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.

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

by Bregs Blog admin team

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3rd  December 2014

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

The BRegs Blog received a request  for advice from a reader about providing completion certificates for multi-unit housing developments, started under one Commencement Notice. We put out a request for suggestions and we are very grateful for the many responses received and in particular those from Nigel Redmond (Building Surveyor) and Joe Byrne (Architectural Technologist).

The Code of Practice (1)  allows for ‘Phased Completion’ which means you can lodge multiple Completion Certificates under one Commencement Notice for houses and apartments that are “completed for occupation on a phased basis“.

At a recent CPD arranged by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) , Assigned Certifiers were advised that multiple housing units require full inspection and certification for each unit. It is not enough to spot check like you might in a hotel. Every house or apartment has to be fully tested and needs its own Inspection Plan, Ancillary Certificates and Testing Records because each unit will have to have its own Certificate of Compliance on Completion available for a prospective purchaser. The Assigned Certifier cannot rely on the Boiler test or the BER Certificate from a house or apartment next door!

This requirement will have an impact on the workload of Assigned Certifiers who may not have anticipated the workload involved with every single estate house and every single apartment needing the same set of compliance documents as a “one-off” house.

The Inspection records need to clearly identify the  ‘unit’ and the sequence of inspections for that specific unit. It is not enough to have an Inspection Report for the smoke detectors or the steps in the hallway of the neighbouring hallway.

Assigned Certifiers should pay particular attention to record modifications to specifications, changes in layout and finishes and to make sure that they are picked up in Inspection reports and in the completion documents.

There may be some opportunities to use template forms but homes will particularly need individual ‘Part E’ and ‘Part L’ ancillary certificates and calculations because units vary with orientation, external junctions, party/external walls, size etc.

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.

A phased completion should clearly identify the building or works covered, so a “red line” drawing and an agreed numbering system for the file for each house and apartment is advisable.

(1) Code of a Practice for Inspecting & Certifying Works- click link here.

(2) RIAI FAQs

 How will the Commencement Notices work for a Housing Estate of 100 Houses?

A.: One Commencement Notice to be issued, if all the houses are to be built together. If not then a number of Commencement Notices will have to be issued for each phase.

100 Completion Certificates will have to be issued; one for each house as completed, and then one for overall development/ external work”- click link here.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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3rd December 2014

The entire basis of redress for consumers and building owners, that encounter a building problem under SI.9, is to seek damages from the relevant Assigned Certifier’s Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) policy. However it is not mandatory for Assigned Certifiers to have such insurance and the entire Building Control system is coming under further strain as a result.

One of the stakeholder groups involved with SI.9, the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI), have attempted to address this problem by making it compulsory for their members to have PII in place in order to be on its Register of Architects. You cannot be an Assigned Certifier, as an architect, if you are not on the Register. A notice was issued by the RIAI earlier this week seeking confirmation from its members of their PII cover as a requisite to being included on the Register in 2015. This has had unintended consequences as it has raised a whole range of new challenges for architects associated with the SI.9 legislation including:

  1. The year for inclusion on the Register is the calendar year (1st January to 31st December) yet PII policies renewal dates vary throughout the year.
  2. Architect employees will need to get individual confirmation from their employers’ PII insurers in order to renew their RIAI membership. The confirmation letter must be addressed to the employee and specifically refer to undertaking the roles of Design and/or Assigned Certifier. It should also indemnify the employee against personal liability for any excess associated with a claim.
  3. The question has arisen whether insurers will continue to insure ‘Practices’ or firms of architects, engineers and surveyors as a group policy. There is a clear intention that PII will now evolve into individual policies to be required for each employee acting as a Design and/or Assigned Certifier.
  4. The excess on PII policies may now be assessed when the claim will be against an individual and not the firm.
  5. Employees will have to ensure cover is maintained if they leave a firm or a firm subsequently closes down. It is possible that every registered architect will soon have to take out their own PII to be maintained  throughout their career.
  6. Alternatively Employers may be obliged to maintain PII run-off cover for ex-employees on an indefinite basis.
  7. Most Practices have their fee agreements with clients collectively and not with the individual employees who must take on the role of Design and/or Assigned Certifier. Building owners and employees would be wise to check the small print of any fee agreement.
  8. As Assigned Certifiers are appointed as individuals the introduction of SI.9 is also calling into question the concept of ‘Practices’ or firms of architects, engineers and surveyors and whether there will be any such thing in future should SI.9 remain as is.

A similar situation to that above arose for nurses in the UK when they were advised to have personal PII even if employed within the NHS. The pragmatic solution for stakeholder organisations like the RIAI could be for the architects’ Registrar and CEO, John Graby, who is also director of the RIAI’s own PII insurance company, to arrange collective cover for all architects and roll the charges into their annual registration fees. However it is unlikely that those professionals who are not undertaking the roles of Design and Assigned Certifier will wish to subsidise those who are or that sole traders will wish to subsidise members who are insuring lots of employees. Underwriting such an arrangement also presents enormous risks for the organisations involved should the level of claims increase.

PII as the panacea for solving all SI.9 problems looks as if it may not ensure the solution needed by building owners, consumers and construction professionals.

Other Posts of Interest:

3 Must Read Posts for Employees:

The Insurance will sort it out:

SI.9 and Insurance Claims – Deirdre Lennon MRIAI:

What is PI Insurance?:

SI.9 and Insurance – Better Latent than Never:

SI.9 and Employees – Eoin O’Morain FRIAI: