BRegs Blog

A blog to debate the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR): The BRegs Blog presents an opportunity for free expression of opinion on BCAR and their implementation. The blog is not representative of any professional body or organisation. Each post represents the personal opinion of that contributor and does not purport to represent the views of all contributors.

Category: Irish Building Control

Problems with BCMS Inspection Plan

by Bregs Blog admin team

problems-1

A reader recently sent us in the following comment on the Engineer’s Journal article “Building Control Management System – how it works” published on 27th November. See article here.

In the article author 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 are concerned.

IMG_3834

The BReg Blog reader noted the following strange anomalies/ omissions from this sample 7 stage inspection plan:

  • Part E (Sound) at wall plate- this is before roof/ windows/ closing in of the main envelope? How can a sound test be completed when the envelope has not been completed?
  • ‘first fix’ services is at Completion? Clearly this is not proper sequencing on site.
  • Part M (Access) is at foundations level? We note in article “The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are: 9. Steps to entrances (Part M).
  • Part G (Hygiene)- completely omitted from inspection plan: isn’t there at all!
  • Part J (Heat Producing Appliances) doesn’t happen until the roof is on…
  • Part L ( Fuel & Energy)  is inspected when the building is at Ground Floor Level (again out of sequence).

We wonder how this 7 stage inspection plan compares to others circulated by key stakeholder organisations?

The Inspection plan.

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.

The inspections are required to be thorough and cover every stage and aspect of the project. While a bank, for mortgage applications may require as little as 5 or 6 inspections, SI.9 requires diligent Assigned Certifiers carry out many more. If they are not carrying out the additional inspections or working with consultants then they have failed in their duties.

If (and I suspect it is happening, maybe wholesale) an Assigned certifier fails to:

  • Properly assess the project,
  • See relevant consultants are engaged,
  • Carry out appropriate level and number of inspections
  • Compile necessary documents

They have failed in their duties and the whole thing is a paper exercise. More worryingly a major question has to be asked.

If a property is completed, with the revelation at a later stage that the AC was negligent, making the certificate of compliance useless, even false. What then for that property, is the certificate removed from the BCMS? Can a certificate ever be issued?

SI.9 “each phase should be designed to stand alone” | BCMS

by Bregs Blog admin team

Half_price

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 [ ]:

________

[Dear BCMS]

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?

Or

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.

localgov1localgov2

_________

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.

Overview;

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;

  1. Administrative requirements as set out in the Building Control Regulations which is basically 3(a), (b)(i)  and the
  2. Design requirements 3(b)(ii) i.e. the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations before
  3. Works or buildings can be opened, occupied or used

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:

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

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

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

Ireland, Knowledge Centre – Bruce Shaw

by Bregs Blog admin team

Ch.3_—_Ireland

Ireland, Knowledge Centre – Bruce Shaw

Professionals frequently refer to the Bruce Shaw Annual Review for information on costs, trends and the construction industry generally. This year’s edition is no different providing a wealth of interesting and accurate information on a multitude of aspects of the construction industry. It is not the only one of its type but source information frequently is Central statistics Office data so is quite reliable. Here’s  link to the full document: Bruce Shaw Knowledge Centre

We noted there has been a lot of media attention at a predicted “construction boom” with an output of €11Bn forecast for 2015. When one removes the €600m associated with water meter installation, this figure reduces to €10.4Bn. A 15% increase on 2014 projected level of €9Bn is good news; however we are coming from a historic low point in construction activity. Construction output is half a normal sustainable level and this indicates that there may be further market distortions due to supply and demand issues in some sectors and locations etc. To give this more modest forecast some background here is a graph with recent years construction output noted:

Value of Construction Output €m 2004 – 2014

construction output

We also note construction costs for housing remain stubbornly high. In the following graph we see that house-building costs are over 17% higher than in 2003, despite the recession. The graph illustrates that house-builders appear have kept costs high, preferring to reduce activity rather than reduce costs. We note a recent Davy Research report that suggested Irish construction costs were 50% higher than in Northern Ireland.

House Construction Cost Index

houe cost index

In this series of tables showing house completions, we see that only 11%, 922 of the total of 8,301 dwellings completed in 2013 were apartments, suggesting that individual commissioned or self-built houses comprised a very high proportion of dwellings completed that year. Self-builders may well comprise over 50% of all houses completed in any one year.

Annual House Completions 2003 – 2013

house completions

Annual House Completions by Type 2003 – 2013

completions by type

Finally of interest to consumers will be house building costs. Note the specific exclusions that indicate the cost of building a house could be quite a bit higher than that costs tabled (+12.5%). We note this table excludes the current industry estimated additional costs due to the introduction of SI.9, at between €20,000- €40,000 for a typical 4 bed house.

Based on the table the cost of a 125Sqm standard 3/4 bed semi-detached house should be in the region of €229,375 (build-cost incl vat+ prof. fees of €182,000 + developer’s profit of 20% + planning contribution €10,000) and excluding SI.9 costs of €21,000*. This, of course, also excludes the cost of purchasing the site.

house build costs.pdf [Converted]*Breg Blog note: for additional SI.9 costs for a typical house see SI.9 costs for a typical house | BRegs Blog

Other posts of interest:

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

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

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

cpd-wordle-3

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

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

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

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

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

Programme for Dublin Seminar:

Dublin_Programme_04-1.11.14_4

Date & Time

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

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

Venue 

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

Limerick Venue: Castletroy Park Hotel, Dublin Road, Limerick

Cost

RIAI Practices €135

RIAI Member €150

Non-member €190  

Programme for Limerick Seminar:

Limerick_Programme_11.11.14Other posts of interest:

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

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

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

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

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

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

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

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

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

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

Selection of Assigned Certifier posts:

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

BRegs Blog 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

PYRITE & THE ASSIGNED CERTIFIER?

4 tips for Assigned Certifiers…

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

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

RIAI Assigned Certifier Survey – Results?

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

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

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

rear-view-mirror

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

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

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

Original post below:

________________

article-1331380-0C207294000005DC-922_634x414

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______

Link to Forfas report:

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

MichaelOFlynnPropertyDeveloper_large

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

Pyrite Registers of Chartered Engineers

by Bregs Blog admin team

stateofireland-home2013

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

Link here: engineersireland pyrite registers

Extract off website to follow:

___________

Pyrite Registers of Chartered Engineers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes from website:

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

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

Other posts of interests on this topic:

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections 

Radio: PYRITE- Pass the Parcel 

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification?

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Architectural_program-page-graphics-700x275_3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Dáil: response on Architectural Technologist Register in 7 days

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

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

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Thoughts on a Register for Architectural Technologists

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

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

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

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

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

by Bregs Blog admin team

hand-9-nine

Stop! – SI.Nine is 9 months old

The 9th monthly Building Register was published by the Building Control Management System (BCMS) on 4th December 2014 at 8.08 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘proposed building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland.

The Building Register now records a figure of 4,294 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past nine months (39 weeks) since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014.

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

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

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

Link to Building Register: 

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

FAO Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht- commencement figures

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

 

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

champagne-1262279028

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

____________

CSO statistical release, 11 December 2014, 11am

Production in Building and Construction Index

cso1.pdf [Converted]

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

cso 2a

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

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

On an annual basis, the volume of output in building and construction increased by 10.1% in the third quarter of 2014*.  There was an increase of 11.0% in the value of production in the same period. See table 1(a).  The annual rise in the volume of output reflects year-on-year increases of 19.1%, 13.4% and 2.5% respectively in residential building work, civil engineering and non-residential building work.   See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.

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

cso 3.pdf [Converted]

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

personal-insurance

BRegs Blog admin 13th December 2014

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

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

See Minister Kelly’s comments here.

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

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

Dear BReg Blog,

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

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

This is the reply I received:

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

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

 22. PYRITE/CONTAMINATED INFILL

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

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

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

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

Sounds familiar.

Other posts of interest:

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent 

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

“The insurance will sort it out…”

What is PI Insurance? 

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

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

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

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

RIAI Elections | Follow Friday Shout Out !

by Bregs Blog admin team

Election

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

mark_stephens Mark Stephens MRIAI

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

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

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

 

The candidates seeking election are:

Architectural Technologist:

Liam Innes, Pat Kirwan

Eastern Region:

Martin Murray, James O’Donoghue

Western Region:

Deirdre Kelly, Mark Stephens, Richard Rice, Simon Wall

Ordinary Members:

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

Voting closes at 11.59 pm on Tuesday 16th December 2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

slide.05b

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

Link to article here. Extract:

________

Abbey concerned by level of state intervention in housing market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This resulted in a turnover of €62.63 million.

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

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

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

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

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

WP_003058

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, let them at it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do we as a profession know?

Does the RIAI, SCSI or EI know?

Does the Law Society know?

Eamon Hedderman FRIAI

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

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing 

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

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

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

B Kelly

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

Problems with Inspection Plans

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

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

IMG_3834

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

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

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

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

BCMS | Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

unnamed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who decides what is compliant?

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

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

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

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

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

by Bregs Blog admin team

BCAR-620x350

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

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

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

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

___________

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

25th November 2014 | Engineers Journal

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

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

New-Picture36

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

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

Building Control Management System overview

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

New-Picture35

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

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

The main focus of the project is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCMS nine months on: submission issues & common mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

New-Picture33

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

imageimage.pdf [Converted]

The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are:

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

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

Certificate of Compliance on Completion

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

by Bregs Blog admin team

cmsproxyimage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Quirke, Chartered Architectural Technologist MCIAT

Other posts of interest:

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

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

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

3B464AD70C9AFAE14337A6629C91A76A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

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

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

top-10

Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

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

Enjoy!

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

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Jenga.gif
Jenga” by Jorge Barrios

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

Overall Estate Completion Certificates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing 

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

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

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

by Bregs Blog admin team

EU_Hammercourt-300x197

 5th December 2014

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

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

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

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

___________

‘Pyrite heave’ case referred to European Court of Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supreme Court findings

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

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

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

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

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

EU law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terms and conditions

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

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

Other posts of interest:

Donegal Pyrite update 

Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo 

Irish Mirror | Call for an end to pyrite mess

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

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

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

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

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

by Bregs Blog admin team

VC jpeg blog edit

5th December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posts of Interest:

Irish Times Business Podcast: 

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

What Date

5th December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Useful Links:

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

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

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

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

2-1

BRegs Blog admin 21st November 2014

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

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

________________

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2013

– and –

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Information Paper No. 2

The Building Regulations and Certifiers’ Liability

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

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

1 The Government’s intention for the amended building regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Article 20A)

                                                     Design Certificate

FORM OF CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE (DESIGN)

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

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

and

(Article 20F)

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE ON COMPLETION
(COMPLETION CERTIFICATE)

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

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

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

(where the signatory is an employee)  On behalf of

……………………………………………………………..

4 Three legal Opinions on the amended building regulations

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

4.1 18 July 2013 Opinion of Mr. Denis McDonald SC

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

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

He concludes:-

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

4.2 4 September 2013 Opinion of Mr. David Nolan SC

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

Mr. Nolan’s Opinion is as follows:

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

4.3 Liability of salaried employees for their own Certificates

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

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

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

4.4 4 September 2013 Opinion of Mr. Gavin Ralston SC

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

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

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

5 Other Liability Risks

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

6 Architects are not insurance companies

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Collins;

Peter Hanna;

Arthur Hickey;

Padraig Murray;

Eoin O Cofaigh;

Joan O’Connor;

Sean O Laoire:

– Dublin, 16 September 2013

________________

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

Other posts in this series:

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

Archive posts:

BREGS Blog Archive 6 | APRIL 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014 

BRegs Blog Archive 4 – FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

by Bregs Blog admin team

Mal_Oct_11_400x400

3rd December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

RIAI | Architectural Technologist update

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today! 

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

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

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

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

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

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Architectural Technologists’ Petition

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

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

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

by Bregs Blog admin team

 0320_housing_630x420

3rd  December 2014

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(2) RIAI FAQs

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

3rd December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Other Posts of Interest:

3 Must Read Posts for Employees:

The Insurance will sort it out:

SI.9 and Insurance Claims – Deirdre Lennon MRIAI:

What is PI Insurance?:

SI.9 and Insurance – Better Latent than Never:

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

 

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

fianna-fail-water-charges-630x420

Barry Cowen T.D. | 2nd December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jpeg of Mr Mandals’ message:

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

Extract off Dáil questions:

_______________

Written answers, Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Application

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

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

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

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

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

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

Over 4,700 new construction projects have been notified to Building Control Authorities across the local government sector since the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 regulations came into operation on 1 March 2014.

Evidence to date suggests that the Construction industry is responding well to the new regulatory framework. Oversight of activity by industry and by local building control authorities has improved immeasurably and authorities have ready access to detailed data on projects via the online Building Control Management System. The online system streamlines building control administration and enables authorities to identify risks and track progress.

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

I am satisfied that the new regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade. The enhanced professionalism and accountability arising from the arrangements under the new Regulations will lead to improved quality and reduce risk within the construction sector. This will in turn lead to market conditions more conducive to insurers and a wider availability and use of latent defects insurance. However, the Government has undertaken to explore the potential for latent defects insurance on construction projects as part of the wider reform of building control arrangements and this matter is currently being progressed within my Department.

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

Other posts of interest:

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

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

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

Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations | Mark Stephens MRIAI

by Bregs Blog admin team

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

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

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

by Bregs Blog admin team

integrated solutions

By BRegs Blog | 01 December 2014

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

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

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

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

see full article here.

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

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

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

AAZAYAAA4YAUIAIAAD377ZQBFQA7777774AAAAAA5ABZWAQA

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

_____________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Dáil: response on Architectural Technologist Register in 7 days

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

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

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Thoughts on a Register for Architectural Technologists

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

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

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

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

November 2014 breaks Blog record! | Top Ten Posts

by Bregs Blog admin team

elephant-framed

Top 10 posts | 30 November 2014

November was the busiest month since the BReg Blog began with a record 24,600+ views. By comparison our first month in November last year received only 2,870 views for the entire month. Some of the posts are described below and you can click on the links to the top ten posts at the bottom of the page.

  • Our top read post was about an EGM for the representative body for architects (RIAI) held on 4th November 2014. Events leading up to, and after the night continue to exercise the minds of both the Institute and its members. In many respects it seems as if issues and events not discussed on the night were of more importance than the motions tabled and voted upon.
  • HomeBond’s current technical manual was the topic of a widely read analysis by architect Joseph Little, as was the subject of a current pilot offering of an ‘all-in’ €2000 BC(A)R insurance and certifier package.
  • A recent post which made it onto the list was the recent announcement by Minister Alan Kelly of his firm intention to change and amend BC(A)R SI.9. As with all statements from the Department of the Environment the devil is in the detail so we await further information on this.
  • The continuing exclusion of Architectural Technologists from the register of competent professionals was again widely read and two posts on this issue occupy spots on the top 10.
  • The Social Media topic of the past two months is the continuing confusion around the area of cumulative extensions and the 40 sq.m. exemption from provisions of SI.9 (still unresolved at the time of posting) – this occupies two places in the list and was hugely popular last month also.
  • Jack Kavanagh, Past President of the ACEI and IEI (engineers’ representative bodies) had a thought provoking piece where he suggested that SI.9 is “…unjust to both engineer and society”.

Remember that reading these ten blog posts qualifies for CPD (unstructured) points, so record and start your CPD for 2015 now!

  1. RIAI EGM | 4th November 2014 | Who said what?
  2. The Latest Homebond House Building Manual: A Critique | Joseph Little Architects
  3. Homebond | Assigned Certifier + defects liability policy for €2,000?
  4. Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.
  5. Dáil | Architectural Technologist update
  6. RIAI PRACTICE NEWS : 40SqM BC(A)R SI.9 Exemption
  7. Engineers Ireland Journal | Jack Kavanagh- is SI.9 unjust to both engineer and society?
  8. RIAI Update | What happened at EGM
  9. RIAI | Architectural Technologist update
  10. ± 40 sq.m. exemption from SI.9 | Kevin Tyrrell Architectural Technologist

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

by Bregs Blog admin team

Alan-Kelly-Building-Regs-620x350

Here is a more detailed piece on the content of Minister Alan Kelly’s address to the Construction Industry Federation on 25th November from the The Engineers Journal. In the following article ‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly from 27th November 2014, Environment Minister Alan Kelly has stated that he will propose amendments to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 as they are “too onerous”, especially with regard to self builds and extensions, writes David Jackson. Extract to follow:

___________

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has stated that he will propose amendments to theBuilding Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, as the current Regulations are “too onerous”.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) on 25 October to mark the launch of the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI), Minister Kelly said, “We can never have another Priory Hall. It was absolutely outrageous what was allowed to happen in the past… but we can’t use a mallet to crack a nut in relation to some aspects of the Building Regulations.

“I’ll be proposing that there’ll be amendments to the Regulations – particularly in relation to self-build, one-off houses and extensions – because I believe there’s a need for some change in that whole area,” he continued. “I think the Regulations, as they currently stand, are a bit too onerous. In fact, I know they’re too onerous. They need to be amended and myself and Minister Paudie Coffey [Minister of State at the Department of the Environment with Special Responsibility for Housing, Planning and Coordination of the Construction 2020 Strategy] will be working on that.”

CIRI is a register of construction companies, sole traders and builders that are vetted by Government nominees and industry professionals. It has been set up to help members of the public find competent, experienced construction practitioners. In order to be listed on CIRI a company must comply with the building regulations and an industry code of ethics, it must prove its tax compliance and it must meet the health and safety regulations relating to the construction industry.

In CIRI’s first year, over 400 construction companies are listed with a further 800 companies at various stages of the application process. The CIF expects that approximately 1,500 companies will be listed on CIRI by the end of 2015.

CIRI and statutory legislation

Minister Kelly also discussed the Government’s perspective on the Register ahead of the publication of the legislation that will set CIRI on a statutory footing in 2015. He emphasised the importance of learning from past mistakes brought about by what he described as “bad decision making, greed, a lack of statutory provision and a lack of regulation”.

“CIRI and the reforms of building control activity now provide a robust and reliable registry framework that I believe will prove fit for purpose in ensuring that we leave behind the bad old days, when sharp practice and a quick buck were the order of the day, when clients and consumers found themselves short changed and with little hope of recourse from the industry or from public authorities,” he added.

Minister Kelly acknowledged that public tolerance for defective building and shoddy workmanship had been exhausted and concluded by outlining the impact CIRI will have on the future of the construction industry. “This is something that’s imperative for the future of the industry, the future development of the industry, the branding of the industry and also to create a control mechanism to ensure that we have an industry fit for purpose, to ensure that we don’t go through again what we went through in the past,” he said.

It is hoped that CIRI will strengthen the arrangements in place for quality construction by:

  • Providing a means by which developers, owners and construction professionals can satisfy themselves that the contractors they use will be competent and experienced for the work that they undertake;
  • Ensuring that responsible and compliant firms can compete on a level playing field and are not subject to unfair competition from unscrupulous operators;
  • Ensuring that clients, including public bodies, are aware of the compliance record of any CIRI registered entity with which they engage;
  • Supporting the continuous development over time of the professionalism and competence of individual firms, and thus the industry as a whole; and
  • Providing an effective means for responding to client or consumer complaints against CIRI registered entities.

CIF president Philip Crampton reiterated the Minister’s points and backed the focus on quality and competency that CIRI promotes. “It [CIRI] will allow those who carry out good, quality work, and who meet all the eligibility criteria, to stand out from those who don’t,” he said.

“We have some fantastic companies and sole traders in the Irish construction sector and CIRI provides them with the platform to stand out. It also provides a register which construction professionals such as architects, chartered surveyors and engineers, as well as the general public, can rely upon,” he concluded.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

RIAI | Architectural Technologist update

Donegal Pyrite update

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

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

000454e2-642

The representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) have recently commenced a nationwide campaign to highlight members’ concerns on the impacts of BC(A)R SI.9. This letter was sent to all Dáil TD’s from the IAOSB on November 25th 2014- see original letter here. This follows on from a letter to Minister Alan Kelly sent on 19th November 2014.

_____________

Iaosb letter to TD’s – Revoke S.I.9
25th November 2014

Dear ……………………. ,

Re: Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014

I am writing to you following on from our letters earlier in January of the year about the impacts of the new building regulation BC(A)R SI.9 on self-builders.

A confidential stakeholder process entered into by former Minister Hogan following on from a public consultation in May 2012 resulted in SI.9 being implemented in March of this year. The small stakeholder group involved was comprised of groups with vested commercial interests- these were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction industry Federation (CIF) only. Consumer groups such as ourselves were excluded from any discussions regarding the new regulations.

The regulation that resulted was of benefit to these vested interests, while impacting on many consumer groups such as ourselves with an array of unintended consequences. The RIAI, ACEI and SCSI now have protected positions with private registers, and adequately qualified non-members of these organisations are precluded from occupying new roles under SI.9.

The main restriction in SI.9 that continues to impact self-builders most is the restriction to use “competent” builders, which only seem to be members of the new privately owned CIF register CIRI. The Department of the Environment has in effect, given CIF a monopoly on all residential building in the state as a result. We would like to point out that there are other well-established industry standards for competence, such as RECI or the National Guild of Master Craftsmen.

We have received numerous estimates of SI.9 adding over €40,000 to the cost of a typical €180,000 self-built dwelling. The bulk of these costs are associated with the requirement to employ a CIF registered main contractor. 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 at a realistic cost, on a phased basis, than speculative housing. These are the real-world numbers our members are coming back to us with. We have undertaken surveys of members and to date, for this year, we estimate between 800 and 1,000 dwelling projects have been abandoned by self builders trying to build a home for their families.

Why the former Minister and DECLG would insist on CIF’s new register CIRI be written in to legislation at the expense of other proven and well-regarded similar registers of competent builders is a question that needs to be asked. CIRI has no track record. Why has the CIF, a private organisation, has been made the beneficiary of this restrictive practice by our elected representatives?

It would appear that the Minister and Department continue to have a very small circle of friends when it comes to matters pertaining to Building Control and the construction industry. What benefit do self-builders get for the huge costs of SI.9- The security of using a CIF contractor?

The IAOSB are supporters of greater professional involvement and oversight in the construction industry generally, and in the speculative residential sector in particular. Most self-builds employed professionals for planning, tender, site and other stages of the building process. We completed homes using industry standard contracts, and all work was undertaken in a safe fashion under current Health and Safety legislation.

There is no evidence that we are aware of to indicate that self-built homes were subject to the shoddy building practices of speculative built housing. We are insulted by CIF suggestions that self-builders were involved in the “black economy”.  This is simply lobbyist propaganda. If the CIF are aware of instances where proper revenue practices were not adhered to they should then simply report the matter to the authorities. I would like to point out that If similar allegations were made by consumers against CIF members there would be outrage.

Why are ordinary citizens denied the age-old tradition of being able to build their own home, frequently on their family farms where they grew up, for a reasonable cost? In most cases, these are the only option available to them. Self-builders were not responsible for Priory Hall so why should we be punished for the mistake of others?

Many self-builders are experienced tradespersons themselves, members of RECI and also the National Guild of Master Craftsmen, itself a well-established register of builders with 7,500 members. We now have a situation where an experienced well regarded tradesperson has to employ a CIF registered main contractor at huge expense to oversee the build of their own house. Some members in CIRI may well have no building experience, or construction skills- they well may just be construction managers like an typical self-builder.

In March 2015 the CIF’S private register CIRI is due to be put on a statutory footing which means that a lot of self builders would no longer be able to participate in building their home for their families, In most of these cases these self builders are people who have children and are already struggling financially due to lack of jobs and extra charges and taxes brought in by this government.

BC(A)R SI.9 simply is not working. It needs to be revoked. We need a simple low cost system of independent inspections by Local Authorities similar to the UK where self-building is not only tolerated but encouraged.

Our members see their dreams falling away due to the casual introduction of a reckless regulation that not only makes no sense, but is being defended by civil servants and our political representatives.

Looking at another problem, there are a lot of people who are waiting on a very long housing list and in certain circumstances a house built by a self builder would leave a vacant house for these families in need.

Many public representatives have built their own homes, and if not they know of someone who has done so or plans to self-build. Many we have talked to are against the impacts of S.I.9. We are appealing again to you, our elected representatives, to hear the voices of self builders of today and thousands of others who are planning to build their own homes in the future. We need your help to stand up for the right of the Irish people that has been taken away from them by this amendment. You need to take action now before the construction industry in Ireland has been handed back to similar developers and contractors who got us in the mess in the first place.

According to the Central Statics Office a little over 1,300 dwellings were speculatively built out of  a total of 8,300 dwellings completed in 2013. This means that almost 7,000 homes were once-off houses by owners, many self-built. SI.9 should be restricted to apply to speculative residential developments only, and removed for all other sectors. If necessary set up a simple system of Local Authority inspectors to inspect and approve self-built or once-off houses.

Minister Kelly this month at the Swords event “Future of Housing in Fingal” said that SI.9 was like “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and stated his intention to reform the regulations. Unless action is taken immediately to rectify the mess his predecessor former Minister Hogan left in his wake, we will be facing into another Irish Water as the huge costs and  multitude of consequences of this legislation play out soon over the coming months.

Building Control (Amendment)  Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 is a mistake by this government and we ask you as a representative of the people, to stand up and fight for the right of these people.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Irish Association of Self Builder

www.iaosb.com

http://www.iaosb.com/building_control_(amendment)_regulation_s.i.9_of_2014_has_failed_self_builders_of_ireland.html

http://www.iaosb.com/letter_to_attorney_general,_maire_whelan_sc_from_iaosb_regarding_s.i.9.html

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

by Bregs Blog admin team

Site_Closed

By Breg Blog Admin on 28th November 2014

In a previous post we noted a press article where the impact of S.I.9 on the schools’ building programme was identified- see “SI.9 causing major delays to school projects“.

Attached are the source documents for this article – a list of school projects scheduled to be completed in 2014, and a list of school projects underway in 2014. As you can see the substance of the press article is indeed accurate- there would  appear to be a significant delay on capital spending this year for school projects. This is another unintended consequence of the introduction of the poorly conceived S.I.9 legislation.

School Projects to go on site in 2014– click link here

Download PDF here: Scheduled-for-construction-in-2014-Announcement-

Monthly School Projects update 2014 (September 2014) – click link here

Download PDF here: Projects-to-go-to-Construction-2014

We wonder if any of the relevant public representatives have put questions to the Department of Education or Minister as to why the bulk of these proposals have been delayed, and what steps they are taking to ensure delays due to the new building regulations are addressed.

It would be interesting to know if these significant delays are replicated in other government departments e.g. delays to hospital projects or other primary care facilities due to the new building regulations?

For contractors delayed projects have similar turnover consequences to postponed or abandoned projects. Any capital spending delays may be positive for department with spending under pressure- however the same delays have significant impacts on construction employment.

Other posts of interest: 

60 new schools delayed due to SI.9 | Independent.ie 

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

Time needed for School Certifier 

Jobs in Construction

Drop in Commencements

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

??????

28 November 2014

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly T.D., has given a strong indication that amendments to S.I 9 are imminent. The likely sea-change in the policy introduced by his predecessor, Phil Hogan,  follows widespread criticism of the S.I.9 Building Control legislation and the many practical and financial problems being encountered by building owners, design professionals and building contractors. The announcement came about on Tuesday last at a Construction Industry Federation function.

The Minister is quoted as saying:

“we can’t be using a mallet to crack a nut…

I’ll be proposing that there’ll be amendments to the Regulations– particularly in relation to self-build, one-off houses and extensions– because I believe there’s a need for some change in that whole area…

I think the Regulations, as they currently stand, are a bit too onerous. In fact, I know they’re too onerous. They need to be amended and myself and Minister Paudie Coffey will be working on that.”

His statement follows intensive lobbying and consultation  in recent weeks between his Department, representatives of self-builder groups and a very wide range of stakeholders including contributors to this blog on the array of unintended consequences of S.I.9 to date. This is the second public statement from the Minister in as many weeks that signal his own concerns about the new Building Control system, introduced  in March of this year. Both Minister Kelly and Minister Coffey have sent a clear message that they are personally aware of the problems and very committed to putting them right. Coming just 24 hours after the launch of the Housing Strategy, the two ministers are keenly aware of the impact of the new regulations on housing supply. Irish Building Magazine posted the following video of the above address by Minister Alan Kelly . The Minister may be heard from 7:16-20:14.

Link to Irish Building Magazine here.

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Screen-Shot-2014-11-06-at-15.39.45

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

In the following Village magazine article from November 6th 2014, author Michael Smith discusses government housing policy, budget changes, planning bills and homelessness problems.

Current government policy for social housing and tackling the growing homelessness problems are noted. The Labour Party and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, have made it clear social housing is a priority. For the main article click here.

We have previously noted the drag on housing output the new bulding regulations BC(A)R SI.9 is having at present, with an estimated cost to the industry and consumer of €5bn by 2020.

Given the continuing lower level of commencements, planning applications and completions of new dwellings it is difficult to predict how recent budget changes will meet the ambitious aims of the government 2020 strategy without reform of our regulatory framework.

Extracts to follow:

Minister Alan Kelly:

“Under these plans, we expect in the region of 4,000 additional social housing units built by 2020”.

The upcoming Planning Bill is noted as aiming to triple housing output by 2020 and adding up to 60,000 jobs to the construction sector. The proportion of Ireland’s workers employed in construction is now 5.4pc, which is more than one-fifth below the EU average. The new legislation will also see the introduction of a vacant site levy where local authorities will have the power to apply levies to property owners who leave their sites vacant. The article goes on to comment on homelessness:

“As to homelessness, in May the Government approved the Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness, which outlines how the objective of ending involuntary long-term homelessness can be achieved. It is about ending homelessness for people who are long-term homeless; that is, people who are in emergency accommodation for a period of longer than six months on a consecutive basis or those in emergency accommodation for a period of more than six months on a non-consecutive basis in the previous 12 months…

…However Peter McVerry, a Jesuit priest working with homeless people, considers that the budget fails to address the major cause of homelessness today, namely the increase in rents in the private rental market, particularly in Dublin. While rents have been increasing substantially over the past 18 months, the State’s rent allowance has remained static

Nevertheless at a rate of 2,500 social housing units per year, it would take 36 years to clear the social housing waiting lists at this rate of construction. It is well below the 18,680 social housing units which were completed in the three years from 2006 to 2008 inclusive.[emphasis by BRegs Blog]

…Focus Ireland highlights that it will take at least 18 months until this investment delivers the first homes for people in need. The charity stresses that there also needs to be a clear and effective short-term strategy to tackle the current crisis in family homelessness and in access to affordable housing for single people.”

The article concludes with a critique of the government decision to drop an 80% rezoning windfall tax, a measure introduced to curb land speculation which was the subject of lobbying by the Construction Industry Federation in advance of the last budget. Quote:

“We have not heard the end of the lobbyings of the resurgent property industry, an industry which never learns and only ever forgets. Coming soon: reduced quality, reduced densities, reduced open-space requirements and reduced development levies. Quality of life will have to wait, again.”

Other posts of interest:

Dr Rory Hearne | + 168,000 empty houses in the country

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

Room for improvement on social housing policy

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

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

Irish Times: Housing measure will help Dublin’s crisis, but not in the short term

“Size isn’t important” | Are shoe box apartments really the solution?

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

by Bregs Blog admin team

BCMS Christmas 2014

27th November 2014

The Building Control Management System (BCMS) has just published a notice on its website with regard to arrangements for the submission of Commencement/7-Day Notices over the Christmas and New Year period (Link).

Extract:

“BCMS will not accept the final submission of Notices during the period from midnight on [Sunday] 21stDecember 2014 to midnight on 1st January 2015. (Similar arrangements are being made for counter submissions). However, the BCMS site will continue to allow access to create and assemble Commencement / 7Day Notices up to submission stage. For Certificates of Compliance on completion you should liaise directly with your Building Control Authority to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made.”

This is a surprising development and not one that appears to have been referred to in the Building Control Regulations. It is further surprising that the BCMS did not utilise its ability to notify its 6,000 registered users of this early Christmas shutdown i.e. get the information to the relevant people in real time.

The implication of these dates, if you want a one day Certificate of Compliance on completion to be processed by the Building Control Authority and put on the Register BEFORE Christmas 2014 is that the Certificate of Compliance must be lodged on Thursday 18th December 2014 to ensure it is on the Register on the last working day [Friday 19th December 2014].

Accordingly you have to lodge your prospective Completion documents TODAY [27th November 2014]*

*This early Christmas shutdown supercedes advice given in a previous post: ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

Links:

Holiday Workload – BCO Response:

Practical Post 2: “We want to be in for Christmas

Code of Practice for Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

RIAI Prospective Compliances: BC(A)R SI.9

Catherine Murphy TD | Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

by Bregs Blog admin team

CM-In-front-of-Leinster-House-Small

Dealing with the housing crisis has become a major challenge for the Government parties. The BRegs Blog has received many inquiries as to possible ‘quick’ solutions to the problem. In addition to a pretty simple and immediate measure, revoke S.I.9, we will be posting other possible solutions shortly. In relation to alternative solutions for the housing sector, issued by the Government, the BRegs Blog received the following  statement from Independent T.D.,  Catherine Murphy on 25th November 2014. See link here. Extract:

Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

Independent TD has today drawn attention to the timescale involved in today’s signing off by the Cabinet on the commitment to provide €2.2 billion for Social Housing over the next three years.  Ms Murphy has highlighted the fact that this €2.2 billion is actually committed as a total over the next three years – up to 2017, long after this Government’s term is due to end.

“When this measure was announced in the budget, I drew attention to the timeline. We are talking here about funds being committed for a period after the lifetime of this Government. The announcement today that this fund will be invested will not translate into actual housing being made available in the near future. We are still looking at a minimum of two years before we’re likely to see any houses completed.”

“While any investment in the area of housing is much needed and therefore very welcome, this is a longer-term response when in fact we urgently need a short-term response to deal with what is currently an emergency situation in housing. With over 90,000 on housing lists nationwide and private sector rents sky-rocketing, we need to be looking at measures that can address this in the here and now and not just two to three years down the line; measures such as a relaxing of the rent supplement limits for example. ”

“Even with this €2.2 billion investment, there is still only the promise of 30,000 new and refurbished homes in total and that is simply not enough to deal with the massive housing crisis that is underway. In the long term we must focus on developing a National Housing Strategy that takes all factors into account and also offers alternative housing options such as the provision of a viable long-term rental option and a professionally managed rental sector.”

The BRegs Blog are happy to consider for publication any similar suggestions, comments or proposals in relation to housing and construction issues. Please email: bregsforum@gmail.com

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Dr Rory Hearne | + 168,000 empty houses in the country

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

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

TheTwilightZoneLogo

Opinion Piece submitted by a registered architect: 26th November 2014.

DECLG trying to discover meanings in SI.9

We are currently in an unusual position. We have the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) attempting to discover the meaning of basic components of legislation they introduced nine months ago. Even more remarkable is that this is as a result of a simple query coming from the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, a key stakeholder group, whose own staff and selected Council members were involved in the drafting of the same legislation!

Normally technical queries on building control regulations  set most people, including professionals, to sleep. However this question concerns the most basic aspect of SI.9, introduced in March 2014.

The ordinary bystander or even the famed “man on the Clapham bus” might wonder where the fuss is, given the simplicity of the contested clause – Article 9(2) which  sets out the circumstances where the full provisions of SI.9 applies:-

(9) (2) The requirements of paragraph (1)(b) 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 metres

Ergo, if you are building an extension to a dwelling involving a floor area of less than 40 square metres article 9(1)(b) shall not apply [the section dealing with Certificates of compliance etc]. This seems pretty straightforward. Well, in the unusual world of the DECLG and building regulations this is not necessarily the case!

It would appear that due to poor drafting, the regulations may actually permit multiple and possibly concurrent extensions of less than 40 square metres, as long as each has the appropriate planning permission. Indications from the DECLG, in correspondences to folk querying the matter, suggest that this was not what the drafters of the legislation intended.

It appears in their rush to get the legislation out to satisfy the then Minister, Phil Hogan, the DECLG may not have crossed their T’s properly or dotted their I’s, or even understood the basic workings of the English language.

This is not the first example of vague and poor wording in SI.9 legislation. Self-builders have already been told to effectively ignore the wording on the completion certificate requiring the signature of a principal or director of a building company, which of course, most self-builders are not!  The DECLG does not seem to be overly concerned for those who might follow its non-statutory advice.

We all know the Courts will not have any regard to what a civil servant or even a Minister has said. They apply law as written and not what people imagine it should have said.

In previous advice [dated 24th October 2014] the DECLG seemed to try to close this 40 square metres loophole. Through an information note issued, by both the BCMS and the RIAI, it was suggested that the Article 9(2) clause actually meant that any extensions completed cumulatively could not exceed 40 square metres without offering any evidence as to how this could be elicited from the clause as worded.

Due to widespread criticism of this advice the RIAI went back to the DECLG [on 7th November] and asked for confirmation of the official position. And there, for RIAI members at least, the trail goes cold. This process has taken over 10 weeks to date from the initial queries when this misinterpretation by Local Authorities became apparent in early September, so one thing for sure, the clarification will not be rushed. It is now over a month since the BCMS weighed in with their cumulative opinion, totally unsubstantiated by any reference to the legislation itself.

Remember this is Ireland, where an “extension” may be “many extensions” and your problems may be cumulative even without those in charge knowing. Imagine the reaction if it was claimed that in Civil Marriage legislation “spouse” was actually intended to mean “spouses”, so that we could become a rainy version of 19th century polygamous Utah?

Many owners and their agents who attended RIAI CPD’s [on 4th July] will have already submitted (and had validated) short form commencement notices confirming SI.9 does not apply, where the relevant works were less than 40 square metres (in accordance with advice at the time). They are building away or have completed these projects now happy in the knowledge (at the time) that they were exempt from SI.9.

If the DECLG confirm that there is a cumulative interpretation this means many owners will have commenced  extensions, with valid commencement notices, that are  officially illegal builds. No method for retrospective compliance (another flaw) means that to rectify the situation owners will need to demolish and rebuild. It is estimated that this may affect hundreds of house extension projects throughout Ireland and will have major conveyancing implications, to put it mildly, when properties come to be sold.

This is quite an embarrassing position for professionals to find themselves in after giving apparently incorrect advice on commencement (in retrospect).

If the DECLG come out and say that this is not the case, and no such interpretation of SI.9 involves cumulative areas, then it will be equally embarrassing, for the Department which has been shipping a lot of water over their performance in establishing the law setting up Irish Water. A gambling man would not bet the house (even one with a non-compliant extension) on the Department admitting to another mistake.

As a registered professional I have found this quite difficult to explain to clients- they simply do not believe me. Would a proper informed legal opinion on this be too much to ask for from the stakeholders?

Other posts of interest:

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

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

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

ALERT | Owners may need Certifiers on porch extensions?

RIAI: OPW Interactive Tools for the Design Certifier 

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Ballymun

BRegs Blog 25th November 2014

In a recent Dáil exchange the cost of the Ballymun Regeneration Project, over the five-period from 2008 to 2013, has been identified as €248 million with a further projected spend this year of €10 million. It has been one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in the history of the state.

By comparison, the cost of BC(A)R SI.9 to the construction industry, consumer and taxpayer for 2014 has been estimated at €700 million. This cost, for only one year, for a reinforced system of self-certification with no technical improvement in the standards of construction would fund almost three major redevelopment projects of this scale.

Is BC(A)R SI.9 worth it?

Link to Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. here. Quote from the Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. website:

“Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. (BRL) is the Dublin City Council company, set up in 1997, to plan and implement a regeneration programme which will result in a new town with new and improved facilities for the 30,000 people who will live there. BRL is working with the community to develop and implement the Masterplan for the physical, economic and social regeneration of Ballymun.

…The seven fifteen-storey tower blocks, nineteen eight-storey blocks and ten four-storey blocks of flats will be demolished. They will be replaced by at least 5,000 new homes in a variety of styles and sizes in five existing neighbourhoods.

Link to Dáil exchange here.

Extract:

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Regeneration Projects Funding

All Written Answers on 12 Nov 2014

Dessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)

157. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a detailed breakdown in tabular form of his Department’s funding to the Ballymun regeneration project for each respective year from 2008 to the present and the future funding plans in place.[43366/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

A breakdown of the funding by my Department to Ballymun Regeneration Ltd over the period 2008 to 2013 in respect of the physical, social and economic regeneration of Ballymun is set out in the following table:

Year Amount €
2008 75,000,000
2009 63,577,376
2010 40,001,618
2011 20,519,155
2012 30,000,000
2013 18,919,515
TOTAL 248,017,664

A capital provision of €10 million has been made available in respect of 2014. Drawdown of this funding is ongoing and is subject to the standard arrangements regarding the submission of claims. While it is expected that the housing element will be substantially completed this year, my Department will continue to support certain social and economic interventions in Ballymun over the medium term. Funding will be allocated on the basis of annual work programmes agreed between my Department and Dublin City Council.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

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

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

IAOSB submission to DECLG

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

RIAI | Architectural Technologist update

by Bregs Blog admin team

stand-up-for-yr-rights

By Bregs Blog on 24th November 2014. 

On 20th November the BRegs Blog inquired in a post “Dáil | Architectural Technologist update” (Link:) as to the status of Architectural Technologists and the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) register. There has been quite a shake-up at the RIAI recently with the resignations of seven Directors from the RIAI Board. One of these was the Architectural Technologist board member, Darren Bergin. In addition the chair of the Architectural Technologist Committee (ATC), Joe Byrne, resigned two months ago from the ATC and the RIAI completely.

In fact there has been a succession of Architectural Technologist resignations from the RIAI ATC over the past two years – four in total.

The list of Architectural Technologist Committee resignations is as follows:

  1. Darren Bergin- October 2014
  2. Joe Byrne- September 2014
  3. Brian Maher- May 2013
  4. Malachy Matthews- May 2012

At a recent RIAI EGM on 4th November 2014, one RIAI architect noted, speaking in support of BC(A)R SI.9, that it would put “clear blue water” between Architects and their competitors, Architectural Technologists.

This statement was startling to many architects present.

Unfortunately many Architectural Technologists perceive that most architects share this view. They suspect that this attitude is slowing the pace of change within the RIAI and in particular, delayed the inclusion of appropriately qualified Architectural Technologists on the RIAI register of competent professionals under SI.9. The view from the ground is not good as Architectural Technologists’ livelihoods and careers continue to be negatively impacted upon by SI.9.

The Fennell Report (September 2103), specifically mentioned by Minister Kelly recently in the Dáil, was critical of the current restrictive situation relating to Architectural Technologists and the register. Quote:

In his letter requesting me to conduct the independent review of the registration arrangements for Architects under the Act, the Minister indicated that he wanted to see how the system could be improved…

Membership of the registration body should not of itself create eligibility for registration…the current provision frustrates the independence of the model and it removes any discretion or power that the Admissions Board has to review the basis upon which registration is being granted – it effectively allows the registration decision to be taken by the RIAI decision making structures, in which Architects predominate. 

..the process undermines the intention behind the Act that substantive decisions on Admissions should rest with an independently chaired Admissions Board with a majority of non-Architects members.

To view the full report click Fennell Report 2013

We believe the numbers of Architectural Technologist (RIAI) members have declined from a peak of 400, to 220 last year to less than 200 this year.

Are Architectural Technologists voting with their feet?

Other posts of interest:

BREGS Blog Archive 6 | APRIL 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

archive-moving

BREGS Blog Archive 6  |  APRIL 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team 18th November 2014

Don’t forget our archives! Click on the following link and read through our 58 posts for April 2014. Our first post “fees and numbers of inspections” is a topic many implementers are still struggling with 7 months later. This month there was a Seanad Debate on SI.9 and self-building- problems still beset this sector months later. Scroll through our posts which are in reverse chronological order. Enjoy!

Click link: BREGS Blog Archive 5- APRIL 2014

  • In April the Irish Building Control Institute conference wash held in Sligo and numerous concerns by Officers were discussed. See posts here and here
  • Employee’s concerns were highlighted in our popular “practical post” series see here.
  • Minster Hogan received a personal complaint about fee fixing from a registered professional here.
  • There were a number of submissions made in advance of the Seanad debate on SI.9 (SI.105) on April 10th. Former presidents Pádraig Murray and Eoin O’Cofaigh  made submissions to Senators- read here and here. An unregistered architect also made a submission (here).
  • In the Seanad debate (listen here) former Minister Hogan suggested that “professionals were “…engaging in financial extortion” see here. Following on from the debate the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) made a complaint against statements made by former Minister Hogan in the Seanad “You have stated your department is in discussion with us and we have not risen any objections. This is a grave misrepresentation of our organisation and the interests of all self-builders in the Seanad. We would support any independent inquiry into these statements.“- see here.
  • An Architectural Technologist’s letter expressing frustration at comments made by former Minister Hogan in the debate were posted here.
  • Former president Eoin O’Cofaigh wondered at the increased cost and re-tape in SI.9 and the effect on international competitiveness (see here).
  • Architect and key stakeholder negotiator Orla Fitzgerald MRIAI noted the time required for new certifier roles under SI.9: “there is…a requirement for an additional 18 days of input“. See post here.
  • Self builders issues came to the fore in a radio piece with past president of the RIAI- listen here. Concerns were echoed by Senator Paschal Mooney in another radio piece here. The IAOSB escalated concerns to the Law Society (read here).
  • A Chartered Surveyor brought concerns regarding SI.9 to the attention of local TD’s here.
  • The first of a number of County Councils voted to ask Minister Hogan to scrap SI.9- see Press Piece: Co. Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I.9
  • Pyrite in homes in Mayo was highlighted (here).
  • We highlighted some of the problems with design certifier roles here
  • We pondered if developers were being promoted over self-buidlers? see here.
  • Barrett Chapman, Partner, Contruction Department, McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors 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“- see here.

Previous Archive posts (click title):

BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014

BRegs Blog Archive 4 – FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

Other popular “top read” posts:

Donegal Pyrite update

by Bregs Blog admin team

constructionGeneral_large

Donegal Pyrite update

In media coverage surrounding more recent Pyrite affected dwellings in Donegal, it is believed as many as 2,000 homes are affected. It looks like consumers are still paying the price for inadequate Department of the Environment (and Local Authority) policing of materials in the construction sector. Has anything changed under the new building regulations to protect homeowners against pyrite or mica?

In an Examiner article on 19th November 2014 recent meetings and the extent of the problem are discussed. Link to article: Faulty Blocks may affect up to 2,000 homes. Extract:

“The meeting heard a promise from a junior minister, Joe McHugh, that he would take the issue to Environment Minister Alan Kelly with a view to a meeting.

A spokesman said: “It was a very positive meeting which was attended by all our TDs and a lot of county councillors.

“But we were very disappointed that nobody from Donegal County Council was there as they were invited to attend.

“We have evidence that the structural damage is so bad that it is only a matter of time before a bison [concrete] slab is affected, resulting in a house coming tumbling down. That is the reality as blocks get weaker and weaker and more and more cracks appear. Our survey has shown that it takes 5.6 years for signs of the defective blocks to appear in houses so many houses may not even be showing the signs of cracks yet.”

The group said it would continue to seek members from people who were sold the defective blocks. “We believe that up to 2,000 houses could be affected. If people see cracks they should contact the group.”

Among those present was Damian McCauley from Letterkenny who has been forced to spend €30,000 taking down the outer “leaf” of his house due to defective blocks.”

More Links to recent radio coverage below- click on titles to get to radio clips for first two links, press article at end.

In previous posts we asked the question, as the Local Authority in Donegal and the Department were aware of pyrite blocks in 2013 why did they not issue an industry alert immediately? The Minister for the Environment has stated in the Dáil that he was only made aware of the problem of pyrite in blockwork on 7th April 2014 (see Dáil statement here).

It is imperative that the Department explains what and when they knew about pyrite problems and what action was taken by its officials.

There are many questions that remain to be answered on the handling of the Donegal pyrite problem to ensure that consumers and construction professionals are protected.

Other posts on this topic:

Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo 

Irish Mirror | Call for an end to pyrite mess

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?

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

Why did Phil Hogan think SI.9 would cost less than €3000 ?

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

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

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

wpca62ada7_05_06

The following letter was sent to Minister Alan Kelly from the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) on November 19th 2014. For link to IAOSB letter click here.

_____________

Iaosb letter to Minister Kelly – Revoke or Revise S.I.9
19th November 2014

Dear Minister Kelly,

Re: Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014

I am writing to you following on from our letter to you on 15th September 2014. We still have not received any response from you or your Department.

We have been informed that the DECLG has asked the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland to examine self-build problems post implementation of BC(A)R SI.9.

While it is a positive development to receive acknowledgement finally that self-building has been impacted upon by the new regulations, we are at a loss as to why you have asked any key stakeholder to “solve” our problems. The confidential stakeholder process entered into by former Minister Hogan following on from the public consultation in May 2012 was comprised of stakeholders with vested commercial interests- these were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction industry Federation (CIF).

Consumer groups such as ourselves were excluded from any discussions regarding the new regulations. It is therefore understandable that the regulation that resulted was of benefit to these vested interests, while impacting on many consumer groups such as ourselves with an array of unintended consequences.

The RIAI, ACEI and SCSI now have protected positions with private registers, and adequately qualified non-members of these organisations are precluded from occupying new roles under SI.9. We believe various government departments have extended the restrictive nature of these appointments further by insisting that architects only are allowed to occupy the certifier roles for many public projects such as schools and hospitals. The result of this are fees quoted for SI.9 certifier duties many multiples of those envisaged by former Minister Hogan.

Why are vested interests again being tasked with review of the impacts of BC(A)R SI.9 and not consumer groups? Why are consumers, home owners and self-builders excluded from this process? It would appear that the Minister and Department continue to have a very small circle of friends when it comes to matters pertaining to Building Control and the construction industry.

Notwithstanding these restrictions, the IAOSB are supporters of greater professional involvement and oversight in the construction industry generally, and in the speculative residential sector in particular.

We have received numerous estimates of SI.9 adding over 22% to the capital cost of a typical self-built dwelling. The bulk of these costs are associated with the requirement to employ a CIF registered main contractor. 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. Most self-builds employed professionals for planning, tender, site and other stages of the procurement process. We completed builds using industry standard contracts, and all work was undertaken in a safe fashion under current Health and Safety legislation. 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.

There is no evidence that we are aware of to indicate that self-built homes were subject to the shoddy building practices of speculative built housing. We are insulted by CIF suggestions that self-builders were involved in the “black economy”. If the CIF are aware of instances where proper revenue practices were not adhered to, they should then simply report the matter to the authorities. I would like to point out that If similar allegations were made by consumers against CIF members there would be outrage.

Why are ordinary citizens denied the age-old tradition of being able to build their own home, frequently on their family farms where they grew up, for a reasonable cost? In most cases, these are the only option available to them. Self-builders were not responsible for Priory Hall so why should they be punished for the mistake of others.

The one restriction in SI.9 that continues to impact self-builders most is the restriction to use “competent” builders, which only seem to be members of the new privately owned CIF register CIRI. The Department of the Environment has in effect, given CIF a monopoly on all residential building in the state as a result. We would like to point out that there are other well-established industry standards for competence, such as RECI or the National Guild of Master Craftsmen.

Why the former Minister and DECLG would insist on a new register (with no track record) CIRI be written in to legislation at the expense of other proven and well-regarded similar registers of competent builders is a question that needs to be asked. We would assume these similar established bodies have made representations to the Minister, Department, Competition Authority and Ombudsman as to why CIF, a private organisation, has been made the beneficiary of restrictive practice.

Many self-builders are experienced tradespersons themselves, members of RECI and also the National Guild of Master Craftsmen. Why now should an experienced well regarded tradesperson have to employ a CIF registered main contractor at huge expense to oversee the build of their own house? Some members in CIRI may well have no building experience, or construction skills- they well may just be construction managers like a typical self-builder.

Self-builders have 3 main obstacles at present: are;

1. We have noted the completion certificate issue previously where the builder must be “a principal or director of a building company only”. This line must be removed.

2. The code of practice does not mention self-building at all, being defined as owners occupying the role of management or main contractor. It does state that “competent’ means someone with at least 3 years similar building experience. This excludes most owner-builders. This must be revised.

3. There is a lack of willing certifiers, architects in particular, due to the Law Society advising professionals not to get involve in self-building projects. This would appear to be as a result, remarkably, of the Law Society being excluded from key stakeholder negotiations. The Law Society need to be consulted as a matter of urgency on alterations/ changes required to SI.9 to facilitate participation by professionals as certifiers in self-build projects, and confirm conveyancing arrangements are in place to facilitate same.

As far as we know the stakeholder now tasked with sorting out the self-builders, the RIAI, are the one set of professionals who are not currently participating in self-build houses. It is over 9 months ago that we made an official complaint against the CEO of the RIAI Mr John Graby regarding statements made concerning self builders and we are still waiting for an appropriate response from them. We have no confidence in this organisation or any vested key stakeholder in providing solutions to the array of unintended consequences that self-builders are experiencing at present.

There are many self-builders who have used the services of practically trained architects and Architectural Technologists successfully in the past, experienced professionals who are well capable of dealing with the technical requirements of one-off housing. This group are now unable to assume SI.9 certifier roles. We suggest the establishment of a separate register to accommodate these persons as a matter of urgency. A separate register of competent Architectural Technologists and practically trained architects would go some way to minimising professional costs and increasing the pool of certifiers available to self-builders at present.

Your Department recently invited submissions on DECLG strategy this month and many self builders responded. They are written not by lobbyists, professionals or advisors. They are ordinary people who see their dreams falling away due to the casual introduction of a reckless regulation that not only makes no sense, but is being defended by their political representatives.

We reiterate that the Self-builders of Ireland have been let down by the former Minister and your Department. In March 2015 CIRI is due to be put on a statutory footing. Do you want your political legacy to be one where you continued the mistakes of the former Minister and confirm the unfairness of S.I.9 on self builders who are no longer able to provide a home for their families? In most cases these are people who have children and are already struggling financially due to lack of jobs and extra charges and taxes brought in by your government.

We had hoped a new Minister would bring a new pair of eyes to the issue. Unfortunately we still await a response to our letter sent to you in September.

Again I would be grateful to you if you do not reply with false promises and politically correct answers like the ones we have had in the past two years from Mr Hogan, or oblique responses like the ones we have received from your Department.

BC(A)R SI.9 simply is not working. It needs to be revoked and comprehensively revised. We need a low cost system of independent inspections by Local Authorities like in the UK where self-building is not only tolerated but encouraged.

There are people who are waiting on a very long housing list in Ireland and in certain circumstances a house built by a self builder would leave a vacant house for someone else.

Many public representatives have built their own homes, and if not they know of someone who has or still intended to self-build. Many we have talked to are against the impacts of S.I.9. We will be appealing again to these people, our elected representatives, to hear the voices of self builders now and thousands of others who are planning to build their own homes in the future. We will ask them to stand up for the right of the Irish people who have been treated unfairly by this new regulation.

“ Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.” Pope Francis.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Irish Association of Self Builder

www.iaosb.com

http://www.iaosb.com/building_control_(amendment)_regulation_s.i.9_of_2014_has_failed_self_builders_of_ireland.html

http://www.iaosb.com/letter_to_attorney_general,_maire_whelan_sc_from_iaosb_regarding_s.i.9.html

Other posts of interest:

IAOSB submission to DECLG

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

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update 

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

first-birthday

To mark the first 12 months of the BRegs Blog, and the occasion of this our 700th post, we are publishing the first in a series of 7 information papers that were issued by past presidents of the representative body for architects (RIAI) towards the end of 2013. These have not been posted before. SI80 in an earlier version of SI.9 which was implemented in March 2014. These papers contain informed analysis and are still very relevant to the current situation, nearly 9 months post implementation of SI.9. Thanks to all our readers who have visited the Blog over 213,000 times in our first year and to all of our contributors who have made the BRegs Blog the go-to source for information on building regulations in Ireland.

Paper No 1 to follow:

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

________________

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2013

– and –

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Information Paper No. 1

The Building Regulations and Consumer protection

In the wake of the Priory Hall and pyrites scandals, the Government introduced amended building control regulations. These come into force on 1 March 2014. The regulations fail to incorporate key attributes of an effective building control system, and ignore relevant recommendations in the Pyrite Panel Report. They will also fail in the Government’s stated goal of strengthened consumer protection in building design and construction.

1 A building regulations system, and consumer protection

Real consumer protection involves (a) better buildings, to reduce construction defects; (b) proper policing of design and construction; (c) a speedy, straightforward and effective system of redress where things go wrong. Having called for over 20 years for a proper inspection regime on the part of building control authorities, in the lead-up to the 2013 regulations, the RIAI identified six key attributes for effective building control:-

  • Real (and not token) involvement by building control authorities in inspecting designs and in visiting construction sites to inspect the work;
  • A statutory register of building contractors, including subcontractors, to underwrite their competence;
  • Certificates of compliance for design and construction, with liability correctly aligned with the responsibilities and inputs of everybody involved in the project;
  • A standardised national system for electronic lodgement of drawings, test certificates and specifications with the building control authority;
  • Mandatory project insurance against latent defects, which would provide proper protection for consumers.
  • A system of dispute resolution and feedback on construction problems to designers and contractors, to reduce recurring defects.

Despite well-sounding words (“move towards registration”, “seek expressions of interest”, “welcome a scheme of latent defects insurance”), the 2013 regulations incorporate none of the above and in consequence do not provide adequate consumer protection.

2 The building regulations, and the Pyrite Report

After the scandal of pyrite-contaminated fill, which damaged thousands of houses, the Government commissioned a report on the causes of the problem with recommendations on how to prevent its recurrence. Issued in June 2012, the Pyrite Report made recommendations on building control, registration of contractors, and project insurance. The appropriate mechanism for incorporating those recommendations into law is the building regulations. None of these recommendations have been implemented:-

Pyrite Panel Report recommendation 18:-  “the system of independent inspections, carried out by the building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process for buildings.” For the residents of Priory Hall, proper inspections by the building control authority might have made all the difference. The 2013 building regulations fail to implement this recommendation.

Recommendation 19:-  Registration of builders: “A mandatory registration system for builders with specific requirements for appropriate insurance cover (supported by regulation). Registration of builders should require demonstration of technical competence, financial capacity and adequate insurance cover.” The regulations fail to implement this recommendation, but rely instead on the stated intention of the industry to set up a voluntary register of main contractors. There is no requirement within the regulations to use such a registered contractor.

Recommendation 21:- Project-related insurance whereby cover for each specific project is available and adequate and is related to the project only.” A properly financed and regulated system of building project insurance for a fixed period of six or 10 years operates in most Member States of the EU. This is the most effective means of providing protection to consumers in cases where buildings go wrong, such as in pyrites-affected dwellings or for the Priory Hall residents.

The most acute of all the problems in recent years has arisen with dwellings built speculatively for sale. Where, as is often the case, a speculative development company is liquidated on completion of a project, distressed homeowners have no redress against the wrongdoer. Project insurance can overcome this scandal. However, the Government have not set up a statutory system and intend instead to rely on such systems being set up in the private sector, which may or may not happen.

3 Architects are not insurance companies

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

The system requires the architect or engineer to certify full compliance of the entire construction, which they are expected to underwrite by means of their professional indemnity insurance. Unlike project insurance, which is paid for in a single payment up-front for a full six or 10 year defects liability period, professional indemnity insurance must be renewed every year. It therefore cannot be guaranteed to be in place when a defect becomes evident.  Reliance on PI insurance offers no real consumer protection.

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

4 Self-regulation is no regulation

Instead of introducing a comprehensive set of reforms to the building control system, such as those promoted by the RIAI, the Government opted for a system devolving on one person, the “Assigned Certifier”, who must take total responsibility for the outcomes of the entire building process. This is to be the architect or engineer or building surveyor, who will be employed by the builder/developer and who is then expected to direct and control his employer, without the support of any state agency. The building control authority is reduced to acting as a repository of documents.

Just as has been tried unsuccessfully in other sectors, the State has opted for a system which transfers its own responsibility onto the private actors in the process. Recent experience in the banking, healthcare, food safety and childcare sectors – to name but a few – shows that light touch regulation or self-regulation does not work. The construction industry is no different from other sectors of economic activity in Ireland, indeed some would argue that it is more in need of proper regulation than many of the sectors which are properly regulated.

There has been no effective building control in Ireland for over 20 years and, instead, the State has relied on a weak form of self-regulation which has not worked. The consequences of this failed policy are abundantly clear and the need for reform was never more evident and timely.  The State must face up to its responsibilities in this regard.

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

There is clear evidence that few if any of the primary elements of a proper building control system as sought by the RIAI will be in place when the new regulations come into force in March 2014.

The issue now for the RIAI is whether the system now proposed will be effective in improving the quality of construction and in protecting the public interest, and whether it is sustainable by the architectural profession.

These questions need to be discussed by the membership and it is for this reason that over 200 Registered Members of the Institute have requisitioned an Extraordinary General Meeting.

Michael Collins, 

Peter Hanna, 

Arthur Hickey, 

Padraig Murray, 

Eoin O Cofaigh, 

Joan O’Connor, 

Sean O Laoire

Dublin, 10 September 2013

________________

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

Archive posts:

BREGS Blog Archive 5- MARCH 2014 

BRegs Blog Archive 4 – FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

by Bregs Blog admin team

dail-eireann

By Bregs Blog on 20th November 2014. Blog notes [ ].

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

On November 18th Minister Alan Kelly in the Dáil discusses issues surrounding Architectural Technologists continued exclusion from duties associated with BC(A)R SI.9 (see link to Dáil transcript here). Both the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) “…have recently agreed to the development through Quality Qualifications Ireland structures of an agreed common standard for Architectural Technologist in line with the National Qualifications Framework“.

We have discussed the CIAT register previously in our post CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

One might well inquire as to where the status of the Architectural Technologists and the already established RIAI register is at. Are Architectural Technologists soon to be allowed in?

Out of 7 recent Board resignations from RIAI council in the past month, one  was the Architectural Technologist Council representative, who resigned on 22nd October. This was hot on the heels of another senior Architectural Technologist resignation from the Architectural Technologists Committee (and from RIAI entirely) in September. Excluding architect board members and ex-presidents that’s two senior Architectural Technologists in two months.

“ To lose one… may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”. 

The current situation regarding registration in general appears to be far from satisfactory for many Architectural Technologists.

We believe numbers of RIAI Architectural Technologist members has declined sharply. The lifeblood of any representative organisation is members, and a reduction in numbers, for whatever reason, should be given very careful examination.

Transcript from Building Regulations Compliance: 18 Nov 2014:

_____________

Dáil Written answers, Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Compliance

Terence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Independent)

519. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the new regulations introduced in March 2014 that apply to architectural technologists; the way he expects architectural technologists to operate considering the extra costs now involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44212/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI No. 9 of 2014), which came into operation on 1 March 2014, greatly strengthen the arrangements in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certificates of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspection during construction and validation and registration of statutory certificates. The statutory certificates of compliance must be signed by a registered professional, i.e. a person who is included on the statutory registers of architects or building surveyors established in accordance with the Building Control Act 2007, or who is a Chartered Engineer. These are the construction professions typically involved in the design of construction works in Ireland and reference to these professions in regulation is entirely appropriate.

Architectural Technology is not currently classed as a regulated profession in Ireland which means that there is no designated competent authority which has the power to approve or restrict access to the profession in Ireland under national or EU law. That said, I am aware of the valuable contribution to the construction industry that is made by architectural technologists and I welcome and support the recent moves made by both the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) to put this important discipline on a professional footing. Both bodies have recently agreed to the development through Quality Qualifications Ireland structures of an agreed common standard for Architectural Technologist in line with the National Qualifications Framework.

The regulation of professions is in the first instance a matter for industry representatives working in concert with relevant industry stakeholders. Neither I, as Minister, nor my Department, have any role in the assessment or validation of professional qualifications. Nevertheless, where robust arrangements for the regulation of key disciplines such as that of Architectural Technologist can be achieved, in a manner capable of serving the public interest for quality and safety in the built environment at a reasonable economic cost to consumers, I would be happy to sponsor legislation to place such arrangements on a statutory footing.

It is also worth noting that, depending on their personal background and experience, it may be open to persons who are Architectural Technologists, and who possess the requisite experience and competence in the design of buildings, to seek inclusion on either of the statutory registers in respect of Architects or Building Surveyors. A number of Architectural Technologists have already succeeded in gaining inclusion on the statutory registers to date and are thus in a position to avail of the many opportunities to act as Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier that will continue to arise as a consequence of SI No. 9 of 2014.”

Other posts of interest:

Is there a regulation for thermal bridging condensation risk? | Part L

by Bregs Blog admin team

Open letter Part L

BRegs Blog on November 20th 2014

We received a recent query to the BReg Blog on 20th October 2014:

I have seen several posts on condensation risk analysis and Regulations compliance.

Correct me if I am wrong but no REGULATION is concerned with condensation risk due to thermal bridging. Part L is concerned with limiting heat loss. Part F with limiting moisture in the air that might contribute to condensation. The TGD is addressing matters outside of the regulations.

That’s my learning from the RIAI design certifier course and my defence in court. Wish me luck.

We asked Simon McGuinness to help out with an answer. Here is what he said:

“There is no REGULATION covering any of the following either:

  1. Backstop u-values
  2. EPC or CPC targets
  3. Window area/u-value limits
  4. Y-factors
  5. Minimum/maximum air change rates
  6. Minimum vent sizes and locations
  7. Location of openable windows or mechanical extract vents

If your correspondent expects to be able to ignore these provisions of the TGDs on the same basis as he proposes to ignore fRsi, he will find himself in deep water.  As a compliance strategy it is delusional.

Building regulations are become increasing complex and it is inevitable that they will become more like enabling legislation, setting out broad strategic goals which are then backed up by technical guidance, standards, codes of practice, and the like, to afford practitioners adequate means to demonstrate compliance to the satisfaction of the courts.

I doubt if the RIAI training advised members to ignore fRsi, in fact I know that it is a matter that is exercising RIAI who are drafting an advice note for members on the subject.

Let me put it this way: in a court of law there is no legal difference whatever between the fRsi requirement (0.75) and the EPC requirement (0.6). Neither are mentioned in the relevant Statutory Instrument. Both have a numerical calculation methodology proscribed in the TGD and a threshold value that must be attained.  Why should one be considered irrelevant and the other mandatory?

An fRsi failure in a block of apartments could require a partial rebuilding of the block and the temporary rehousing of its occupants for a number of years. It will also result in a large claim for damages.  That could be significantly more costly than an obstetrics failure which results in an infant being born with brain injuries as a result of the negligence of a doctor.  Do architects really want to carry the kind of PII cover that obstetricians carry?  Failure to calculate the fRsi for a curtain walling system could require the complete replacement of the curtain walling, necessitating a new planning permission, all at the architect’s expense – don’t laugh, there is just such a case pending at the moment.

There were 9,500 members of the Irish defence forces: a maxim total of less than 19,000 ears in all. A fraction of their owners were awarded damages by the courts. By comparison, there are 1.3million houses, each of which may have 40 linear thermal bridges, any one of which could exhibit mould as a result of an fRsi design (or construction) failure. All it takes is for one homeowner to be awarded damages as a result of mould appearing in a new house or apartment and queues of litigants, and lawyers, will form outside the Fourcourts.

It is difficult to see a way back into practice after an unsuccessful defence of an fRsi claim, and the shock to the PII market, should a flood of litigation appear, could even undermine the viability of the construction industry in Ireland.

These regulation are unprecedented, no other country has enshrined three dimensional numerical mesh calculation in its building regulations for surface temperature calculation. But it is there for a reason: fRsi > 0.75 is both necessary and justified as we seek to build to the nZEB energy standard.  We should be grateful to have regulators who understand the importance of these issues and have had the courage to legislate to keep people safe.  We now need the professions to step up to the plate and upskill to cope with the liabilities they are accepting by signing design certificates. ”

Simon McGuinness is an architect in private practice, a passive house design consultant and a part-time lecturer in digital analysis and retrofit technology at DIT.

Other posts of interest:

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

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

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

Attorney General asked if S.I.9 is in breach of Constitutional Rights

by Bregs Blog admin team

MaireWhelan

The following letter to the Attorney General Mairead Whelan (pictured) by a Chartered Surveyor was sent on 6th November 2014.

_____________________

Attorney General Office

The Office of the Attorney General

Government Buildings

e-mail: info@ag.irlgov.ie

 

To Whom It May Concern:

S.I. No. 9 of 2014 – Building Control Amended Regulations (SI.9)

A Planning Application, Fire Certificate, Disabled Access Certificate or a Dispensation Application can be submitted to a Building Control Department for consideration on their own merits.  The decision of these applications, or conditions contained within these decisions, as issued by a Local Authority correctly open to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.  This correctly represents an applicant’s statutory rights, administration rights, possibly the applicant’s constitutional rights & is likely to be consistent with European Law.  After the Statutory 4 weeks to lodge an appeal to An Bord Pleanala has passed, the application is then determined.  Only then can a Commencement Notice be issued for Validation.

I bring to the attention to the Attorney Generals office that S.I. No. 9 of 2014 which was introduced into the Building Control Act on March 1st 2014, moves away from this established, statutory & administration application procedure & sets a new unique validation procedure in place. SI.9 now merges a substantial set of drawings, certificates & documentation etc., together with a Commencement Notice for validation via an online Building Control Management System (BCMS).  I emphasise that this submission can only be considered by means of a Validation process & not an Application process.  The submission required is complex one & in many cases the information submitted for new notices will way exceed the information submitted within a typical Planning Application or a Fire Certificate Application.  I bring to the attention of the Attorney General’s office that new notices for developments under SI.9, is clearly a building control application process cleverly & disingenuously disguised as a Commencement Notice validation process. There is simply way to much information to be submitted & scrutinised by a Local Authority to classify this as a validation procedure.

I bring to the attention to the Attorney Generals office that under this disingenuous validation system, An Bord Pleanala cannot in any circumstances consider ay appeal issues with matters relating to SI.9 as every part of it comes under the remit of ‘validation’ & not as an ‘application’.

Therefore;

  1. Any invalidation decision due to the opinion of BCMS or a Local Authority that inadequate information was submitted with the complex documentation that accompanied the Commencement Notice cannot in any circumstances be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
  2. Any request of onerous information or decision by a Local Authority that the client believes is onerous, biased or detrimental to the build prior to the validation of a Commencement Notice or during the building process its self, cannot in any circumstances be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
  3. No Determinations Appeals process to An Bord Pleanala is set in place whatsoever.
  4. Should the Local Authority refuse to validate a final completion due to the opinion that inadequate information accompanied the Certificate of Compliance, which inurn proves detrimental to the client, or in the opinion of the client is incorrect, biased or onerous, this cannot be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

I bring to the Attorney Generals office attention that today we have now a situation where the Building Control Department are free to request any additional information they see fit at validation, during the build or at the completion stage.  The principal of this self seems on the face of things fine, however as there is no appeal option permitted within SI.9 to An Bord Pleanala, the system is now wide open for bias, onerous requests & currently allows incorrect decisions to be made unchallenged to the Bord.  Under SI.9, any Building Control Department can act as judge & jury & are akin to a Kangaroo Court, bar challenges made through an expensive & in many cases a highly stressful Judicial Review process.  A building owner is clearly under duress to consent to any Local Authority requests, as bar a very expensive Judicial Review process, there is no other alternative opinion to seek an independent opinion.  This therefore is a clear breach of the legitimate expectations, statutory & administration rights of the Irish public & I ask the Attorney Generals office to take the appropriate measures that is within its remit to comprehensively address this.

To uphold statutory & administration rights of the Irish Public Building Control, ‘approval’ must occur through a clear unambiguous application process & not through a validation process.  A submission of an application form, specifications, documentation, drawings etc., should be lodged to the appropriate Local Authority under an official application for the granting with conditions or refusal.  The Building Control Department must decide an application on its own merits over a statutory period & if successful, the applicant/building owner must wait a statutory appeal period between the decision to grant Building Control Approval & submitting a Commencement Notice for validation.  If the application is refused, the applicant must have a right to appeal.  A statutory Determination Appeals process must also be introduced into SI 9.

When the application process is completed, then only then, should a Commencement Notice be submitted to the BCMS system for its validation.  This can continue to occur via the existing on line BCMS system that currently validates Commencement Notices.

I bring to the attention to the Attorney Generals office, that I do not know of any newly established Building Control system within Europe where the initial application for Building Control ‘approval’ & subsequent decision by a Building Control Department is not open to an independent appeal process such as An Bord Pleanala.  I am struggling to find anywhere in Europe where there is a 4-week statutory appeals process for some parts of the Building Regulations (e.g. Fire Cert or a Disabled Access Cert) & not for others.  This is a unique situation.  Legally this will remain this case until the Commencement Notice & accompanying documentation submitted to BCMS are made independent of each other.   I ask the Attorney Generals office to take the appropriate measures that is within the remit of its office to address this.

Our Building Control process is governed both by statutory requirements and the principles of natural justice and fair procedures under administrative law. I therefore formally ask the Attorneys Generals office to take the necessary measures within its remit to respond to the following questions.

  1. Has SI.9, compiled or breached the legitimate expectations of the Building Control Act?
  2. Has SI.9, compiled or breached statutory requirements, fair procedure rights or administration rights of the Irish Public?
  3. Is SI.9 in keeping with Irish & European Law?
  4. Has SI.9 provided disproportionate decision-making powers to a Building Control Authority or Building Control Officer?
  5. Are there adequate procedures within the Building Control Act to facilitate challenges of bias by a Building Control Department on matters relating to SI.9, or is the only avenue to challenge bias through legal Judicial Review?
  6. As there is no Appeals possibility to An Bord Pleanala is the Attorney Generals office satisfied that the procedures under SI.9 will not place a building owner under duress to consent to any Local Authority requests, as bar a very expensive Judicial Review process, there is no other alternative opinion to seek a second opinion?
  7. To uphold statutory & administration rights of the Irish Public Building Control can the Attorney General’s office confirm that that Building Control ‘approval’ should occur through a clear unambiguous application process & not a validation process?

Finally, should any of my concerns prove to be founded & correct, where appropriate I formally request that the Attorney Generals office take the appropriate measures it sees fit to comprehensively address them with the DECLG or relevant department.

I thank you for taking the time to address the matters raised within this letter.

Yours faithfully

______________

Other posts of interest:

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

SI9- where do I start?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,636 other followers