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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
Here is a project recently advertised by Dublin City Council at a value between €200k and €600k. Listed as part of Architectural services are Assigned and Design certifier duties.
We wonder have any specialist Certifiers, non-architects Chartered Surveyors or Chartered Engineers (SCSI or ACEI members) lodged Competition Authority complaints against this restrictive practice, appointing only architects to certifier roles, for government public contracts?
We know at least one Architectural firm has complained to the Competition Authority regarding this practice, fearing public contracts if awarded under these restrictive terms, may be subject to reversal if found in breach of Irish and EU competition law.
We note there was a heated discussion at the representative body for architects (RIAI) AGM in September 2014 regarding the legality of “collective bargaining” between representatives of the RIAI and the Department of Education concerning joint appointment of design certifier and architect for transition school projects.
We wonder given the slow uptake of the private voluntary register for contractors (CIRI)and similar slow-down in commencements under BC(A)R SI.9, have any public sector projects stalled due to lack of availability of certifiers? We note under SI9 the appointment is a personal one, and due to liability concerns most employees of firms are unwilling to act in these new roles.
Project in DCC: DCC need an Assigned Certifier under “architectural and related services” (link here)
“Conservation Architectural Services — Grade 1 (incl. design team lead) and associated specialist skills, i.e. Fire Safety Design Services, Disability Access Design Services, Employer‘s Representative for the Works Contract, and Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier services as defined under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014.”
Section I: Contracting authority
i.1) name, addresses and contact point(s)
DUBLIN CITY COUNCILN/A
Community & Social Development Section, Block 3, Floor 1, Civic Offices, Wood Quay
General address of the contracting authority: http://www.dublincity.ie
Address of the buyer profile: http://irl.eu-supply.com/ctm/Supplier/CompanyInformation/Index/267
Electronic access to information: http://irl.eu-supply.com/app/rfq/rwlentrance_s.asp?PID=81411&B=ETENDERS_SIMPLE
Further information can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)
Specifications and additional documents (including documents for competitive dialogue and a dynamic purchasing system) can be obtained from:
Contact point(s): From etenders website only. Internet address: http://www.etenders.gov.ie
Tenders or requests to participate must be sent to: The above mentioned contact point(s)
i.2) type of the contracting authority
Regional or local authority
i.3) main activity
General public services
i.4) contract award on behalf of other contracting authorities
The contracting authority is purchasing on behalf of other contracting authorities: no
Section II: Object of the contract
ii.1.1) title attributed to the contract by the contracting authority:
Establishment of a single party framework agreement for integrated design services for the development of Richmond Barracks.
ii.1.2) type of contract and location of works, place of delivery or of performance
Service category No 12: Architectural services; engineering services and integrated engineering services; urban planning and landscape engineering services; related scientific and technical consulting services; technical testing and analysis services
Main site or location of works, place of delivery or of performance: Dublin 8.
NUTS code Dublin
ii.1.3) information about a public contract, a framework agreement or a dynamic purchasing system (dps)
The notice involves the establishment of a framework agreement
ii.1.4) information on framework agreement
Framework agreement with a single operator
Duration of the framework agreement
Duration in years: 4
Estimated total value of purchases for the entire duration of the framework agreement
Estimated value excluding VAT:
Range: between 200 000 and 600 000 EUR
ii.1.5) short description of the contract or purchase(s)
Establishment of a single party framework agreement for integrated design services for the development of Richmond Barracks.
ii.1.6) common procurement vocabulary (cpv)
Architectural and related services (CPV: 71200000), Architectural, construction, engineering and inspection services (CPV: 71000000), Engineering services (CPV: 71300000), Civil engineering consultancy services (CPV: 71311000), Structural engineering consultancy services (CPV: 71312000),Building services (CPV: 71315000), Building services consultancy services (CPV: 71315210), Health and safety services (CPV: 71317200), Engineering design services (CPV: 71320000), Engineering design services for mechanical and electrical installations for buildings (CPV: 71321000), Quantity surveying services (CPV: 71324000), Urban planning and landscape architectural services (CPV: 71400000)
ii.1.7) information about government procurement agreement (gpa)
The contract is covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA): yes
This contract is divided into lots: no
ii.1.9) information about variants
Variants will be accepted: no
ii.2) quantity or scope of the contract
ii.2.1) total quantity or scope:
The Contracting Authority (Dublin City Council) is seeking to establish a single-party framework agreement for integrated design team services for the development of Richmond Barracks. The framework agreement will be established with a single economic operator comprising the following disciplines:
(a) Conservation Architectural Services — Grade 1 (incl. design team lead) and associated specialist skills, i.e. Fire Safety Design Services, Disability Access Design Services, Employer‘s Representative for the Works Contract, and Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier services as defined under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
(b) Civil and Structural Engineering Services,
(c) Quantity Surveying Services,
(d) Building Services Engineering, Inc. Building Energy Rating,
(e) Landscape Architectural Services, and
(f) Project Supervisor for the Design Process.
Only those Applicants capable of delivering all of the services listed above (whether in-house or as a grouping/consortium) will be considered. Therefore, applications relation to one or several of these disciplines only are not acceptable and will be rejected.
The single party framework agreement will be established on foot of an initial contract for the preliminary design, detailed design and planning application, procurement of works contractor, works supervision and handover of work stages of the Richmond Barracks Interpretive Centre Project.
Further information on the framework agreement and initial contract is available from the Qualification Questionnaires available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
Estimated value excluding VAT:
Range: between 200 000 and 600 000 EUR
ii.2.2) information about options
ii.2.3) information about renewals
This contract is subject to renewal: no
ii.3) duration of the contract or time limit for completion
Duration in months: 048 (from the award of the contract)
Section III: Legal, economic, financial and technical information
iii.1) conditions relating to the contract
iii.1.3) legal form to be taken by the group of economic operators to whom the contract is to be awarded:
Prior to the conclusion of the framework agreement, the Contracting Authority reserves the right to seek copies of any agreements between the members of the consortium if the successful tenderer is a consortium or grouping of members.
The contracting authority reserves the right, at its absolute discretion, to require a lead firm to contract:
— on the basis of joint and several liability with each member of the candidate executing the contract,
— with a particular single member of the tenderer as the prime contractor, with the other members providing collateral warranties and/or guarantees; or
— as an incorporated or unincorporated special purpose vehicle, with collateral warranties and/or guarantees from the members of the candidate.
iii.1.4) other particular conditions
The performance of the contract is subject to particular conditions: no
iii.2) conditions for participation
iii.2.1) personal situation of economic operators, including requirements relating to enrolment on professional or trade registers
Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met: Please refer to qualification documents available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
iii.2.2) economic and financial ability
Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met: Please refer to qualification documents available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
Minimum level(s) of standards possibly required: Please refer to qualification documents available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
iii.2.3) technical capacity
Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met:
Please refer to qualification documents available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
Minimum level(s) of standards possibly required:
Please refer to qualification documents available to download from www.etenders.gov.ie
iii.3) conditions specific to services contracts
iii.3.1) information about a particular profession
Execution of the service is reserved to a particular profession: yes
Reference to the relevant law, regulation or administrative provision: The successful framework operator must be included on the statutory Register for Architects as required under the Building Control Act, 2007. Further information on registration can be found onwww.pointofsinglecontact.ie/browse-by-sector/construction/architectural%20services/architects.html
The Irish Point of Single Contact (PSC) has been established as the point of single contact for Ireland as required under the Services Directive 2006/123/EC. The role of the PSC is to assist service providers who wish to provide services in Ireland, by connecting them with the relevant competent authorities in order to complete all relevant procedures.
iii.3.2) staff responsible for the execution of the service
Legal persons should indicate the names and professional qualifications of the staff responsible for the execution of the service: yes
Section IV: Procedure
iv.1) type of procedure
iv.1.1) type of procedure
Justification for the choice of accelerated procedure: ‘Compliance with the usual time-limits would be rendered impracticable for reasons of urgency’. The execution of the project is subject to an extremely tight timeframe and is subject to stringent conditions by the funding body. The project is also subject to planning permission, site investigations and conservation works. The project must be delivered by March 2016.
IV.1.2) Limitations on the number of operators who will be invited to tender or to participate.
Envisaged number of operators: 5.
Objective criteria for choosing the limited number of candidates: Applications received will be assessed on the basis of the rules, criteria and weightings set out in the Qualification Questionnaire. It is envisaged that the top 5 scoring Candidates (subject to the quality and number of applications received) which also meet the minimum criteria and rules for selection set out in the Qualification Questionnaire will be invited to tender.
iv.2) award criteria
iv.2.1) award criteria
The most economically advantageous tender in terms of the criteria stated in the specifications, in the invitation to tender or to negotiate or in the descriptive document
iv.2.2) information about electronic auction
An electronic auction will be used: no
iv.3) administrative information
iv.3.1) file reference number attributed by the contracting authority:
iv.3.2) previous publication(s) concerning the same contract
iv.3.3) conditions for obtaining specifications and additional documents or descriptive document
Payable documents: no
iv.3.4) time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate
17.10.2014 – 12:00
iv.3.6) language(s) in which tenders or requests to participate may be drawn up
Section VI: Complementary information
vi.1) information about recurrence
This is a recurrent procurement: no
vi.2) information about european union funds
The contract is related to a project and/or programme financed by European Union funds: no
vi.3) additional information
Dublin City Council is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 1997, 2003. If you consider that any of the information supplied by you is either commercially sensitive or confidential in nature, this should be highlighted and the reasons for the sensitivity specified. In such cases, the relevant material, will in response to the FOI request; be examined in the light of the exemptions provided for in the Acts.
