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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

What Date

5th December 2014

SI.9 and the 40 m2 question | What date did you have in mind?

Many weeks have elapsed, without clarification being issued by any of the stakeholder groups or the Department of the Environment with regard to the contentious issue of “when is an extension not an extensions” and when does the 40+ m2 rule apply?

If one reads the ‘Twilight Zone’ post (Link:) one could assume, rightly or wrongly, that the Building Control Authorities (if they have not got their own legal advice to the contrary) will be applying the interpretation given in FQA 21(b) on the BCMS website in relation to floor areas of extensions and SI.9. This seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the Building Control Regulations which should be focused on the degree of complexity of individual building projects and the requirement for input by the Building Control Authority and not on a cumulative assessment of their size which is more relevant to Planning and Development legislation to avoid un-managed over development.

The purpose of exemptions should be to avoid controls on development of a minor nature. Imagine some of the domestic projects that will now require the appointment of Design and Assigned Certifiers, and the full submission of compliance documents, undertakings, drawings, details, Inspection Plans and to await the issue of a Certificate of Compliance on Completion before occupation is possible. These could include:

  • The obvious one: – where someone adds an extension greater than 40 m2, which would require planning permission. So far, so good!
  • Where an existing house has been previously extended by 40m2, and the exempted development allowance provided for planning is exhausted, and thereby requiring planning consent, any further extension – whether 2 m2 in size (a bay window that required planning permission  to the front for example!) or 200 m2 in size . Yes, that’s right – an Assigned Certifier may be required for a bay-window. Munster Joinery, Senator and Global Home Windows will soon be fielding requests for ancillary certificates from Assigned Certifiers!
  • Where an existing house has been previously extended by 2 m2 and a further extension is proposed with an area greater than 38 m2.

The BCMS advice talks in general about a “legally permitted area”, without detailing where this is defined in legislation. This, in itself, is problematic. How is it defined? In planning terms, at least, one can talk about the area for which planning has been granted, and make allowances for the extra area over allowed for exempted developments. That is to say, in the case of:

  • A property built after ‘the appointed date’ i.e. 1st October 1964, the area for which planning was granted, and any further exempted development construction as permitted at the time the exempted development was constructed, and any subsequent construction for which planning was granted. There may be other areas such as attic conversions and garage conversions to be considered, on a case by case basis.
  • In a property built prior to ‘the appointed date’ i.e. 1st October 1964, the area which was determined and agreed extant before ‘the appointed date’, and any further exempted development construction as permitted at the time the exempted development was constructed, and any subsequent construction for which planning was granted. There may again be other areas such as attic conversions and garage conversions to be considered, on a case by case basis.

But are we not talking about the Building Control Regulations, which came into force after 1st June 1992? How can a Statutory Instrument remotely infer that a “legally permitted area” relative to Planning and Development Acts has any role in legislation for Building Control Regulations, most particularly when the legislation itself is silent on the matter?

Is it the case that the legally permitted area for Building Control Regulations is determined from the commencement of Building Regulations? Unworkable as it seems, could this be the case? Or is it from the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations i.e. 1st March 2014?

How will Building Control Authorities, in assessing Commencement Notices for extensions, satisfy themselves that there have not been additional extensions and from what date should this be measured? Will there be a requirement for a Statutory Declaration to that effect by the applicant? Should the commencement notice form allow for this?

What if a person designs a 42m2 extension and submits a Commencement Notice with full SI.9 documentation and during construction, a minor alteration which would not be problematic with planning causes the extension to reduce to 39m2 – how is this to be resolved? Such minor changes would rarely be considered non-compliant with planning – but with SI.9, who now knows?

The blunt clarity of the completion certificates in SI.9 exclude any possibility of the de minimus rule applying – everything is either right – and failing that – the building does not comply. There is no provision to make any qualifications.

Finally, because it is an either/or situation with the choice of commencement process to follow, if the wrong one is submitted, and this is found out later, the wording of SI.9 is very clear – a  legally valid commencement notice is not in place for the development – there is no means of remedying this – what next?

We can imagine the joy and delight in hard pressed Building Control Authority offices up and down the country, as they pore over the BER and compliance documents for a small porch on a house that used its exempted development allowances in the past, while trying to obtain further resources from central Government to deal with the far larger risks associated with bigger developments and public buildings.

It would be so much simpler if  the wording in the SI.9, saying each extension may be up to 40m2 before a Commencement Notice with full SI.9 documentation is required, was accepted by the BCMS. We hope commonsense will prevail and that the stakeholders or DECLG will issue the clarifications being sought by them from their legal advisers soon.

Useful Links:

When is an Extension not an Extensions? | The 40m2 Question: 

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

RIAI PRACTICE NEWS : 40SqM BC(A)R SI.9 Exemption

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

2-1

BRegs Blog admin 21st November 2014

To mark the first 12 months of the BRegs Blog we are publishing a series of 7 information papers that were issued by past presidents of the representative body for architects (RIAI) towards the end of 2013. These papers contain informed analysis and are still very relevant to the current situation, nearly 9 months post implementation of SI.9. Paper No 2 to follow:

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

________________

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2013

– and –

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Information Paper No. 2

The Building Regulations and Certifiers’ Liability

The amended building control regulations come into force on 1 March 2014. They set out to deliver Consumer Protection by having the architect certify that the design and the building are fully compliant; and by having the architect’s professional indemnity insurance underwrite these certificates. However, the liability which the architect or other person acting as Certifier assumes is so extensive that in a short time, professional indemnity insurance to cover such certification will be unaffordable, unobtainable or both. As a result, the Consumer will have no protection against bad buildings. 

The regulations will fail in the Government’s stated goal of strengthened consumer protection, and the architect will be bankrupted along the way.

1 The Government’s intention for the amended building regulations

The press release accompanying enactment of the regulations last April said:-

“The new Building Control Regulations are a major step forward and will for the first time give home-owners clarity, traceability and accountability at all stages of the building process. They will provide consumers with the protection they need and deserve.

“Assigned Certifiers, who can be registered architects, engineers or building surveyors, will inspect building works at key stages during construction.”

The mandatory certificates will be clear, unambiguous statements on statutory forms stating that each of the key parties to a project certifies that the works comply with the building regulations and that they accept legal responsibility for their work” stated the Minister, adding that this new statutory certification is a key consumer protection measure. “If anyone signs a statutory certificate for a building which subsequently proves to be non-compliant, they can be held legally liable for the consequences.”

2 How the regulations try to deliver better buildings and protect the Consumer

The corner stones of the regulations are the “Design Certifier” and “Assigned Certifier”. The client has a legal duty to appoint these two people. Based on past experience, it is to be expected the client will appoint the architect as Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier on 95% of projects.

The “Design Certifier” certifies the entire design complies totally with the building regulations. The “Assigned Certifier” certifies that the entire completed building or works complies totally with the building regulations.

(By contrast, the Contractor certifies that he has built the building in accordance with “the design”. He is not even asked to confirm that he has fulfilled his legal duty to build in accordance with the building regulations.)

3 What the Design Certifier and the Assigned Certifier have to sign

While the amended regulations contain a lot of paper, there is no mystery about what the certifier is to certify. The relevant texts read as follows:-

(Article 20A)

                                                     Design Certificate

FORM OF CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE (DESIGN)

5.  I certify that, having regard to the plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars referred to at 4 above, the proposed design for the works or building is in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations insofar as they apply to the building works concerned.

Signature …………………………….Date: …………………………….

and

(Article 20F)

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE ON COMPLETION
(COMPLETION CERTIFICATE)

6.  I now certify that the inspection plan drawn up in accordance with the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Building Works, or equivalent, has been fulfilled by the undersigned and other individuals nominated therein having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence and that the building or works is in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations insofar as they apply to the building works concerned.

7.  Drawings, specifications, calculations, ancillary certificates and particulars as required for the puposes of Part IIIC of the Building Control Regulations are included in the Annex (see attached).

Signature: ……………….Date: ……………….Registration No.: ……..

(where the signatory is an employee)  On behalf of

……………………………………………………………..

4 Three legal Opinions on the amended building regulations

While arriving at their conclusions by different routes, the three Senior Counsel who have considered the question of the liability of the Assigned Certifier agree: the liability is total. The architect, engineer or building surveyor who signs the Design Certificate and the Completion Certificate takes responsibility for total compliance of the design work and the construction work done by everybody, whether or not they have seen the work done, or even whether or not they are competent to understand and certify same.

4.1 18 July 2013 Opinion of Mr. Denis McDonald SC

RIAI Past Presidents Michael Collins and Eoin O Cofaigh commissioned a Legal opinion on the Liability of the Assigned Certifier under the amended building regulations. The Opinion has been circulated and is available upon request. Having studied the legislation, Mr. McDonald advises:-

The certificate to be given by the assigned Certifier … seems to me to involve an effective transfer of responsibility from the builder to the Assigned Certifier. This is particularly important in cases where the building contractor (as so often happens) has insufficient resources of its own to meet a claim by a disappointed claimant who has relied upon such a certificate. Given the terms of the Certificate, disappointed claimants will inevitably turn their guns in the direction of an insured party such as the architect.”

He concludes:-

For the reasons discussed above, it seems to me that the 2013 Regulations impose significant additional responsibilities on architects … including a responsibility to certify the work of others. It is inevitable in my opinion that the certificates to be given by architects will lead to increased claims against architects. I do not understand the rationale for requiring architects to give unqualified certificates not only in relation to their own work but also in relation to the work of others. Again, it seems to me to be inevitable that this will significantly increase the exposure of the Certifier to claims by disgruntled building owners even where the complaints relate to defects in the works carried out by the building contractor, or relate to defects in the design by a specialist (in which the Certifier has had no role).”

4.2 4 September 2013 Opinion of Mr. David Nolan SC

The Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland sought an Opinion on a slightly wider set of questions. In response to the question: “Will the Assigned Certifier be required to take responsibility for elements of works which are the subject of ancillary Certificates, which by definition, will not have been inspected by himself?

Mr. Nolan’s Opinion is as follows:

In my Opinion, as the completion certificate is currently drafted, the Assigned Certifier is not entitled to rely upon ancillary certificates. He is certifying, that the building or works are in compliance with the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. He is also certifying that the Inspection Plan has been fulfilled. This gives rise to much more onerous obligations than any non Statutory form of Opinion which makes reference to “Substantial Compliance” with Building Regulations. The words “Substantial Compliance” do not appear in the Certificate. The Assigned Certifier is certifying that the building is in full compliance with the requirements even in circumstances where there might be some potential breaches of Building Regulations which might not be capable of being ascertained without specialist knowledge.”

4.3 Liability of salaried employees for their own Certificates

Mr. Nolan goes on to refer to the line on the Certificate of Completion: “(Where the signatory is an employee) on behalf of …”

As regards the comfort which this line might give to an employee, Mr. Nolan says:-

It may well have been the intention of the drafters of the Certificate, to give some form of protection to the named assigned certifier, but the manner in which the Certificate has been drafted does not give such protection. It simply gives those who may seek legal recourse the option of suing the Assigned Certifier, or his employer, or, more likely, both.”

4.4 4 September 2013 Opinion of Mr. Gavin Ralston SC

The RIAI commissioned an Opinion on many matters from Mr. Gavin Ralston SC. In the course of his Opinion, Mr. Ralston advises:-

“ … applying the above to the 2013 Regulations, in my view, there is a strong possibility that upon a purchaser of a property, receiving a copy of the certificate of compliance, a Court will consider that he has received an assurance that everything is in perfect order. … If the Certificate is regarded as a warranty, as far as purchasers are concerned, they create an almost impossible standard for architects to submit to. Indeed it would be very questionable as to whether valid liability cover could be obtained for such a far reaching certificate.”

And he refers to “the intolerable risk attaching to issuing a certificate of compliance.”

5 Other Liability Risks

While the focus of attention to date has been on the Design Certificates and Completion Certificates, there has been no similar analysis by Senior Counsel of the overall effect of the remainder of the Regulations by either the RIAI or anyone else.  There is concern that other clauses which have gone unchecked to date may contain pitfalls and or complications that have not been considered.

