifier was issued by email to members on 21st October 2014. Many will recognise some of the speakers and topics from the highly popular RIAI CPD on the Design Certifier. As far as we are aware this is the first CPD on the role since implementation of SI.9 on March 1st 2014.

Homebond are also running  CPD 6 day courses “Building Regulations Training Programmes” through HomeBond Technical Services Ltd., to meet the needs of builders, developers, construction managers, on-site staff, design professionals and construction sector students. Dublin also on 4th and on the 18th November and Cork, Galway and Kilkenny on other dates- see details here. Pdf of Homebond information: HomeBond Training – Course Information.pdf

We will do a separate post on the Homebond courses. Information on the RIAI one-day seminar to follow:

THE ROLE OF ASSIGNED CERTIFIER IN THE DESIGN PROCESS, DUBLIN AND LIMERICK

The RIAI present a one-day seminar on the compliance process in the role of Assigned Certifier.

Programme for Dublin Seminar:

Dublin_Programme_04-1.11.14_4

Date & Time

Dublin, Tuesday 4th November, 09:30 – 17:00 (Registration from 09:00)

Limerick, Tuesday 11th November, 10:00 – 17:30 (Registration from 09:30)

Venue 

Dublin Venue: The Alexander Hotel, Fenian St., Dublin 2

Limerick Venue: Castletroy Park Hotel, Dublin Road, Limerick

Cost

RIAI Practices €135

RIAI Member €150

Non-member €190  

Programme for Limerick Seminar:

Limerick_Programme_11.11.14Other posts of interest:

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

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

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

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

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

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

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

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

Practical Post 8: Employees won’t certify? BC(A)R SI.9

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

Selection of Assigned Certifier posts:

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

BRegs Blog 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

PYRITE & THE ASSIGNED CERTIFIER?

4 tips for Assigned Certifiers…

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9

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

RIAI Assigned Certifier Survey – Results?

Where to find everything part 1? BC(A)R SI.9

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

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

RIAI AGM | S.I. 9 Conflict or Resolution?

by Bregs Blog admin team

conflict-signs-300x300

Posted by Bregs Blog on 7th October 2014

RIAI AGM | S.I. 9 Conflict or Resolution?

The BRegs Blog Admin. Team has given considerable thought and consulted widely on how best to report on the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Annual General Meeting (AGM) that took place on 29th September 2014.

The consensus view would appear to be for the BReg Blog to try and strike a balance between allowing the RIAI to debate the financial and corporate governance issues with its members behind closed doors in the relative privacy of its AGM and that the BRegs Blog should only post on the matters discussed that relate directly to S.I. 9 and that are of legitimate interest to our readers.  Matters relating to annual accounts discussed at representative bodies general meetings are considered a private membership matter and may not appropriate for general release*. In addition, ‘in-house’ professional membership issues are of limited interest to our broader Bregs Blog readership.

These latter items that were discussed at the AGM included:

1.   The question of whether the RIAI was a representative body of its architect members or a regulatory body acting on behalf of the government was discussed in the context of how this had impacted on recent meetings between the RIAI CEO and President with the Department of the Environment in relation to S.I. 9. The issue remains to be clarified further by the RIAI President.

2.    It was mentioned during the AGM that a review of S.I. 9 draft documentation issued by the RIAI earlier this year in July had taken place. This was conducted by a group that included Barrett Chapman of McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors. The review was submitted to the RIAI Council about three months ago but has not been approved for issue to RIAI members. The current status of this review was not disclosed and the Breg Blog are not aware of when the release of details of this detailed review is planned.

3.  A great deal of discussion and confusion arose during the AGM with regard to the general perception that architects were professionally obliged to undertake the role of Design Certifier under S.I.9 and whether or not an architect should only be obliged to act as an ancillary certifier. The assumption that the role of Design Certifier must be undertaken by the architect on any project was challenged which clearly called into question previously issued guidance and information delivered at CPD sessions. It is hoped that clarification will be provided soon on this matter as it is already impacting on the awarding of public contracts.

The BRegs Blog recommends that RIAI members should contact the RIAI Honorary Secretary for a copy of the AGM minutes in relation to matters not commented on above.

 *There is no suggestion being made of any impropriety on the part of any party referred to above. The conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. Unconscious bias is of course a real thing, which is why any serious medical trial is always double blind. Even if individuals or groups are immune to unconscious bias the fact that relations have a commercial interest in the operation of S.I. 9 could be perceived as a conflict of interest and is being noted to contextualise the commentary (definition:Conflict of interest – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). The above statements do not purport to adjudicate or make comment on any proceedings discussed, rather they are intended as a brief record of conversations and items discussed. All statements made without prejudice.

Other posts of interest:

 

Press: Jobs growth slowed to snail’s pace in 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

2014-08-27_opi_3116457_I1

Press: Jobs growth slowed to snail’s pace in 2014

The government’s much publicised programme for jobs seems to be stalling, given indicators mentioned in this press article.

Concerns for recovery as jobs growth slowed to snail’s pace in first half of year – Independent.ie

One area with significant growth potential is the construction sector. We have mentioned the spin and promotion from vested interests in previous posts, but as economists frequently point out “the numbers don’t lie”.

A slowdown in the construction industry was widely anticipated by commentators and key stakeholders in advance of the new building regulations in March 2014. Indeed this was masked in the rush to lodge commencement notices in January and February, owners keen to avoid the considerable additional administration costs of SI.9.

In January of this year the president of the representative body for architects (RIAI) wrote to Ministers Bruton and Hogan warning them of the difficulties and dangers of introducing incomplete and premature building control legislation (see link below).

While market forces seem to be pulling the construction industry out of recession, other factors such as a lack of planning permissions and “ready to go sites” along with financing difficulties are mitigating this trend. In addition a major drag on the recovery would appear to be the new regulations themselves.

With a drop year on year to date since march 2014 of 50% in construction commencement notices, the “BCAR Effect” is quote pronounced and was immediately felt in the industry. It has been most visible in the self-build sector which accounts for over 1/3 of all once-off houses built nationwide. Widely anticipated to result in nearly one third of all self-builds being abandoned (source IAOSB) SI.9 appears to be doing just that- causing owners to postpone indefinitely and abandon projects. Uncertainty due to legal issues at completion stage, discrepancies in SI.9 documentation along with significantly increased costs for self builders due to professional fees and the recommendation to use a CIF registered contractor (estimated at over €40,000 for a typical €180,000 house)- all these factors are impacting on the one sector, residential, which would appear to be experiencing an upswing (see link below).

At intervals when they have been available we have posted up-to-date figures on commencement notices uploaded and verified on the Building Control Management System- see links below. This government source suggests the average level of commencements is currently running at 50% that of last year, a historic low point in construction output (see links below).

In a recent EGM the representative body for architects (RIAI) reiterated a consensus view that SI.9 is defective an not in the interest of the consumer. The RIAI is a key stakeholder and was involved in the formation of SI.9. We believe the RIAI is working furiously finishing off a proposal for the Department for an alternative building control system with independent local authority inspectors at its heart, similar to the current highly successful UK system (see link below).

The question is not if but when will our new Labour Minister Alan Kelly revoke SI.9.

We have seen how his Fine Gael colleague Minister Leo Varadkar was able to jettison a key element of government policy, universal healthcare, almost immediately on appointment. This U-Turn was done to broad acclaim (and relief) by the healthcare industry.

The new Minister is not bound to continue the mistakes of his predecessor- he would do well to look towards election in 18 months and realise what is appropriate for the construction industry now may also be politically expedient in the medium term.

Other posts of interest:

Have our legislators left us a trail of destruction?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Tornadoes-hit-South-and-Midwest-April-2014

The following opinion piece was submitted by an architect to Breg blog on August 21st 2014. Originally a comment in response to our post A scenario that would leave thousands of homes ruined | Irish Examiner we have formatted it into an opinion piece.

____________

Let me state at the outset that I am not a solicitor or barrister. I am a architect of 24 years standing.

  • I qualified in 1990 and I have carried out inspections and issued Opinions, none of which have been challenged successfully in law (that I am aware of!).
  • I have acted as an Expert Witness in District and High Court cases.
  • I made a formal submission to the Minister in relation to the then foreseeable pitfalls in the current legislation and I have corresponded with Joe Miller, the Practice Director of the RIAI in relation to this matter.

Let’s just run through that example again:

At first, they thought pyrite was causing the structural problems and the architect thought he would not be found liable as he had demanded certificates confirming the absence of pyrite. However it turned out the problem was the steel reinforcing bars used in the concrete. The architect hadn’t thought of seeking certification from the supplier and the judge found the architect had certified the building and was therefore responsible.”

This appears to partially mis-state the current situation as I understand it. Please allow me to clarify and I am happy to stand corrected on this: Pyrite Assumption.

Lets consider this as if Pyrite was the cause of the defect.

Assigned Certifier:

Under the current regulations, the Assigned Certifier would not be absolved from liability because he demanded certificates confirming the absence of Pyrite (assuming he received said certificates – that is not made clear above). That might have been useful as a defence under the previous regulations, but under the current regulations, that road to absolution is not available. Once you Certify, you are held liable criminally for all defects plus a myriad of minor offenses.

Builders Liability:

Under the current regulations, the Main Contractor is only obliged to build in accordance with the drawings and documentation received. Even if these documents stated clearly that any materials used in the building must be free from Pyrite, the criminal liability arising for the Assigned Certifier – once certification has occurred and the defect is found – appears to be absolute.

Materials Issue:

This is a materials issue, and the question arises as to who is expected to check every single item, material or component that arrives on site. Given the absolute nature of the criminal liability imposed on the Assigned Certifier, (implying that a defence of having asked for, received and verified certification for materials cannot be relied on) this means that every single item must be tested for certainty.

Testing of Materials:

Exhaustive testing of all materials and components coming to site is not included for in any building contract of which I am aware.

Samples of structural concrete are included for testing under most contracts, but only samples. Each structural element is not cored and tested to ensure that curing has allowed it to reach its design strength.

It is impossible to test for a defect in component manufacture where a defective element will test after 1,000 uses. It will fail when it fails. You cannot test every door lock or hinge or smoke or heat detector to destruction.

In most contracts, the work is expected to be signed off in a timely manner. This means there is no extended time period for latent defects to show up. To undertake rigorous and extensive testing and commissioning of all elements might double the project time. Who will pay for this level of perfection?

Let’s say testing took place but no defect arose at time of testing. This still is no defence. Once the defect arises, the liability kicks in, regardless of what tests took place.

[Blog note: comprehensive testing of materials does not occur in the speculative “build for sale” residential market]

Finding of Fact re Steel

The obligation on the supplier to fulfill his contract by following the well-notated drawings and specification does not mitigate the liability of the Assigned Certifier under the current regulations.

  1. Under the previous regulations the Main Contractor was obliged to build in accordance with the building regulations. The main contractor therefore would be the one purchasing and checking materials and making sure he was building compliantly before issuing his own Schedule A assurance in relation to the built work.
  2. Under the previous regulations, the defect being in the built work, the Main Contractor would be getting sued for the defects. The architect would be enjoined to the case because of the Opinion, but could rely on the Schedule A assurances from the Engineer and Main Contractor.
  3. Under the previous regulations, the supplier of the defective steel would be enjoined to the case and the certificates he offered in relation to supplying the steel in accordance with the specification could be relied upon by both the architect and the Main Contractor and the Court would apportion the liability.

In my opinion, under either previous or current regulations, architects should not be certifying structural design or built structural elements.

Good practice and under the previous regulations would have been to ensure the client engaged a structural engineer, and relied on the engineers Schedule A assurance. I see no reason to discontinue that under the current regulations, notwithstanding it is no comfort to the Assigned Certifier.

[Blog note: competency of certifiers and criteria for registers is unclear at present- this needs to be clarified by each professional stakeholder operating registers of competent professionals]

Conclusion.

The conclusion under the scenarios I have describe above is no different than that in the letter to the newspaper. But it will not necessarily arise due to major defects under the building contract. In theory *any breach* of the regulations carries with it the threat of prison time and a hefty fine.

Architects seem to be focussed on the old conception of liability, which was based on dealing with defects in the built work.

My understanding is that draconian penalties can arise for a defect in the paperwork.

Would that our “legislators” were under a similar threat. They might think through the consequences of their new laws before heading off to Brussels looking for another pension to add to their collection, leaving the final destruction of the Irish Building industry in their wake.

Ghost estates and public housing: BC(A)R SI.9 | look back 6

by Bregs Blog admin team

rear-view-mirror

Ghost estates and public housing: BC(A)R SI.9 | look back 6

In this post from March 11th 2014, we explored the undue complexities that SI9 brings to many legacy projects of the celtic tiger years. Local Authorities may find out pretty soon that public housing/ghost estate projects may encounter similar problems to those that generated the SI.105 deferral for hospitals and schools. As the hoarding is up and works start on Priory Hall we wonder how remedial works that come under BC(A)R SI.9 will be completed.

BC(A)R SI.9 may add considerable costs to planned social housing completion of vacant units.

Original post below:

________________

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Ghost estates and public housing: BC(A)R SI.9
The recent deferral SI.105 introduced on 7th march for schools and healthcare buildings appears as a result of issues relating to additional costs, unavailability of professionals as certifiers, time delays due to industry readiness and no revised form of building contract (both private and public sector versions) that incorporates new Building Control (Amendment) Regulation SI.9 of 2014. One would suspect recent robust submissions by the architect’s representative body (RIAI) to Minister Ruairi Quinn, himself an architect and well briefed on the technical complexities of the new regulation, were a factor in getting to grips with the issues earlier than others.BC(A)R SI.9 affects social housing, capital spend by Defence, Social Welfare (employment exchanges in old-fashioned words), Arts/Heritage (Arts Centres but not work to National Monuments), and OPW (State offices but not Garda stations). SI.9 and SI.105 suggests two main issues:1. The State looking out for its own interests: GCCC Form for public contracts but ignoring the fact that the private sector forms and clients are equally affected (self-builders, SME’s and other private non-residential)2. Helping only half of the State spenders (admittedly the larger half) but completely overlooking Govt agencies who have not made representations (other departments that are unaware of implications of SI.9 on annual budgets).

For other departments that may not be as well briefed the same issues may well apply. Here is a link to a recent statement by Minister Jan O’Sullivan on 10th March 2014 regarding public housing:

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/News/MainBody,36875,en.htm

Government spend on public housing  from 2010 to 2012 dropped from €969m to €384m. At an average government spend of €675m per annum (source: Forfas report table 2.12 p 16 below), and assuming 3/4 qualifies under BC(A)R SI.9 this would suggest an annual extra cost (based on official industry estimates) of SI9 to be in region of €40m (8%). This figure is for the design and assigned certifier roles only, and excludes additional costs for ancillary certifiers, increased insurance costs and defensive specifications. The latter could be as much as an additional 5% extra on top of the construction cost of a project. This could bring the additional cost figure to over €70m, a huge impact on the department’s annual budget.

Notwithstanding direct costs, the implementation problems associated with hospitals and schools may apply to public housing and indeed completion of ghost estates. Due to vague wording of the Code of Practice it would appear that personal liability for certifier roles may require individual employees to take out individual professional indemnity insurance separate to companies that they work on behalf of (possibly including employees of local authorities). This early criticism of the Code of Practice appears to remain in the final version. This may result in delays for local authority projects where certifier roles are assumed in-house, as well as outsourced projects.

Many part-completed residential projects require multiple commencement notices. Current and future remaining phases will come under the remit of SI.9 as a result. Extended planning permissions may require material alterations to comply with current revised technical guidance documents (Part L for example). As a result they may require commencement notices and trigger compliance with SI.9.

This is an issue that affects completion of ghost or incomplete housing estates. Professionals and local authorities tasked with completion of these could discover  the legally “loose and vague” language of S.I9 may incur liability for previous stages completed (e.g. drainage or structural infrastructure). Currently there is inadequate provision for exclusions on the certificates issued under SI.9. Future legal actions may well determine these certificates are guarantees for entire developments, even though certifiers may only have been part-involved for works to finish out projects.

Given the technical complexity of SI.9 and the vague liability boundaries in the Code of Practice, Local Authorities may find out pretty soon that public housing/ghost estate projects may encounter similar problems to those that generated the SI.105 deferral for hospitals and schools.

How long will it be before BC(A)R No. 3 of 2014 appears? Deferral for ghost-estates and public housing?

______

Link to Forfas report:

SI.9 Company policy- architect

by Bregs Blog admin team

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We will post a series of company policies for SI.9 in the coming weeks. If anyone has their company policy with regard to SI.9 please forward to us here and we will post. The first has been submitted by architect Mark Stephens on 18th August 2014- it can be viewed on his blog here.

Extract:

________

This is my S.I 9 policy…

by Mark Stephens • August 18, 2014 • 0 Comments

I’m a great believer in setting your cards out on the table; so with that in mind below is my ‘company’ policy on S.I no.9 of 2014:

  • So that the Government doesn’t suspect me of overcharging on ‘Designer’ and ‘Assigned Certifier’ charges; my fee for these combined services is €1. However, I will need to receive your appointment for ‘full’ architectural services (for RIAI Work Stages 1-4 inclusive of Domestic Agreement between Client & Architect).
  • I will only undertake ‘Designer’ and Assigned Certifier services on projects that I have undertaken the Design and Planning Application.
  • I will undertake ‘Designer’ and Assigned Certifier services for any builder (self-builder or otherwise) where they can prove to me that they have sufficient skill and competence in order to self-build and manage their own specific project. This ‘proof’ of competence can be in the form of the following

– Previous construction experience where a similar project has been constructed or managed by the builder

– Construction qualifications and experience (this experience can be shown across several projects)

I would therefore not automatically work with you as builder if you were a member of CIF, nor would I not automatically work with you if you were a self-builder.

Comments welcome…

RIAI NEWS ALERT Council resignations and governance

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

The following email was circulated to all RIAI members on November 19th 2014

7 council resignations followed on from revelations at an RIAI AGM in xx regarding accounts, governance and conflicts of interest of staff members. We are not aware of any formal record or minutes of that AGM that have been circulated to members. However a record of a subsequent EGM have been circulated, but although the resignations occurred on the morning preceeding that event, no discussion was made of the governance issues noted. Subsequently press articles concerning these resignations has been posted in the Irish Times and Sunday Times (see below).

___________

MESSAGE TO MEMBERS

Following the unexpected resignations, on the afternoon of the EGM of 4 November 2014, of six Council members, a special meeting of the Council was held last Thursday with the 17 Council members who continue to work on behalf of the members.

A report of this meeting will issue to members shortly with a detailed response to the issues raised, along with a short statement by Council. In the interim, the President considers that the following statements from the Honorary Treasurer, Garrett O’Neill, and the Honorary Secretary, Anne Kiernan, should be issued to all members.

Statement from Garrett O’Neill, Honorary Treasurer:

“In my opinion there are no irregularities in the management and reporting of the accounts of the RIAI.”

Statement from Anne Kiernan, Honorary Secretary:

“Following the letter sent to the Council by the six members who subsequently resigned, I have reviewed the specific criticisms of the management of the Institute. As Honorary Secretary, I am happy to advise that I have found no issues of concern regarding malpractice or irregularities in our governance or management structures.”

Council 2014

Robin Mandal               Ali Grehan

Fionnuala Rogerson      Michael Grace

Claire McManus            Eoin O’Morain

Anne Kiernan               Brendan Gallagher

Garrett O’Neill              Kevin Smyth

Michelle Fagan             John Ruane

Toal Ó Muiré                Fionan de Barra

Grainne Shaffrey          Joe Kennedy

Angela Brady

How can I find out if a product certificate/test report is false or not?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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by Orla Hegarty, MRIAI on 13th October 2014

How can I find out if a product certificate/test report is false or not? – Construction Products Regulations

If you are the Assigned Certifier, you will be certifying compliance with the Construction Products Regulations (CPR) and that means checking that the materials on the site are compliant  and that the product documentation is legitimate.

The Department of the Environment advise that building professionals should review the manufacturer’s Declaration of Performance to ensure that the products are “proper materials… which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used”, and check National Annexes or Standard Recommendations” (see post here:)

The national market surveillance authorities are primarily responsible for investigating cases of suspicion about the legality of product certificate/test reports issued under the CPR. However, a quick preliminary check may be done, via the NANDO information tool, in order to find out if the Notified Body is competent to issue a given product certificate/test report as follows.

1) If the certificate/test report has been issued BEFORE 1/7/2013,
2) If the certificate/test report has been issued AFTER 1/7/2013

Looking on the corresponding website you should be able to find the EN which is covering the product and then, if you click on this EN you will be transferred to a list of all notified bodies which have the authorisation to issue certificates/test reports for this specific product BEFORE 1/7/2013 (or AFTER 1/7/2013 in the second case). If the certificate/test report has been issued by one of the bodies mentioned in this list, the certificate is most probably a genuine one.

If the European standard (EN) is not mentioned in any of the two NANDO lists of harmonised standards indicated above, or if the notified body is not in the list of notified bodies for the specific EN, you will most probably be faced with a false certificate / test report or with a certificate from a body which is NOT a notified body under the Construction Products Directive / Regulation.

In these last two cases contact the market surveillance** authorities  of the country in which the product is sold.

It might also prove helpful to contact the notified body in order to ask for confirmation of the authenticity of the certificate / test report.

Question 30 at

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/construction/faq/index_en.htm

**The market surveillance authorities in Ireland are the Building Control Departments in the local authorities.

Posts of interest:

BC(A)R SI.9 + Construction Product Regulations 2013

Certifiers to keep records of all materials used on sites under BC(A)R SI.9

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

RTÉ Radio 1 Clip: RIAI confirms call for deferral of BC(A)R SI.9

The compelling case for Deferral of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

Revised Part D here: part d building regulations

Department of the Environment Link:
BuildingStandards Construction Products Regulation

The Architect and Architectural Technologist – An opinion piece by an architect

by Mark Stephens

This post is an opinion piece by Architect Mark Stephens on the future role of the Architect and Architectural Technologist post S.I.No.9 of 2014 implementation.

Question: What is the difference between an Architect and an Architectural Technologist

Answer: The easiest way to under the difference is by reference to the policies on ‘Standards of Knowledge’ formulated by the RIAI required for the Architect and Architectural Technologist.

Let’s look firstly at the RIAI Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architect

________

extract:

Standards of Knowledge, Skill & Competence

The RIAI Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architect

Since its foundation in 1839, the RIAI has committed itself to the development of knowledge required for the practice of architecture. Frameworks for the mutual recognition of qualifications are enshrined in law in the shape of the Building Control Act 2007 (which came into effect on 1 May 2008) and Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (the Qualifications Directive). In these legal contexts, the RIAI is the designated Registration Body and the Competent Authority for architectural qualifications.

Of equal importance is the RIAI’s role in protecting the interests of clients, consumers, building users, the public interest and the quality of the built environment. This demands that architects are equipped with the necessary skills to deliver the services they offer.

The Standard describes the areas and levels of knowledge, skill and competence required of an architect at the professional level (capable of independent practice). To be an architect Member of the RIAI (MRIAI or FRIAI) and/or be admitted to the Register for Architects, an individual must have demonstrated that he or she has achieved this Standard. The Standard is applied in all RIAI examinations and assessment mechanisms and is integrated into all of the RIAI’s Admission routes. In RIAI CPDEngage, the Institute’s online CPD planning, provision and monitoring tool, the Standard provides the framework for Continuing Professional Development.

Download Architect document here:

RIAI_Standard_Knowledge_Skill_Competence_Architect(1)

The RIAI Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architectural Technologist

The RIAI is the leading professional body in Ireland for architects, architectural technologists, and for graduates in both fields. Since its foundation in 1839, the RIAI has committed itself to the development of knowledge required for practice in the field of architecture and latterly of architectural technology.  Of equal importance is the role of the RIAI in protecting the interests of clients, consumers, building users, the public interest and the quality of the built environment. This demands that all RIAI members are equipped with the skills necessary to deliver the services they offer.

In 1974 the RIAI created a new category of membership to provide for Architectural Technicians,. In the years since then architectural technician education has developed significantly at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.  In recognition of this RIAI Council decided in January 2009, subject to the necessary changes in RIAI By-Laws, to replace the membership category of ‘Architectural Technician’ with that of ‘Architectural Technologist’ and to develop a single RIAI Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architectural Technologist.

This RIAI Standard describes the areas and levels of knowledge, skill and competence required of an architectural technologist at the professional level. The Standard will be applied in all RIAI examinations, assessment mechanisms and routes to Architectural Technologist membership and will be the benchmark for admission regardless of how a candidate’s knowledge, skill and competence has been attained.

In RIAI CPDEngage, the Institute’s online CPD planning, provision and monitoring tool, the Standard provides the framework for Continuing Professional Development, keeping Architectural Technologists aware of the key areas of knowledge, skill and competence which must be maintained for effective practice

Publication of this new Standard in April 2010 sets in place a firm foundation for the RIAI Action Plan 2010 – 2013 objective of promoting, developing and supporting the role of the RIAI Architectural Technologist.

Download Architectural Technologist document here:

Spot the difference: 40Sqm SI.9 exemption advice

by Bregs Blog admin team

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!

see pics SI9, BCMS & dub city council….

RIAI/BCMS

https://bregsforum.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/legal-alert-commencement-notices-since-1st-march-2014/

SI.9 (extract)
SI9
RIAI Advice
BCMS
BCMS
DCC

SI.9 is “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” | Minister Alan Kelly

by Bregs Blog admin team

MichaelOFlynnPropertyDeveloper_large

In this article in the Irish Examiner from 24th November 2014, “O’Flynn: Housing bounce impossible without developers”, developer Michael O’Flynn is critical of current attitudes towards developers and suggested increasing housing output can not happen without speculative input. Quote:

“I think it was that people did not understand what we did, they did not understand the scale of some of our businesses, they perceived major borrowings as being somehow bad business,” he says…

“I can’t see this market recovering without developers. But there are people who don’t believe there is any role for developers. And when that crazy misunderstanding exists by a lot of people in this country, you are not going to solve the development situation.”

Mr O’Flynn makes the comments in a documentary to be aired on TV3 this evening (24th November 2014).

However recent Central Statics Office figures would appear to suggest that speculatively built dwellings account for a small percentage of current housing output. In 2013 approximately 8,300 dwellings were completed. Only 16%, 1,326, were registered with House Guarantees and speculatively built. This suggests that almost 7,000 homes were private once-off houses commissioned by owners or self-built.

The representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) have conservatively estimated the percentage of houses built by owners at over 30% of the total in any given year. The percentage may be in fact much higher.

In a recent letter to Minister Alan Kelly the catastrophic effect of hastily introduced and vaguely worded new building regulations has accelerated a slump in the significant self-build sector:

“SI.9 is pricing many lower-end self-builders out of the market. These are at the lower cost end, where owners were hoping to build better quality homes cheaper, on a phased basis, than speculative housing. Over €40,000 extra to build a €180,000 house is an extraordinary cost, and these are the real-world numbers our members are coming back with to us. …What benefit do self-builders get for the huge costs of SI.9? The security of using a CIF contractor?

…We have undertaken surveys of members and to date, for this year, we estimate that between 800 and 1,000 dwelling projects have been abandoned by self builders trying to build a home for their families.”

On 13th November 2014 at an event in Swords, Co. Dublin “Future of Housing in Fingal” Minister Alan Kelly criticised SI.9 saying it was “like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Widely beleived to be a political solution to the scandal of Priory Hall SI9 was introduced by former Minister Hogan as very costly duplication of paperwork exercise to an entire industry unprepared for this process. The cost to the industry, consumer and taxpayer has been estimated at €5bn by 2020, with no technical increase of building performance and little additional consumer protection. The representative body for Chartered Surveyors last week confirmed costs to the industry would be substantial.

SI.9 also is the biggest drag on Ireland’s competitiveness internationally, impacting on our World Bank “ease of doing business” ranking.

It would appear that policy and indeed regulation is being driven by political responses to the speculative residential sector, and at 16% of the market we wonder is the tail wagging the dog? Recent budgetary changes favouring developers, such as the removal of the rezoning windfall tax, suggest the powerful lobbying of the construction industry is still very much active despite the downturn.

Other posts of interest:

Iaosb letter to Minister Kelly – Revoke or Revise S.I.9

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations 

Government Reports + Professional Opinion Ignored in SI.9 | look back 5

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?

SI.9 costs for a typical house

Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

S.I. 9 and Insurance | Better Latent than never?

by Bregs Blog admin team

S.I.9 and Insurance | Better Latent than Never?

One of the key criticisms of S.I. 9 is that it affords no better protection to the consumer who may encounter a difficulty with a building project. Building owners still have no recourse other than to pursue the professionals responsible through the Courts with no guarantee of success, which is both costly and time-consuming.

This process will be made even more difficult if the new role of Assigned Certifier does not have adequate Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance in place. Although a recommendation , PI insurance is not mandatory under S.I.9. There are two measures being proposed to try and tackle these situations and these are:

1. Latent Defects Insurance:

Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) is a form of insurance taken out for new-build premises to provide cover in the event of an inherent defect in the design, workmanship or materials becoming apparent after completion. It offers a fairly straightforward and affordable means of redress for the building owner and it would be commonplace for new construction in many EU states. It was originally a central requirement for the stakeholder groups negotiating S.I. 9 with the Department of the Environment but it was not made mandatory when S.I. 9 legislation was introduced.

It appears that there is very little interest in the insurance market either nationally or within the EU at present to provide such insurance to the Irish construction sector. However it is not a panacea for every likely problem with S.I. 9 which includes the following issues:

– Insurers do not provide cover for every eventuality e.g. HomeBond insurance and the pyrite problem.

– Insurers would require independent inspections of design and construction.

2. Professional Indemnity Insurance for Employees:

A further insurance problem has arisen with S.I. 9 in the event that an employee, who acted as an Assigned Certifier , leaves their employment or where the company that employed them goes bankrupt or winds-down. Where an Assigned Certifier employee finds themselves, for whatever reason, not covered by their employer’s Professional Indemnity policy they will be held personally liable for any loss or damage incurred for buildings where they acted as certifier. The tern for this is “employee’s liability overhang” and for this reason most certifiers will be principals or owners of companies, not employees.

It appears that the professional bodies are examining an insurance product for their members who are employees and act as Assigned Certifiers in such cases. However such a scheme comes with many concerns:

  • Once you had a policy you would have to maintain the cover until run-off after retirement;
  • If the PI insurance was linked to  professional membership Assigned Certifiers would also be obliged to maintain their membership of the professional organisation until run-off after retirement;
  • The system would be funded by a levy on membership which is likely to be challenged by those members who do not wish to take on the roles of Design or Assigned Certifier
  • As the system is based on cover for employees it is likely to be challenged by those members who are sole traders
  • Such insurance policies would have to be held by the professional groups involved and this would expose them (and all their memberships) to enormous risk in the event of substantial claims.

While the proposed insurance products would prove attractive to the professional organisations as potential revenue streams and guarantees of continued membership the last point would suggest that it is inappropriate and potentially reckless for membership organisations to involve themselves in commercial activities such as latent defects insurance and insurance policies generally for the wider market.

Other posts of interest:

 

SI.9…”No thanks” | Mid-sized architectural practice

by Bregs Blog admin team

Refuse_Say_No_Thumbs_Down

We received this comment to Bregs blog recently, it is from a principal of a mid-sized commercial practice. It was in response to “SI.9 and PII Alert | Practice makes perfect or does it?“. We have posted here as a separate opinion piece. The comment was received on 9th December 2014. 

___________

We are a Dublin-based mid-sized well established Architectural practice.

We can confirm that our practice (or any individuals associated with our practice) will not be acting as Assigned Certifiers.

The following issues were highlighted in advance of adoption of the new regulations, and still remain:

  1. If the practice partnership dissolves, ceases to trade (or goes bankrupt), all parties who acted as Certifiers, Design and Assigned, will have no cover. Anyone who acted in these roles while involved in our practice will have continuing liability into the future but with no insurance cover. This is a huge concern for all staff and principals at our firm.
  2. If staff, i.e. non equity partners, move practice, it is our understanding that the potential liability will follow them if they signed or acted as Assigned or Design Certifiers on behalf of our firm. They may no longer be covered by the practice’s Professional Indemnity Policy as far as we are aware.

There is no possibility, certain in our practice, that project architects or associates will act as assigned certifiers nor could I ask them to do it.

We will no longer employ staff who have acted as Certifiers in other practices unless they carry their own Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) and indemnify our practice. This is a very grey area as technically they will be under our PII when a claim comes in on historic work, PII is ‘claims made’.

Other posts of interest:

S.I.9 | What large firms are doing 

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

When is an extension not extensions? | The 40M2 question…

Solicitors: Architect liable for negligent certification

by Bregs Blog admin team

Liability_Shark

The following legal advice from B.P.Collins Solicitors notes a case “that makes it clear that in appropriate circumstances it is possible to become liable to people with whom one has no contractual relationship for work done for another person or organisation.” This legal point applies in an Irish context also- this should be of interest to professionals about to assume certifier roles under BC(A)R SI.9. Link to B.P Collins Solicitors advice here.

We note the representative body for engineers (ACEI) had circulated ancillary certification documentation only to their members some time ago. This has been followed recently by the representative body for architects (RIAI) circulating draft documentation for their members. We have been told that this advice is draft only and will be subject to change following on from legal and insurance inputs. We have previously posted a critique of some earlier drafts (see post here). The representative body for surveyors (SCSI) is yet to circulate documentation to members, and the construction industry federation (CIF) is in the process of drafting their own ancillary certification for contractors.  

The RIAI advice has been issued “…as guidance only … and legal advice will continue to be obtained as these documents evolve. The RIAI advises that appropriate professional judgement must be applied when using these documents”. This would indicate that professionals should make themselves aware of the various legal opinions that have been furnished to date on the new regulations.

We have previously posted some alarming legal comments on BC(A)R SI.9. Quote from Barrett Chapman, Partner, Contruction Department, McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors: “Certificates “…should have said ‘I am of the opinion…If you certify and the building doesn’t comply, you are liable. There is no doubt about that…” Barrett Chapman stated that the DECLG need to review the word “certify” as it is “an absolute“…He suggested that certifiers should make sure they have professional indemnity insurance. Regarding advice is to assigned certifiers in light of his presentation, whether to act in the new certifier roles, Barrett offered this advice: “Don’t“.

The use of the same terminology and wording in recent draft documentation issued by professional organisations may well be subject to change, following a more professional inputs.

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Other BREG blog Links on legal aspects (click on title for link):

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9

Alarming Legal Opinions: BC(A)R SI.9 

Legal Firms Advice: BC(A)R SI.9

Reddy Charlton: Building control amendment regulations 2014

William Fry: Building Control Amendment Regulations 2014

McDowell Purcell: Impact of the building control amendment regulations 2014

Arthur Cox: second time lucky building control amendment regulations 2014

Dillon Eustace: The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014.pdf

 

Complaint to Ombudsman: RIAI & BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

The following letter of complaint was sent to the Ombudsman on May 12th 2014 by Amanda Gallagher, self-builder.

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Dear Peter & Colleagues,

I have already lodged a complaint with you some weeks ago.   It refers to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – S.I. 9.  and the effect they are having on my family and indeed many families in Ireland who had intended to self build their family homes.  I understand that your office is most busy but I have a further complaint to lodge as I have had four unsatisfactory results from my own questions in letters to the RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland).

I will give you a bit of a background to this 2nd complaint – it centres on the above Statutory Instrument 9. Myself and my husband first met with our architect in October 2012 – that is when we started this whole planning process – we lodged our planning application in early January.  Our architect (who is a registered architect with the RIAI), informed us that due to new building control regulations coming into effect on March 1st, he would have to part ways with us as since we were planning a ‘self build’ he could not work alongside us – we were puzzled. We had already spent €3,000 on the whole process, plans, site tests etc..

I set about researching these building control regulations on google – I came across one honest, architect in Foxford, Mayo, who had it clearly stated on his website that the days of self building will be over on March 1st.  We were absolutely in shock, devastated to be precise.  The very next morning I rang the Department of Environment, community & Local Government, and I spoke to a lady.  She informed me that my husband would be able to sign legal documents within S.I. 9 and declare himself to be a competent builder, ‘but’ she said, would your architect be willing to work with him?  I asked her to post me out a hard copy of the S.I. 9.  This ‘advice’ from that Government Official, I am afraid to tell you, was the very start of the horrendous misinformation that has come from the DOECLG.

After, we studied the S.I. 9 in depth, we were quite sure that the days of self building in Ireland was indeed over, so, my husband went to our local radio station as a plea for help for more information on the S.I. 9 and as a warning to other would be self builders in the area to let them know what is happening.  During the course of this debate on OCEAN FM, a man caled Mr. John Graby, Director of the RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland) was invited on to ‘clarify’ the issue.

My husband was told live on local radio by Mr Graby that ‘he can sign himself as builder on legal documents where it states to be signed by a principal or director of a building company only’.  That day, we were so confused, shocked and worse, disgusted that an official, from the RIAI, would come live on Radio and misinform thousands of listeners.

The Irish Association of Self Builders have written to the RIAI for clarification on the status of self builders and have lodged a complaint to the RIAI about Mr Graby and his ‘advice’ during this Radio Show,

I have sent four letters to the President of the RIAI, Mr Robin Mandal, since March, seeking answers to most pressing, serious questions regarding the RIAI policy on self building. In the links below are my most recent two letters:

http://amandagallagherblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/letter-to-mr-robin-mandal-riai-president/

http://amandagallagherblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/letter-to-the-riai-president/

Mr Mandal, responded briefly to my letters, he stated in one response, that my queries had been forwarded to Mr Graby, I was most disheartened to hear this as this man had already misinformed my husband on the issue.  In his last response, Mr Mandal stated that he will contact me shortly with a ‘reasonable response’.  It is now May 9th, and my first letter was sent at the end of March, I find this totally unacceptable and very unreasonable, as a key stakeholder in the talks on the S.I. 9 cannot give me a ‘black or white’ answer to my queries. Surely a law must be clear cut?

I had written several letters to Minister Hogan and to his Department since January and two weeks ago I finally received a response – how shocking that it took nearly four months to answer one person who had most serious concerns regarding a law. Here is the link to the reply I received, please read it as I am sure you have or will receive a similar response to your queries regarding S.I. 9:

http://amandagallagherblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/letter-from-mr-martin-vaughan/

I was so shocked to read more words of misinformation, so I responded the next day with this letter, I ask you to take a minute to read also as it is most relevant:

http://amandagallagherblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/194/

Peter, the way in which we have been treated since January by our Government, their officials and the key stakeholders  has been appalling.  It is appalling that the Minister and his Department are continually giving out misinformation to the Nation, it is appalling that the RIAI, one of the major key stakeholders cannot give clients a ‘reasonable response’, It is appalling that my family, and every other family the S.I. 9 has affected have been left in limbo by the State, it is appalling that I, an ordinary citizen, have had to define ‘fraud’ to Government Officials, it is appalling that a Minister and his Government Officials are encouraging citizens to commit fraud and to proceed with illegal builds, just to make their life quieter – because, when the Nation grasps the terrible unjust law that has been passed, in secret meetings, with key stakeholders that each came out of the talks in a dominant position and in financial security – the Nation will be outraged.

I encourage the office of the Ombudsman to research the S.I. 9 for yourselves, when this terrible injustice is finally investigated, and it will be, please don’t let the Ombudsman’s office be left wanting in their efforts to help the ordinary citizens of this country.  I am sure you are well aware that the people of this country have had their fill of scandals revolving around Government, money, corruption and sheer lack of professionalism etc..  We all need our Government to work for us in a fair, transparent and just way.

You know Peter the S.I. 9 is a totally  irrational law – especially to self builders as the S.I. 9 forces self builders to employ a building contractor – we are no longer free to employ our own tradesmen – a building contractor may be merely a businessman – he may have been a butcher before he called himself a ‘builder’.  I would like to point out to you that a building contractor does the exact same thing as a self builder – we both study plans, purchase materials, employ tradesmen, listen to professionals – there is one difference however, the building contractor gains a hefty profit and puts a lot less love into the build!

I would like these issues cleared up immediately as we need to get on with our build, but we cannot start while it is illegal in this country to self build.

No matter what statements are issued by the government, they will never change the Law of the Land – and that Law states that to build a home one must be a principal or director of a building company only.  You will note that Mr Vaughan states in his response to me that there have been self builds commenced since March 1st (the introduction of S.I.9) reading between the lines he means to say ‘others are self building, why don’t you just be quiet and do the same?’.  Those others, are either very gullible to break a law just because Minister says its ‘okay’ or they are very crafty to break the law because they see a window of opportunity, whereby they can get the thing built before anyone ‘cops on’ – whichever they are, they have, unfortunately, committed a crime, and so have their Assigned Certifiers and the Building Control Offices that have accepted illegal documents.  We, on the other hand, want to build a home for our family legally.

I understand that The Good Friday Agreement states that on the Island of Ireland, North & South, we all should have equal opportunities and equal rights.  The S.I.9 is a definite infringement of the Good Friday Agreement as across the border, as near as Belcoo, the citizens there can self build a beautiful home, claim all VAT back at the end and live ‘happily ever after’.  The S.I. 9 is a terrible unjust law which discriminates against self builders and shows favouritism to the builders & developers of the CIF.  You wouldn’t hear the likes of it in any other country, in fact, every country in the world permits self building, even North Korea & Russia.  Ireland is now the only country to ban self building.

Peter, I was under the impression, that today, in modern Ireland, we were not allowed to discriminate against any person, let alone our Government to pass laws that discriminate against any person – am I wrong in this thinking?

The S.I. 9 is scandalous, but wouldn’t you think that the Government, who were brazen enough to introduce such awful legislation would be courageous enough to admit it – but they not only lack courage – they are totally spineless for misinforming the Nation on this issue.

I do hope that I hear from you soon, and that you are in a position to assist us in our complaint against the Minister, the DOECLG and Mr John Graby of the RIAI.

Regards,

Mrs Amanda Gallagher

Press piece: Rural Jobs and BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

bal-bmg-shore-group-stages-rural-jobs-summit-2-001

The following Irish Times Article on Monday 14th April 2014 outlines challenges in rural employment sector- “State ‘should tackle rural unemployment’. 

The impact on employment of BC(A)R SI.9 has been discussed previously. We have posted on the extraordinary costs of BC(A)R SI.9 here. Conservatively estimated at €500m per annum, the outgoing Minister has confirmed BC(A)R SI.9 will not deliver any technical improvement for new projects and legal industry experts have confirmed the regulatons will not give any improvement in consumer protection. By 2020 the jobs lost due to increased costs and residential projects abandoned could reach 30,000.

The self-build sector in particular will be the subject of adverse unintended consequences with an estimated 30% of all self-build projects abandoned due to the extensive costs of SI.9 in the next 12 months alone (source: representative body for self-builders IAOSB). One can assume the majority of these will be rural projects abandoned. Residential commencement notices are significantly down since implementation of the new regulations on March 1st, and this trend suggests the IAOSB estimates for self-build residential abandoned may be conservative.

The IAOSB recently called for an independent inquiry into misleading and misrepresentative statements made by Minister Hogan in a Seanad debate on 10th April 2014, where he again disputed additional costs to the self build sector (€40,000 per typical dwelling) and made damning statements regarding architects’ ‘exploitative’ fees to undertake new certifier roles under SI.9 (see post here).

They also requested further action on the subsequent correspondence between the outgoing Minister and Senator Paschal Mooney (see here).

The IAOSB noted that the transcript of the Seanad debate was edited and omits specific references made by Minister Hogan concerning the IAOSB in the Seanad debate. What would appear to be an altered public record remains a serious concern and has yet to be addressed by the Department.

_____________________

Extract from article below “State ‘should tackle rural unemployment’”

The Minister for Environment should assume responsibility for co-ordinating rural economic development to tackle the higher level of unemployment in areas outside the State’s five main cities, according to a new report.

The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (Cedra) report, published today, also recommends piloting a number of rural economic development zones, with a targeted stimulus programme for rural towns.

It says that State agencies particularly, Enterprise Ireland and IDA, should strengthen their collaboration at regional level and examine the potential to attract “small scale/niche” foreign direct investment to rural areas.

New research finds small rural towns bearing brunt of economic crisis

 Employment growth to create 50,000 new jobs in economy, say ESRI

The report, details of which were outlined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Environment Phil Hogan in Castlebar, Co Mayo this morning, calls for far more “explicit”, “proactive” and integrated approaches to rural economic development by the authorities responsible for current national and European funding mechanisms.

Cedra, chaired by Pat Spillane, was jointly commissioned by Mr Hogan and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney in September 2012 “in recognition that a number of commitments relating to economic development contained in the Programme for Government…are reliant on the ability of all parts of Ireland to contribute”.

Mr Spillane notes that rural areas have been particularly affected by the economic downturn from 2008, with an increase in unemployment of 192 per cent compared to 114 per cent in urban areas.

”The impact is visible nationwide with closed shops, the steady flow of emigrants and the resulting impact on community, sporting and cultural life,”he says in the introduction to the Cedra study, which contains 34 recommendations and is the culmination of a “large body of work throughout 2013”, including 100 meetings.

The report recommends that the Government reinvigorate its approach to support for rural economic development by preparing a “clear andcommitted rural economic development policy statement”.

It notes that while the 1999 White Paper on Rural Development was “innovative and far sighted”, with “many useful suggestions”, its effectiveness was undermined by the “absence of appropriate support, delivery and coordination mechanisms”.

”Responsibility for delivery was spread across many Government departmentsand agencies with no effective line of strategic planning and coordination, responsibility and oversight,”the Cedra report notes, and it says it believes there is a “critical need” for more co-ordination.

The report comes three days after new research by agriculture and food authority Teagasc shows that one third of working-age households in small and medium-sized towns have nobody employed, and poverty rates in small towns are twice that of cities, at 10 per cent compared to five per cent.

The Teagasc research has identified a negative effect of urban commuter belts on towns, with a stark variation in economic and social conditions between towns closer and further from the five main cities.

The highest concentration of weakest towns was in the midlands, southeast and west, according to the Teagasc findings.

Speaking at the National Museum of Folklife in Castlebar, Co Mayo, today, Mr Kenny said that the Government “has a plan for rural Ireland”, and accused the previous government “and its policies” of leaving rural Ireland ”completely exposed to the strong economic headwind that hit our country”.

”Change for the better is coming,”Mr Kenny said, noting that he was “passionate about rural Ireland”.

The 34 recommendations examine specific areas including tourism, the marine, agriculture,noting that regulatory and administrative frameworks should be “proportionate, agile and customer focused”. http://www.ruralireland.ie

Other posts of interest:

Commencement notices- Building Register @ 17th June 2014 – click link here

Senator Mooney letter to Minister Phil Hogan – click link here

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

Listen to Seanad Debate: SI.9 (si.105) – click link here

Architectural Technologist: Minister “disrespectful and misleading” in Seanad – click link here

Radio Clip: Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists – click link here

Minister Hogan concerned at exploitation by professionals: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Funny Friday | Open Letter to Minister Kelly

by Bregs Blog admin team

Lester Naughton

 Lester Naughton MRIAI

The BRegs Blog received the following open letter to the recently appointed Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. from a Galway based architect. We have titled it ‘Funny Friday’ even though the issue is very serious. At this stage with S.I. 9 we all need a bit of a laugh or we will all end up crying. In his letter Naughton calls on the Minister to complete an attached Ancillary Certificate to be used by those acting as Design and Assigned Certifiers!

Dear Minister,

I write to you as I am appointed to act as the Assigned Certifier and Design Certifier for the first time under the Building Control Regulations as amended through S.I. No. 9 of 2014. I have identified you as a person holding significant responsibilities for the production and monitoring of both, building standards, building products, and information on their use. You also have a responsibility for appropriate enforcement of standards through building control site inspections. As a Certifier I have an overall responsibility and am asked to certify an entire building works. In this I rely in part on your role. For example you are in overall control of setting standards and targets for the frequency and standards of building control inspections and in monitoring that these targets are met.

In deciding what is reasonable skill, care and diligence in the execution of my role I according rely on you and all the people and companies involved on your behalf excising reasonable skill care and diligence.

Accordingly I attach a Certificate and I am requesting you to sign this certificate personally and return it for inclusion in my project files. You will note that the certificate covers work undertaken by others but that you are the person certifying although you may have regard to ancillary certificates that you in turn receive from others for those items that you specifically ask certification for.

I am sure that you will have no issue with the attached certificate as it is modeled on the certificates that the legislation deems are appropriate and reasonable for me to sign as Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier. I ask for the signed certificate to be returned at your earliest convenience so that I can satisfy my statutory obligations.

Yours Sincerely

Lester Naughton B.Arch MRIAI

Certificate to be signed by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

  1. This certificate has been prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works [as published by the Minister under section 3(7) of the Building Control Act 1990] or equivalent.
  2. This certificate relates to the following duties:
  • The production of, building regulations, technical guidance documents, building standards, Agrement certificates, Building product certification, and national annexes to European certification and standards.
  • The monitoring of the quality of building products for sale and distribution including manufacturer information on product use.
  • The administration of building control activities including appropriate construction site inspections.
  1. I confirm that I am the Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government assigned with overall responsibility for the above duties.
  1. Ancillary certificates and particulars as deemed appropriate by myself have been provided by others I have identified as having partial responsibilities for the duties above and are scheduled herewith.
  1. Based on the above, and relying on the ancillary certificates scheduled, I now certify, having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, that all documents, guidance and building products available in the Republic of Ireland are in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, insofar as they apply to the building or works concerned.
  1. I further certify that appropriate levels of building control inspection are carried out nationally.
  1. For the purposes of this certificate the building or works concerned is all works carried out in the Republic of Ireland during my time as Minister.

Signature: __________________.Date: ________________

 

 

Dáil: Government made €100k tax on each Priory Hall apartment

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Dáil: Government made €100k tax on each Priory Hall apartment- Building Control Regulation debate

In the following Building Control Regulation Dáil exchange from June 2012 the influence of developers and issues in building control are discussed. Link to Private Members’ Business- 6 Jun 2012: Dáil debates (KildareStreet.com) here.

Given the recent comments from vested interests in the construction industry regarding reducing costs we note an interesting contribution by Peter Mathews TD who suggested €100,000 of the purchase price of a typical prory hall apartment went to the state in the form of taxation. Is the taxpayer getting value for money under SI.9? Continued self-certification and little or no additional consumer protections, at a vast cost to the consumer and economy.

Extract as follows (highlight by bregs blog):

__________

Peter Mathews (Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I thank the Minister of State for sharing time. It is helpful to step back from the legislative structuring and debate and merely think of the facts again. These are persons who have been literally diddled. Anybody who buys a car, a television or something as simple as a jumper that is not fit for purpose is legally entitled to a refund, and yet the residents of Priory Hall who spent €250,000 on their homes are being dumped with the bill because of a cowboy developer. It is as simple as that.

The Irish Home Builders Association calculations suggest that €100,000 of the purchase price of each Priory Hall apartment went straight to the Government in taxation. After paying such a staggering bill, the least the owners of Priory Hall apartments should be entitled to expect is that the State or the local authority would ensure these are safe to live in as the first port of call, and then the State or the local authority can go after the professions, the builders, the suppliers or whoever. However, those who have had to empty their apartments of furniture and family need to be restituted immediately. It is as simple as that. Anybody who spends €250,000 on a home should feel assured that it is fit for purpose.

In October last, the owners of 187 apartments were forced to empty their homes and move out. Eight months later their plight is not over and their future remains unclear. The developer, the banks and the local authority added insult to injury during this period, and the suggestion the local authority would pay owners €50,000 for apartments that cost €250,000 was a bizarre insult.

The local authority then attempted to wash its hands of the problem in the Supreme Court. This was not right. The banks are less than enthusiastic at finding a resolution. They are now attempting to deal with each apartment owner individually in a divide and conquer strategy.

As I stated, a first port of call is to deal with the problem and then start sorting the bill. I agree with the Minister there are professional responsibilities, building and contracting companies and local authority responsibilities, but these people are entitled to be able to get back into a home. That is to solve the problem and let us – the Government or the local authority – chase the responsible persons in due course, which will take two or three years, for the restitution of the cost of dealing with the problem immediately. That is my suggestion. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland deals with motor accidents for uninsured drivers on that sort of basis.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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? 

Pyrite Registers of Chartered Engineers

by Bregs Blog admin team

stateofireland-home2013

On 11th June 2014, Engineers Ireland posted a link on twitter to a “Pyrite Registers of Chartered Engineers“. In light of the recent cases of pyrite in newly constructed buildings, this is a very useful resource to know where consumers can go to to get informed professional advice on pyrite in buildings. We are not aware of similar registers for surveyors or architects at this point.

Link here: engineersireland pyrite registers

Extract off website to follow:

___________

Pyrite Registers of Chartered Engineers

Engineers Ireland has established two registers of professionally competent persons (Chartered Engineers).

The Pyrite Building Condition Assessors (BCA) register – is for those who have demonstrable competence to conduct Building Condition Assessments regarding possible pyrite-induced damage.

The Pyrite Design Professionals (DP) register – is for those who are competent to specify, inspect and certify remediation works.

