by Bregs Blog admin team
Posts for October 2014 (61)
Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2) october 12th
Posts for October 2014 (61)
Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2) october 12th
Posts for November 2014 in reverse chronological order (59 in total)
The following is a briefing document on the new building regulations, prepared for a public representative by a registered professional. It was submitted to us on 25th June 2014.
The building regulations were introduced in 1991 in response to the “Stardust disaster”, in which many people lost their lives, a tragedy never to be repeated. They did much to raise building standards. But there was never adequate enforcement. The €30.75 per house Commencement Notice fee charged in 1991 today, 22 years later, stands at … €30. The system never paid for itself.
It took the pyrites and “Priory Hall” disasters to introduce the next round of changes. An Irish solution to an Irish problem:- “When there’s a problem with enforcing a law: change it.”
The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, seek to respond to pyrites and “Priory Hall”. The Minister’s intention was and remains good, even if non-enforcement was the problem.
2. What’s wrong with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations?
3. BC(A)R and pyrites
Set up to report on the causes of the “pyrite problem” and to make recommendations as to how that problem might be avoided in the future, the “Pyrite Panel” reported to the Minister in June 2012.
The regulations fail to implement the relevant recommendations in the the Pyrite Panel report.
Recommendation 18, a “Mandatory certification system” recommends that “the system of independent inspections, carried out by the building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process for buildings”.
This was not done. To get building regulations compliance from a builder and his subcontractors, there must be the reasonable likelihood of statutory-backed inspection by the building control authority.
Recommendation 21: General Insurance issues, recommended (b) “a requirement for project-related insurance whereby cover for each specific project is available and adequate and is related to the project only”.
This was not done. By not implementing this recommendation, the regulations ensure litigation and distress for home-owners will continue to feature where buildings go wrong, whether in pyrites-affected dwellings or for the Priory Hall residents.
4. So what should be done with S.I. 9?
S.I. 9 should be scrapped.
A proper system of independent third-party inspection, by experienced architects and engineers paid for by the developer but licensed by and answerable to the local authority, would achieve better results; level the field for the self-builders; allow technologists to participate; guarantee local authority-backed inspection of 100% of building sites; would solve the intellectual property issues; and could be done for €2m per year.
To see such a system in operation, take the bus to Enniskillen. Such system can and does work, deliver better building, and can cost the State a net nothing, the cost being paid for by the Developer and through increased Commencement Notice fees.
In this article from Passive House + magazine from 08 December 2014, author Philip Lee suggests that Passive House standard could be used as an alternative means of compliance for Part L under the new building regulations. Link to article here. Extract:
Passive house: an alternative method of meeting Part L?
The passive house standard may be acceptable as an alternative method of compliance with Ireland’s stringent energy efficiency regulations, according to a leading expert in energy and construction law, leaving the door open to a similar approach in the UK.
The equivalent of England’s Approved Document L1A, Ireland’s Technical Guidance Document L for dwellings demands 60% energy and carbon reductions compared to 2005 levels, and requires renewable energy generation – 10kWh/m2/yr of thermal energy or 4kWh/m2/yr of electrical. These changes were heavily influenced by the campaigning work of this magazine’s predecessor, Construct Ireland.
But as with the UK regulations, the detail on compliance is contained within guidance documents, rather than in the regulation of Part L itself. As legal expert Philip Lee writes in the Irish edition of Passive House Plus issue 9, guidance documents don’t have the force of law, meaning alternative methods of compliance – such as passive house – could conceivably be used.
Curiously, buildings that go beyond Ireland’s 60% energy reductions can struggle to meet Ireland’s renewable energy targets, as they may not have sufficiently high energy demand to easily meet the 10kWh/m2/yr renewables target. Irish passive house advocates have long argued that dwellings meeting the standard should not be required to generate such quantities of renewable energy.
According to Lee: “It could be argued that the proportion of renewable energy to fossil fuels inherent in the technical guidance document could also be applied to a passive house. Therefore, if a passive house consumes 50% less primary energy, then the “proportion” of renewables set out in the technical guidance document, namely 10 kWh/m2 (heating) and 4 kWh/m2 (electrical energy), should be reduced by 50% to 5 kWh/m2 and 2 kWh/m2 respectively.”
“An alternative approach to the same interpretation of “reasonable” would be to look at the net balance of brown energy that is produced in a standard house and compare that to the net brown energy produced in a passive house. Provided that the net amount of fossil fuel being consumed in the passive house is less than that being consumed in a standard house then it could be argued that any actual energy coming from renewable sources would meet the ‘reasonable test’.”
Lee also points out that under the RES Directive, EU members states must “require the use of minimum levels of energy from renewable resources” both in new buildings and existing buildings that are subject to major renovation, from 31 December 2014. This means, he says, that Ireland’s Part L will be in breach of the directive if it is not quickly updated, as it specifies a “proportion” of renewable energy rather than a minimum amount. He warns that targets set in a guidance document don’t suffice, given their non-mandatory status. The four regions of the UK are also set to be in breach, based on current policy.
Lee points out that the directive encourages member states to take into account “national measures relating to substantial increases in energy efficiency” and to “passive, low or zero energy buildings” when updating their building regulations to increase the share of renewable energy.
Other posts of interest:
The following email question to, and answer from the Building Control Management System (BCMS) was sent to us by a registered professional on the 11th December 2014.
The BCMS confirm that ” each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance”.
The BCMS clarification suggests that completion of larger mixed-use projects and multi-unit residential schemes may be more onerous than was realised under the new regulations. Financing of larger projects frequently depends on early phases being complete and sold on, while later stages and some common areas, basements, roads and drainage may still be under construction. BReg Blog notes shown [ ]:
The Code of Practice says that phased completions are possible.
Does the BCMS Commencement Notice have to be done as ‘one per house’ so that there can be separate Completion Certs for each house?
If it’s ‘one per estate’ for Commencement Notices (see RIAI advice) can you you then just submit separate Completion Certs for each house under the one Commencement Notice? If so is the Register set up for this?
What is an ‘overall’ Completion Cert for the development (see RIAI advice) and what will this cover?
Is it the same for apartments?
RIAI advice says:
How will the Commencement Notice 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.
Reply from BCMS, Date: 11 December 2014
Subject: Certificate of Compliance on Completion-Phased Completion Considerations
S. I. 9 of 2014 (9) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion may refer to works, buildings, including areas within a building, or developments, including phases thereof, and relevant details shall be clearly identified on the Certificate of Compliance on Completion itself, and subject to validation in line with the requirements at paragraphs (3) and (4), on the register.
As a general rule the purpose of the Certificate of purpose of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion is to required for compliance with the;
Therefore it is recommended that any phasing of developments for the purpose of Certificate of Compliance on Completion Certificates should be carefully considered in the context of interdependency of the Parts A-M with each other and the other phases in the development.
For the purpose of best practice housing development and construction compliance each phase should be designed to stand alone and as such compliance with Part A-M should be addressed both individually and collectively.
In essence each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance i.e. Part B access for fire appliances, Part H treatment systems, Part M access and use, Part L, J there may be district heating etc. in general each phase must stand alone and should be assessed on its merits; best method is to audit the phase against the particular requirements of the Building Regulations, a consolidated summary is set out below for ease of reference
Reference is made to the requirements of the Building Control Regulations the relevant section which is set out below;
“Building Control Regulations 1997-2014-Part IIIC – Certificate of Compliance on Completion
20F (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be submitted to a building control authority and relevant particulars thereof shall be included on the Register maintained under Part IV before works or a building to which Part II or Part IIIA applies may be opened, occupied or used.
(2) The requirement for a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall apply to the following works and buildings –
(a) the design and construction of a new dwelling,
(b) an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 square meters,
(c) works to which Part III applies.
(3) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be –
in the form specified for that purpose in the Sixth Schedule, and
(b) accompanied by such plans, calculations, specifications and particulars as are necessary to outline how the works or building as completed –
(i) differs from the plans, calculations, specifications and particulars submitted for the purposes of Article 9(1)(b)(i) or Article 20A(2)(a)(ii) as appropriate (to be listed and included at the Annex to the Certificate of Compliance on Completion), and
(ii) complies with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, and
[Part A — Structure; Part B—Fire Safety; Part C—Site preparation and resistance to moisture; Part D—Materials and workmanship; Part E—Sound; Part F—Ventilation; Part G—Hygiene;
Part H—Drainage and waste water disposal; Part J—Heat producing appliances; Part K—Stairways, ladders, ramps and guards; Part L—Conservation of fuel and energy; Part M—Access for disabled people]
(c) accompanied by the Inspection Plan as implemented by the Assigned Certifier in accordance with the Code of Practice referred to under article 20G(1) or a suitable equivalent.
Other posts of interest:
The following opinion piece was sent to the BRegs Blog by a specialist conservation architect on December 3rd 2014. There is an alternative opinion on this topic which suggests gaps in the new regulations. Because planning for Protected Structures only came into 2000 Planning Act and SI.9 only refers to Planning Regulations 1963-93 (now revoked), it could well be that quite an amount of minor works (to protected structures) that require planning permission under the 2000 Act may be undertaken using the short form commencement notice and may not require the services of design or assigned certifiers. We would be interested in getting further input on this from specialist conservation professionals and readers of the Blog.
SI.9 + Protected Structures
We explained the position in which we and our clients find ourselves in connection with the new building control regulations.
In other words the long and short of it is that if any works to a protected structure of any type exceed 40 sq metres then a long form of commencement notice and the concomitant additional fees and additional costs on the construction side occur. The difficulty of obtaining even meagre funds is ever present for this type of work.
The same applies to any works to a protected structure if a Fire Safety Certificate is required regardless of size.
In the case of reconstruction to a Monument of Record, the building works are exempted from the Building Regulations but not from the BCAR.
This is all very confusing and there are no straightforward nor logical answers to any of this. Whether we like it or not the BCA Regulations will have an ongoing effect on most if not all conservation work in terms of time and expense.
In our view all works to Protected Structures should be exempted from the Long form of Commencement Notice under the BCAR. They shall comply with Part B where possible and be subject to a Fire Safety Certificate and DACs in connection with public access. The works, as at present, shall be designed and specified by an accredited Conservation Architect, be subject to the approval of the Conservation and Planning Authorities and the Department if needs be.
The very nature of older buildings mitigate against predictable outcomes as covered in the Building Regulations.
I suspect that the present arrangements will present Conservation Officers with long term difficulties. We are left floundering around without direction and our impecunious clients searching for funds to satisfy a bureaucratic monster. It would be great if you can raise the awareness of these issues with your colleagues and the Department, for the necessity for the Assigned Certifier to Certify compliance with the Building Regulations in say, works attached to or connected with an ancient structure is patently a nonsense.
Other posts of interest:
Minister has no plans… http://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2014-06-24a.804&s=%22Building+regulations%22