6 Architects are not insurance companies

Arising from the numerous defective buildings that have occurred in the recent past, the insurance industry has warned that interest by the insurance industry in providing Professional Indemnity cover for construction professionals is waning and that there is likely to be a significant rise in the cost of such insurance in the coming period, aside from the effects of the new Building Regulations.

The extent of liability, and volume of claims which legal opinion has identified will be made against professionals acting as “Assigned Certifier” under the regulations is likely to make professional indemnity insurance unavailable or unaffordable. Professionals will be uninsured and uninsurable, and salaried architects will be vulnerable to direct litigation. The result: no insurance at all: affords no protection to the consumer.

7 RIAI policy in the light of the above, and the need for an EGM

The Institute has downplayed members’ concerns about the extent of liability they will be obliged to shoulder in the event that their clients ask them to act as assigned certifier – as is the Government’s intention. This issue, central for practising architects,  should be at the forefront of Institute concerns. However, it took the RIAI six months to obtain an opinion to confirm what many in the profession had been saying long beforehand.

For this and other reasons, almost 300 Registered Members of the Institute have signed the Requisition papers for an EGM to debate this matter and change RIAI policy.

Michael Collins;

Peter Hanna;

Arthur Hickey;

Padraig Murray;

Eoin O Cofaigh;

Joan O’Connor;

Sean O Laoire:

– Dublin, 16 September 2013

________________

BRegs Blog Footnote: The breg forum was set up due to industry concerns concerning BC(A)R in 2013. The forum was a non-representative industry group comprised of professionals intended to debate and analyse the unintended consequences of the proposed building regulations. The BReg Blog grew out of this interest group.

Other posts in this series:

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

Archive posts:

BREGS Blog Archive 6 | APRIL 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014 

BRegs Blog Archive 4 – FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

by Bregs Blog admin team

Mal_Oct_11_400x400

3rd December 2014

The following comment was received from Malachy Mathews, a former RIAI Architectural Technologist in response to the blog post The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne that was published on Monday.

A great piece, by Joe Byrne, so true and so telling. 30 years ago I led a delegation of Architectural Technologists (ATs) into the Royal Institute of Architects (RIAI) in Merrion Square with the aim of seeking better representation. Here we are now, no support, no representation and the outing of the exclusive nature of the  RIAI. If the RIAI had represented ATs at the negotiating table with the Department of the Environment the profession and country would have benefited. Instead they (the RIAI President, CEO and Council) chose to prevent any inclusion of a professional AT to the statutory duties of Assigned and Design certifier and peddled the idea of the very “important role” for ATs of ancillary certification ( a role many architects now seek for themselves!).

At my first RIAI Council meeting as elected Chair of the RIAI Architectural Technologist Committee (ATC) I spoke of seeking “Parity of Esteem” similar to Kevin Tyrell’s recent calls for Equity not Equality. There was plenty of head nodding, plenty of platitudes but no action.

I resigned from the position of chairman of the RIAI ATC and resigned from the RIAI in 2012 when I recognised that despite the hard work, I and the committee members were doing for the good of the profession, both Architects and Architectural Technologists, the RIAI silo mentality and frankly perceived superior ethos would not change an iota.

I could call it wasted time and wasted effort but it was not, because if you do not engage you cannot comment with authority. If you do not engage you cannot learn and you will not develop the network necessary to take the argument forward. So I echo Joe Byrne’s call to have the effort “channeled in the correct manner to achieve that long sought after professional recognition”, …now outside of the RIAI.

Other posts of interest:

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

RIAI | Architectural Technologist update

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

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

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

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

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Architectural Technologists’ Petition

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

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

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

by Bregs Blog admin team

 0320_housing_630x420

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

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:

 

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

fianna-fail-water-charges-630x420

Barry Cowen T.D. | 2nd December 2014

In response to Dáil questions on 25th November 2014 from Barry Cowen TD, the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D., appears to be echoing his predecessor’s remarks that some professionals may be exploiting the new regulatory regime introduced under SI.9 and charging excessive fees. Quote from Minister Kelly:

“…a number of cases have, however, been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects, particularly single house projects. The new regulations support improved competence and professionalism which will provide additional work opportunities for competent practitioners and construction professionals. However, the consumer should not have to pay a premium for such services and, if concerns about value for money for consumers prove to be well-founded, I will consider any reasonable and appropriate steps that may be required to address the issue”

Many consumer groups have complained as to the extraordinary additional costs of the new building regulation SI.9. Industry sources suggest the regulation adds an addition €20,000 to the cost of a typical house, and over twice that figure for a modest self-build. Increased costs associated with SI.9 up to 2020 have been estimated at €5 billion for no additional consumer protection. No regulatory impact assessment was undertaken to assess costs of SI.9 on the wider industry in 2013 in advance of implementation.

Dáil Link:Building Regulations Application: 25 Nov 2014: Written answers

This comes just after a re-issued statement by the President of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), Mr Robin Mandal, on 21st November (previously issued on 28th February 2014) to members on BC(A)R SI.9. Quote from email:

“Increased Costs
The RIAI estimate that these new roles will increase the time involvement of professionals by 30-50 percent, depending on the nature of the project.”

Sounds like architects may need to ‘sharpen their pencils’ when it comes to fees for new certifier roles under SI.9.

Jpeg of Mr Mandals’ message:

RIAI R.Mandal 21.11.2014 S.I.9.pdf [Converted]

Extract off Dáil questions:

_______________

Written answers, Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Application

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

491. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the implementation of the new building regulations introduced in March 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44764/14]

492. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he has considered mandatory project insurance in view of the new building regulation regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44765/14]

493. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department has undertaken a study of the additional costs for one-off houses generated by the new building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44766/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 491 to 493, inclusive, together.

Over 4,700 new construction projects have been notified to Building Control Authorities across the local government sector since the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 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 the new regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade. The enhanced professionalism and accountability arising from the arrangements under the new Regulations will lead to improved quality and reduce risk within the construction sector. This will in turn lead to market conditions more conducive to insurers and a wider availability and use of latent defects insurance. However, the Government has undertaken to explore the potential for latent defects insurance on construction projects as part of the wider reform of building control arrangements and this matter is currently being progressed within my Department.

In relation to the issue of cost, I refer to the reply given to Questions Nos. 259, 268, 269 and 285 of 4 March 2014 which sets out comprehensively how the impact of the regulations, including the cost impact, was viewed by my Department in the context of the comprehensive public consultation that informed and preceded the making of the regulations. A number of cases have, however, been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects, particularly single house projects. The new regulations support improved competence and professionalism which will provide additional work opportunities for competent practitioners and construction professionals. However, the consumer should not have to pay a premium for such services and, if concerns about value for money for consumers prove to be well-founded, I will consider any reasonable and appropriate steps that may be required to address the issue.

Other posts of interest:

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

TD confirms extra costs for Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

Copy of Morning Ireland transcript of  28th February 2014 (Phil Hogan)

Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations | Mark Stephens MRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

mark_stephensThe following opinion post is by Co. Mayo-based architect, Mark Stephens MRIAI, who is one of Ireland’s most prolific architectural bloggers. (Link to his Blog:) and a candidate in the forthcoming RIAI Council 2015 elections.

With the announcement last week that the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D., is proposing to change the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, has the Government finally seen sense? The Minister stated that the current Regulations are “too onerous” and [he will] “be proposing that there’ll be amendments to the Regulations – particularly in relation to self-build, one-off houses and extensions.” These proposals are to be lauded but can they and will they solve the problem? By simply ‘tweaking’ S.I No.9 of 2014 we are not dealing effectively with the root cause of the problem; that is that self-certification simply does not work and it most definitely does not work in Ireland. There are numerous posts already written on this blog concerning building failures with regards to the Building Regulations that make it abundantly clear that a system other than self-certification is required.

I would like to respectfully outline in this post the actual steps that I believe are now required to get from where we are (S.I No. 9 of 2014) to where we want to get to (an effective Building Control system for Ireland)*:

  1. An immediate revocation of S.I.9. You cannot fix something that is irrevocably unworkable; the easiest way now is to revoke the legislation and start again (learning from the lessons to date).
  1. Involve consumer groups in the consultation process for any future Building Regulation Amendments. It is apparent that the existing stakeholders cannot be relied on solely to create the legislation. Consumer groups such as the National Consumer Agency, the Irish Association of Self Builders and dare I say it representatives from the Bregs Blog Forum should also be involved. I do however believe that no further legislation is required as the Building Regulations and Building Control are strong enough in their own right without the need for further legislation; what is required however is stronger management of the Building Control system which I outline below.
  1. Retain the Building Control Management System (BCMS). Although there are faults with the BCMS, the system does work and something will be needed to submit drawings for the Building Control Departments to check. I suggest that we keep the BCMS as the only thing (more or less) that actually works in SI. 9.
  1. Increase the fee for lodgements to BCMS. The current fee of €30 for a Commencement Notice is laughable and obviously will not adequately fund an effective Building Control. By increasing the fee to a minimum of €300  and by referring to a previous post on Building Control fees (Link:), we can see that Local Authority Building Control can be self financing under this funding system.
  1. Have a separate fee structure for Local Authority Building Control Site Inspections. The self-financing system is funded further when the Local Authority site inspections are separated from the lodgement of the drawings and the Commencement Notice. This again is along UK lines where the typical site inspection starts at around €750. For a further explanation on UK Building Control fee structures see this previous post (Link:)
  1. By implementing the self-financing Building Control System described above we would then require a 100% target for checking of submitted information to BCMS for Building Regulation compliance together with a 100% target for site inspections; both undertaken by Local Authority Building Control staff. This is compared to the 4-15% inspection rate under SI.9.
  1. It is debatable whether Assigned and Ancillary Certifiers should be retained; by keeping this aspect of the legislation we are setting a theoretical benchmark for increased professionalism but with the disadvantage of reducing consumer choice. We have already seen the fiasco where the highly trained and competent Architectural Technologists were omitted from the ‘Assigned Certifier’ status. My opinion is that anyone who is competent to produce Building Regulation compliant drawings should be allowed to do so and it is the responsibility of the Local Authority to check whether these drawings comply with the Building Regulations.
  1. A subsequent implementation (at a much later stage when the above steps are fully implemented) for a UK style Independent ‘Approved Inspector’ system in addition to the Local Authority Building Control Inspectors. The ‘Approved Inspector’ system was implemented at a much later stage than Local Authority inspections in the UK; the same should occur in Ireland to allow for teething difficulties.
  1. The implementation of a Latent Defects Insurance system. The entire concept of a homeowner having to obtain redress over faults in his construction by suing the Assigned Certifier (a lengthy and costly process)  would be eliminated if a Latent Defects Insurance system were to be implemented.
  1. Include a system for retrospective approval of Building Regulation compliance of completed structures. In an ideal world this would not be required but we are living in the real world and as in the UK we need the facility of checking drawings and Building Regulation compliance ‘as built’. It is this aspect that is critically missing from SI.9.

*The above post is a personal view of the author and is the first in a series of posts from contributors on alternative solutions for Building Control in Ireland.

Other posts of interest:

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

World Bank Report 2015 | UK v Ireland the real cost of “Dealing with construction permits”

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

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

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

by Bregs Blog admin team

integrated solutions

By BRegs Blog | 01 December 2014

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

As suggested in an earlier blog post in October ( see ‘completion clouds are gathering’) ) the BCMS have now confirmed that Ancillary Certificates will not be accepted by the new system. This means that only the Assigned Certifier is listed on the public Building Register as the single point of contact for any future litigation for any building defects. This is the extent of the  “traceability and accountability” as promised by the former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan.

BCMS post in the Engineers Journal (quote from article):

“It is only necessary to upload the Statutory Certificate of Compliance on Completion Form, the inspection plan as implemented and the annex/table/schedule OF (Blog emphasis) compliance/ancillary certificates and documents”

see full article here.

The only reason for collecting and storing Ancillary Certificates will be to use it as your own ‘defence file’ in a court action. The BRegs Blog recommends that if you are an Employee Certifier to make sure  you have your own copies- if the firm you work for closes or you move to another job you will need the defence file for any future action.

More worryingly for the building owner and consumer is that many professionals believe that the limited Completion documentation leaves the whole system wide open for the Cowboy Certifiers (aka “yellow packers with binoculars”) who will not bother collecting any testing records or ancillary certificates and who will price their cut-rate inspection regime accordingly.

The  homebuyer is still only getting a name on the Building Register which is really no different to the former system of getting a name on an Opinion of Compliance.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

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

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following opinion piece was submitted by Joe Byrne BSc(Hons) ArchTech MIS a former RIAI Architectural Technologist Committee member from 2007 to September of this year, the Chair in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and was Architectural Technologist RIAI Council Representative in 2012. Mr. Byrne resigned from the RIAI on 8th September 2014. 

_____________

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

The emergence of the Irish  Architectural Technology Graduates Network (IATGN) in 2006, and its subsequent recommendation that all architectural technologists should seek to become part of a professional body saw a conversation commence with the RIAI on the position of technologists within that organisation. I was convinced at that time, and remain so now, of the importance and necessity of that conversation.

I am now equally convinced that that conversation has reached a conclusion. There is no more to discuss. It is time now for clarity on the future professional direction of architectural technology, and in my opinion, that lies outside of the RIAI. I believe that this is the logical next step, for both technologists and architects, and indeed for the RIAI itself.

The 2012 amendments to the Building Control Regulations provided the perfect opportunity for the RIAI to seek to implement its own ‘Standard for Knowledge Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architectural Technologist’, thereby cementing a role and a sustainable professional context for its technologist members. This opportunity was spurned – not missed. This in itself was unacceptable, but the dithering that has followed the adoption of the Institute’s new policy on Architectural Technology last March has been unforgivable. The RIAI’s forum to discuss the topic churned up the same old questions of the last four decades, and in the end the direction to be taken was no clearer than when that debate first began. Talk of an absence of champions for the policy is simply spin to detract from the reality that the policy is not supported by many.

For the RIAI’s part, it is now time to accept and admit publicly that it cannot adequately represent the views of both architects and architectural technologists. The last three AT Representatives on Council along with former Chairs of the Architectural Technologist Committee, between them serving a collective time span of seven years have all stepped down for essentially that reason.While other organisations can represent the views of many different groupings, they do so on the basis of professional parity, with each group a different specialism under the same professional umbrella, but all starting from the same professional level. Surveyors and Engineers benefit from this arrangement, but the basis for this does not exist within the RIAI, with technologists essentially not considered equal Members in terms of voting rights, Council seats – even as far as actively participating in the recent motions put before the EGM. This presents a significant conflict of interests for the organisation where one grouping is at a considerable advantage over another,  and is an insurmountable obstacle for the technologist representatives within that organisation.

In reality, policy similar to that which has been recently adopted could easily have been brought forward in 2012 (or before) to provide for technologists within the scope of the BCARs legislation from the outset. It was not, and instead a policy of exclusion rather than inclusion was pursued. There has been no significant change to the way technologists are educated or admitted to the RIAI in the intervening time, and yet steps are now being taken to begin to develop a register for architectural technologists. The possibility of this happening was specifically ruled out by the RIAI as an option at that time, and yet the same organisation which saw NO role for technologists then has a commanding seat at the table now. There have been calls for more debate and discussion about what the Institute should do with and for its technologist members, but there is no consensus among the Membership as to what direction any such action should take, and all the while more time is wasted. The truth is that technologists should not be involved in any such debate with the RIAI until the architect Members have decided, (perhaps rightly) what outcome they desire. Once that becomes clear, I believe the same conclusion will eventually be reached, that there is nothing left to talk about.

The fractious nature of the debate around the RIAI’s handling of the BCAR negotiations on behalf of its architect members came to a head at the recent EGM. The motion favoured by the majority marks a circling of the wagons in my opinion, and I believe that AT issues will be far from a priority. It is impossible for the RIAI to promote the professional status of technologists without being seen in some way to dilute the role of architects, and this will not be acceptable to many – both architects and technologists alike. I believe there will now be a fence mending exercise while the Institute works within the current system to make it more acceptable to its Members. There is ostensibly a place for technologists in the proposals being formulated by the working group, but there has been no guarantee from the Institute as to what roles this will entail, and even these are subject to the proposed amendments to the system being adopted by the DECLG. The Institute has been asked repeatedly to clarify what roles it sees its technologist members filling, and has doggedly and repeatedly refused to do so.  In the absence of this clarity, further engagement by technologists with the RIAI is in my opinion time that could be better spent on securing our own professional security, both individually and collectively.

Architectural Technology is considered by many, (but by no means all) RIAI Members to be not a profession, but rather a subset of the skills of an architect. For some it should therefore not exist on the same professional level. While we as technologists may not agree with that standpoint, the opinion is valid to those who hold it. They should be entitled to defend it, without wasting more time at the expense of fellow fee paying technologist members. If the opposite is true, and architectural technology is indeed a distinct profession, then it is time it stood on its own feet and claimed that status by right, rather than by looking to architects and to the RIAI for that validation and approval. The RIAI has long since ceased claiming to ‘represent’ either architects or technologists, opting instead to supposedly ‘support’ both professions. This is the crux of the matter. What architectural technology needs at this time is REPRESENTATION, and strong, informed and unbiased representation at that. This cannot come from the RIAI. As an organisation it is already under considerable pressure from its dual role as Regulator and Representative Body for architects.To throw a third variable into the mix would be foolhardy.

At the recent EGM, comments were made by a senior RIAI Member, lauding the ‘clear blue water’ that SI.9 puts between small rural practices and technologist led offices. Regrettably, in a sense, this was not the off the cuff rhetoric of a disgruntled rural architect, but rather the considered viewpoint of a respected senior Member, albeit uttered with the assumption of the MRIAI’s equivalent of Dail Privilege – the sanctity of a Member’s Only EGM. For me, that is the biggest disappointment – not that the comments were made, but that they were made in a room with no technologists present, and therefore could not be refuted. It smacks of the kind of commentary that may well have happened in the run up to SI.9, SI.80, BC(A)Rs and most likely the original Building Control Act. It hints at conversations that may happen over the coming months with no architectural technologist representative at the Council table, and indeed into next year if, as is entirely possible, no one can be found to fill the role. RIAI silence is bad enough. The suspicion that the Institute may have acted against its technologist members is intolerable.

That is not to say that these comments reflect the sentiments of the majority of architects. Indeed architects from small rural practices have been among the most supportive of the new technologist policy, even those with reservations about how it might work in practice. It is, rather, a sign that a parting of the ways is necessary in order for the fledgling profession of architectural technology to find its own ground, its own identity, its own place in the industry and in the professional sphere. The irony of the situation is that the very organisation which appears to fear most any professional progression for architectural technology is the one that spawned it.

In any case, enough time has been wasted. With no clear road map, timescale or destination within the RIAI the system marches on without us, the RIAI’s heralded ‘expert technical designers’. There is no sense of urgency to address that issue, but rather a desire to talk, to debate, to discuss further.

I challenge those who say that the RIAI remains the home for technologists to support that stance. Provide the evidence to back up proposal. In light of the recent technologist resignations, if the proposal can’t be sold to existing members, how can the unimpressed and the sceptical be convinced ? Check the Dail Record, check the public consultation documents lodged with the DECLG, check whatever media source necessary, and you will not find the term ‘RIAI Architectural Technologist’ mentioned positively anywhere in official documentation. An utter failure by the Institute to support technologist members as it so often claims to do.

Until March of this year technologists were practically invisible to the RIAI Council. It took the catalyst of considerable dissatisfaction among architects with the whole BC(A)Rs debate to plant our issues firmly on the table as part of the general malaise, allowing the last AT Representative to educate his Council colleagues as to the extent of the problem. For that, I and others are grateful. Now however, many who supported the March policy no longer sit in the Council Chamber. ‘Ordinary Resolution 2’ as passed at the EGM is the new law of the land, and it will be business as usual in the New Year.

For architectural technology, business as usual is no longer enough. Too much time and opportunity has been wasted. For too long it has been a topic with a past and a future – but no ‘present’ – that has never been tackled. Until that happens, there can be no change. It is time now for the reasoned and logical  eloquence of many technologists which has emerged out of necessity in the debate of the last number of years to be channeled in the correct manner to achieve that long sought after professional recognition, but through our own voice rather than through the filter of another profession.

Other posts of interest:

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