Both registers are publicly available online and are in accordance with NSAI Standard IS 398: Parts 1&2, and the specific requirements of the Pyrite Resolution Board.

To be admitted to either register, a candidate must first have attended and successfully completed the relevant specialist CPD training programme for that register, and the relevant competence examination. A panel of senior assessors (all Chartered Engineers and Fellows with Engineers Ireland) then consider applications for admittance to the registers.

If you wish to apply to register, please first attend the relevant CPD training programme and complete the competence exam. You can then apply using the relevant Application Form, downloadable in the right hand column of this page.

For details of CPD training and exam dates, contact cpdtraining@engineersireland.ie or call 01-6651305.

Notes from website:

“Pyrite (Building Condition Assessment) Register…The register below lists Chartered Engineers, who have the necessary direct professional experience, competence and specialist training to carry out Building Condition Assessments regarding possible pyritic heave, in accordance with the requirements of the Pyrite Resolution Board and the associated national standard, I.S. 398: Part 1.  Registered assessors are listed in alphabetical order, by surname, and can be contacted directly.”

“Pyrite (Design Professionals) Register…The register below lists Chartered Engineers, who have the necessary direct professional experience, competence and specialist training to specify, inspect and certify remediation works, in accordance with the requirements of the Pyrite Resolution Board and the associated national standard, I.S. 398: Parts 1&2.  Registrants are listed in alphabetical order.”

Other posts of interests on this topic:

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections 

Radio: PYRITE- Pass the Parcel 

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification?

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 

SCSI: Changes to design of apartments may solve housing shortage

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

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The professional body for the property and construction sector says European-style family apartments could be the answer to the Dublin housing shortage.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has unveiled a 10-point plan to address the national shortage. This includes a new fund for builders, cutting VAT on new homes; and a property tax cut for people who trade their homes for smaller properties. The housing shortage is most acutely felt in Dublin, where the lack of supply has in part to price rises of up to 40% over the past two years.

SCSI spokesperson Simon Stokes says apartments – and not semi-detached homes – could be the answer. The BRegs Blog notes that while  the SCSI 10-point plan calls for a stream-lined planning process it makes no specific reference to the implications of BC(A)R S.I. 9 on construction cost and the programme for the  delivery of housing.

The SCSI ten-point strategy:

  1. Introduce a Builders Finance Fund to support SME builders completing developments
  2. Reduce development contributions for a period of 2 years
  3. Streamline planning process to speed up decisions and reduce delays
  4. Reduce VAT on new home construction from 13.5% to 5% for 2 years
  5. Reduce windfall tax on land from 80% to 33% to bring it in line with Capital Gains Tax
  6. Introduce Vacant Site Levy on sites of strategic importance in a targeted and transparent manner
  7. Encourage NAMA to license developers to build out sites in strategic areas in its portfolio
  8. Introduce a Local Property Tax exemption for people trading- down to smaller units to increase the availability of second hand homes
  9. Introduce a Revolving Infrastructure Fund (RIF) to finance infrastructure provision upfront before development
  10. Greater action needed on reducing the number of mortgages in arrears, particularly in the Buy to Let sector

Ireland’s love affair with property continues unabated in the media as an Irish Times’ Opinion piece by mortgage broker and financial analyst, Karl Deeter, remained on the most read and most commented list for a second day.

Link to RTE audio report with SCSI spokesperson, Simon Stokes:

Link to 10-point strategy document:

Link to Karl Deeter Opinion in the Irish Times:

Practical Post : How to make more fees from BCARS.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Practical Post : How to make more fees from BCARS.

Architects have felt the worse excesses of the recession. Construction almost stopped 5 years ago and anyone who kept their job suffered a significant cut in pay or hours or both.

The new Building Control Regulations were supposed to be the solution.

Poor standards of construction + more inspection*= better buildings.

*more fees for more work.

The reality is different. Owners don’t have more money for more fees. The banks are not lending. There is someone down the road who is so hungry and desperate for work that he’ll do the same job for nothing.

That’s the market. If you want more fees, your client needs to see a benefit and BCARS gives them nothing more than they had already.

If you want more fees from BCARS you’ll have to start being the Assigned Certifier for everyone else’s job. If you pick carefully and only work with really good architects and really good builders and really good clients, you could do very well.

________

Other Posts in this series:

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations – click link here

Practical post 23: Design Build contracts- need a barge pole? – click link here

Practical post 22: Change of Owner – click link here

Practical post 21: Variations – click link here

For Practical Post Series 1-20 – click here

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 unenviable 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 practical 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 within these new and difficult regulations. 

Revised RIAI SI.9 documentation- October 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

document-management

The following email was issued to practice members of the representative body for architects (RIAI) on 24 October 2014, then to ordinary members on 28 October 2014. We believe these incorporate an independent legal review completed by Barratt Chapman (and others), senior partner in McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors in July 2014. This legal review was noted in the September RIAI AGM. The main point of discussion was the legal review recommendation that the Design Certifier should be a separate appointment to that of the architect, similar to the separate appointment of the Assigned Certifier. The appointment was not bound to be the lead designer- it could be someone who ‘participated’ in the design, a specialist consultant with the appropriate qualifications.

This was confirmed earlier in October by Joe Miller, Practice Director in the RIAI in an interview with “Self Build and improve your home” magazine (see post here).

Quote”..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).

This should come as welcome advice to many architects who are not comfortable with acting in the new roles until liability and legal issues have been clarified. It should also be of some comfort to Engineers and Chartered Surveyors, many of whom may have felt recommending joint appointments of architects in the new roles, particularly in public sector projects, was exclusive and anti-competitive.

The SCSI also have confirmed that the role of Design Certifier, in addition to that of the Assigned Certifier, should be a separate appointment to that of the architect or design team leader (see post here).

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.

The following documentation will be of interest to other registered professionals who will work alongside architects under the new regulations.

We hope to provide a detailed analysis of the documents shortly.

Extract to follow:

_______

REVIEW OF THE RIAI BC(A)R 2014 DOCUMENTATION BY MEMBERS OF THE RIAI PRACTICE COMMITTEE

This review has now concluded.

These documents, listed below, will supersede the previous versions which are available on the Members’ area of the RIAI by clicking on the BC(A)R ‘button’.

The documents will also be made available this week on the BC(A)R section of the Members’ area of the RIAI web site. The following documents, with their edition number appended are now complete.

The RIAI documents are:

RIAI_Agreement_for_Professional_Services_Edition_1_23_October_2014.PDF File

RIAI_Agreement_for_Commercial_Small_Works_Edition_1_23_October_2014.PDF File

RIAI_Agreement_for_Domestic_Work_Edition_1_23_October_2014.PDF File

RIAI_Agreement_for_Assigned_Certifier_Building_Owner_22_October_2014.PDF File

RIAI_InformationNotes_on_Preparation_of_tender_Documents_Edition_1_2014_2.PDF File

RIAI_Information_Notes_For_The_Preparation_Of_Tender_Documentation_for_Small_Works_Edition_1_23_Oct_2014.PDF File

Addendum_to_Agreement_and_Schedule_of_Conditions_of_Building_Contract_Edition_1_2014 (for Yellow, Blue, SF 88 and White Form) .PDF File

Other posts of interest:

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

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

3 must-read posts for employees

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

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

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

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9 

Summary of building regulations changes posts 

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

Dublin’s Priory Hall shows the human cost of the Irish property bust – IrishCentral.com

by Bregs Blog admin team

20130911084508Priory_Hall

Dublin’s Priory Hall shows the human cost of the Irish property bust – IrishCentral.com

A good synopsis of the history of Priory Hall here on the international blog Irish Central by John Spain (11th September 2014). Link here:

http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/dublins-priory-hall-shows-the-human-cost-of-the-irish-property-bust-223282251-238253191.html

Extract:

“Where Priory Hall was concerned everyone ran for cover.  The developer said he was bust, the council blamed the developer, the state claimed it could do nothing until court actions were concluded, the insurance companies — including the Homebond guarantee backed by the construction industry — found reasons why it was not liable to pay up … and the government did nothing.

Meanwhile, the lives of the unfortunate people who had bought homes in Priory Hall were destroyed as they struggled to survive and were harassed by the banks to go on paying their mortgages.

For one man, Fiachra Daly, a father of two who had been one of the leaders of the Priory Hall residents in their fight to get something done, it all became too much in July.

More demands from the banks that he and his partner Stephanie Meehan keep up payments on their Priory Hall apartment and the failure of the state to intervene finally pushed him over the edge and he committed suicide.   Stephanie went public with the case and with a letter she had sent to Kenny, emphasizing that he had been a great father and a stable person but had been driven to despair by the impossible situation they were in.

Public anger and disgust at what had happened was palpable, so much so that Kenny made a statement on television on the matter last week.  Doing his Mr. Sincere number, he wagged his finger at the camera and said it was an example of the worst excess of the Celtic Tiger and he insisted that he was going to do something soon … he just needed a report for himself on the matter and a  little time to consider.

It was breathtaking. Kenny and the rest of his government have known all about Priory Hall for at least two or three years.

They don’t need any reports.  And the court case over who will have to pay for the ongoing temporary accommodation does not stop them from acting either.

The fact is that the state was as responsible for what went wrong during the largely unregulated building boom as much as individual rogue developers like Tom McFeely.  The state should pay up.”

Our planners want to land us in trouble again by not listening

by Bregs Blog admin team

The following press article by Ronan Lyons appeared on the Independent on 25th May 2014. See more at: our-planners-want-to-land-us-in-trouble-again-by-not-listening

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Joined-Up Thinking: Why does RTE have 30 acres of some of Ireland’s most expensive land, when a 10-storey building on the corner of the current site would do?

Our planners want to land us in trouble again by not listening 

IN the space of a week, our government has announced both a Homelessness Implementation Plan and Construction 2020 Strategy. When it comes to housing, we also have a 2011 Housing Policy Statement and a host of planning and development regulations.

These link in with the 2012-2016 Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan and, of course, the National Spatial Strategy, which runs to 2020. It’s fair to say that our policymakers are not short of plans about who and what goes where.

With so many plans, strategies and statements, it is easy – and probably fashionable – to be cynical. So I have a confession to make: I am an optimist.

I believe that the plans our politicians announce have the potential to transform our lives for the better. Provided, of course, that they are well-crafted strategies and plans.

What do I mean by well-crafted? I have in mind in particular three features.

The first is that policies must be based around specific actions. Vague sentiments are not policy, they are at best a vision for where we want society to be.

Secondly, policies must be flexible to be realistic. When circumstances change, as they inevitably will, medium- to long-term public policy must be designed in such a way that it is not immediately out of date.

And thirdly, public policy must recognise that people – be they civil servants, company directors or couples with their first child – will respond to the incentives of the system they work in. If policy contains no signals to guide behaviour, it is unlikely that the best intentions of policymakers will ever come to fruition.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Irish housing policy, very few of these features exist. Even if the plethora of policies listed above weren’t there, housing currently falls between the stools of the Departments of Environment, Finance and An Taoiseach.

(And that’s by no means a complete list: the Central Bank controls macroprudential policy, while the Department of Justice is in charge of the Property Services Regulatory Authority.)

Our Minister for Housing has control of little more than the homelessness aspect of her brief and crucially doesn’t have a Cabinet vote.

This is the system that has given us the current housing crisis so soon after the last one. Whereas the last crisis was caused by too much credit, this one is caused by too few homes. Or certainly too few homes close to where people want to live, while at the same time too many empty homes in other parts of the country.

Which is why incentives matter so much. In a world of easy credit, it was in the interest of the landowner to get their land rezoned residential and it was in the interest of the local authority to rezone.

There was no strong link between the underlying best use of land – be it agricultural, residential or commercial – and what was in the interest of local authorities. Instead, a string of windfall payments meant that local authorities felt they had to make hay while the sun shone.

The system we have today is pretty much the same as the one a decade ago. New homes have to cough up for infrastructure that those live in existing homes will also benefit from. This pushes up the cost of building, which of course reduces the number of new homes built.

At the same time, a complete disconnect between agricultural, residential and commercial land means that we are effectively dependent on county councils’ benevolence to get land used well.

To take an example of this, consider the 150-acre Dublin Industrial Estate in Broombridge.

It is currently zoned industrial, half-empty and as land practically worthless, given there are one million square metres of empty industrial space scattered around Dublin. Beside Tolka Valley Park, close to O’Connell Street and the M50 and next door to the commuter rail line and the Cross-City Luas terminus, this would be very valuable residential land and could provide at least 4,000 homes, or nearly one year’s supply for the entire city.

Given the chasm between industrial rates and the local property tax, though, it would be a brave councillor to suggest that Dublin City Council change things.

Businesses pay property taxes at a rate a multiple of what homes pay, skewing land use in favour of commercial uses long past their sell-by date. The council is considering a levy on vacant sites. But given that this will not replace any of the various developer contributions and levies, rather merely sit on top of them, this makes the maths of building now worse, rather than better.

In a way, this all goes back to the debate from two years ago, when the exact nature of the Local Property Tax was being discussed.

The two main choices were a tax on the full value of the property (buildings and land) or a tax on the value of just the land. Those of us who argued for a land value tax did so precisely for this reason. The right kind of tax is not just a way of raising revenue, it is a way of delivering outcomes society wants.

It’s not just industrial estates or even just the private sector. Why does RTE have 30 acres of some of Ireland’s most expensive land in Donnybrook, when a 10-storey building on the corner of the current site would do?

Around the corner, and indeed scattered across the city, Dublin Bus has sites of up to 10 acres each to house its buses, far removed from any bus terminuses. Why are they where they are? Because a century ago, that was where the city’s tram-routes ended. All across Ireland, land is being used poorly because our system has no in-built incentives for us all to use it better.

What we have currently is a disconnect between how public money is raised and how it is spent. Per-hectare contributions to the Luas on sites near the outer Green Line epitomise this – who set those contributions and based on what cost-benefit calculus?

Why do young families buying off-plans in Kilternan have to contribute so much for being close to the Luas – while those residing in luxury homes off Palmerston Road pay nothing?

We could scrap all the various developer contributions, levies and charges, we could also scrap industrial and commercial rates, stamp duty on properties and, of course, the local property tax and replace them all with a single unified land value tax that raised the same revenue and stimulated building where it is viable.

If the Government were to build a new Luas extension, this would increase the value of land around it, thus giving the Government new revenues to pay back the money it borrowed to build the Luas.

The planning system is completely incapable of taking signals from us, the households who have to live somewhere, about where we want to live. These signals are all around us, in the value of land. Irish policymakers are very fond of plans and strategies – so why can we not have one about land use?

Dan O’Brien is on holiday

Sunday Indo Business

‘Opinions on Compliance’ and the Law Society

by Bregs Blog admin team

2013-06-28-popular-opinion

The following opinion piece was submitted by a registered architect on 17th September 2014.

‘Opinions on Compliance’ and the Law Society

As a practicing architect who has been signing ‘Opinions on Compliance’ (before the current regulations) I am very surprised at the statement from the RIAI President that implies that there is no communication between the RIAI and the Law Society. (link)

The old ‘Opinion’ documents were agreed between the Law Society and the RIAI, to give some reassurance to purchasers in the absence of a statutory system. The new Completion Certficates are required by the Building Control Authority under building control legislation, but not for conveyancing.

Whatever documents that will be required for conveyancing are still a matter for agreement between the Law Society and the RIAI. There is no obligation in law for an architect (as Assigned Certifier) to give the Completion Certificate to any third party and there is no obligation on any owner (as Vendor) to provide one to a purchaser.

So why are the RIAI not actively engaging with the Law Society to produce an agreed document that will give comfort to purchasers which clearly spell out the parties who might be liable for non-compliance or defective construction, including other designers and builders, without exposing the architect to liability for any problems caused by the builder?

Conveyancing solicitors need to get involved and agree this among themselves. They are paid to look after the purchasers interests-  are they going to advise their clients that the Completion Certificate is a ‘guarantee against defects’ or no more value than the old Opinion?

Attached is recent letter from president of the RIAI Robin Mandal to Amanda Gallagher self-builder (see post here):

 

riai-001

Other posts of interest:

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 

Opinion piece: RIAI need to stop ‘passing the ball’

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

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

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

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

RIAI – posts to read for EGM

by Bregs Blog admin team

bansky-politics-lies

RIAI – posts to read for EGM

In case you missed any, here is a list of posts relevant to the recent Extraordinary General Meeting of the representative body for architects (RIAI) held on the 12th August 2014.

Minister Hogan’s departure- Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

Architects are Revolting – Revoke BC(A)R S.I.9!

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

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

RIAI Assigned Certifier Survey – Results?

RIAI – EGM: Future BC(A)R Policy – Tuesday 12th August 2014

Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

RIAI EGM: Open Letter to Members

BCMS: Open Letter

Continuing Collapse in Commencement Notices – 5th August 2014

________________

The EGM motion is as follows:

Motion:

For the reasons outlined [below] and in the interests of the Registered Members, the consumer and the wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I. 9 of 2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to other groups to seek support for that policy.

RESOLUTION

The undersigned Registered Members have requisitioned an Extraordinary General Meeting in accordance with Article 40 of the RIAI Articles of Association.

The EGM was requisitioned to address the following concerns in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (S.I.9 of 2014) hereinafter called “the legislation”.

  • Inadequate protection for consumer and building owners in the legislation.
  • Inadequate resources for Building Control Authorities to monitor the legislation.
  • The Building Control Management System is not fully functioning, is not password protected and cannot guarantee security of data (copyright).
  • There is no Building Control Authority (BCA) Code of Practice resulting in individual BCA interpretations of the legislation.
  • The legislation places intolerable and potentially uninsurable levels of liability on the approved certifiers.
  • The majority of legal opinions advise against approved professionals taking on the roles of certifiers as defined by the legislation.
  • There is no Building Contract available that addresses the legislation.
  • The legislation is ambiguous in terms of the status of self-builders, a major component of work for rural-based members. There is no Inspection Schedule or Appointment Agreement available that addresses the role of certifiers under the legislation.
  • Restrictive aspects of public service appointments favour architects for lead certifier roles and may be subject to reversal.
  • No provision for retrospective compliance.
  • No provision for transition arrangements in regulations of conflicts in same
  • The regulations suggest additional exposure and /or delays to costs for owners and reduced protections for clients at completion stages
  • An adequate Regulatory Impact Assessment was not conducted prior to the legislation being introduced.
  • The legislation is proving almost impossible to implement in practice.

The purpose of the EGM is that the Registered Members debate and vote on the following Special Resolution to be adopted or rejected:

Resolution 1: 

For the reasons outlined above and in the interests of the registered members, the consumer and the wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I. 9 of 2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to other groups to seek support for that policy.

GUEST POST: So What is an Independent Building Inspector and How Can they add value?

by Bregs Blog admin team

We have discussed the UK system of independent building control inspections by Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors many times on BRegs Blog. Widely praised, internationally the UK ranks an impressive 17th out of 189 countries in the “dealing with construction permits” section of the World Bank “doing business rankings. In contrast Ireland has slid further back to 128th position since the introduction of SI.9. In this Guest post we publish an interview with a UK Approved Inspector. This is the system we could have at no cost to the taxpayer or industry- it’s self-financing.

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GUEST POST: SO WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT BUILDING INSPECTOR AND HOW CAN THEY ADD VALUE?  – Selby Design

Building Regulations approval is required on almost every building project, including those that are permitted development under the planning system, and even for internal alterations to your home or office.

In this blog we talk to Approved Inspector Geoff Wilkinson* and ask him about the Approved Inspector system which is the alternative way to get Approval instead of using the Local Authority Building Inspector.

(Geoff is Managing Director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants and writes the Building Regulation column every month in Architects Journal)

SO WHAT DOES AN APPROVED INSPECTOR DO?

The service itself is essentially the same as the councils – the Approved Inspector will check and approve the plans, and then come out and inspect the works being carried out at various stages. I should point out though that the Approved Inspector system is a complete alternative to the Council service, the Approved Inspector is the actual decision maker, not a subcontractor for the council.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

The Government in the 1980’s recognised that the Building Control System was broken and causing great problems to developers as there was no choice in service provision. If your Local Council was short staffed you had no choice but to wait for your application to be processed. Worse still if the Local Authority Union went on strike your building site shut down while you waited to have your work inspected and approved. As a result they decided to introduce competition into the market as a way to improve standards. Successive Governments have recognised the role that Approved Inspectors have played in fixing the problems of the 1980s.

SO CAN ANYONE BECOME AN APPROVED INSPECTOR?

In short no – not everyone can become an Approved Inspector. Licenses are only issued by the Construction Industry Council and applicants have to prove that they are qualified and experienced to the necessary level before they can practice. This typically means that they hold RICS or equivalent qualifications, have 5 years post qualification experience, have complaints procedures and insurance in place in case anything went wrong, undertake continuous training of staff, and sign up to performance standards. The licenses are reviewed every 5 years there are sanctions that can be taken against Approved Inspectors that fail to perform. Interestingly there are no such requirements for Council Building Inspectors and the Government are now encouraging councils to apply to become Approved Inspectors.

HOW DOES THE SERVICE DIFFER?

The difference is generally in approach as after all both services essentially offer the same thing – a statutory check that building regulations are being followed. Approved Inspectors are commercially aware (they are businesses themselves after all), so understand that the important thing to a client is that works are completed on time and on budget. As a result they look to find ways to help you comply and offer advice early in the process to avoid the need to correct defective work. We don’t justify our fee by trying to find faults!

That may sound like we try to cut corners, but let me explain more. Since the 1980′s the building regulations have been cast in a functional form rather than being prescriptive In plain English this means that there are many different ways that you can show compliance, not just by following the Approved Documents . Approved Inspectors are more flexible in interpretation of the regulations as they are aware of these alternative routes. Also there is no political interference in the decision making process. Unfortunately many Local Authority Building control departments sit beneath Town Planners and in some cases they look to Gold Plate the minimum requirements in order to meet party political aspirations. The Government are trying to stop this completely by bringing all of the technical requirements out of the control of planners and into the Building Control system (see the Housing Review)

Lastly I should point out that Approved Inspectors have a duty to turn down work if they do not have the resources and experience to cope. The reverse is true of the Council service, who cannot refuse to accept a valid application. Councils are permitted 5-8 weeks in order to process an application and during busy periods Local Authority staff can be overstretched to breaking point to meet these targets. In some cases they end up rejecting applications in order to meet those deadlines , whereas there are no such deadlines using Approved Inspectors. As a result turnaround times are typically 5-10 days, instead of 5-8 weeks.

SO WHO ARE THESE APPROVED INSPECTORS?

Approved Inspectors can vary from large corporate practices of around 100 surveyors covering the whole of the country to small local businesses employing just 1 or 2 staff. Some specialise in particular sectors, such as housing, offices, or retail, whilst others work across all sectors. For the most part Approved Inspectors attract the very best ex Local Authority staff who want to concentrate on delivering high quality services and are fed up with the bureaucracy of Local Government. They don’t just work 9am – 5pm and are on hand to give advice from the earliest stage – often pre-planning to ensure that your design wont be rejected

SOUNDS GREAT, BUT ITS NOT BEEN TRIED AND TESTED HAS IT?

Actually it has been – Approved Inspectors were first introduced in the 1980′s and there are now around 60 or so licenses in place, a full list can be seen on the Construction Industry Website.

WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD ABOUT THIS BEFORE THEN?

For many years Approved Inspectors only operated in the commercial sector as the first licenses excluded housing. As a result most of the big commercial developments and many government departments used Approved inspectors whilst small residential developers didn’t. The Government recognised this issue and changed the rules to enable Approved Inspectors to operate on a level playing field and as a result most will now take on smaller projects too.

BUT IT MUST BE MORE EXPENSIVE THEN?

Not necessarily, Approved Inspectors are able to operate without the costs of Local Authority services, operating from small local offices rather than grand civic centres. As a result fees are generally competitive, often within 10% of the Council fee and sometimes even cheaper. More importantly though Building Control fees are typically no more than 1-2% of the cost of a project £600 – £1000 on a typical £30K – £50K extension, and the right choice of Approved Inspector can save significantly more than that in delay and correcting defective works.

Thanks Geoff

Letter to the RIAI President- a self builder’s blog

by Bregs Blog admin team

Drawing-Board-Lg_A2

Self builder Amanda Gallagher has written to all three key stakeholder groups involved in the formation of the building regulations, representative groups for engineers, surveyors and architects (ACEI, SCSI and RIAI). She has queried that the status of self-builders and has asked that advice given to respective members whether self-builds can be certified under the new regulations or not. The following letters were sent to Mr Robin Mandal, President of the RIAI(Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland) last month, April 2014. We will be posting letters to ACEI and SCSI in this series also.

Leter to the RIAI President (28th April 2014) – click here

Link to Letter to Mr Robin Mandal, RIAI president (14th April 2014) – click here

_____________

Extract off April 28th Letter:

RE: Self Build Issues unresolved

Dear Robin

I hope this letter finds you well. I am still awaiting a reply from you and Mr Graby regarding most pressing issues facing self builders in Ireland. (previous letter here: letter to mr robin mandal riai president
I am one of many people who at this present time who feel disheartened and quite frankly let down by the lack of respect shown to us by this Government and the professional bodies including the RIAI.

When myself and my husband first started talking about our dream home the first thing we decided was that it would be a Royal Institute Architect that we would choose to design our family home – and that is exactly what we did – we wanted the very best. In light of the fact that the RIAI refuse to give us answers to crucial questions I am beginning to question whether the RIAI are in fact ‘the best’.

Robin, I can gather from your silence toward me and my queries – that you support and endorse a monopoly on professional services that advantages RIAI members and disadvantages self builders. I know you are in a difficult position and I am sure you sit at home thinking ‘the S.I. 9 would have to come in on my watch!’ – You are not alone – that is what we say too! In fact the silence from all of the key stakeholders of the S.I. 9 is deafening!

You know, if we all worked together we could fix this mess. Two months have now passed and it feels like two years as we were not prepared for this obstacle in our way. Our children get bigger by the day and our house gets smaller by the day – a resolution to this whole mess is absolutely vital to self builders so that they can get on with their builds.

We support a register of qualified contractors – all tax compliant and with Insurance in place – but what we don’t support is a law that forces us to employ a building contractor only – we want to employ our tradesmen – you know Robin that a building contractor may be merely a business man – he may not know a hammer from a nail!

Minister Hogan and his officials in the Department are still ‘saying’ we can self build yet we cannot find a RIAI member who wants to work with us – now why is that? – Surely our government are right? If so, then why do your members refuse to work alongside us?

It is unjust of this government to ban self building – no reason in the world will ever justify it and it feels so depressing to be the ‘lepers’ of building control – no one wants to come near us. There is a real crisis in the construction sector as we speak and the RIAI need to decide how they are going to play their part in ensuring stability in the weeks and months ahead.

I trust that I will hear from you soon.

Regards,

Amanda Gallagher

_______________

Extract off April 14th 2014 letter:

Dear Robin,

I refer to my last two letters that I wrote to you regarding the RIAI and its advise to members on the Self Build issue within S.I. 9. You have informed me that those letters were passed on to John Graby for processing. I am most disheartened that you have not answered my most pressing queries. I know to you they are not that pressing but to many people in Ireland, many ordinary families they are crucial.

I recently read the Law Society’s advise to your members (registered professionals) regarding the self build scenario -not to take on the role of Assigned Certifier for a self builder. This in effect renders self building impossible in Ireland today.

I hope you can imagine my horror today after having been informed by a dear friend who attended the Ideal Home Show in the RDS that the RIAI have an exhibition stand there and they are giving out false information: The RIAI seem to have adopted the nonsensical guidelines that localgov.ie are issuing on the S.I. 9 – I refer especially to the points that run side by side – the first being that the RIAI state that you can still build by direct labour if you feel confident that you are competent.

In the next point the RIAI then state the builder must be a competent builder – even suggesting to be taken from CIRI – by the way CIRI is not even available to the public until May – why on earth is there a provision for the CIRI builder’s number on the nation’s legal documents when it is not even up and running? The same can be the said for the rushed implementation of the S.I. 9 – because for the next year (until CIRI is Statutory) the general public can still employ a ‘cowboy’ – all the Key Stakeholders know this and it is shameful that Minister Hogan went ahead despite the rational pleas for a deferral – I want to take this opportunity to applaud you for your valiant efforts in pleading for a deferral.

Can you answer the following:

1. Notwithstanding the IAOSB complaint to the attorney general, the RIAI appear to have assumed a position on self-building in agreement with DOELG advice- that it can proceed under S.I. 9 at present- is this correct?

2. If this is RIAI policy then one could assume the RIAI can, against law society advice, recommend members not to excuse themselves from design and assigned certifier roles for self-builders- is this correct?

3. One would also assume RIAI has obtained legal advice this position is correct, on behalf of members, and if so would the RIAI be so kind as to furnish this to IAOSB and self-builders? Confirmation of a senior council opinion on this would help clarify current misinformation at present.

4. If RIAI have policy on self building in line with above points, now in advance of mandatory register introduction in march 2015, can they confirm this to IAOSB and self-builders?

You know, a great man once said: “We are builders of our own characters. We have different spheres, capacities, privileges different work to do in the world, different temporal fabrics to raise; but we are alike in this – all are architects of fate.” I think all RIAI members should ponder most seriously on why they decided to become architects in the first place – it really is not becoming for members of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland to be promoting incorrect and contradictory advice issued by the Minister and his Department?

I note from the recent Seanad Debate on the S.I. 105 that Minister Hogan was most adamant that the majority of members of RIAI are most supportive of the S.I. 9. , including Michelle Fagan past president. I have read two very considered letters by past presidents to date, Padraig Murray and Eoin O’Cofaigh which have the contrary view.

Many self-builders have held off commencement of their projects until the attorney general has issued definitive advice on the matter. The IASOB likewise has reserved their opinion pending attorney general direction, which they feel is a responsible position to their members on the issue. Building a house for many people is the single biggest investment of their lives. The RIAI reproducing Ministerial advice know to be contradictory and conflicting to the public is, in my view, irresponsible and not acceptable to me or any other self builder contemplating commencement at the moment.

The IAOSB have already made a formal complaint against the director of the RIAI John Graby regarding similar reckless statements made in a radio interview in february 2014. My husband was present at the same interview and was very surprised at the advice given. This complaint is listed on the IAOSB site: letter from iaosb to robin manda, riai president

If you have received senior council opinion to back up this position on self builders please forward it on. if not I request a formal correction be issued to the public on the issue as a matter of urgency.

Regards,

Amanda Gallagher

Should the Architectural Technology Profession stay within the RIAI? | Liam Innes

by Bregs Blog admin team

Architectural_program-page-graphics-700x275_3

The following comment was sent to the BRegs Blog by Liam Innes and it has been formatted into a post. Liam Innes is one of two candidates on the ballot to be the Architectural Technologist member of the RIAI Council 2015.

I read with interest Joe Byrnes’ article and first of all let me say that it is regrettable that both Joe and Darren Bergin, the AT representative on Council, felt they had no option but to resign their positions within the RIAI. I can understand their reasons and Joe’s exasperation is there for all to see in the written word. Having worked with both over the last year as a member of the ATC I have seen at first hand their dedication and passion for the cause.

Going forward however, and many may think me naive, I feel that there still exists an opportunity to achieve recognition for the Architectural Technologist as a co professional with the competencies to carry out the duties of Design / Assigned Certifier as laid down in the BC(A)R legislation and for this to be promoted as part of any review of SI 9. This is only part of the story however. We also need to advance the overall standing of the Technologist within the RIAI and provide a platform for more inclusive engagement with the Institute.

My continuing optimism and involvement in the process, is based on the potential review of SI.9, and the possible submission that the RIAI Steering Group may make to any such review. The role of the Technologist must be part of this submission with recognition, and promotion of, their role as a registered professional within the legislative framework of a revised SI. 9.

While the Department of the Environment seem to have accepted the principle of the establishment of a Statutory Register for Technologists, continued pressure is required to effectively get this over the line with work required in the QQI in relation to standards in the AT field and the formulation of accession routes to a register.

The question has been asked;’ Why would technologists seek to undertake a role which is viewed by many as an uninsurable risk’. It is a legitimate question and I would think that there are many technologists currently in salaried employment who feel no need to become involved in the process. There are Technologists, however, whether by choice or as a fall out from the recession, who are running small mostly one man practices.The introduction of BC(A)R and the omission of the Technologist from the first tier of the framework has presented a serious problem for those Technologists who have been offering a full service in line with their professional competencies and who now have to explain to their clients why the service they offered on 28th February 2014 is now compromised by the implementation of BC(A)R on the 1st March 2014 yet their competencies remain unchanged. In many cases it is a basic as this.

There is a principle at stake here for many Technologists. It is one where they would like to be in a position to have the opportunity to decide, as many Architects are doing, whether they should provide the Design / Assigned Certifier service with all its associated risks. With most clients expecting a continuation of the full service the only realistic option currently available to Technologists is to join another professional institute and go down the Building Surveyor route which many are doing. This is not to denigrate the other professional bodies but many would say that the Architectural Technology Profession in Ireland should sit within the body of the RIAI but with their own identity and now is the time to settle this once and for all.

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Dáil: response on Architectural Technologist Register in 7 days

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

Dáil TD’s want to Revoke SI.9 (4 of 4)

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Thoughts on a Register for Architectural Technologists

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 

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

by Bregs Blog admin team

hand-9-nine

Stop! – SI.Nine is 9 months old

The 9th monthly Building Register was published by the Building Control Management System (BCMS) on 4th December 2014 at 8.08 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 4,294 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past nine months (39 weeks) since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014.

Of these 874 (20%) are Commencement Notices without accompanying SI.9 documentation (aka Short Form) and 260 (6%) are seven-day notices (Fire Safety Certificates). These percentages remain consistent since the six month results published in October.

Since the introduction of the BCMS, the average number of commencement notices being lodged is 110 per week. However in 2013 the average number lodged per week was 143 (7,456 in total).

Currently commencement notices are running 25% below 2013 levels which was an historic low point in construction industry output. These figures are borne out by the latest information from the CSO which records that Building and Construction output only grew by 0.1% in the third quarter 2014.

Link to Building Register: 

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

 

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

champagne-1262279028

Recent data issued by the Central Statics Office suggests recent media coverage and speculation of a construction boom may be premature. With only a 5.2% increase in residential output expect supply issues to continue to distort the market. Don’t break open the champagne yet. Extract off CSO site to follow. For direct link click here.

____________

CSO statistical release, 11 December 2014, 11am

Production in Building and Construction Index

cso1.pdf [Converted]

Building and Construction Output increased by 0.1% in 3rd quarter 2014

cso 2a

The volume of output in building and construction increased by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding period.

This reflects increases of 5.2% and 0.1% in residential building work and civil engineering respectively while there was a decrease of 1.0% in the volume of non-residential building*.  The change in the value of production for all building and construction was +1.3%. 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 third quarter of 2014*.  There was an increase of 11.0% 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 19.1%, 13.4% and 2.5% respectively in residential building work, civil engineering and non-residential building work.   See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.

*Given the unprecedented low base this series is starting from, the CSO will continue to monitor the quality and comparability of this new data series.

cso 3.pdf [Converted]

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

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

PII Insurance increase under SI.9 with no cover for pyrite?

by Bregs Blog admin team

personal-insurance

BRegs Blog admin 13th December 2014

Following the Minister’s warning to professionals on fees, he’s also sent a clear signal that those responsible for defective construction products will be pursued under the new building control regime… (Muscovite Mica). Minister Alan Kelly:

the people who ensured young families would be left in this manner must be followed to the end“.

See Minister Kelly’s comments here.

All Certifiers should take note. We wonder how could an Assigned Certifier possibly know the chemical composition of blocks? Even the Pyrite Panel said this would be impossible. It would seem that all Professionals’ insurance policies exclude pyrite, and are set to increase due to increased liability under BC(A)R SI.9.

Correspondence from a Professional Insurance provider to a contributor in December 2014 illustrate the problem (extracts to follow):

Dear BReg Blog,

I asked a Professional Indemnity Insurance provider the following questions. I would suggest you get your readers to do likewise:

  1. Is there any discount or loading for new certifier duties under BC(A)R SI.9?
  2. I was wondering what standard levels of cover do you provide for sole traders, do you cover pyrite?

This is the reply I received:

I believe most of the insurers apply a pyrite exclusion, sample wording below for your review;

“The Underwriters shall not be liable to indemnify any Insured or to make any payment under this Policy in respect of any Claim, Loss, liability or Defence Costs arising out of, caused by, resulting from, in consequence of, in connection with or in any way involving any of the following:

 22. PYRITE/CONTAMINATED INFILL

any presence or alleged presence of any products or material containing or alleged to contain any form of pyrite, iron sulphite or their derivatives or any contaminated infill material.”

In relation to the new assigned certifier role, I do not think any insurer is awarding discounts for the new role, if anything they are loading their rates for the additional responsibility/exposure taken on. Our main market is keeping their rates static which seems to compare favourably.

We wonder where this leaves consumers, given that Local Authorities still have not increased resources to police the construction materials sector. Certifiers are now responsible for certifying materials (Part D) but are not insured for pyrite in projects.

This may cause some uncomfortable questions by registered professionals, who have consistently been told by their representative bodies that Professional Insurance won’t increase. More worrying is if a certifier is found liable for signing off on pyrite and there is no insurance cover for the claim.

Sounds familiar.

Other posts of interest:

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent 

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

“The insurance will sort it out…”

What is PI Insurance? 

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9

HomeBond ‘snub’ over pyrite ‘a matter of serious public concern’ – Committee

SI.9 Review.. “early in the new year” | Minster Alan Kelly

by Bregs Blog admin team

Dublin_Custom_House

BRegs Blog 13th December 2014

Minster Kelly SI.9 Review.. “early in the new year”

In the following Dáil exchange Brendan Griffin (FG TD) asked Minister Alan Kelly if he intended to revoke SI.9. Minister Kelly responded that he had “…no plans to revoke the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014”.

However Minister Kelly gave a strong indication that the 12-month formal industry review confirmed by industry stakeholders for March 2015 would be brought forward to earlier in the new year. We assume this is a result of weaker than expected economic indicators from the construction sector, a fall-off in house building and delays to capital projects since 1 March. We believe both Minister Kelly and Minister Coffey have received strong representations from self-builders, consumer groups, concerned professionals and BRegs Blog contributors.

The BRegs Blog would like to invite readers for feedback, as a number of contributors are researching and preparing a formal report on this at the moment. We welcome broad input and feedback from industry and economic commentators, policy advisors and consumers in order to be able to give the Minister a full unbiased picture of the impact of the new regulations that is unencumbered by legacy issues through involvement in the negotiations to bring about SI.9.

If any groups have made contributions to the Ministers in their ongoing review process we would we would be glad to receive your contributions. Email: bregsforum@gmail.com

Link to Dáil exchange here.

Extract:

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Amendments Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brendan Griffin (Kerry South, Fine Gael)

539. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, SI 9, will be revoked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46099/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

I have no plans to revoke the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. Over 4,700 new construction projects have been notified to Building Control Authorities across the local government sector since these regulations came into operation on 1 March 2014. Evidence to date suggests that the Construction industry is responding well to the new regulatory framework. Oversight of activity by industry and by local building control authorities has improved immeasurably and authorities have ready access to detailed data on projects via the online Building Control Management System. The online system streamlines building control administration and enables authorities to identify risks and track progress.

A Framework for Building Control Authorities was adopted by the City and County Management Association on 17 July 2014 – these common protocols add clarity, efficiency and consistency to building control activities across the local government sector.

I am satisfied that this key reform of the regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade and will lead to improved quality within the construction sector. My Department will continue to work closely with local authorities, industry stakeholders and members of the public generally to ensure that all concerned understand their obligations under the regulations and how they can comply with these in practice. A review of the first year of operation of the regulations will be undertaken by my Department in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The review will commence early in the New Year and will inform future regulation in this critical area.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Revoke SI.9 | IAOSB / Self-Builders’ Letter to TD’s

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Iaosb letter to Minister Kelly – Revoke or Revise S.I.9

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

by Bregs Blog admin team

prefab

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Summer Works projects for schools throughout the country in 2015 are now on hold as a result of the introduction of SI.9 earlier this year and its impact on the capital spending budget for the Department of Education. This type of work is the life blood of many small rural M+E engineers, structural engineers and architects as well as small to medium sized building contractors. This news come not come at a worse time for these regional SMEs. Funding of €70 m for 770 schools was available in summer 2014.

It appears that the unforeseen cost of having to pay additional Design and Assigned Certifier fees to the larger, mainly Dublin-based, design consultancies for large school projects has used up the funds available. In addition it is reported by Niall Murray in  today’s Examiner that Education Minister, Jan O’Sullivan T.D., has confirmed that € 35.5m has not been spent during 2014 due to delays on projects caused by the new Building Control Regulations (Link:).

The building control regulations that came into force in March meant tender documents had to be significantly revised, adding at least two to three months to the time it takes projects to move to construction stage. The Minister advised this funding would be re-allocated instead to the new Grangegorman Campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Fianna Fáil education spokesman, Charlie McConalogue T.D., said that this movement of funding would mean no summer works scheme allocation next year. The news will also be met with disappointment from pupils, teachers, parents, backbench T.D.s and the CIF.

In previous posts the BRegs Blog raised the issue of whether SI.9 was needed at all for school projects and pointed out the likely impacts with delays and cancelled projects.

Useful Links:

Schools to suffer as Minister ignores Essential Works Scheme:

Is SI.9 necessary for Public Sector projects:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects:

Examiner – € 35.5 m unspent as Building Control Regulations delay school projects:

Summer Works 2014 Budget:

RIAI Elections | Follow Friday Shout Out !

by Bregs Blog admin team

Election

The BRegs Blog has always tried to stay above partisan politics within the various stakeholder organisations involved with SI.9 and focus solely on issues pertaining to the Building Control Regulations. Unfortunately this high moral stance collapses today when we give a big shout out for support for candidates in the forthcoming RIAI Council 2015 election. These candidates have contributed to posts on the BRegs Blog and been part of this debate and open-source resource for sharing information about SI.9.

mark_stephens Mark Stephens MRIAI

Our biggest shout out has to go to Mark Stephens who is a candidate for the RIAI Western Region. Mark is one of Ireland’s most prolific architectural bloggers and was shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland and Be2 Awards for ‘Best Use of Twitter in Construction’. He was instrumental in helping to get the BRegs Blog up and running. Over the last year he has helped with our I.T. issues as this blog brought two posts daily (one on Sundays) to our 1,500 subscribers. We know he would bring 21st century social media skills to the way that any organisation could communicate with its members. Mark Stephens has undertaken the role of Assigned Certifier and written positively on the BCMS; yet he favours independent inspectors. As an “early implementer” he is typical of the diversity of informed opinion that we have on this Blog. He recently authored a solution post “Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations“.

Other candidates seeking a seat who have contributed posts to the BRegs Blog include:

  • Eamon Hedderman FRIAI
  • Barry Kelly MRIAI
  • Mícheál de Siún MRIAI
  • Ciaran Ferrie MRIAI
  • Martin Murray MRIAI (Eastern Region)

 

The candidates seeking election are:

Architectural Technologist:

Liam Innes, Pat Kirwan

Eastern Region:

Martin Murray, James O’Donoghue

Western Region:

Deirdre Kelly, Mark Stephens, Richard Rice, Simon Wall

Ordinary Members:

David Browne, Michael Crowe, Mícheál de SiúnIsoilde Dillon, Martin Donnelly, Grainne Dunne, Ciaran Ferrie, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Grace, Ali Grehan, Eamon Hedderman, Martin Heffernan, Barry Kelly, Paul Keogh, Sean Mahon, Michael McGarry, Claire McManus, John Mitchell, Ralph Montague, Justin O’ Callaghan, John O’Mahony, Ciara Reddy, Grainne Shaffrey.

Voting closes at 11.59 pm on Tuesday 16th December 2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIAI Past Presidents Paper #1 | The Building Regulations and Consumer protection

RIAI Past Presidents Paper #2 | The Building Regulations and Certifiers’ Liability 

Developer makes 27% profit in 6 months: warns against state housing.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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House builder Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October on a turnover of €62.63 million, or 27.13% net profit from March to October 2014. In this article in the Irish Times they warn that their profitability, and that of other speculative builders, will be impacted upon by state initiatives to deliver affordable housing. We note a more normal profit level in speculative development is 20%, a level required by most financial institutions to provide finance. This article comes on foot of a Davy report that suggested construction labour costs were 50% higher here than in Northern Ireland.

Link to article here. Extract:

________

Abbey concerned by level of state intervention in housing market

by Eoin Burke Kennedy on 5th December 2014 in the Irish Times.

House builder says moves by Irish and British governments will crowd out private capital. Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October.

House builder Abbey has warned that state intervention in the Irish and British housing markets has the potential to “crowd out” private investors.

In a trading update, the company noted with concern the announcement this week by the UK government that it intends to speculatively develop land for housing.

The proposal, unveiled as part of chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, is aimed at tackling Britain’s ongoing housing shortage.

“When set alongside similar activities by Government agencies in Ireland, this raises fundamental questions about the future environment for private development in both jurisdictions,” Abbey said.

“Publicly supported UK Housing Associations already speculatively develop houses for sale. This week’s announcement will serve to further crowd out at the margin the role of private capital in housebuilding,” it added.

In the budget, the Irish Government announced ambitious plans to spend €3.8 billion on building and refurbishing 35,000 social housing units over the next five years.

The Government and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) believe 25,000 new housing units need to be built every year to meet the current level of demand.

Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October, up from €7.65 million for the same period last year.

The builder said strong margins were a “notable feature” of the period and should be sustained into the next half year.

While forward sales were also encouraging, it said pressure on costs continued to be a feature of the market.

Its housebuilding division completed 225 sales in the six month-period – 205 in the UK, 15 in Ireland and five in the Czech Republic.

This resulted in a turnover of €62.63 million.

In Ireland, Abbey’s project in Rathfarnham is now 90 per cent sold and the company said it was turning its attention to its project in Lucan, which is scheduled to launch early next year.

Trading in the UK was good throughout the period, the company said.

In Prague sales completed in the period were disappointing, however, as last year a brighter second six months is in prospect, it said.

Overall further progress in all regions can be expected in the second half, it said, noting that during the period 405 plots were added to its land bank.

Abbey’s board announced a dividend of five cents per share, which together with the six cents approved at its AGM in October will make a total of 11 cents for the financial year.

Other posts of interest:

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations 

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

Homebond | Assigned Certifier + defects liability policy for €2,000?

Revoke SI.9 | IAOSB / Self-Builders’ Letter to TD’s

Village magazine| What’s happening with housing policy in 2014?

Ireland – What’s Next?| TV 3 Series on Ireland’s Housing Crisis

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Want to live in Dublin? | Only the wealthy need apply!

The Latest Homebond House Building Manual: A Critique | Joseph Little Architects

SI.9 – How Certain is the Certifier?| Eamonn Hedderman FRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece* was received from Eamonn Hedderman FRIAI, a principal in Holly Park Studio in Blackrock, Co. Dublin and a candidate in the RIAI Council 2015 election who is in no hurry to join the SI.9 race to the bottom!

Completion Certificates and the Assigned Certifier. How certain is the Certifier?

Since the introduction of the term Assigned Certifier under the Building Regulations I have been concerned at how easily those drafting the legislation have presumed a parity of qualification amongst those professionals approved to take on the role, namely:

(a) Architects that are on the register maintained by the RIAI under Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007; or

(b) Building Surveyors that are on the register maintained by the SCSI under Part 5 of the Building Control Act 2007; or

(c) Chartered Engineers on the register maintained by Engineers Ireland under section 7 of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969.

It is questionable whether all prospective Employers will appreciate the very real differences in the skill sets of those named professions above and more significantly whether the professionals in question will be objectively critical, in the present economic climate, when it comes to deciding whether they are competent to take on the role.

I have long held the view that to do justice to the role of Assigned Certifier, with its inherent liabilities, the incumbent will have to become a full time site professional and will have to limit such services to one project at a time.  Such an onerous task will require adequate remuneration and yet there is significant evidence of professionals agreeing to take on the role for fees that could not possible cover out-of-pocket expenses, let alone provide even a minimum wage.

God be with the days when Architects could confidently advise Clients of the advisability of employing the services of a Clerks of Work or Site Architects and, that the Architect’s opinion was sufficiently respected to ensure that funding for such services was made available.

At what stage did we accept that budget cuts could dispense with these important site supervisory roles?

Why did we add that service to our standard service, regardless of what the appointment documents might suggest?

Is it not as a direct consequence of the OVER SERVICING of our clients that the ‘powers-that-be’ expect that we will Kowtow and take on new responsibilities and greater liabilities without question?

If we do accept the role of Assigned Certifier how will funding of the ongoing Professional Indemnity Insurance be managed when the certifier decides to retire?

One of the principal warnings issued to Members by the RIAI over the past year has been that if Architects fail to take on the role of assigned Certifier, there are other professional more than willing do so.

Well, let them at it.

I was recently appointed to monitor the construction of a large domestic extension adjoining my clients property.  Planning permission had been acquired in 2014 but there was no Architect involved on the project and the Assigned Certifier was not a Registered Architect.

When first introduced to the Assigned Certifier I asked if they felt comfortable in their competence to take on such an onerous role, and was assured that there were absolutely no concerns.

Perhaps such comfort is borne out of an ignorance of the pressures, traditionally taken on by the Architectural Profession, of taking full responsibility for the coordination and management of construction projects.

What was disturbing about the whole affair was that during the course of the construction I had to highlight a number of boundary and detail issue which were not in compliance with Building Regulations, leaving me to wonder if such oversights were common throughout the project.

I wonder how valid the Assigned Certifier’s Completion Certificate will be. Will anyone be able to rely on it?

Would I, as an Architect representing a prospective buyer for the property, be able to comment on the advisability of accepting that such a certificate was evidence of Compliance.

And, what documents will the legal profession be seeking as evidence of compliance in future conveyancing?

Do we as a profession know?

Does the RIAI, SCSI or EI know?

Does the Law Society know?

Eamon Hedderman FRIAI

* The BRegs Blog Team are happy to consider similar submissions for possible publication.

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing 

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

Build in 8 hours, wait 3 weeks for a Completion Cert!

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

Are Local Authorities ready? Industry concern for completion stage: BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014

 

SI.9 – Problems with BCMS Inspection Plans | Barry Kelly MRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

B Kelly

The following opinion piece* was received from Barry Kelly MRIAI, a principal in Carew Kelly Architects – a small practice based in Dublin 2 – and a candidate in the RIAI Council 2015 election. Like many similar practices he finds the imposition of SI.9 to be a massive burden with a huge impact in terms of liability, cost and time. BReg Blog notes shown [ ].

Problems with Inspection Plans

On 27th November 2014 Engineers Ireland published an article by the BCMS. This was in relation to a sample Inspection Plan that lists seven stage inspections for compliance for a project [Link to article:]. In the article author Mairéad Phelan, project manager of the Building Control Management System notes:

Preliminary and completed inspection plans: It important that the number and type of inspections to be carried out relate to the complexity of the project, the relevant building-compliance issues and the milestones in the project. An example of inspection stages with the relevant building regulatory compliance issues is below. It is compliance with Part A-M with which the BCAs (Building Control Authorities) are concerned.

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I question whether ‘7 stage inspections’ are adequate (even for a house build) and comparisons need to be drawn to a Building Surveyors ’33 Stage inspection’ [post hereand the RIAI Inspection Framework which is considerably more complex.

One colleague points out that “While every assigned certifier is free to set the number of times they call to a site, they are required to be comprehensive both in the planning and preparation of a project, the level of and number of inspections, and in compiling all documentation including ancillary certificates from consultants who will be inevitably involved. While a bank, for mortgage applications may require as little as 5 or 6 inspections, SI.9 requires diligent Assigned Certifiers to carry out many more. If they are not carrying out the additional inspections or working with consultants then they have failed in their duties”.

In particular, I question the following anomalies and omissions from the BCMS  ‘7 Stage Inspection Plan’:

Part E (Sound) is inspected at wall plate level this is before roof/ windows/ closing in of the main envelope, so how can a sound test be completed when the building envelope is not completed?

‘First fix’ services are inspected at CompletionClearly this is not proper sequencing on site, particularly when electrical services do not fall within the building regulations.

Part M (Access) is inspected at foundations level and completion only note in article “The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are: 9. Steps to entrances (Part M), but access issues are relevant throughout the build.

Part G (Hygiene) this is completely omitted from inspection plan.

Part J (Heat Producing Appliances) the inspection does not happen until the roof is on.

Part L ( Fuel & Energy)  is inspected when the building is at Ground Floor Level (again out of sequence).

It is hard to see how there can be a level playing pitch for consultants competing for work when there is no agreed standard in relation to inspections. More worryingly, as one colleague noted “when I land in court will the other side argue that I cut corners if I did not record an inspection every week?”

*BRegs Blog Admin. Team will consider similar submissions for publication.

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

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

When is an extension not extensions? | The 40M2 question…

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

BCMS | Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award

SI.9 “Fully designed, or equal approved?” | Mícheál de Siún MRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece* was received from Mícheál de Siún MRIAI, a Director of DE SIÚN SCULLION ARCHITECTS and an election candidate for the RIAI Council 2015.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (S.I. 9 of 2014) compounds the contradiction at the heart of public procurement: Fully designed, or equal approved?

It is a commonly held misconception that the introduction of the ‘new’ forms of Public Works Contracts restricted architects in their choice of products and precluded the use of a trade names followed by; ‘or equal approved’. In fact this is quite a long way from the truth. The restriction on the use of trade names when specifying products in public procurement arises from the EU Procurement directive 2004/18/EC (transposed into Irish Law in 2006). That this happened around the same time as the introduction of the Public Works Contracts is simply coincidence. Moreover, the suite of Public Works Contracts is conceived to provide certainty to a contracting authority, and ultimately to the exchequer.

The EU procurement directive is conceived to ensure free and fair competition in the supply of goods and services to government agencies: and these two concepts, enshrined in a single process, frequently result in a fundamental conflict of intent. After all, what could be more uncertain than a specifier describing a specific product in a way that does not preclude, nay invites, alternatives. The certainty strived for in the Public Works Contracts, and the liberal competitive principle enshrined in the EU procurement directive are pulling in two different directions.

Indeed the existence of the procurement directive flies in the face of any possibility that output specifications prepared for public projects and issued to bidding contractors would be ‘fully designed’ (a term that does not appear anywhere in the Public Works Contract forms or guidance notes). Like it or not, the very act of choosing a product, and discounting others, based on a technical specification, is an act of design.

Bear in mind that a contractor is required to undertake this selection process during the tender process, when the job is being priced. Even afterwards, in the ad-hoc world of product submittals, post contract signing, a specifier will not assume responsibility for procurement decisions made by a contractor; a specifier will only retain responsibility for his or her initial specification – one that by (EU) legislation cannot be complete (in that the products that will actually be used cannot be identified).

Enter BC(A)R, SI. 9 of 2014. Who is the designer?

Architects and Employer Representatives do not use the word ‘approved’ when reviewing contractors’ product submissions – because under the contract the sole responsibility for ensuring the selected product conforms with the performance specification lies with the contractor – and anyway, the products are not ‘or equal approved’. But the Design Certifier is not operating under a contract. His or her responsibility arises in legislation.

In its attempt to carve out a simple distinction between ‘designer’ and ‘builder’, the legislation has missed this subtle contradiction in public procurement. The EU directive invites competition, alternatives & innovation in the provision of goods and services; even in the simplest examples this entails decisions – effectively design decisions. In medium to large scale projects, these decisions will run to literally hundreds of product submittals, with a direct financial incentive for the builder to get the cheapest ‘compliant’ product over the line.

So who decides what is compliant?

  1. Must the Contractor now issue a plethora of ancillary design certificates for every procurement decision made where products are chosen by him (backed up by PII)?, or;
  2. Does the Certificate of Compliance (undertaking by Builder) mean that an architect will no longer need to deal with requests for ‘approval’ of products or technical submittals?, or;
  3. Does the Design Certifier assume responsibility for product selection (by the Contractor) that they are excluded from making under EU legislation?

Like in so many other aspects of SI. 9 of 2014, the jury is out.

*The BRegs Blog Admin. Team will consider any similar SI.9-related submissions for publication.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

John Graby – RIAI, CEO | “Phil Hogan did not bulldoze through SI.9′

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

SI.9 and PII Alert | Practice makes perfect or does it?

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following article appeared in Engineers Journal on 25th November 2014. It shows a typical inspection plan and notes the 12 most common mistakes made by users of the Building Control Management System (BCMS). Completion stage issues may not be fully visible at this point due to the low level of completions to date. Progress under the new system is noted:

“At the date of writing and post 1 March 2014, the BCMS registered:

  • 68,629 documents uploaded;
  • 4,135 valid commencement/7 Day (CN) notices;
  • 614 invalid CNs;
  • 1,435 CNs in progress i.e. at various stages before submission to BCMS;
  • 204 valid Certificates of Compliance on Completion.”

For link to article “Building Control Management System – how it works in practice” click here. Extract:

___________

Nine months on since its implementation, Mairéad Phelan offers an update on the Building Control Management System and advises on how to avoid common pitfalls in the submission process

25th November 2014 | Engineers Journal

Author: Mairéad Phelan BE, CEng, FIEI, MBA, project manager of the Building Control Management System

Prior to 1 March 2014 – in spite of the fact that compliance within the building industry was/is basically self-regulation or ‘light touch’ with limited independent inspection – the experience of the local authority (LA) sector was that many ‘builders’, ‘developers’ and ‘designers’ had no technical training, legal and/or professional advice regarding the science of construction. The outcome of this was some of the worst examples of building construction, which ignored the Building Regulations and, in some cases, endangered occupants of these buildings.

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Opinions on compliance with Building Regulations were churned out for a fee, with compliance assured by an ‘opinion’ certifying the works. It has been the experience of building control authorities (BCAs) that a large proportion of buildings were constructed using only the planning permission drawings, with no reference to building regulations and with drainage systems being constructed by anyone who happened to own a JCB. In many of these cases, where things have gone wrong, it has been the local authority/taxpayer that funded the resolution, despite Building Regulations mandating that all building must be ‘fit for purpose’.

BCAs have found it extremely difficult and costly to prove not ‘fit for purpose’ in a ‘building control’ (BC) enforcement case and get costs reimbursed. An effective Regulatory Compliance System for BC within the 31 local authorities as a shared-service initiative was initiated by the County and City Managers Association (CCMA) as a collective response to these challenges and the introduction of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) i.e. S.I. 9 and S.I. 105 of 2014.

Building Control Management System overview

S.I. 9 of 2014 (signed into law on 17 January 2014 for implementation on 1 March 2014) states that the “Building Control Management System [BCMS] means the information technology-based system hosted by the Local Government Management Agency and developed to facilitate the electronic administration of building control matters by building control authorities [is] the preferred means of building control administration”.

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The BCMS is a collective response by the CCMA/Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to provide oversight of building commencements in Ireland. It is project managed by Fingal County Council and centrally hosted; this online information technology-based Building Control Administration System enables electronic administration and building regulatory oversight of construction by the 31 building control authorities.

The implementation of BCAR provides the industry with a new opportunity to ‘build’ for the future with the introduction of mandatory certification by professionals, BCMS online assessment of projects, inspection plans and supporting documentation. Collaboration with the users was the key to successful system design.

The main focus of the project is:

  • To provide for the health and safety of people in or about buildings,
  • To ensure access for all,
  • To conserve fuel and energy,
  • To ensure sound, well-built homes, amenities and commercial buildings and
  • To provide electronically a public register of what is being built, by whom and where.

For practitioners and professionals in the building industry, the BCMS provides an online repository for lodgement of statutory documents to the LA, thus providing a quicker assessment and validation process. The BCMS has the ability to notify its 6,000 users of issues regarding the building industry – for example, if a fraudulent or defective product was placed on the market, the BCMS can notify all on the system and issue a warning regarding same i.e. can get the information to the relevant people in real time.

For managers and planners, the level and type of construction activity in a county can be gleaned in real time along with materials used, contractor, designer information etc. For building control officers, they have real-time information on enforcement issues in other counties so that a builder can be prevented from replicating breaches of Building Regulations across county boundaries.

At the date of writing and post 1 March 2014, the BCMS registered:

  • 68,629 documents uploaded;
  • 4,135 valid commencement/7 Day (CN) notices;
  • 614 invalid CNs;
  • 1,435 CNs in progress i.e. at various stages before submission to BCMS;
  • 204 valid Certificates of Compliance on Completion.

The chart illustrates the valid and invalid web and counter submissions registered on the BCMS to date. These BCMS submissions to the 31 BCAs are constantly reviewed by a BCMS oversight group and it is noted that the quality of the submissions have greatly improved since 1 March.

BCMS nine months on: submission issues & common mistakes

Roles and duties: It is important that all the stakeholders (owners, builders, designers and assigned certifiers) involved are clear on their roles and familiarise themselves with the requirements of the Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations. In the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works are set out the roles and duties of owners, builders and designers who are responsible for compliance with the Building Regulations, along with the roles and duties of assigned certifiers who are responsible for liaising with the BCAs, preparing and implementing inspection plans and collation of compliance/ancillary documents/certification for Certificate of Compliance on Completion.

The roles and duties of the BCAs, who administer the BCAR process and may take enforcement, are also set out in in this Code of Practice and the CCMA Framework for Building Control Authorities.

It is important that all project stakeholders register with the BCMS and the designer, builder and assigned certifier must be nominated for their role by the owner and must accept their role. To register and subsequently login to the BCMS, each stakeholder must have their individual email address, which is the unique identifier and a password.

Statutory forms: It is important to complete each section carefully, download each form when fully completed, have the specified stakeholder sign the form and then upload to the BCMS. Fully complete, the mandatory online assessment will inform the BCA risk-based inspection programme. CNs and CCCs must be accompanied by certain specified mandatory documents along with a schedule/table of compliance documentation which include plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars.

It is important to pay attention to completing Q. 6 of CN and Annex to the CCC for compliance purposes. Compliance plans should relate to compliance with Building Regulations and not specified ‘for planning purposes only’.

The CN mandatory accompanying documentation is set out in the table below:

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Preliminary and completed inspection plans: It important that the number and type of inspections to be carried out relate to the complexity of the project, the relevant building-compliance issues and the milestones in the project. An example of inspection stages with the relevant building regulatory compliance issues is below. It is compliance with Part A-M with which the BCAs are concerned.

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The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are:

  1. Underfloor fill-panel fixings, pyrite (Part A, C, D);
  2. Moisture ingress-radon, DPC (Part C;
  3. Fire resistance-eaves, party walls, ducting (Part B);
  4. Condensation and mould growth (Part F);
  5. Frozen pipes, attic tank, stopcocks (Part G);
  6. Septic tanks overload, flooding (Part H);
  7. Flues, location, size, burners (Part J);
  8. Balcony detailing, stair rails – wrong height, glass (Part K);
  9. Steps to entrances (Part M);
  10. BER calculations do not exist, stud fixings, cavities clear of mortar (Part L);
  11. Timber frame-fixings, vapour control, cavity barriers, fire stopping;
  12. Sound transmission, flooring detail, insulation (Part E, L).

Regard to these common building defects and other individual particular issues when completing the preliminary inspection plan is recommended. To ensure smart use of resources, inspections by BCAs are either random or risk based having regard to: the use of the building; the type of construction; the level of experience of the design team and the builder and; past experience regarding compliance by the stakeholders involved in the project. To ensure a fair and transparent LA inspection regime, Phase II of the BCMS development will enable an automatic random and risk-based inspection data-interrogation system; the data being mined from the online assessment and the generation of a ‘Building Control Standard Inspection Form’.

Certificate of Compliance on Completion

The Certificate of Compliance on Completion (CCC) must be signed by the builder (Section A) and the assigned certifier (Section B) and it is important to complete the CCC Annex. The Annex should detail the “Table of Plans, Calculations, Specifications, Ancillary Certificates and Particulars used for the purpose of construction and demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations and showing, in particular how the completed building or works differ from the design submitted to the Building Control Authority prior to construction”. Details of relevant plans may be listed and attached to the CCC.

It is only necessary to upload the Statutory CCC Form, the inspection plan as implemented and the annex/table/schedule of compliance/ancillary certificates and documents which demonstrate how compliance with Regulations was achieved. Of importance here is the documentation of details or changes in design/construction which differ from those details listed in the CN Q6 Schedule. These documents/ancillary certificates listed in this annex/table should be available for upload if requested by the BCA.

Any BCA requests, warning or enforcement notices issued during the construction should be resolved and this noted in this annex. For phased or multi-unit developments it is important that the CCC details how the phase, the subject of the CCC, complies with the Building Regulations as a stand-alone development i.e. compliance should not be dependent on any phases not yet constructed.

The exercise of reasonable skill, care and diligence has been discussed by many since the implementation of S.I. 9 of 2014. It has been the experience of BCAs that where competent professionals, who exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, were/are involved in building projects from design to completion, enforcement issues are an absolute rarity. Almost all BCA enforcement issues have been as a result of the non-existence of the competent professional and non-existence or inadequate design details in the building project.

Summary

S.I. 9 and S.I. 105 of 2014 was a Government response to the building boom from 2002-2007. The main aims are to reform and strengthen the building control system in Ireland through the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance and the lodgment of compliance documents at both commencement and completion stages. The LGMA-implemented BCMS enables more efficient pooling of building control staff and resources, along with the implementation of standardised approaches and common protocols, i.e. consistency with better support and further development of the building control function nationwide.

The health and safety of people in or about buildings and compliance with the Building Regulations is paramount. Owners, builders, designers, assigned certifiers and building control officers collaborate throughout the BCMS registration, CN and CCC validation process to ensure safe, compliant buildings. The Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, along with the Framework for Building Control Authorities, provides stakeholders with guidance and promotes consistency in the BC process. Since the implementation of the BCMS, CN and CCC submission compliance quality has greatly improved as has knowledge of building control by stakeholders.

If stakeholders complete the CN documentation in full while having regard to the common building control regulation and building regulation mistakes, compliance/CCC is easier to achieve i.e. time spent in getting the CN process correct is worthwhile to eliminate or mitigate the risk of defects at completion stage, which are expensive and difficult to correct. CN compliance documentation will also inform the CCC process and it is important to note a CCC is expected to cover full compliance in the case of phased and multi-units developments.

Part of a BCA’s role is to promote good practice in building control, along with its administration and enforcement role. Stakeholders are advised to liaise with their BCAs in relation to regulation issues. BCMS issues can be emailed to info@localgov.ie.

Mairéad Phelan BE, CEng, FIEI, MBA is project manager of the Building Control Management System. Prior to this, she was senior engineer in Fingal County Council’s Built Environment, Road Safety and Transportation Departments. The bulk of her experience is in project management of large building construction and civil engineering projects. She worked as an area/town council engineer in Carlow County Council, along with performing the role of conservation officer. Her early career was spent working with Nicholas O Dwyer Consulting Engineers on major water and drainage schemes. Phelan holds Diploma in Highway & Geotechnical Engineering, a Diploma in Project Management and a Diploma in Law.

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The comment below was received from Michael Quirke MCIAT regarding a previous post “RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews“. The BReg Blog Team considered that it merited wider reading.

I do not know any Chartered Architectural Technologist who does not hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII). It is certainly not possible to be a full member of CIAT without PII. I do not know how one could be expected to be taken seriously in private practice without adequate PII cover. Adequate should include the correct detailed disclosure of all relevant information on the proposal form. Have all those engaged in “Assigned Certifier” roles informed their insurers of the changes to work practices since filling in their last proposal form? If not then you are playing with fire.

Are Architectural Technologists happy to take on the role of Design and Assigned Certifier?

Firstly they are not legally permitted to do so at present as we are excluded under BC(A)R. Besides that I would not generally be enthusiastic to do so. Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time reading the legislation and comments about it should now be well aware of the massive, onerous liabilities they are taking on in acting in the Assigned Certifier role.

Having worked for a number of architectural, engineering and property management companies over many years that involvied thousands of site inspections before BC(A)R where one was worn to a thread arguing with builders about poor workmanship, I shudder to think of what I would be facing if I acted as an Assigned Certifier in the future i.e. if permitted under amended or new legislation to do so.

I am absolutely astounded that so many architects are taking on the role of Assigned Certifier. To do one’s job correctly as an Assigned Certifier will involve a huge number of hours on site; it is a real worry. Take as an example: a 45 sq.m. extension to a private dwelling with two additional radiators linked to the existing heating system. Is it reasonable for the architect to specify, inspect and certify the piping, radiators, thermostats on the radiators, insulation, the point of connection to the existing system, pressure test and test run before it is covered up? Could the Assigned Certifier then be held liable if a subsequent leak in the new pipe work causes serious damage? Was the Ancillary Certificate furnished by the plumber or did you insist the client engage an M&E consultant, even though it was a small project? It seems it will not matter either way, as under BC(A)R the Assigned Certifier is the best target for the client going to court? Is that the case or are you not sure? Well you simply cannot be sure because unlike the plumbing system, BCAR certificates have not been pressure tested yet. There is no precedent.

I suspect that any small architectural practice insisting the client engages an M&E consultant for a very small extension will not be very popular. Damned if you do and damned if you do not! Certifying the lot will be, as has been said “a highly dangerous undertaking”.

Does the Minister really want to discuss the liability issue? The State will not take the hit under current legislation but somebody will – just be sure it is not YOU!

Michael Quirke, Chartered Architectural Technologist MCIAT

Other posts of interest:

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

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

John Graby – RIAI, CEO | “Phil Hogan did not bulldoze through SI.9′

by Bregs Blog admin team

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BRegs Blog opinion piece 8th December 2014

On Saturday last, John Graby, the CEO of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) publicly defended former Minister Phil Hogan and denied that Hogan had  “bulldozed through” the Building Control Regulations. This was during  an interview on the Newstalk FM ‘Down to Business’ programme that was discussing the architectural profession.

Mr Graby’s statement confirms the solid backing of the RIAI establishment for the new SI.9 legislation which could not have been introduced by the Department of the Environment without the support of the RIAI staff and council. The RIAI have shown a steely reserve and determination to implement this legislation in the face of unprecedented and almost unanimous opposition from their members over the last year and an unequivocal call from RIAI Architects for change only last month.

In the following podcast from the above programme, architects Dermot Bannon and Gearóid Carvill join John Graby in a discussion on the new building control regulations. Mr Graby also states that, notwithstanding the new roles, professionals will still have similar liability concerns as previously. In which case you might question if the next house buyer will be any better off than the Priory Hall residents?

Link to podcast: HERE

The Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D., has recently committed to amending SI.9, and it is hoped that the RIAI members can this time bring pressure to bear to ensure that the Institute support the Minister’s very welcome initiative.

Other posts of interest:

RIAI Complainee investigates IAOSB Complaint

Radio Clips: RIAI and CIF differ on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio- CIF: professionals to Guarantee under BC(A)R SI.9

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9

Alarming Legal opinion: BC(A)R SI.9

Press article: Government promotes developers over self-builders?

Phil Hogan | SI.9…”will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 sq.m.”

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Former Minister Phil Hogan: SI.9 …”will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 sq.m. “

Our research team have dug up a few early quotations on the 40 sq.m. provision in BC(A)R SI.9 from former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan. Contrary to more recent confusion on the subject, Hogan was quite clear that the 40 sq.m. exemption from the provisions of SI.9 was for a single extension over 40 sq.m. (430.4 sq.ft.). Perhaps the stakeholders and Department officials who have been struggling with this issue for almost two months should give the Agriculture Commissioner in Brussels a call to see if he can clarify matters for them. Emphasis in bold by BRegs Blog.

First up in April 2014 (see link: Building Control 10 Apr 2014: Seanad debates)

“In respect of self-certification, people involved in self building have been consulted all along. The organisation that allegedly represents them certainly did not make any particularly strong submission to suggest that these regulations should not be introduced in the interests of the consumer. I would have thought that whoever is building a house, which is the largest investment in a person’s life, will want the highest level of professionalism in order to sign off on these matters. Direct labour will continue the way it always have. A person does not need a registered contractor. Contrary to what Senators might have been told, it just applies to new builds and does not apply to extensions under 400 square feet or refurbishment.”

Previously in October 2013 (see link: Building Regulations Compliance: 6 Nov 2013)

“In the case of an existing home, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 square metres, or to works to an apartment which would require an application for a Fire Safety Certificate. nor works or works of a repair and maintenance nature do not come within the scope of these regulations.”

Other posts of interest:

± 40 sq.m. | “Exemption should avoid controls on minor development”

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

When is an extension not extensions? | The 40M2 question…

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

top-10

Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

  • The continued exclusion of Architectural Technologists from the register of professionals under BC(A)R SI.9 was a very popular topic, with 2 opinion pieces from former Architectural Technologist members of the representative body for architects (RIAI) occupying the top 3 positions.
  • Also of interest was Minister Kelly’s Dáil statement where he expressed concern at the level of some of the professional charges for SI.9 Certifier roles.
  • Mark Stephens posted a thought provoking 10-point plan to fix BC(A)R SI.9 problems. We would be interested in hearing other solutions form readers.
  • Continuing professional insurance problems and unintended consequences for those contemplating the new certifier roles were discussed in our PII alert.
  • Issues surrounding the evolving completion under SI.9 were discussed- the Building Control Management System noted they would not be requiring ancillary certificates on completion, adding to concerns that Assigned and Design Certifiers have become singularly responsible under the new regulations.
  • Completion certificate compliactions for multi-unit residential projects were highlighted also.
  • An opinion piece by Vivian Cummins posed the question “who is accountable for having  produced this legislation with its many faults?”
  • The big news was the statement by Minister Alan Kelly that he intended to amend the regulations with respect to once-off housing and extensions.

Enjoy!

  1. The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne
  2. Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’
  3. RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews
  4. Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations | Mark Stephens MRIAI
  5. SI.9 and PII Alert | Practice makes perfect or does it?
  6. BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!
  7. Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing
  8. Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.
  9. SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?
  10. ‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Jenga” by Jorge Barrios

The following opinion piece was sent to us on 3rd December 2014 by Michael O’Neill in relation to the post “Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing ” earlier in the week.

Overall Estate Completion Certificates.

Advice issued by the RIAI goes further and tells Assigned Certifiers to lodge another Completion Certificate for the overall development, to close off the Building Register file after multiple phased Completion Certificates have been lodged.”

This quotation from a recent post set me thinking. I am concerned that the legal liability of the person issuing Completion Certificates under the Building Regulations for the overall development of a housing estate or apartment complex may not have been fully considered. I am writing the below comment to hopefully provoke a useful discussion on this subject.

Why would an Assigned Certifier needlessly take on board liability under the Building Regulations by offering an overall Completion Certificate for elements of an estate which may not be covered by the Building Regulations?

Issuing an overall Completion Certificate may be required for an apartment block. I submit that this should be contemplated for an apartment complex only after careful consideration. I submit that this is not appropriate for overall housing developments and should be avoided.

I will qualify this by suggesting that the “overall” Apartment Block Completion Certificate should be limited to those areas of an Apartment Block or Complex which are directly covered by a Statutory Approval or Approvals which arise from the requirements of the Building Regulations. At the moment this means a Fire Safety Certificate or a Disability Access Certificate.

Matters which are not covered by these Statutory Approvals should be excluded from any “overall development” Certificate of Completion issued under the Building Regulation. All other areas should be covered either by an Opinion of Compliance with Planning Permission or an Opinion on Exemption from Planning Permission.

Why?

Building Regulations and Planning Permission are two related bodies of law, but as the recent 40 sq m House Extension debate has shown, they are not directly related. Planing permission tells us what we can build. The Building Regulations tells us how we can build certain things. A planning permission for a large estate of houses or apartments will encompass many more things than those covered by the Building Regulations.

Within the context of the Building Regulations there are many differences between multiple housing developments (the new term for housing estates) and apartment developments.

  • Houses do not need Fire Safety Certificates, Apartments and Duplexes do.
  • Houses do not need Disability Access Certificates, Apartments and Duplexes do.
  • Houses do not depend on other houses Completion for safe egress in a fire emergency. Apartments and Duplexes, which may abut common areas, whose boundaries may be formed by other apartments, and who may share corridor and stairs escape routes, do.
  • Houses are all effectively discrete units which populate a “housing estate”, Some are actually detached, some are separated from others vertically by separating walls known as party walls.

Apartments are generally built as part of an integrated building unit called an apartment block, sometimes itself part of a larger complex of buildings. They are separated both vertically and horizontally from each other and the common areas and escape routes by compartment walls and floors. They may share not only compartment walls on perhaps two sides but may abut common areas on a third side and may be separated horizontally from other apartments both above and below them. Apartment blocks are usually divided from one another by vertical separating walls and if they are built on the ground will have separate fire safety certificates for each block.

Therefore houses do not depend significantly on other houses’ completion for their own compliance with the Building Regulations. A semi-detached house can be left weathered in the absence of its partner, but I cannot recall seeing this on an Irish housing estate. Semi-detached houses and terraced houses are usually completed to a certain level all at the same time. Exceptions include sewers passing through adjoining sites and fire and soundproofing of party walls, eaves and roofs. In my opinion these points can be adequately covered in the individual house Completion Certificate and no reference may be needed to the wider estate in which the house is situated.

Apartments however do depend on other apartments for their own compliance – in terms of vertical and horizontal services duct completions, fire and sound rating of compartment walls and floors, structural stability and integrity, resistance to disproportionate collapse, etc.

So are there reasons for not issuing a Completion Certificate for the Overall Development of the Housing Estate or Apartment Block complex? Yes I believe there are.

  • Many builders will not complete housing developments properly. The same goes for apartment complexes. Items left incomplete can include but may not be limited to – the roof terraces, public open space paving, car parking, roads, external lighting, footpaths, grassed, planted and landscaped areas as well as the common areas and some of the services including swales and attenuation tanks.
  • Previous customary practice regarding the issuing of Opinions as well as current advice regarding Certificates seems to suggest that Completion Certificates for individual houses may be issued without reference to the Housing Estate as a whole. I seem to recall there was an exclusion term referring to “the estate of which it forms a part”.

I think it would be very unwise to try this approach with apartments. It is very difficult to leave apartment buildings themselves incomplete because of the interdependence of the units and their shared access and egress. Compliance with the Fire Safety Certificate demands that an apartment building as a whole must be compliant. This is because such Fire Safety Certificates are usually obtained for a whole block, and not individual apartments. However, elements, services or systems may be left incomplete or not commissioned.

Let me underline this – under the new regulations, certifying an apartment at any point before the block of which it is a part has achieved compliance with its statutory approvals would seem to be very unwise.

An apartment block is an integrated design. While an individual apartment may be first occupied at a different time than neighbouring apartments, all the apartments, common areas, fire stairs and escape routes fire safety, detection and alarm measures must be complete at that time. The compliance of the other apartments and elements are required to ensure that the block as a whole is in compliance with its Fire Safety Certificate when the first apartment is occupied. Is this requirement always observed? Not in my experience. A Completion Certificate for an Apartment Block may improve matters. However human nature may still intervene, as it used to do on housing estates.

A housing estate is different. Matters outside of the Houses – the completion of a housing estate’s boundary walls, garden walls, landscaping, footpaths, roads, public lighting, civil works and services in general – are ultra vires the Building Regulations. These matters are covered by the Planning and Development Acts and Regulations.

Many Architects’ Opinions have been issued on houses where the services were tested using various standalone methods before being connected to a permanent supply and the estate was not finally paved or garden plot boundary walls fully completed.

Much of this practice developed to assist with a builders cash flow, and much of the external areas services and finishing work was held back to avoid damage by Heavy Vehicles during the ongoing building works until after the completion of civil works.

I am not excusing such practices. I am stating that the instrument of the Architect’s Opinion was usually issued to trigger a purchase and this facilitated the subsequent completion, the sequence of which was logical, for the builder at any rate.

I doubt whether this established sequence of events will be overturned by the issuing of Completion Certificates for each house. The new regulations suggest that the point of will tak place at some point after the issue of a Completion Certificate. This seems the least likely outcome of the new legislation. I think that the unregulated market led by rogue clients builders and developers will decide when the sale will occur – just as it did during the boom years, when houses were bought off the plans without being inspected or certified.

This of course will make a nonsense of the whole point of the Building Regulations and is entirely foreseeable.

Only by making the Rogue Client/Developer/Contractor responsible for the Completion and Compliance of the actual buildings being offered in sale – and ensuring that completion occurs by them PRIOR TO SALE – with independent checks by the Local Authority Building Control Officer during the works – is there a chance that real assurances can be offered to the Consumer in relation to the built work.

So there is an argument for issuing an Overall Completion Certificate for an apartment Block.

There seems to be good reason not to issue such a cert for an Apartment complex as a whole, where the civil and public works are unlikely to be subject to the Building Regulations or the statutory approvals based on them..

But as for issuing a Completion Certificate for an entire Housing Estate? No. That assumes a liability that goes beyond the subject matter of the Building Regulations and into the realm of the infrastructural, civil and public works covered by the Planning Permission.

It is my belief that any Certifier would be most unwise to expose himself to the current liability and penalties under the Building Regulations by including matters in any Completion Certificate which do not fall under the Building Regulations legislation.

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing 

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

Build in 8 hours, wait 3 weeks for a Completion Cert!

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

Are Local Authorities ready? Industry concern for completion stage: BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

by Bregs Blog admin team

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 5th December 2014

A major legal case involving pyrite has been referred to the European Court (link below). The detail of the case is quite complex, however it does illustrate the extent of time (and money) it can take to pursue redress through the courts. Under SI.9 consumers will need ‘deep pockets’.

Professionals will also be reading this carefully as it may well impact on professional insurance cover for Pyrite. Many insurance policies currently exclude pyrite. One of the consequences of the new building regulations is that Assigned Certifiers are now responsible for all materials used on a building site (Part D of the regulations). The Construction Products Regulation 2013 is being used as part of the defense and appeal by Irish Asphalt Ltd. Last week the RIAI issued an advice note to members about possible pyrite problems on building sites due to the incorrect specification of hardcore with the implication of liability being on the specifier and not the supplier.

Pyrite was a problem in many developments in the Ballymun Regeneration and throughout North Dublin & Leinster. What’s clear from two recent cases this year where 25 new houses had to be demolished is that this problem has not been solved.

See article “Pyrite heave case referred to european court of justice” from 2nd December 2014. Extract:

___________

‘Pyrite heave’ case referred to European Court of Justice

Irish Asphalt Ltd supplied infill at Ballymun youth centre which has undergone a €1.55 million remediation project

James Elliot Construction had sued Irish Asphalt Ltd over the supply of defective infill material for the construction of a youth centre in Ballymun in 2005. The case has been referred to the European Court of Justice (above).

A legal action over the supply of defective infill material for the construction of a Dublin youth centre has been referred to the European Court of Justice for determination of issues including the merchantable quality of goods.

James Elliot Construction had sued Irish Asphalt Ltd which supplied the rock product for use as foundation in the Ballymun Central Youth Facility in 2005.

Within three years, floors and walls began to crack because of the presence of excess pyrite in the infill and the centre had to undergo a €1.55 million remediation project.

James Elliot Construction brought an action for compensation against Irish Asphalt Ltd claiming “pyrite heave” had caused the damage.

The High Court found the material was not fit for purpose or of merchantable quality under sale and supply of goods legislation and had given rise to pyritic heave.

Irish Asphalt Ltd, in an appeal to the Supreme Court, challenged that decision and maintained, notwithstanding findings of fact by the High Court, it was not liable to James Elliot Construction as a matter of domestic and EU law.

It argued an implied term of the contract as to fitness for purpose of the material had not been breached.

Supreme Court findings

Yesterday, a three-judge Supreme Court found, on the domestic law issues raised, the Irish Asphalt Ltd appeal should be dismissed but such an order was subject to any issue of European law which the court was referring to the European Court of Justice.

The Supreme Court said it was setting aside the High Court finding in relation to whether the material was fit for purpose under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 but it upheld other findings including that there was a breach of the same legislation in terms of merchantability.

It also rejected Irish Asphalt’s contention any liability to James Elliot Construction was limited to the cost of replacement of the infill material.

It also upheld the High Court view that the sulphur content of the infill, which indicates the presence of pyrite and meant the material did not meet the required standard, was supported by the evidence and should not be overturned.

In the Supreme Court decision ordering a referencing of the case to the European Court of Justice, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell said as a matter of national law James Elliot Construction would be entitled to succeed and Irish Asphalt Ltd’s appeal would fail.

EU law

However, in light of Irish Asphalt Ltd’s contention the High Court conclusions were inconsistent with and precluded by EU law, it had been decided to refer a number of questions on the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling or reasoned order.

The questions include whether the interpretation of the national and EU standard in relation to construction products is a matter upon which a preliminary ruling may be sought from the European Court of Justice.

If the answer to that question is yes, the European Court of Justice must then decide whether compliance with that EU standard can only be established when tests on the material were carried out at the time of production and/or supply or breach of the standard can be proven by tests conducted later.

The European Court of Justice is further asked whether a national court is obliged to disapply national law by implying terms as to merchantability and fitness for purpose on grounds that statutory terms create standards which have not been notified in accordance with an EU directive on technical standards (Directive 98/34).

In a statement after the Supreme Court decision, Irish Asphalt Ltd said the reference to the European Court of Justice justified the company’s decision to appeal the case and highlighted the complexity of the legal issues concerning testing and standards.

Irish Asphalt Ltd said it acknowledged the severe difficulties that have been caused to many homeowners but said an expert panel in 2012 concluded the pyrite issue was not foreseen by anyone, including construction and quarry companies.

Terms and conditions

In a separate case involving pyrite yesterday, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Irish Asphalt Ltd against another High Court finding that the terms and conditions of its contract with a construction company were incorporated into the contract between the companies for supply of infill material.

Noreside Construction Ltd, Kilkenny, sued Irish Asphalt Ltd for indemnity against legal actions arising out of the presence of pyrite in material it supplied for Noreside to build 52 houses and 31 senior citizens’ homes for Dublin City Council at Griffith Avenue, Finglas, Dublin.

Other posts of interest:

Donegal Pyrite update 

Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo 

Irish Mirror | Call for an end to pyrite mess

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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5th December 2014

Vivian Cummins MRIAI is a Co. Kildare based architect in private practice.

Assigned Certifiers have been made fully accountable for implementing SI.9 but who is accountable for having  produced this legislation with its many faults?

It is becoming clearer that Ministers Alan Kelly T.D. and Paudie Coffey T.D. at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DECLG) are fully aware that there are serious problems with the Building Control legislation, SI.9. This is the legislation that they inherited at the Department and there is no question of them being accountable for its shortcomings; their responsibility now is to try and sort it out. However a question arises as to who can they turn to for advice? It is not so clear that the people that brought us the Building Control Regulations’ mess are the ones to get us out of it.

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association recently described the DECLG as the “poster boy of bureaucratic” failure. This was during an Irish Times podcast with journalists Tom Lyons and Fiach Kelly, when he was discussing the DECLG’s blockage of a ready to go €100 million ‘mortgage for rent’ scheme that had 100 ready-to-go mortgagees. Hall said that he agreed with the financial institutions who claimed that the DECLG had made the scheme unworkable.

The DECLG is the same Government Department that has responsibility for other major difficulties being encountered at the moment on such issues as Irish Water, Social Housing and Planning. In the latter case it believed it was unaccountable when it conducted its own internal review in June 2012 of planning complaints* about seven Planning Authorities and declared that it could find no evidence of wrongdoing. However a subsequent High Court challenge to these findings found otherwise, quashing the DECLG’s review and the Department was obliged to appoint an independent inspector whose report was due last September but has still not been published.

In terms of accountability it is interesting to compare how similar past difficulties in Government Departments have been dealt with. In the Department of Finance it was only after the Celtic Tiger had bolted that issues seemed to be addressed there. The Banking Inquiry to start on Wednesday week may shine more light on this. Elsewhere, in the Department of Justice, the Secretary General, resigned following the publication of a report on its “closed, secretive, silo-driven culture”. How will matters be resolved at the DECLG?

There seems to be a lot of problems for one Department to sort out and one wonders if it has the necessary resources to deal with the SI.9 problems successfully on top of all the others.

*The author of this post was one of the two people whose complaints prompted the inclusion of the Planning Department of Carlow County Council in the June 2012 Review.

Posts of Interest:

Irish Times Business Podcast: 

Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D. 

Are small rural practices under threat from SI.9? | Vivian Cummins MRIAI