2. It will be a condition for the establishment of the framework agreement and award of any call-off contract that the successful Tenderer and all sub-contractors (if applicable) produce a valid Tax Clearance Certificate from the Revenue Commissioners in compliance with Circular (43) 2006 (or as amended) and that the certificate will be maintained for the duration of the contract and will be on a 12 month basis. In the case of a non-resident Tenderer, a statement of suitability from the Revenue Commissioners will be required.
3. Suppliers must register their interest on the eTenders web site (www.etenders.gov.ie) in order to be included on the mailing list for clarifications.
4. Please note in relation to all documents, that where reference is made to a particular standard, make, source, process, trademark, type or patent, that this is not to be regarded as a de facto requirement. In all such cases it should be understood that such indications are to be treated strictly and solely for reference purposes only, to which the words ‘or equivalent’ will always be appended.
5. Please note also that all information relating to attachments, including clarifications and changes, will be published on the Irish Government Procurement Opportunities Portal (www.etenders.gov.ie) only. Registration is free of charge. Dublin City Council will not accept responsibility for information relayed (or not relayed) via third parties.
6. Emailed/faxed/late tenders will not be accepted. Tenderers are asked to include a return address on the packaging.
7. Tenders may be submitted in English or in the Irish language.
8. Please note that OJEU contracts are covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
9. All queries regarding this tender must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org for the attention of Martin Mc Donagh. Queries must be in question format and must be submitted by email. Responses will be circulated to those candidates/tenderers that have registered an interest in this notice on the Irish Government procurement opportunities portal www.etenders.gov.ie
The details of the party making the query will not be disclosed when circulating the response. All queries must be submitted by 12:00 noon on 9.10.2014 to enable issue of responses to all interested parties.
11. Please note that where documents are made available in both PDF and Word format, in the event that there is any discrepancy between the documents, the PDF version will take precedence.
vi.4) procedures for appeal
vi.4.1) body responsible for appeal procedures
HIGH COURT, CHIEF REGISTER
The Four Courts, Inns Quay
vi.4.2) lodging of appeals
Precise information on deadline(s) for lodging appeals: Please refer to the relevant Irish Statutory Instruments (SI 130 of 2010 and SI 420 of 2010) available at www.irishstatutebook.ie
vi.4.3) service from which information about the lodging of appeals may be obtained
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR
vi.5) date of dispatch of this notice:
The following article by Astrid Madden in “Self Build and improve your home” appeared in the Winter edition off the magazine, and was blogged on 30th September 2014. Link to online version here.
Advisors: Who they are, what they do and how much they cost
Architect and architectural technologist: They are mostly concerned with the design of your home, drawing up the plans of a house or extension on the basis of your wish list. Even if you have a very clear idea of the layout you want, a professional designer is likely to make alterations to create an overall style based on their experience of what works and what doesn’t. The design process can therefore take a lot of working through and usually is a combination of ideas from both parties. Where required (ROI: new builds and extensions over 40sqm, NI: new builds and large extensions – see http://www.planningni.gov.uk), the plans are then brought forward to your local authority’s planning department for approval. More detailed plans will be drawn up for the construction stage, which the architect or technologist can also put together for you, although in ROI you will need to make sure the design professional(s) you appoint is/are able to submit statutory documents (including design and completion certification) to the Building Control Authority.
Indeed, it’s important to know that in ROI with the updated building control regulations, only certain categories of professionals are recognised by the Department of Environment’s relating Code of Practice (see Statutory Roles on next page), namely Registered architects, Registered building surveyors and Chartered engineers. Currently, architectural technologists are not included in this list, which implies only Registered architects, Registered building surveyors and Chartered engineers can submit plans to the Building Control Authority, which is one of the statutory (mandatory) requirements of the new regulations; see article on page 34 for more.
According to the RIAI, if you appoint someone who isn’t on the Code of Practice list, you can get planning approval, however when the time comes to submit plans to the Building Control Authority you’ll have to hire someone who is on the list to do so. The new design professional is likely to have to carry out ‘due diligence’ on your initial plans for a fee, checking that all of the calculations and drawings comply with the building regulations.
In NI all architects are legally required to register with the Architects Registration Board (http://search.arb.org.uk) and in ROI with the statutory register administered by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (www.riai.ie/register). The RIAI acts as both the statutory body legally in charge of registering/ protecting the title of ‘architect’ and as a professional body. In the UK the ARB is independent of the Royal Institute of British Architects (www.architecture.com), which is a professional body only. The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (www.rsua.org.uk) is the NI branch of RIBA.
There is no statutory register for architectural technologists, but the title ‘chartered’ is protected by law in NI and is administered by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (www.ciat.org.uk); CIAT has chartered members with registered practices in NI and ROI. There exist dual members, who have both architectural and architectural technology qualifications, and these are both registered with CIAT and with the ARB and/or RIBA. Different, but similar to the technologist is the architectural technician, who provides technical support to architects and architectural technologists; they do not offer their services directly to clients.
Planning consultant: To support your planning application you should consider hiring someone who will advise how to prepare it in order to have the best chance of approval. In addition to practices or individuals specialising in planning, many architectural, engineering or building surveying firms will provide this service.
A new report on lobbying in Ireland calls for a two-year “cooling-off” period for former ministers and special advisers. See Irish Times article “Report into lobbying recommends two-year cooling-off period“. A report into lobbying recommends two-year cooling-off period. Transparency International urges fines for officials who fail to comply with rulings. Extract:
“Transparency International will recommend that senior public officials should be required to receive permission from an independent oversight body before taking up a private sector position where a conflict of interest could be perceived.
…Penalties including fines and publication of the decision should be imposed on any former public official who fails to comply with the body’s ruling or to deliver information sought by it,” the report states.”
There has been widespread concern and criticism of the new building regulations SI9 introduced in march 2014. Seen as a paper exercise and ‘a political solution’, SI9 reinforces the current system of self-regulation in Ireland and creates a complicated ‘red-tape’ exercise in hands-off private regulation which is resulting in massive costs to consumer and industry. Billed by former minister Phil Hogan as a solution to widespread building failures, SI9 was introduced with little public or professional back-ups being in place, and no consumer input.
Following on from a public consultation in 2012 only a small circle of key stakeholders were invited to participate in the formation of SI9. No consumer groups were involved. The organisations invited to participate were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Most of these bodies now have statutory roles and operate self-policing registers. The CIF register CIRI is due to be put on a statutory footing in March 2015.
TD Catherine Murphy has been scathing in her criticism of lobbing particularly in the Construction sector. In an article from the Irish Times from October 2014 she brought the spotlight on lobbying by vested interests in the construction industry. See article here.
“As a public representative at both local and national level, this is the second time I have experienced a crash in the construction sector. We are moving back into construction without having repaired the problems or addressed the issues involved. We are starting the process again. The Government just has a short time left in office and the important changes that should have been made before construction started again have not been made.
…This is a small country and we are all aware of the informal lobbying that takes place, whether in the Galway tent, on golf courses or wherever else“
See Dáil Debate here.
Many consumers perceive that the government has conveyed vested interest groups with a monopoly on various statutory roles within the construction process. This is most visible in the self-build sector, where owner/ builders legally are unable to build their own houses without the involvement of a contractor, preferably a CIRI registered one. This has resulted in vast cost increases, particularly for housing (see links below) and a significant fall-off in new self-built homes being undertaken this year.
With Local Authorities already chronically under-resourced, with no additional training or staff allocated to operating the new system, problems such as rogue or cowboy builder/ developers and serious materials issues such as pyrite are set to remain with us for some time.
All these representative bodies are now set for a windfall in income as a result. In order to operate as a registered professional under the new SI9 one must be on a register, and a hefty registration fee must be paid annually to these representative/policing organisations. With 60,000 operatives involved in various roles in the construction sector annual registration fees represent a bonanza for these key stakeholder bodies.
A significant reason for all these organisations to be supportive of SI.9. Even though most agree that the regulations bring little or no additional consumer protections to owners.
Other posts of interest:
An earlier post (link https://bregsforum.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/part-l-independent-certification-and-inspections/) we discussed the low compliance rates in home energy standards under ‘self certified’ Building Control. In the case of new homes, the hidden cost of non- compliance is in high energy bills for the homebuyer for every winter that they live in the house.
The following opinion piece was received from a registered architect on October 20th 2014
What BCAR could learn from the NCT
Ireland had a problem with safety standards in cars. There were too many older cars, they weren’t being maintained properly. Rural roads and bad weather compounded the problems and “something had to be done”.
In 2000 the NCT (National Car Test) was established and now all cars over 4 years old are tested regularly. I recently visited a test centre: in less than 25 minutes and for the cost of €55. I was back on the road. The testing centre ran like clockwork because the mechanics are trained, the equipment is calibrated and the testing standardised. It works and it’s very efficient. They can fully test a car for €55 without making a loss. All centres work to the same system and the standard of card on our roads has improved.
If the NCT was run on the BCAR (Building Control Amendment Regulations) model, testing would be carried out in every filling station in the country- all of them would have to train staff and buy in equipment. They’d have to continually upgrade machinery and keep it operational, devise their own computer record system, bring in an emissions expert, keep oil samples, file forms and issue reports. It wouldn’t cost €55.
Problems might arise when different garages worked to different standards- word would get around about who would turn a blind eye to bald tyres, who didn’t even check the wipers. Inevitably the cheapest garages would attract a lot of business.
The powers that be might find it difficult to keep track of thousands of operators. It might prove impossible to police the system effectively or to tackle the cowboy operators. Perhaps the diligent operators would be priced out of the market in a race to the bottom.
Some of the mid-range garages might find it hard to keep up: a staff member who is selling cars, ordering parts and meeting customers might find it very hard to stay on top of a raft of ever changing technical requirements, to manage the administration and reporting.
Some operators might stop offering the service altogether, referring their customers on to specialist garages who have dedicated staff and equipment.
In time, dedicated centres of excellence might develop in every county where specially trained staff could do the job better and faster. These specialist operators wouldn’t be distracted by other tasks, they could work more efficiently and develop greater expertise. In time, as their systems improved and the volume of business grew, they might be able to offer a good service for as little as €55. Just like the NCT.
Perhaps BCAR has something to learn from this? Dedicated specialist staff and standardised systems are more cost-effective and easier to quality control.
This is good- Village Magazine 2012
So South Dublin CoCo were involved?
By Bregs Blog Admin on 6th October 2014
Funding the Local Authority Building Control Departments:
There were 153* Commencement Notices lodged in Dublin in August of this year. Commencement Notices incur a fee of €30 per building and of the developments listed there were ? Buildings…. (Very few CNs for more than 1 building need to check?)
That’s an income of €4,590 for the entire month split between four Local Authorities. For arguments sake lets say it’s split evenly and each local authority got €1,237.50. To run their building control department. For an entire month.
For this they are expected to process the Notices, check they are valid, keep a Register, answer queries from the public, inspect 12-15% of building sites in their area, catch any illegal developments, process completion paperwork, make sure there’s no pyrites around and of course prevent the next Priory Hall. For €1,237.50 a month. It would barely keep the lights on and run a photocopier.
They must be the envy of Longford County Council who didn’t receive a single Commencement Notice fee of €30 in the entire month of August. But they had to keep their Building Control office open and functioning.
Isn’t it time that the DECLG stopped expecting the local authorities to subsidise developers and building owners and looked again at the €30. fee that was set in 1997?
BRegs Blogs will be running a series of posts about resourcing an effective building control system.
*69 Notices for 1-14 Aug and 84 Notices for 15-31 August 2014 (source: link2plans.com)
Other posts of Interest:
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).
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.
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?
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:
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)
Dublin Venue: The Alexander Hotel, Fenian St., Dublin 2
Limerick Venue: Castletroy Park Hotel, Dublin Road, Limerick
RIAI Practices €135
RIAI Member €150
Programme for Limerick Seminar:
Other posts of interest:
Selection of Assigned Certifier posts:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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
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:
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:
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:
Extract off Forfas report table 2.12 p 16
Other posts of interest:
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.
This is my S.I 9 policy…
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:
– 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.
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.”
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
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
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Other BREG blog Links on legal aspects (click on title for link):
The following letter of complaint was sent to the Ombudsman on May 12th 2014 by Amanda Gallagher, self-builder.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Mrs Amanda Gallagher
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.
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
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
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!
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.
Lester Naughton B.Arch MRIAI
Certificate to be signed by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.
Signature: __________________.Date: ________________
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:
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 email@example.com 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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
“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.”
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
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
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):
Other posts of interest:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Extract off April 14th 2014 letter:
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.
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.
Other posts of interest:
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
Building and Construction Output increased by 0.1% in 3rd quarter 2014
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.
Other posts of interest:
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:
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.
Other posts of interest:
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.
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.
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:
The candidates seeking election are:
Liam Innes, Pat Kirwan
Martin Murray, James O’Donoghue
Deirdre Kelly, Mark Stephens, Richard Rice, Simon Wall
David Browne, Michael Crowe, Mícheál de Siún, Isoilde 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:
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:
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:
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.
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 here] and 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 Completion– Clearly 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:
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?
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: