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

Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By Bregs Blog admin on 17th November 2014

As reported earlier this year, Mayo homes are excluded from the Pyrite Remediation scheme: “[Mayo Owner] has also been told that she is not entitled to apply for the government’s pyrite remeditation scheme because Mayo is not included in the scheme” see previous press article here.

The following Dáil question on Pyrite in Mayo was tabled by Michelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael) on 21st October 2014.

In his answer Minister Kelly confirms under the new regulations, owners of completed dwellings affected by pyrite will likely end up seeking redress through the courts, with no guarantee of success. We know this was a major problem for pyrite affected dwellings pre 2012 and due to public pressure the taxpayer has ended up paying for remediation.

Pyrite costs are seen as an example where inadequate local Authority enforcement and policing, combined with a reliance on private insurance, has resulted in major costs for the taxpayer. Industry sources suggest based on DECLG estimated numbers of houses affected the cost of remediation could be in the region of €780m for pre 2012 dwellings.

Quote from Minister Kelly:

While I fully appreciate and acknowledge the extremely difficult and distressing situations that householders have to deal with when faced with the consequences of the use of defective materials or poor workmanship, building defects are, in general, matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, i.e. the owner, the builder, the manufacturer, supplier, quarry owner and/or their respective insurers. In the event that the contracting parties cannot reach a settlement by negotiation the option of seeking redress in the Courts can be considered.

Local Authorities are tasked with policing of construction material markets.

Under the new regulstions SI.9 the situation remains unchanged and Local Authorities have not received any additional resources for this task.

For a link to the Dáil exchange click here. Transcript is below.

Written answers, Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Pyrite Incidence

Michelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)

563. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the number of houses, both private and social, in County Mayo that have been reported to his Department as having pyrite damage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39889/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

In late October 2013, Mayo County Council submitted a report to my Department on problems with the cracking of concrete blocks used in the construction of two local authority estates. In May of 2014, the Council notified my Department that two houses in another local authority estate may also be affected. As matters stand, my Department understands that a total of 17 houses in the three local authority estates are affected by the cracking in the blockwork. The majority of these dwellings appear to have been constructed between 2000 and 2002.

In early March 2014, my Department also met with a number of private homeowners whose homes are similarly affected by structural problems. The problems appear to concern approximately 15 houses and the period of construction for the houses involved was 1997 to 2002. My Department has not been made aware of other dwellings affected by structural problems in the blockwork in County Mayo.

While I fully appreciate and acknowledge the extremely difficult and distressing situations that householders have to deal with when faced with the consequences of the use of defective materials or poor workmanship, building defects are, in general, matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, i.e. the owner, the builder, the manufacturer, supplier, quarry owner and/or their respective insurers. In the event that the contracting parties cannot reach a settlement by negotiation the option of seeking redress in the Courts can be considered. In this regard, I believe that the responsible parties should face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate actions to provide remedies for the affected homeowners. [emphasis by Bregs Blog]

The Building Regulations 1997 – 2014 set out the legal requirements for the construction of new buildings (including houses), extensions to existing buildings as well as for material alterations and certain material changes of use to existing buildings. The regulations are divided in to 12 Parts (classified as Parts A to M), and Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) are published to accompany each of the parts and provide guidance indicating how the requirements of each part can be achieved in practice. Where works are carried out in accordance with the relevant technical guidance, such works are considered to be, prima facie, in compliance with the relevant regulation(s).

Primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the designers, builders and owners of buildings. Responsibility for enforcement is delegated under the Building Control Act 1990 to local building control authorities who are independent in the exercise of their statutory powers. The use of these powers is, however, subject to a statute of limitations of five years from the date of completion of the buildings concerned.

Other posts of interest:

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

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Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following Primetime piece was recorded by Ronan Lyons on Thursday 13th November 2014. From 16.00 to 34.13

Click here to view: Primetime- Housing Crisis

In the RTÉ piece the author makes the case that unnecessary regulation and increased cost is negatively impacting upon our construction and housing sector. The author has written on this subject previously.

On the subject of costs of building and affordability, particularly in Dublin- see previous post on his article Want to live in Dublin? | Only the wealthy need apply!.

There are a number of factors feeding into the recent rise in property values and the lack of supply of quality residential developments in Dublin in particular. Other factors affecting the residential market are explored in by Ronan Lyons in the Independent article on Sunday 3rd August 2014. For original article view here. Extract to follow:

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The Housing Ecosystem: What the decade to 2007 tells us is that planners should be very wary of directing where buildings and people should go

Dublin house price rises are not a bubble but are cause for concern

by Ronan Lyons

PUBLISHED 03/08/2014 in the Sunday Independent

It is fashionable at the moment to argue that there is a bubble in the Dublin housing market. And at first glance it is easy to see why. House prices in some parts of Dublin are up almost 40pc in just two years, leaving a small group of delighted purchasers and a much larger group of would-be first-time buyers feeling that they blinked and missed the boat.

However, the term “bubble” means something in particular. This matters because dealing with a bubble is different from dealing with other reasons prices may rise rapidly.

A bubble is when the price of an asset such as housing departs from the fundamental value. Charles Kindleberger has written a book on bubbles throughout history and there is one common thread across all of them.

You cannot have a bubble unless there is loose credit to fuel unrealistic expectations. This has been true from the earliest bubbles of the modern era, such as the famous South Sea Bubble of 300 years ago, and it remains true today.

Looking at the loan-to-value offered to first-time buyers today, and just as importantly at what they expect to happen to house prices over the medium term, it is hard to argue we are in the midst of another credit-fuelled bubble of exuberant expectations.

First-time buyers struggle to get a mortgage with anything less than a 10pc deposit (and rightly so, for reasons of financial stability). But when surveyed, they revealed they expected annual house price increases over the next five years of the order of about 3pc a year, which looks far from excessive.

The reason why what is going on now is different to what was happening 10 years ago – when it most certainly was a bubble – is the rental market.

Ten years ago, when house prices throughout the country were rising rapidly, rents were falling, as tens of thousands of new homes were being built. Now, rents are rising just as rapidly as house prices.

So if it is not a bubble, what is going on? House prices in Ireland are determined by five key factors. The first two are about the fundamentals of demand – household incomes (which are flat at best), and demographics (which move slowly).

The other three are the supply of housing, the availability of credit and what economists call user cost (which is interest rates less expectations). Credit and user cost are the drivers of bubbles, but as discussed above, neither is at the heart of recent increases.

Certainly, the normalisation of expectations – where people went from expecting falling house prices to stable or rising ones – has played a role in flushing out demand.

But the underlying reason for house price rises is more obvious. The population of Dublin is growing by roughly 17,000 people a year, which translates into roughly 7,500 units a year. But over the entire three years from January 2011 to December 2013, just 4,000 new dwellings were built in the capital, about one sixth of what Dublin needed.

This chronic lack of housing is at the root of most of the housing difficulties we see currently, from homelessness to rising rents, from the student accommodation crisis to dramatic turnaround in house prices.

And there is no over night fix in terms of vacant housing in Dublin. In mid-2013, there were 23 unfinished developments in the capital with a total of 6,370 dwellings – not far off one year’s worth of supply.

However, more than half of these units are already occupied, while
most of the remainder are not even started. Just 617 units stood vacant in Dublin last year, barely one month’s supply.

In a sense, you could view all this as good news. House price rises due to a bubble are notoriously difficult to stop in a way that doesn’t damage your economy, as the UK is discovering currently.

“If building is not happening now – when both prices and rents in Dublin are near their limit relative to incomes – then something has gone horribly wrong with our planning and regulatory system”

House price rises due to a lack of supply have an obvious fix – build more homes. This generates employment and also boosts competitiveness, by driving down the cost of accommodation.

Perhaps this sounds too optimistic. After all, wasn’t building too much part of the problem?

Actually, in Dublin, there was very little over-building. Where Ireland went wrong was in its planning system, which encouraged sprawl in a world economy that thrives on density. More units were built in Connacht and Ulster during the bubble than in Dublin, even though Dublin has twice the population.

What the decade to 2007 tells us is that planners should be very wary of directing where buildings and people should go.

We are our own best judges of where we want to live. If building is not happening now, when both prices and rents in Dublin are near their limit relative to incomes, then something has gone horribly wrong with our planning and regulatory system. Those unconvinced that regulation is at the heart of the problem would do well to consider this: the development which won the Urban Land Institute’s prestigious global award for housing last year is illegal under Irish building regulations.

We currently have a Junior Minister for Housing, who in reality has only the homelessness aspect of that portfolio, with the rest of the policy tools relating to housing divided out between the Departments of Finance, Taoiseach and Justice, as well as the Central Bank.

What we need is someone who is responsible for the housing ecosystem.

Such a minister could set the target of reducing the cost of building a family home by 33pc by the next election and achieve it.

Sadly, there is no political appetite for this – so even medium-term respite for Dublin’s dysfunctional housing market is likely to be underwhelming.

Ronan Lyons is assistant professor of Economics at Trinity College, Dublin, and is author of the Daft.ie report

Other posts of interest (click on title):

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

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

Engineers Ireland Journal | Jack Kavanagh- is SI.9 unjust to both engineer and society?

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

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

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

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

Gurdgiev: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

Construction Recovery- watch this space.

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

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By Bregs Blog admin on 17th November 2014

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

Today is the start date for lodging your prospective completion documents if your client plans to occupy a building or extension for Christmas.

For occupation on Tuesday 23 December, you must lodge the final Completion Certificate on Monday 22 December and the Prospective Completion documents must be lodged  3-5 weeks in advance. This means that the window for lodging completion documents is from today Monday 17 November until Monday 1 December.

As the BCMS is not yet available for completion stage, it is recommended that you make one complete submission of all of the ancillary certificates, testing records, inspection plans etc to the local authority before Monday 1 December.

Information on prospective completion is available in the Code of Practice, Section 8.3 – click link HERE

As this is the first year of operation, Assigned Certifiers are advised to avail of Prospective Completion and not to wait to make a full submission in the week before Christmas. There is no mechanism for the local authority to agree additional time, as there is with a Fire Safety Certificate or Disability Access Certificate application. A building control officer faced with a deluge of Completion Certificate documents on Christmas Eve has to work within the regulations and the only legal option available, if the file can’t all be checked in time, is to invalidate the Completion Cert or to delay the completion by asking for more information. These regulations put building control departments, some of whom are one-man operations, in a very difficult position especially when owners are looking to occupy homes and extensions for Christmas.

Assigned Certifiers need to start today to make sure that the full Completion Document package is finalised in the next 2 weeks.

RIAI Advice: click link here

Q.: How will the Prospective Certificate work?

A: 3-5 weeks in advance of “a nominated date for completion of the building” submit information so that the authority may consider the validity with a view to facilitate the inclusion of the details of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion on the statutory register on the nominated date, plus one day. (Ref Code of Practice section 8.3).

Other posts of interest:

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

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

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read 

Top 10 for week ending 16th November 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Top 10 for week ending 16th November 2014

This week Homebond’s new €2000 all-in certifier/defects insurance scheme was the most popular post. Issues associated with conflicting and confusing advice issued by both the Building Control Management System, Department of the Environment and stakeholder bodies still exorcised readers, with this topic occupying 4 of the top 6 this week.

Joseph Little Architects posted a considered critique of the Homebond manual of details, a document that yet may become very important in the speculative residential sector.

Our 5th most popular post was Jack Kavanagh, past president of the ACEI and EI (representative bodies for engineers) who wrote a compelling article in Engineers Journal and wondered is SI.9 “…unjust to both engineer and society

Increased costs associated with building and the negative effect on construction output hit the media this week with a press article by Karl Deeter last weekend in the Sunday Business Post. Finally we have Dr Rory Hearne with a thought provoking article on a more radical approach to our housing issues, noting the considerable extent of vacant dwellings throughout the country.

Enjoy!

  1. Homebond | Assigned Certifier + defects liability policy for €2,000?
  2. RIAI PRACTICE NEWS : 40SqM BC(A)R SI.9 Exemption
  3. ± 40 sq.m. exemption from SI.9 | Kevin Tyrrell Architectural Technologist
  4. The Latest Homebond House Building Manual: A Critique | Joseph Little Architects
  5. Engineers Ireland Journal | Jack Kavanagh- is SI.9 unjust to both engineer and society?
  6. Opinion | 40SqM BC(A)R SI.9 Extensions
  7. HOUSES + 40Sqm #BCAR
  8. Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”
  9. Social Media | BRegs Blog Help + Advice
  10. Dr Rory Hearne | + 168,000 empty houses in the country

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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

In No 5 of our “Look Back” post series we re-publish a December 5th 2013 post Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80 on consumer bodies and reports that were ignored in the formation of SI.9, previoulsy SI.80.

The “comprehensive consultation” undertaken in 2012 has frequently been quoted, most recently by Minister Alan Kelly on 11th November 2014 in the Dáil:

 “An extensive public consultation process was undertaken in 2012 to inform the development of the revised building control regulations which came into effect on 1 March 2014…

Over 500 submissions were received in response to that public consultation from construction industry stakeholders, individual practitioners and members of the public

… However, the time available for public consultation is finite and my Department’s consideration of this matter has effectively concluded given that SI No. 9 of 2014 is now in place and is fully operational”

Our post below outlined some of the major contributions and submissions ignored by the Department in the formation of BC(A)R SI.9.

Original post below:

________________

As Minister Hogan prepares to sign off on the final wording of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, we take a look at some of the government commissioned reports and the professional opinion that were ignored in the design of S.I.80.

Government Commissioned Reports:

The National Consumer Agency (2012): “the NCA would point to the undesirability of a situation arising whereby one entity could design, build, inspect and certify a building while no inspection by a Building Control Authority takes place.. Should a consumer purchase a dwelling become aware of non-compliance with building regulations, and bring the issue to the notice of the relevant Building Control Authority, the legislation allows the consumer to be designated as the party responsible for bringing the dwelling into a state of compliance. Consideration should be given to providing means by which responsibility for bringing a building up to a compliant state rests with the party responsible for the non-compliance in the first place”

The Pyrite Panel 2012: “…the Panel recommends that the system of independent inspections, carried out by the building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process for buildings.. Project-related insurance whereby cover for each specific project is available and adequate and is related to the project only”

The Competition Authority 2012: “These concerns are (a) whether the proposed regulations would, in fact, afford proper protection to citizens, (b) whether the additional costs imposed by the proposed regulations are in proportion to any benefit they might bring, and (c) whether placing the onus for compliance on certain individuals involved in the construction process, rather than on an independent arm of the State, is appropriate”

The National Disability Authority 2006: “The findings of the Rogerson (2005) research and DoEHLG’s own 2003 survey suggest the need for vigilant on-site inspection for compliance with accessibility requirements. The provision of Disability Access Certificates does not preclude the requirement for strengthened enforcement and on-site inspection of buildings against Part M”

Chief Fire Officers Association Conference 2012: “Better Paperwork does not mean Better or Safer buildings!”

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 2013: “It is believed that Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) would provide a cost-effective means of providing long-term protection for the recovery of the costs of repairing or replacing works following discovery of a latent defect. The insured party does not need to prove negligence and defects would be covered even were the contractor company is no longer in existence. Given the complexity involved in contractors individually providing their own policies, there would be a clear benefit in having a single LDI policy, where all works carried out under the Scheme were covered by a single provider, offering a single point of contact for claimants at an optimal cost.”

Professional & Registration Bodies:

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland 2013: “Registration of builders must be part of the new system.. It is essential that the new monitoring and inspection systems provide for planned and random audits – on a risk analysis basis – of the documentation submitted to a local authority before building work actually commences, as well as inspection of buildings during construction… If such systems of inspection and analysis by building control authorities are not in place, then the danger remains of shoddy building practices continuing with consequent risks to the consumer”

Engineers Ireland 2012: “An appropriately strong and active inspection/auditing function being delivered by the appropriate state authorities is equally critically important in strengthening the existing Building Control System”

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland 2013: “The regulations do not address the Building Control Authority’s side of the equation and it will also be incumbent on the Government to ensure that appropriate review of operations occurs in this respect.” Alan Isdell, Surveyors

Other posts of interest:

SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

BREGS Blog Archive 4- FEBRUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 3- JANUARY 2014

BREGS Blog Archive 2- DECEMBER 2013

BREGS Blog Archive 1- NOVEMBER 2013

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The Blog were forwarded this review of the latest Homebond Manual by Joseph Little architect on 12th November 2014. For original please click here. For more info on the author please click on his website here: Our Team | Joseph Little Architects

This article was published in Aug-Sept 2012 (issue 12, volume 5) in Construct Ireland’s last edition (the magazine then rebranded as Passive House Plus). It was therefore prompted purely by disappointment at how little had been revised and how inadequately the impact of new common types of construction and the complexity of Part L(2011) compliance were represented. The implementation of onerous amendments to Building Control Regulations and Homebond’s provision of Assigned Certifier services since then has brought the question of the value of this edition of the Manual into even starker relief. Article to follow:

The latest Homebond House Building Manual: a critique

By Joseph Little

The Homebond House Building Manual had the distinction of being called the ‘bible’ for many building during the boom. It was a commonly-used reference book, even for many builders and architects who never built housing estates and therefore had little need of a Homebond guarantee. One might design a construction detail of a dwelling differently, but one did it with an awareness of what the manual showed. It gave the insurance scheme great credibility and standing. This architect remembers reluctantly getting involved with an external wall insulation self-build project in rural Ireland in 2006 (far beyond his normal travel distance) because the local engineers wouldn’t build anything that wasn’t in the Homebond manual. The 6th edition came out just after TGD L(2008) and the new seventh edition has just hit the shelves, some months after the latest TGD L.

A sea change in knowledge and standards

Significantly the latest edition is the first since the boom. The Construction Industry Federation and Homebond (like the rest of the industry) have had time to think about the lack of construction quality that was such a hallmark of mass housing built in the boom, and how to do it better. The mediocre Acceptable Construction Details (ACDs) [1] came out after the manual’s sixth edition, as did a remarkable series of papers (focusing on the ‘performance gap’) from Leeds Metropolitan University based on their study of the construction of the Stamford Brook housing estate near Manchester (which resulted in changes to UK building regulations). The passive house movement and ethos has also gained ground – indeed FÁS and MosArt recently created the world’s first Passive house builder’s course in Finglas in 2011, as many Construct Ireland readers will be aware. Finally there have been countless papers and exemplar projects in the UK, Ireland and further afield showing how mainstream housing construction can and should change.  This writer, who owns a well-thumbed copy of the fifth edition, was therefore genuinely excited to part with €80 in Easons and sit down with the new manual to see if it encapsulated some of this sea change and would regain the place it had earned during the period of the 1991-2005 regulations. Sadly, as you will see, it has not.

The fifth edition related to TGD L(2005) and to energy efficiency standards for new dwellings more than 60% poorer than they are since December  2011. Think of all the industries where a 6% change would result in root and branch changes. A 60% change is seismic and demands a full re-evaluation and profound change and re-education on all sides. However the best way to explain the contents of the new book is that the building culture and technology of 2005 has been re-presented, dressed-up in the latest backstop values.

Technical details

The section on airtightness is welcome but it is not integrated into the rest of the book. Detail after detail in the seventh edition is identical to the fifth: many, if not most, feature bad thermal bridges that could be easily resolved, such as can be seen in figure one. Incredibly, drawings show 100-100-100 cavity walls with 50mm partial-fill insulation, discredited hollow block with internal wall insulation, floor joists built into walls and duplex housing conditions that have been known to run with condensation. Details such as back sills and pressed metal lintels – which were relegated to what I consider the ‘sin bin’ of appendix two of the ACDs due to their unacceptable thermal bridge impact – are presented here as good practice. There are no external insulation details shown, no full-fill wide cavities, no ‘warm stud’ approaches to timber-frame or joists, no closed panels or SIPs and no under slab insulation.

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Figure one: outdated details Extracts from the seventh edition of the Homebond House Building Manual

It may be argued that the (mostly) re-used graphics show key concepts and designers and builders are expected to extrapolate from these, but why should they if they bought a new book? How does that help limit risk and deliver high quality buildings?

It may also be argued that the manual is fundamentally about avoiding settlement, cracks and leaks – not about the use of insulation – but this is also unacceptable. As energy efficiency standards rise and rise insulation and structure cannot be separated. They impact upon each other continuously and the solutions used must be integrated. Architecture students in college are taught that if you haven’t drawn it you haven’t thought about it. If the authors of the manual had drawn a wide cavity they would have seen that the window frame is too narrow to act as a fire-rated cavity closer. They would then have had the opportunity to discuss acceptable and non-acceptable cavity closers, and propose methods of holding the window in place: all practical issues builders need to know about.  They would also have had the chance to talk about blown bead insulation and low thermal bridging cavity ties.

By not showing under slab insulation or external wall insulation the opportunity to discuss the structural implications of insulation continuity was lost. New details could have shown how thermal and structural continuity is possible with AAC or Foamglas blocks. Showing woodfibre sarking boards on a warm roof buildup could have given a chance to discuss the types of fixings necessary as well as the practical advantages for roofers, besides the reduction in repeat thermal bridges and improved decrement delay.

EPC & U-values

Builders and designers need practical guidance on what U-values are acceptable.

The average maximum U-values (also known as ‘backstop’ U-values) in table one of TGD L in 2005 were better than the values most housing estate builders used – the overall heat loss method of proving compliance allowed relaxations, such as from 0.27 to 0.37 W/m2K in the case of walls. In the 2011 update table one backstop values have become far more onerous – for instance the backstop is now 0.21 W/m2K for walls – yet to ensure compliance building fabric components should be designed and built to a far higher standard again – close to 0.14 W/m2K. This is a world apart from Boom-time values, as figure two makes graphically clear. This is because compliance with the whole-dwelling energy performance coefficient (EPC) value (calculated in DEAP) has been driving building fabric performance since TGD L(2008). Complying with backstop values is a second – and typically much easier – target.

Of course it is possible to build a wall to 2012 0.21 W/m2K but – without opting for an absurdly large renewable energy system – this would then almost certainly necessitate large levels of compensation in all other elements, resulting in a compliant but unnecessarily expensive dwelling. The best and most sustainable way to achieve compliance is always to minimise energy demand first through use of simple, ‘dumb’ technology that does not need a power source and has low maintenance requirement: i.e. appropriate, well-designed, well-applied insulation! This approach is often called a ‘fabric first focus’.

figure_2_-_the_progression_of_wall_u_values_since_2005

Figure 2 – the progression of wall U-values since 2005 Extract from Building Fabric Design, an RIAI CPD event

The new manual gives a caveat at the bottom of page 469 without further explanation that “one or more of the backstop minimum performance levels outlined above may need to be exceeded”. Elsewhere it warns that “by using the back stop value above, overall compliance with TGD L(2011) may not be achieved”.  But it’s not a case that “one or more” value may need to be exceeded – in practical terms all of them should be! To not stress or explain such a crucial and complex issue is unacceptable.

In contrast the Department of the Environment’s own Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) document – which was published in summer 2010 when the latest changes to TGD L were out to consultation – made exactly this point very clearly. Amongst other features it shows a useful chart of nine house types listing the key performance characteristics needed for each to merely comply. Despite every backstop values being exceeded in all cases – for everything from heating systems to thermal bridging to airtightness, not just U-values – each of the nine dwellings just reach the maximum permitted EPC of 0.4. This author believes that much of the Industry doesn’t yet understand this regulatory change. Sadly the seventh edition will not help.

The text & taking a position

The manual’s text has been revised to a greater extent than its details but it repeats much of the dry explanations found in TGD L. Unlike the government, Homebond has the ability to be selective; to take a strong position; and to rule-out or promote practices, or forms of construction and technology.

Indeed the manual does this in several places, such as in relation to fire or the construction of foundations or walls, but not when it comes to thermal performance. For instance, a builder may wish to build with internally insulated hollow blocks, and may find some guidance on this in TGD L, but the manual has the chance to educate the builder and show why this is a sub-standard form of construction and what other forms will serve the buyer or client better. If the manual were re-written with this approach it could become a voice for change and higher standards which – after 60% increases in standards of  and a disastrous crash in construction – we all need.

This author feels that this edition will inadvertently encourage non-compliant construction. It may also increase the risk of claims against Homebond insurance itself. If the manual is intended to be used by those seeking related insurance, and is promoted as up-to-date and reliable and yet is not, it surely becomes a risk to its authors.

To ensure that the performance gap between required standards and the reality on Irish building sites that has been such a feature of the Boom starts narrowing, instead of widening further, we suggest this manual is either withdrawn and extensively revised, or the industry turns to new, more relevant, sources of guidance and training.

Construct Ireland wrote to Homebond prior to going to print to offer a right of reply to many of the points raised in the above article. A spokesperson said “We note your comments […] & will pass them to our technical department for review,” adding that the review “will not be complete before your deadline”. Construct Ireland has offered Homebond the chance to respond via the Construct Ireland website and awaits the organisation’s response.

figure_3_-_table_2_ria

Figure 3 – An edited version ( to remove non envelope related data) of table 2 from the department of the environment’s regulatory impact analysis document, which shows that wall U values as low as 0.14 and triple glazed windows may be required to comply with part L

Joseph Little is principal of Joseph Little Architects and the Building Life Consultancy. His practice recently completed what he claims will be Ireland’s first EnerPHit house, which is due to be certified shortly. He and his team teach thermal bridge analysis and hygrothermal risk evaluation(using WUFI. They created and teach two CPD courses for the RIAI on designing new and retrofitted dwellings to

[1]Limiting Thermal Bridging and Air Infiltration: Acceptable Construction Details; July 2008, a document produced by the Department of the Environment in conjunction with SEAI and Homebond

Other posts of interest:

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

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

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 

BCMS | Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Fingal County Council has won the category Joint Local Authority Initiative in this year’s Chambers Ireland – Excellence in Local Government Awards” for the Building Control Management System. This year’s awards ceremony took place last night Thursday 13th November in The Ballsbridge Hotel, Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. For more information click here. Quote:

“The Excellence in Local Government Awards showcase best practice in local government and highlight some of the great projects that local authorities are undertaking. The Awards are judged by a panel of expert judges working in the field of Local Government and have been taking place since 2004.”

The shortlist for  this category were:

Joint Local Authority Initiative

  • Dublin City Council – Children’s summer reading programme
  • Fingal County Council – National Building Control Management System (BCMS)
  • Monaghan, Meath & Louth County Councils – Action for Biodiversity

Previously we assembled a number of reader’s questions and sent on to the BCMS- we posted our reader’s questions here BCMS: Open Letter. Mairéad Phelan, Project Manager for the BCMS (Local Government Efficiency Review, Programme Management Office) issued swift and comprehensive responses which were broken into three posts:

  1. BCMS Q+A: Part 1 | General Issues 
  2. BCMS Q+A: Part 2 | I.T. Issues
  3. BCMS Q+A: Part 3 | Process Issues

BCMS update on 12 Nov 2014 (slick here for website)- extract:

“The Building Control Management system (BCMS) was implemented in March 2014 and allows property owners, builders, developers, architects and engineers to submit notifications, applications and compliance certificates online.  It provides an internal management system for the processing of notices received online and over the counter in local authorities.  It is now successfully operational in all 31 local authorities.  To date the system has processed approximately 4,000 commencement notices, has over 12,000 unique public users registered and approximately 57,000 documents on a centrally hosted system…”

Other posts of interest:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

BCMS: My First Validation | Mark Stephens MRIAI 

No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on #BCMS

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

BCMS: Data protection or tax collection?

BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”

ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9

BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS

Building Control Officer issues: Conference April 2014

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9

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

Irish Mirror | Call for an end to pyrite mess

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Pyrite protest

Pyrite is never far from the headlines and in this recent article in the Irish Mirror by Mary McDonnell  “Call for an end to pyrite mess”, uncertainties, costs and the difficulties associated with obtaining relief from property tax for houses affected by pyrite are discussed. For direct link to article on November 8th 2014 click  here.

Previously we posted a “Quick history of pyrite- press articles” to give an overview of the history of pre 2012 cases of pyrite. Other posts of interest are listed below including some more recent cases discovered, which have led to the complete demolition of buildings. Based on Department estimates the cost to the taxpayer of pyrite remediation for pre 2012 affected properties, 12,250 homes, could be in excess of €780m.

Extract:

Call for an end to pyrite mess

Couple forced to leave their ravaged home

Thousands of broke families are being forced to fork out up to €3,000 to prove their homes are riddled with destructive pyrite, the Irish Sunday Mirror can reveal.

Around 10,000 homeowners were assured they would get an exemption from Property Tax for three years.

But it has emerged they’re still being taxed on “valueless” homes – as

legislation forces them to pay thousands to officially show the property was damaged by the mineral.

Socialist TD Clare Daly told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “The Government brought in an exemption so that

somebody can benefit from not having to pay a couple of hundred euro every year. But for them to get that they have to pay thousands.”

“It was never intended to be like that. Clearly they messed up in designing the statutory instrument,” she said, adding that the situation must be corrected.

Mersiha and husband Emir bought their three-bed dream home in Meath nine years ago for €240,000.

 I141108_141356_473547oTextCS_72329610

Pyrite damage

It’s since been ravaged by the destructive substance, forcing them to abandon their property. Now they have to pay Local Property Tax on a house they can’t live in – which Mersiha said is “like salt in the wounds and they’re rubbing it in”.

The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 provides for a temporary exemption of at least three years from Local Property Tax for homes with “significant pyritic damage”. Houses must undergo a Building Condition Assessment and be given a Damage Condition Rating of two by a qualified engineer to qualify.

This costs up to €600 and all funds are repaid by the Pyrite Resolution Board.

But to be exempt from the hated Property Tax, homeowners have to prove the damage was definitely caused by harmful pyrite – with an invasive core test which can cost €3,000.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told Deputy Daly his officials are “examining the alternatives other than testing” which will grant struggling families a tax break.

Other posts of interest:

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?

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

GhostEstatesGeneric_large

In his second interesting article “Radical change of policies is required” in the Irish Examiner form October 29th 2014, Dr Rory Hearne argues that current vacancy rates show the way to a more radical, sustainable and fair housing policy. Link to article here. Dr Hearne is author of chapters on social housing in two new edited books on housing in Ireland: Renting In Ireland (IPA) and Spatial Justice and the Irish Crisis (RIA). He is also author of Public Private Partnerships in Ireland.

There are over 168,000 empty houses in the country.

If you don’t believe the numbers, and if you don’t believe that there are 17,597 vacant houses and 25,333 vacant flats in Dublin alone, scroll down to the end of the post to see a detailed breakdown county-by-county.

Extract from article:

________

“The residential vacancy rates from the 2011 census highlight the necessity of a radical change in housing and regional economic development policy.

They make it clear our housing system is fundamentally dysfunctional. We now have the scandalous and untenable situation whereby 90,000 households are defined as ‘in housing need’, and up to 5,000 homeless, and yet over twice that amount (230,056) of housing and apartments units lie vacant.

…This is because far too much of the housing built over the last two decades was done as a speculative investment rather than providing an affordable home.

…According to the ESRI, even though there will be an increase in household demand of 180,000 housing units by 2021, because of the oversupply, only 90,000 new units will need to be built. Significantly, 86% of all new build is needed in the Greater Dublin region.

…Part of the problem is that most of the analysis in the media of housing and property issues is being provided by economists and analysts with a direct interest in the property industry.

They articulate the perspectives and analysis of those who have wealth to accumulate and profit from investment in housing. They advocate policies that aim to achieve rising prices.

…There is an absence of an alternative analysis that questions for whom such price rises benefit and uses different assumptions and indicators for housing, such as fair, sustainable and balanced policies focused on what needs to be done to address housing need, separate from those seeking owner occupation.

…For example, there are 2,000 households on the housing waiting lists in Clare, yet there are 7,172 vacant properties.

It is very likely many of the 40,000 buy-to-let properties in mortgage arrears are vacant. The Government could buy these and provide them as social housing or low cost rent. It could instruct and empower local authorities to implement vacant and derelict property taxes (not just sites as proposed) or fines that would bring units in to use.

It could compulsory purchase the vacant units using funding from the strategic infrastructure fund and provide local employment and social housing. Overall, the high vacancy rates show we have to move away from a housing system based on promoting finance-led owner occupation and speculative investment and implement policies that provide genuinely affordable, high quality, long term secure housing as a home.

It also highlights the need for proper planning and regional development that can develop indigenous employment rather than an unsustainable reliance on low-tax multinationals.”

“There are over 168,000 empty houses in the country, finds Stephen Rogers

NATIONAL

  • -168,427 — vacant houses
  • -61,629 — vacant flats
  • -59,395 — vacant holiday homes
  • -1,994,845 — housing stock
  • -14.5% — overall vacancy

LEINSTER

  • -58,401- vacant houses
  • -36,702 — vacant flats
  • -11,555 — holiday homes
  • -1,030,902 — housing stock
  • -10.3% — vacancy rate

CARLOW

  • -2,287 — vacant houses
  • -632 — vacant flats
  • -283 — vacant holiday homes
  • -23,165 — housing stock
  • -13.8% — overall vacancy

DUBLIN

  • -17,597 — vacant houses
  • -25,333 — vacant flats
  • -777 — vacant holiday homes
  • -527,665 — housing stock
  • -8.3% — overall vacancy

DUBLIN CITY

  • -7,995 — vacant houses
  • -16,321 — vacant flats
  • -322 — vacant holiday homes
  • -241,678 — housing stock
  • -10.2% — overall vacancy

DÚN LAOGHAIRE-RATHDOWN

  • -2,746 — vacant houses
  • -3,750 — vacant flats
  • -120 — vacant holiday homes
  • -85,896 — housing stock
  • -7.7% — overall vacancy

FINGAL

  • -4,070 — vacant houses
  • -2,823 — vacant flats
  • -311 — holiday homes
  • -102,793 — housing stock
  • -7% — overall vacancy

SOUTH DUBLIN

  • -2,786 — vacant houses
  • -2,439 — vacant flats
  • -24 — vacant holiday homes
  • -97,298 — housing stock
  • -5.4% — overall vacancy

KILDARE

  • -4,432 — vacant houses
  • -1,691 — vacant flats
  • -188 — vacant holiday homes
  • -78,794 — housing stock
  • -8% — overall vacancy

KILKENNY

  • -3,569 — vacant houses
  • -654 — vacant flats
  • -401 — vacant holiday homes
  • -39,005 — housing stock
  • -11.9% — overall vacancy

LAOIS

  • -3,277 — vacant houses
  • -661 — vacant flats
  • -149 — vacant holiday homes
  • -32,664 — housing stock
  • -12.5% — overall vacancy

LONGFORD

  • -3,202 — vacant houses
  • -556 — vacant flats
  • -317 — vacant holiday homes
  • -18,823 — housing stock
  • -21.6% — overall vacancy

LOUTH

  • -4,207 — vacant houses
  • -1,406 — vacant flats
  • -619 — vacant holiday homes
  • -51,186 — housing stock
  • -12.2% — overall vacancy

MEATH

  • -4,311 — vacant houses
  • -1,565 — vacant flats
  • -297 — vacant holiday homes
  • -69,697 — housing stock
  • -8.9% — overall vacancy

OFFALY

  • -2,858 — vacant houses
  • -544 — vacant flats
  • -218 — vacant holiday homes
  • -30,750 — housing stock
  • -11.8% — overall vacancy

WESTMEATH

  • -3,480 — vacant houses
  • -1,141 — vacant flats
  • -300 — vacant holiday homes
  • -36,659 — housing stock
  • -13.4% — overall vacancy

WEXFORD

  • -5,840 — vacant houses
  • -1,574 — vacant flats
  • -6,915 — vacant holiday homes
  • -68,143 — housing stock
  • -21% — overall vacancy

WICKLOW

  • -3,341 — vacant houses
  • -945 — vacant flats
  • -1,091 — vacant holiday homes
  • -54,351 — housing stock
  • -9.9% — overall vacancy

MUNSTER

  • -54,958 — vacant houses
  • -14,120 — vacant flats
  • -23,807 — holiday homes
  • -561,532 — housing stock
  • -16.5% — overall vacancy

CLARE

  • n5,936 — vacant houses
  • n1,236 — vacant flats
  • n4,610 — vacant holiday homes
  • n55,616 — housing stock
  • n21.2% — overall vacancy

CORK

  • -20,123 — vacant houses
  • -5,864 — vacant flats
  • -7,342 — vacant holiday homes
  • -227,675 — housing stock
  • -14.6% — overall vacancy rate

CORK CITY

  • -3,342 — vacant houses
  • -2,766 — vacant flats
  • -60 — vacant holiday homes
  • -55,633 — housing stock
  • -11.1% — overall vacancy

CORK COUNTY

  • -16,781 — vacant houses
  • -3,098 — vacant flats
  • -7,282 — vacant holiday homes
  • -172,042 — housing stock
  • -15.8% — overall vacancy

KERRY

  • -9,860 — vacant houses
  • -1,657 — vacant flats
  • -8,202 — vacant holiday homes
  • -74,747 — housing stock
  • -26.4% — overall vacancy

LIMERICK

  • -7,133 — vacant houses
  • -2,528 — vacant flats
  • -453 — vacant holiday homes
  • -82,156 — holiday homes
  • -12.3% — overall vacancy

LIMERICK CITY

  • n1,499 — vacant houses
  • n1,764 — vacant flats
  • n10 — vacant holiday homes
  • n26,681 — housing stock
  • n12.3% — overall vacancy

LIMERICK COUNTY

  • -5,634 — vacant houses
  • -764 — vacant flats
  • -443 — vacant holiday homes.
  • -55,475 — housing stock
  • -12.3% — overall vacancy

NORTH TIPPERARY

  • -3,339 — vacant houses
  • -509 — vacant flats
  • -679 — vacant holiday homes
  • -30,790 — housing stock
  • -14.7% — overall vacancy

SOUTH TIPPERARY

  • -3,809 — vacant houses
  • -571 — vacant flats
  • -437 — vacant holiday homes
  • -38,184 — housing stock
  • -12.6% — overall vacancy

WATERFORD

  • -4,758 — vacant houses
  • -1,755 — vacant flats
  • -2,084 — vacant holiday homes
  • -52,364 — housing stock
  • -16.4% — overall vacancy

WATERFORD CITY

  • -1,787 — vacant houses
  • -1,454 — vacant flats
  • -59 — vacant holiday homes
  • -22,341 — housing stock
  • -14.8% — overall vacancy

WATERFORD COUNTY

  • -2,971 — vacant houses
  • -301 — vacant flats
  • -2,025 — holiday homes
  • -30,023 — housing stock
  • -17.6% — overall vacancy

CONNACHT

  • -35,964 — vacant houses
  • -7,041 — vacant flats
  • -12,232 — holiday homes
  • -259,726 — housing stock
  • -21.3% — overall vacancy

GALWAY

  • -12,204 — vacant houses
  • -3,160 — vacant flats
  • -3,457 — vacant holiday homes
  • -111,177 — housing stock
  • -16.9% — overall vacancy

GALWAY CITY

  • -1,887 — vacant houses
  • -1,685 — vacant flats
  • -183 — vacant holiday homes
  • -33,655 — housing stock
  • -11.2% — overall vacancy

GALWAY COUNTY

  • -10,317 — vacant houses
  • -1,475 — vacant flats
  • -3,274 — vacant holiday homes
  • -77,522 — housing stock
  • -19.4% — overall vacancy

LEITRIM

  • -3,463 — vacant houses
  • -573 — vacant flats
  • -1,490 — vacant holiday homes
  • -18,128 — housing stock
  • -30.5% — overall vacancy

MAYO

  • -10,194 — vacant houses
  • -1,582 — vacant flats
  • -4,454 — vacant holiday homes
  • -65,792 — housing stock
  • -24.7% — overall vacancy

ROSCOMMON

  • -5,630 — vacant houses
  • -640 — vacant flats
  • -1,062 — vacant holiday homes
  • -31,585 — housing stock
  • -23.2% — overall vacancy

SLIGO

  • -4,473 — vacant houses
  • -1,086 — vacant flats
  • -1,769 — vacant holiday homes
  • -33,044 — housing stock
  • -22.2% — overall vacancy

ULSTER (part of)

  • -19,104 — vacant houses
  • -3,766 — vacant flats
  • -11,801 — holiday homes
  • -142,685 — housing stock
  • -24.3% — overall vacancy

CAVAN

  • -5,325 — vacant houses
  • -952 — vacant flats
  • -1,000 — holiday homes
  • -33,711 — housing stock
  • -21.6% — overall vacancy

DONEGAL

  • -11,048 — vacant houses
  • -2,312 — vacant flats
  • -10,636 — holiday homes
  • -83,918 — housing stock
  • -28.6% — overall vacancy

MONAGHAN

  • -2,731 — vacant houses
  • -502 — vacant flats
  • -165 — holiday homes
  • -25,056 — housing stock
  • -13.6% — overall vacancy rate”

Other posts of interest:

Room for improvement on social housing policy 

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

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

advisors.ie.home

This piece by Karl Deeter originally appeared in the Sunday Business Post on the 9th of November 2014. The pdf of the article is available here. For link to article online click here.

Extract:

_________

Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results

When we look at the various property markets in Ireland we face a conundrum of sorts, apart from having a highly segmented market, both horizontally and vertically, it is also a nation where supply constraints are evident only a few short years after one of the most impressive property crashes the world over.

Added to this you have legacy issues of developments like Priory Hall where keeping professionals out of the process as a means to cost cutting lead to some awful outcomes.

And thus there is the natural cry for ‘more regulation’, but as always we must remember, rules of themselves don’t create better results, and laws don’t equate to enforcement. It is by that metric that the new building regulations are as shambolic as the old ones but they now have some lipstick on to make them look better.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR)  also known as ‘Statutory Instrument  No. 9, 2014’ or just ‘S.I. 9 for short, were introduced on 1st March 2014 and now affect all buildings. That introduction date was behind the huge surge in commencements at the start of the year, people brought forward start dates in order to avoid having to abide by the new rules.

We are told that the Government have things under control, that there will be more housing, but the statistics indicate that commencement notices (which indicate the start of construction) are averaging 100 per week this year, in 2013 it was 130 per week, we are about 23% below last year’s figures even when you account for the pre-March rush.

There is a statistical exercise beyond this required because a commencement can be for one house or several so the underlying volumes need further quantification, but the headline figures indicate there is no ‘building boom’ to match the price boom.
In Ireland most large projects like offices, hospitals and schools have full design teams and inasmuch as we can determine, we didn’t have a history of problems with them.

The issue was specifically housing schemes, speculative housing schemes, in particular those with almost no professionals actively involved prior to and during the build process.

So we responded by making regulations that affect everybody, even the innocent. It’s lots of paperwork without any guarantee of better enforcement and nothing to stop a cowboy who can do what they did before because the system allows for a ‘builder/building owner/assigned certifier’ all to be the one entity.

What is missing is the guarantee of ensured third party oversight and independent audit.

One large change is the need for an ‘assigned certifier’ who oversees and signs off on each stage. An assigned certifier needs to be a qualified architect, building surveyor or engineer, but you could get an architect from anywhere else in the EU who is licenced to operate in Ireland, or somebody who is under financial pressure and push them to certify to receive payment – something near impossible to police.

At the same time these regulations make self-build virtually obsolete, stripping out about 800 houses a year, with adverse effects on people in rural Ireland who won’t obtain any upside from the higher costs and regulations.

It also put power into the hands of those who are on the CIRI list (construction industry registrar Ireland) – the certificate as it stands includes the phrase ‘where the builder says they are the director of a building company’ so self-employed builders cannot sign off, and direct labour are disadvantaged.

To my knowledge we never had a crisis with self-build not working out, so why did we kill it off?

As for ‘protection’, here’s the ‘how to’ to be a rogue developer. Simply set up a limited company and get a vulnerable engineer from abroad who is considered competent to run it, to do this you register with one of the organisations, the rejection rate is low, if you have the qualifications you’ll likely get through the application process.

You then get that firm to do all the forms and certificates and once the units are all sold you shut down the company and fire the assigned certifier, there is nothing to control the directorships where the builder is the director of the firm doing the assigned certification.

The building control authorities claimed that would be a red flag issue that would alert them to do inspections, but a commencement notice is either valid or not, there is no ‘project of concern’ status.

The other issue is that if a building control authority doesn’t get in early – to inspect at foundations, then they can’t really inspect much at all, you can’t un-bury foundations or open a wall to check for fire blocks, and there isn’t any code of practice for what these inspections constitute other than a draft framework (this hasn’t been agreed in full with the local government agencies).

Perhaps what we should really do is ponder why we are ranked 128th out of 189 nations by The World Bank when it comes to our construction process. Our neighbours in the UK are 17th.

We dropped 11 rankings in the last year alone, we now rank below such luminary economies as Algeria and strife torn Democratic Republic of Congo, but we are ahead of Bolivia (only by one place though).

In the OECD we are third last in terms of getting things done. Nobody can argue with the idea of better building being a good idea, but these regulations are simply more ruinous ingredients into an already badly baked cake.

A special thanks to the team at the BRegs Blog, and the builders, engineers and one architect who all chose to remain nameless in helping me research this article.

Other posts of interest: 

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

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

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

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year | BRegs Blog

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

 

image-137469

Mr John Graby, Registrar & CEO of the RIAI pictured

On 7th November 2014, the representative body for architects (RIAI) emailed practice members the following letter from CEO John Graby requesting clarification on the 40 Sqm exemption under BC(A)R SI.9. The RIAI had previously published, initially without comment,  the BCMS advice of the 24th October to the effect that the 40Sqm SI.9 exemption limit is cumulative (see post here). Following requests from members who cannot see how this can be case, the RIAI are now seeking clarification from the DECLG of this previous advice issued. We are not aware of any legal advice on the issue or other stakeholder interpretations at time of writing.

This might seem like a technicality but it’s of major concern to the majority of architects who are in small practice doing domestic work. It means that, eight months into the new regulations, many will have advised clients incorrectly and could find themselves with illegal extensions can can’t be remedied.

Extract off email to follow:

_________

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

BUILDING CONTROL (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 2014 – EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING DWELLINGS

The RIAI has written to Mr. Aidan O’Connor, Principal Advisor, Arch/Building Standards, at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, seeking clarification, regarding the advice note from the Building Control Management System on their interpretation of the application of S.I. 9 in respect of extension to existing dwellings, where an existing extension is to be demolished, and reconstructed, together with an extension not greater than 40 sq. metres.

The RIAI dispute the interpretation by BCMS that the two floor areas, existing and proposed, are cumulative, and if greater than 40 sq. metres, when constructed would become within S. I. 9.

To read the RIAI letter to Mr. Aidan O’Connor click here.[see .jpeg below]

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Other posts of interest:

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

Commencement notice problems | Does size matter?

HOUSES + 40Sqm #BCAR

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

Catch 22 Commencements 

S.I.9 CPD | Questions for Assigned Certifier 

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

Results | S.I. 9 Assigned Certifier Survey

Engineers Ireland Journal | Jack Kavanagh- is SI.9 unjust to both engineer and society?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Building-Control-Regulations-620x350

In this thought-provoking article in The Engineers Journal from 10th November 2014 “Building Control Certification: to sign or not to sign?”, author and past president of the representative bodies for Engineers (EI and ACEI), Jack Kavanagh looks at the negative aspects of BC(A)R SI.9 from an engineer’s perspective and wonders is SI.9 “…unjust to both engineer and society”.

This article is in response to an earlier one by fellow engineer Cormac Bradley on 15th September which was broadly supportive of the new regulations (see posts below). In his concluding section the author notes:

Certainly, the 2014 regulations are now the law of the land and must be observed. But does that mean Engineers Ireland, as the representative body of professional engineers, should adopt a policy of apparent advocacy on their behalf? I find it disturbing to read apparent assurances being offered to a chartered engineer who may be ‘requested’ by his/her employer to sign these certificates that all will be well so long as they continue to do their own work conscientiously just as before. There appears to me to be no logical basis at this stage for offering such assurances.

We note from contributors that a majority of larger engineering practices (like large architectural firms) are unwilling to undertake the new certifier roles under SI.9. Smaller rural-based engineering practices unfortunately see no option but to assume the new roles. As a result many engineers find themselves faced with the same implementation issues, legal and liability problems, as their architect and building surveyor counterparts. Link to article here.

Extract:

__________

Building Control Certification: to sign or not to sign?

Jack Kavanagh looks at the issues of personal liability and insurance under the Building Control Regulations, and queries who must provide Ancillary Certificates and carry out inspections under the Regulations.

Author: Jack Kavanagh, EurIng BE MEngSc FIEI FIAE FIStructE,FICE FConsEI, past president, Engineers Ireland and past president, Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland.

In ‘Building Control Regulations and Ancillary Certificates’ (15 September eJournal), Cormac Bradley presents a sanguine view of the new regulations, S.I. 9/2014. He concludes by urging us to welcome the “prospect of increased exposure”, to “embrace the opportunity” and to be grateful to the DoECLG for granting us the opportunity to “put our house in order”. However, I believe there are robust, rational reasons why engineers should be more circumspect, and I outline below my understanding of, and opinions on, some of those for consideration.

Personal liability

Signing a statutory certificate is a serious business. In agreeing to act as the assigned certifier (AC) (or as design certifier) on a project to facilitate his/her employer, a chartered engineer working for a design consultancy may be accepting personal, enduring legal liability not only for their own work but, to an extent which is as yet unclear, for the design work and the building work of many other parties involved on the project (including off-site construction) over much of which work the AC will have little personal control.

These regulations impose no new statutory duties directly on any designer who does not agree to undertake the new role of AC (or design certifier). However, if the role is to be undertaken, it is the engineer, not his/her employer, who will be the statutory AC. A consulting engineering firm, company or partnership cannot itself enter into a contract with anyone to act as AC (or as design certifier).

The AC must be a natural person who must inter alia sign the undertaking certificate and the completion certificate with his/her own name, giving his/her own professional registration number. The certificate is written in the first person singular throughout. It does go on to say: “Where the signatory is an employee) on behalf of: … (company name).”

However, David Nolan SC, whose opinion was sought on this specific formulation, advised: “It may well have been the intention of the drafters of the certificate to give some protection to the named AC, 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 AC, or his employer, or more likely, both […]. The fact that [the AC] may be an employee does not obviate or negate or reduce his own personal responsibility.”

So it seems the named AC may at some time in the future be required to bear, on his/her own account, legal liability arising on foot of his/her certification of a building. The Building Control Regulations mean the AC is the readily available first port of call should there be problems with the building; or, to quote solicitor Rory O’Donnell: “The assigned certifier is the one in the lion’s den.” Of course, personal responsibility/liability for our own work is nothing new, and to date it is only in rare circumstances that individual employees have been pursued personally to finality (a factor in that, no doubt, being they normally have few assets). But while personal liability has not arrived with the role of the AC, it appears to have taken on new dimensions.

Even before the point of certification, the triangle of relationships – engineer/employer/’owner’ – is complex and rich in potential for conflict and legal disputation. Owners must certify to the building control authority (BCA) that they have ‘assigned’ a named chartered engineer (if not a registered architect or building surveyor) as AC, and the AC must personally certify s/he has accepted the assignment. So, will the engineer’s employer stay at arm’s length allowing the engineer the freedom of action required to implement whatever s/he must decide is necessary in order to properly carry out the statutory role?

One can easily envisage scenarios arising as the project proceeds where a conscientious AC’s considered view on what is necessary to comply with his/her own undertaking to the BCA (e.g. increased inspection intensity, rejection of work executed, or even refusal to accept as properly completed) may not align with the best interests of the AC’s employer and its own contract with the owner. In the case of conflict of views, the AC is surely not in a position to concede, to the employer or anyone else, on his/her statutory duties (which trump his/her contractual duties). Possibly even more problematic will be the engineer’s position when he/she is a salaried employee of a developer who is both statutory building owner and builder.

If the AC is an owner/director of a consultancy company (or, similarly, a partner or sole trader) s/he will have more control over contractual arrangements but will have identical statutory duties and liabilities.

Insurance

The instinctive reaction of potential ACs who work in a firm of consultant designers is to say: “But I will always be protected by the firm’s professional indemnity insurance (PII).” It is the case that a company’s PII would be expected to cover from year to year such personal liability arising from work carried out as an employee (within the terms of the policy, and up to the limit of cover, as determined by the company from year to year). But will it be there, and will cover be adequate, in the event of a claim arising down the line? (NB: PII cover comes from the policy in force at the time when a claim is made, not the time when the work is executed; thus, a certificate signed this year is not protected by this year’s policy against a claim made in future years but by the terms of whatever policy may be in force at the time when a claim is made.)

Firstly, should there be mounting consultants’ claims in relation to AC certification, insurers may start to limit or even exclude cover for AC certification in a few years time. Insurance representatives have repeatedly pointed out that PII is not designed as a proxy for latent damage insurance and that insurers follow the market but only until such time as experience indicates a review of their product is necessary from the insurer’s point of view.

Many expect that, should that happen, the DoECLG would have to agree to review the wording of the certificates so as to ensure PII would remain reasonably available; however, experience indicates that such reviews come about only by way of extreme political necessity (although hopefully it would become such a necessity if the role of AC became uninsurable). However, certificates cannot be amended retrospectively so those signed between now and then will remain on record and their signers exposed and uninsured into the future.

Or what if an employee who has signed certificates wishes to move between employers? Although generally in his interests to do so, the current employer may not keep an ex-employee covered for certificates signed during his/her employment (and potential new employers will not cover that risk). In that case, the employee is not insured for old AC certification (unless s/he takes out an individual policy). Or, of course, one’s current employer may at any time close its doors or change its business arrangements (e.g. changing to a different insurer with inferior cover) and insurance cover for all activities of the company and its employees ceases or alters as the case may be. The prospect of retirement in due course, uninsured and with continuing liability for past certification, could be a particular concern.

But what does a certificate say? To what is the engineer putting his/her name to? Unfortunately, that is not at all clear. Looking at the critical concluding statement, clause 8, of the Completion Certificate, it reads: “Based on the above, and relying on the ancillary certificates scheduled, I now certify, having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, that the building or works is in compliance with the …Building Regulations…”

The insertion of the words “having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence” appears as an attempt at qualification, an attempt to allow for possible error or inaccuracy in certifying that the building is compliant. Dictionary definitions of “certify” offer such as: “attest as certain”, “vouch for”, “give reliable assurance”. So, can such apparent certainty be qualified in the above manner?

SC David Nolan’s view is yes: “…the Final Certificate…is based upon [the AC] exercising reasonable skill, care and diligence at all times…” However, Denis McDonald SC opines explicitly that the insertion of the words “having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence [does not] in any way cut down or mitigate the use of the words I certify”.

Further vagueness and uncertainty can be said to attach to the words “Based on the above” in clause 8, and to the reference to “relying on the ancillary certificates scheduled”. It seems difficult to argue all this has resulted in anything less than ambiguity and ambivalence. During the consultation process, I was pleased to give some assistance in the consideration and drafting of potentially qualifying clauses but, reading the certificates as finalised and the various legal opinions on them that I have seen, I regret to say I am not confident they will ultimately be deemed effective by the Courts.

Ancillary Certificates

The Building Control Regulations do not prescribe who must provide Ancillary Certificates. When a company provides an ancillary certificate it, unlike the statutory certificates, does not have any prescribed wording, need not be written in the first person singular and can be signed by any person authorised by the company. It is of interest to note, from the point of view of the AC, that, as pointed out by Eoin O Cofaigh (14 OctobereJournal), the advice of the Law Society Conveyancing Committee to solicitors conveying property is that they need not bother collecting ancillary certificates, all they need is the AC’s signed Completion Certificate.

Regarding relying on ancillary certificates, it should be noted that several legal opinions indicate that an AC cannot simply do so without investigation; s/he has a liability in that s/he is certifying that those who provided certificates have themselves exercised skill, care and diligence. If this is to be done in any way other than superficial form-filling, it is surely not a simple task (particularly considering an AC is, more often than not, trying to assess the performance of other experts in areas beyond his own expertise).

We are well aware that one can never be certain about the absolute validity of second-hand information; there must always be some possibility/probability of inaccuracy. (Indeed, engineering is fundamentally about dealing with probabilities, not certainty – see e.g. Eurocode EN 1990 ‘Basis of Structural Design’.) And since there will be a great number of parties from whom an AC must seek to collect ancillary certificates (see e.g. Code of Practice, item 4.2.2), the overall probability of unreliability will almost certainly compound to a significant figure.

Quite apart from statutory considerations, the above is not to say that in the event of a civil dispute arising, ancillary certificates will play no part. From the point of view of anyone providing an ancillary certificate (including those proposed by Engineers Ireland ), it may possibly increase their liability beyond what it would otherwise have been; and any person or company asked to provide ancillary certification would be well advised to give it careful, case-specific consideration before agreeing to do so.

The inspection plan

But why, you may ask, should any defects or other problems arise that will result in the AC being sued if s/he just does the work properly, relying on QA and other systems and, in particular, the inspection plan? Certainly, it is reasonable to argue that, notwithstanding the possibility that there may be more paper-shuffling than anything else, standards of construction should improve, to a greater or lesser extent, as a result of an implemented inspection plan. But it is a racing certainty that buildings will continue to be built with defects.

A basic issue with any inspection regime is that there cannot be an intensity and frequency of inspection that would ensure full compliance, that is, that would lead to certainty there could be no possibility of latent defects. As engineers we know that no inspection regime can be comprehensive. Even industrial production of cars or pharmaceuticals or satellites, with QA systems far, far superior to anything that is practical on a building site, cannot ensure fault-free output.

The Code of Practice deals with intensity and frequency of inspections in section 7 and, quite correctly, it acknowledges this fact, saying that it is “not practical [for certifiers] to examine every item of work to which the requirements of the Building Regulations relate”. This statement, and similar others in the Code, are redolent of realistic phraseology like “substantial compliance” used heretofore in non-statutory certification to cover the same idea.

The Code would appear to be attempting, similarly to clauses on the certificate itself as discussed above, to qualify the certainty otherwise inherent in “I certify”. But, being in a Code of Practice subsidiary to the regulations themselves, one would expect it will succeed only insofar as one or more of the attempted qualifications on the certificate itself are deemed to have succeeded.

Also, if it is eventually judged that such guidance in the Code does validly qualify the certification, an AC, in the event of a defect coming to light later, would have to justify why that particular item of work was left off his inspection regime. (Note that, in the list of factors determining the inspection plan (7.1.1), the relationship between intensity of inspection and available resources, i.e. essentially fees as determined normally by market conditions, is not broached by the Code.)

The Code also says that deciding on appropriate levels of inspection is a matter of professional skill and judgement – in other words, that it is a matter of subjective opinion for ‘inspection staff’. This implies the AC certifies the building on the basis of not only what s/he can know as fact, but of professional opinion – his or her own and that of others. Professional engineers may feel this reality should be obvious to any third parties who rely on his/her certificate, but again we must await a definitive judgement from the Courts.

Refusal to acknowledge that judgement and opinion underlie the AC’s certification was clearly a red-line issue for the DoECLG. Nor was the idea of substantial compliance acceptable. Rather, they said, what were required were professionals’ certificates that “do what they claim to do: they certify compliance”. If the intention had been otherwise, it could easily have been made much clearer than in the current fuzzy wording of certificates. What does seem clear is that the Minister and the public generally believe that what they will be getting is not merely a professional opinion (such as a doctor or lawyer might be expected to provide).

Engineers Ireland

There are many other concerns one could ponder about the Building Control Regulations. Many of these have been raised by O Cofaigh, a former president of the RIAI. In general, the certificates must be regarded as significantly ambivalent, from the point of view of an AC at least. As such, in my view, they are unjust to both engineer and society. (Note, our Code of Ethics enjoins us as consulting engineers to agree a “clear definition” of what is required of us by our client.) They strive to promise more than can be delivered while the amendments attempt to introduce tests of reasonableness.

It will be the Courts who will decide, well down the road, what may actually be read from an AC’s certificate by those who come to rely on it; that is: is it a professional opinion or a statement of factual certainty from a particular, named, registered professional that the building, both in its design and its construction, is fully (not just substantially) compliant with the building regulations? It is one thing for a limited liability company to await that decision with some equanimity, another for the employee who signed the certificate and who may feel his personal assets and/or peace of mind are at stake.

That the certificates may have been “the best that could be achieved” by the hard work of the representatives of the professions in the DoECLG’s consultation process is, unfortunately, neither here nor there; the judge will not have regard to the drafting history, just the end product.

Certainly, the 2014 regulations are now the law of the land and must be observed. But does that mean Engineers Ireland, as the representative body of professional engineers, should adopt a policy of apparent advocacy on their behalf? I find it disturbing to read apparent assurances being offered to a chartered engineer who may be ‘requested’ by his/her employer to sign these certificates that all will be well so long as they continue to do their own work conscientiously just as before. There appears to me to be no logical basis at this stage for offering such assurances.

Incidentally, apropos protection of consumers/society, for two decades Engineers Ireland made submissions to the DoECLG (the drafting of which I contributed to) about the inadequacy of Irish building control legislation, and asserting, inter alia, that all aspects of the engineering design of buildings, such as structural design, where public safety/health are at risk should be legally reserved functions to be carried out by or under the direction of chartered engineers only. Ironically, despite their welcome by Engineers Ireland, these regulations introduce no statutory requirement that such engineering design of buildings must be under the control of professional engineers.

Jack Kavanagh, chartered engineer
EurIng, BE, MEngSc, FIEI, FIAE, FIStructE, FICE, FConsEI

Past President, Engineers Ireland
Past President, Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland

Other posts of interest:

Engineers Ireland Journal | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI Ancillary Certificates + Self-certification

Engineers Ireland Journal | S.I.9 “is an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the building sector”

Response to Engineers Ireland article

Engineers Ireland – Building Regulations Certificates 

3 must-read posts for employees

S.I.9 Stakeholders | Your questions please for Engineers

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June 

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

The Engineers Journal: Building control regulations key features

The Engineers Journal- CIF’s new register of builders 

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

RIAI News Alert | Summary of 5 Senior Counsel opinions on BC(A)R S.I.9

± 40 sq.m. exemption from SI.9 | Kevin Tyrrell Architectural Technologist

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

anti-water-charges-campaigns-protests-5-390x285

The following opinion piece was originally submitted by Co. Wexford-based Architectural Technologist, Kevin Tyrrell, to the BRegs Blog as a comment on another post on 2nd November 2014. With his agreement, some editing and a few additions from the author we have formatted into a post here as his case was so well put.

Having read the articles and scare mongering of the last few days in relation to the situation with regards to extensions to dwelling houses, I really have a problem with how the Building Control Authority are viewing no. 1 “a dwelling” and no. 2 “an extension” in relation to S.I.9, because they are redefining them to suit themselves and causing a lot of chaos in the meantime. The following is my attempt to make sense of what each is and how they relate to Commencement and Building Control, specifically in relation to (a) extensions below 40 sq metres and (b) the issue of a cumulative total area of 40 sq metres ,being the total area of all extensions no matter when they were built, which they claim a further extension to the dwelling (which brings this total area above 40 sq m) being commenced triggers full compliance with S.I.9 by the parties involved. That is what I am attempting to sort out, so please dont take this as a legal interpretation, this is just me teasing out the process and relationships of how an extension to a dwelling house relates to S.I.9 and Commencement Notices from the most logical point of view that I can take.

S.I.9 states that its provisions ONLY apply to the following with regards to extensions : an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 sq metres. Now…to me “an extension” is a singular entity that goes to make something bigger, but until it is comlpete and formally part of the whole at completion, from the view of S.I.9 it has a specific definition. It is an extension which has had Planning Permission granted and is due to be built under the regulation of S.I.9. That is all and entirely what it is. And the crux of the matter relies heavily on this and also a few other facts relating to specificity.

A commencement notice is linked to a specific Planning Application, with a specific register number and attached plans and documents. The two are intrinsically linked and the Commencement Notice refers only to the Planning Permission it is linked to. The Commencement Notice was always the mechanism by which 2 things were alerted to the County Council.

  1. That it was due its contributions and any further information listed in planning conditions must be complied with.
  2. And that the applicant was ready to build on site.

A Commencement Notice is and always has been a project specific entity, and is not and never has been linked to anything else on site.

The Planning Regulations have not changed or been altered in any way, so in actual fact a person can view 2 separate extensions under 40 sq metres as strictly 2 different entities, and as long as they satisfy the Planning and Development Act and Regulations then the amended Building Control Regulations should have nothing to say about them.

The amended Building Control Regulations are not a commentary on Planning Regulations, they are regulations governing the Building Process and how it should be undertaken.

The Planning and Development Regulations deal with the extension in relation to the whole house and its environment, the Building Control Regulations do not and never have. So it is intrinsically impossible in any way to have a link to anything else going on with the development in any way, because of one simple thing….A Commencement Notice is Project and Planning Permission Specific…and doesn’t and cant relate to anything else. It Stands Alone.

To suggest otherwise is scare mongering…and it says nowhere in the Building Control Amendment Regulations that other extensions or a cumulative size must be taken into account.

Why? Because it cant. Why? Because its Planning Permission Specific.

And I believe that because Building Control Regulations relate and comment only to a single Permission then they can have nothing to say about the cumulative size of any extensions on the house. You could have a total of 300 sq metres of extensions to the house and they may as well not exist at all as far as the Building Control Regulations are concerned.

Why?

Because prior to applying for permission the house was seen as a whole, a single dwelling. Not a dwelling with x amount of extensions and other alterations. It is and has to be viewed as a whole object. A House, a dwelling. And since I stated previously the Commencement Notice is Permission specific it relates to an extension to a dwelling…not a dwelling (as was originally granted permission under such a permission), and has been extended and altered under a different one in the past.

Specificity destroys the argument against there being a link to previous extensions which have been granted permission or are pre- 1962 or whenever Planning Regulations came into effect. As long as the dwelling house has been granted permission for its various extensions and alterations it must be seen as a specific single thing…a dwelling house, the sum of its parts.

So as S.I.9 deals with only “an” extension to “a” dwelling which is specifically linked to a single Planning Permission, it can not comment on any other previous extensions. Well….thats how I see it in a logical and hopefully a legal and regulatory sense anyway.

Only Planning Regulations exist to comment on the entire development and how a specific permission relates to the whole. If its being seen otherwise then Building Control Regulations are supplanting Planning and Development Regulations.

Other posts of interest:

Commencement notice problems | Does size matter?

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

Catch 22 Commencements 

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

IMG_0952

By BRregs Blog admin on November 10th 2014.

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

Given the hesitant start to BC(A)R SI.9 and widespread reluctance of professionals to adopt new cerifier roles, recent developments at Homebond may be of interest.

Vague wording and legal uncertainty, employee liability concerns and also insurance issues have been discussed in connection with the new building regulations. Recent feedback from our Blog Survey indicates widespread unease amongst professionals about the regulations, their ambiguous drafting, and dissatisfaction with supports and templates provided by their respective representative bodies to date.

It appears that Homebond will shortly be launching a certifier service linked  to a defects liability policy. This “one-stop-shop” will be initially targeted at the “build for sale” speculative residential sector where limited professional involvement is normal practice, and where most of the problems that led to the setting up of the revised building regulations occurred in the first place.

The following is the email received from an architect currently working on housing projects for developers:

“Over the last two weeks I’ve had conversations with two representatives of Homebond and two, very different, house builders.  The conversation with Homebond was sparked by a discussion with a long established builder.  He is not a client of mine.  He told me he has a small development of seven houses about to go on site and I asked how he was managing with certification.

He told me his development is one of a few ‘trial’ developments where Homebond are providing a ‘full’ service including the provision of services as the Assigned Certifier.  His firm has been with Homebond for many years and has a good relationship with them.  In relation to costs, he said that Homebond were providing engineering services for the foundations and a complete Homebond service including Assigned Certifier and the normal Homebond costs for an all in figure of €2,000 per house (which includes €250 for foundation design!).

I subsequently spoke with a client of mine who is a substantial and again long established house builder who confirmed that this was a service Homebond intend to provide and I will be discussing this with him over the coming week or so.  In order to corroborate this I spoke with two representatives of Homebond, with whom I am currently involved on a housing development.  They both, individually, confirmed that this was service already being provided to some of its clients.

They said they were careful to select house builders they knew well but intended this to be part of their services offering in the future.  The logic was, as they already provide the insurance and inspect the building development at critical stages, then they would expand the service to include Assigned Certifier and also provide engineering services (for foundations in particular). I asked about the process as the Assigned Certifier has to be an individual as opposed to a corporate.  I was told that they ‘have an Assigned Certifier in the office’, who is fully insured.

So, in this scenario, Homebond will end up controlling the implementation of the Building Regulations, standardising details and driving architects from site for housing and diminishing the potential for innovative design.

Is this particular issue on the RIAI agenda?”*

Assigned Certifier services along with defects liability policy for under €2,000 per dwelling unit?  Sounds too good to be true.

This news will be good news to speculative housing developers, who are keen to minimise the costs of the new regulations on their projects, and wish to retain more control of the project with limited professional involvement and minimise costs. It’s likely given the reservations some professionals have been expressing about the regulations, that Homebond may well be busy employed by clients of reluctant professionals as Assigned Certifier sub-contractors!

Its hard to see how consumers may be as well served as house-builders though.

One of the drawbacks we have noted with the self-certificaton model adopted by the Department is that it relies on private insurance (Professional Indemnity policies or group schemes like the one proposed) as the primary means of redress in the event of a defect post-completion. The problem with any insurance scheme is that it can be either wound-up, or exclude particular items (like pyrite) and policies evolve on the basis of claims made.

In the wake of pyrite claims nationwide some properties were not covered by Homebond policies and are being repaired with public funds. We have noted the cost of pyrite remediation in other posts at €780m to date.

Other specialist sectors like passive house designers may find more innovative details will not be acceptable to panels of private (Homebond) inspectors, and the ongoing development of technical standards and details may take a back seat with conservative eyes looking over designers’ shoulders.

The other impact, of course, is that this new Homebond service may set the market rate for Assigned Certifier services down below €2,000. Professionals who are adopting the new roles may find SI.9 fees seriously impacted by this development.

With the limited likelihood of  site inspections by a genuine third party in the shape of the Local Authority, and the competitive price offered, will this end up being the main defence against repeating the mistakes that were made in the boom?

* Note the RIAI is the representative body for architects

___________

Link to homebond site here. Extract:

**BUILDING REGULATIONS TRAINING PROGRAMME – SEPTEMBER 14 TO DECEMBER 2014** 

HomeBond now offers a Building Regulations Training Programme, through HomeBond Technical Services Ltd., to meet the needs of builders, developers, construction managers, on-site staff, design professionals and construction sector students.

Click on link for Homebond Training Brochure: Pdf link.

Click on link for information on course dates, locations and fees: Pdf link.

Other posts of interest:

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

Quick history of pyrite- press articles

What is Latent Defects Insurance and how much does it cost?

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

Quick history of pyrite- press articles

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

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

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

by Bregs Blog admin team

businessman-avoids-falling-off-cliff

Recent figures released by the Central Statics Office (CSO) on 25th September for residential planning applications note planning permissions for dwellings are down 16.6% on 2013 levels, an historic low point in housing activity. These recent figures are very worrying and point to a fall in residential output, contrary to recent media commentary. When viewed with depressed commencement levels and increased costs associated with BC(A)R SI.9, and lower residential output levels previously issued by the CSO for the same period, these figures must be alarming for policymakers.

For link to CSO site click here.

Extract:

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

CSO statistical release, 25 September 2014, 11am

Planning Permissions  Quarter 2 2014

TABLE 1.pdf [Converted]

Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in year

In the second quarter of 2014, planning permissions were granted for 1,606 dwelling units, compared with 1,926 units for the same period in 2013, a decrease of 16.6%.

The second quarter figures also show that:

  • TABLE 2.pdf [Converted]Planning permissions were granted for 1,492 houses in the second quarter of 2014 and 1,496 in the second quarter of 2013, a decrease of 0.3%. See Table 4.
  • Planning permissions were granted for 114 apartment units, compared with 430 units for the same period in 2013, a decrease of 73.5%. See Table 4.
  • One-off houses accounted for 46.8% of all new dwelling units granted planning permission this quarter. See Table 4.
  • The total number of planning permissions granted for all developments was 4,149. This compares with 3,368 in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 23.2%. See Table 1.
  • Total floor area planned was 712 thousand square meters in the second quarter of 2014.  Of this, 41.6% was for new dwellings, 34.0% for other new construction and 24.4% for extensions.  The total floor area planned decreased by 14.6% in comparison with the same quarter in 2013. See Table 1.
  • Planning permissions for new buildings for Agriculture decreased to 137 this quarter.  This compares to 153 permissions in the same quarter of 2013. See Table 3(a).

TABLE 3.pdf [Converted]

 Show Table 1 Summary of Planning Permissions Granted, Q1 2005 – Q2 2014

 Show Table 2 Summary of Planning Permissions granted, Q2 2014, classified by region, county and type of development

 Show Table 3a Number of Planning Permissions granted, Q2 2014, classified by region, type of development and functional category

 Show Table 3b Total Floor Area Planned (000 sq.m) in new construction and extensions, Q2 2014, classified by region and functional category

 Show Table 4 Summary of Planning Permissions Granted for new houses and apartments, Q1 2009 – Q2 2014

Other posts of interest:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

Social Media | BRegs Blog Help + Advice

by Bregs Blog admin team

If you like the BRegs Blog posts, why not join the daily conversation on social media?

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BRegs Blog is on Twitter

This is usually where stories break. You can follow the conversation even if you do not have a Twitter account but you need to have an account to tweet.

Set up a Twitter account by clicking on the logo above or here: Signing Up With Twitter 

To kick this off for new followers, on Wednesday 12th November 2014  from 3-4 pm we will be hosting our first #AskBregs for a live session.

BRegs comments from others on Twitter are usually tagged #bregs, but you can also search by keywords for SI9, BCARS, BREGS etc.

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BRegs Blog is on Facebook

You can follow the conversation even if you are not on Facebook but you need to have an account to post comments.

Set up a Facebook account by clicking on the logo above or here: Create a Facebook Account

Room for improvement on social housing policy

by Bregs Blog admin team

examroomforimprovement_large-1

The following is a thought-provoking article by Dr Rory Hearne, Department of Geography, Maynooth University. Dr Hearne is author of chapters on social housing in two new edited books on housing in Ireland: Renting In Ireland (IPA) and Spatial Justice and the Irish Crisis (RIA). He is also author of Public Private Partnerships in Ireland.

Link to article here.

Room for improvement on social housing policy, Irish Examiner, 8th October 2014

Selected extracts:

“There is, unfortunately, little evidence of government policy taking implementation of social housing policy seriously. A Labour minister for Environment would be expected to embark on radical approach to dealing with the housing crisis by moving away from home ownership and providing high quality social housing and a tenant oriented private rented sector.

Perhaps the fact that at least 41 of the 166 TDs in the Dáil are landlords is mitigating against this (with some notable landlords including Alan Shatter who owns 14 properties, Tom Barry 10, Frank Feighen 10 properties and John McGuinness 8).

…Even from a mainstream economic perspective rising property prices and rents affects competiveness and is ‘wasted’ money removed from the domestic economy. The budget, therefore, must take bold and radical steps to address housing through systemic policy transformation.

…Iceland just recently successfully implemented, against the wishes of IMF and the OECD, a second round of household mortgage debt relief to the value of 8% of GDP (the Irish equivalent would be €14bn – a significant part of the €17bn in principal mortgage arrears of more than 90 days in Ireland) part funded by a levy on banks.

It includes a 13% writedown of the principal of mortgages coming to approximately 24,000 from every household’s mortgage. If Iceland, a country with a much smaller economy than ours can do it. Why can’t we?

…Our President described what is needed to be done very well recently when he said: “These are needs that are in fact citizenship needs …it isn’t a matter of waiting for approval from external ratings agencies or for financial matters to be made secure…It’s about democracy. You can’t leave the provision of housing to a residual feature of the market place…We have to accept that we need a great, huge increase in public rental accommodation.”

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

evidence-based-design-research-2

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

There was much controversy when former Minister Phil Hogan said that SI9 could be done for €1,000-3,000 earlier this year.  At the same time RIAI President Robin Mandal told members that the new regulations would bring an uplift of 30-50% on professional fees.  (see link here). Over the last eight months there has been further concerns about a race to the bottom, because there is still no template available for the site inspections needed. It is proving very difficult for professionals to compete on fees because the diligent operators, writing their own inspection plans,  are being undercut by those who see opportunities in ‘light touch’ certificates. What some have called the ‘yellow packers with binoculars’ who might engage in drive-by inspections and churn out next-day Certificates.

The only basis for the estimated €1,000-3,000 cost is “industry sources”, so if it didn’t come from the professional bodies, perhaps it came from other players in the construction or insurance industry?

The Department (DECLG) noted projected building regulation costs for the new regulations (housing only) in an early Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for SI.80 in 2012. No estimate was provided for other project types, industrial, ofice, commercial, agricultural etc. The statement from the 2012 RIA is as follows:  “..industry sources suggest this requirement could add say between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs” (see links below).

There was no subsequent Regulatory Impact Assessment completed for SI.9 which replaced earlier versions of SI.80. Despite this the former Minister of the Environment Phil Hogan has stuck rigidly to these figures.

“I am concerned about the potential for costs to be exploitative initially. The same thing happened in respect of the building energy regulations introduced several years ago… People were charged between €3,000 and €4,000 for certification inspections that cost €150 in the market. The professions have tended to jump on the bandwagon to exploit the customer for what they can get…”

(former Minister Phil Hogan 12 March 2014- read full text here).

We noted the the cost of SI.9 for a typical house is a multiple of this figure (€21,000) and the the cost for a self-builder may well be over 10 times the Department’s figures (€42,000)- read post below). We believe we may have discovered the “industry source” for the Department’s cost range.

 The “Industry source”?

This could be it- from National Consumer Association webpage (2008- see link Here) where costs for additional Homebond inspections are mentioned. Quote:

“..Homebond carries out three inspections of a substantial number of dwellings registered with their insurance scheme, and the cost of these inspections is covered within the registration fee for each dwelling…

…one must conclude that a comprehensive inspection system involving a further two inspections per dwelling, could be established at a modest cost…

Could the €1,000- 3,000 cost be for a Building Control system based on Homebond/ Latent Defect Inspectors, and not on professional Certifiers? For current costs see the Homebond website  here:

So perhaps the former Minister wasn’t talking about professional services when discussing costs of SI.9. Perhaps he envisaged Homebond stepping up their two/three visit per site inspection regime as part of a “one-stop-shop”: 6 private inspections with Certification and defects insurance provided?

No extra fees for professionals at all? Perhaps this is what will happen when LDI (Latent Defects Insurance) becomes available.

 Other posts of interest:

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

Quick history of pyrite- press articles

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

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

RIAI Update | What happened at EGM

by Bregs Blog admin team

RIAIPresident_RobinMandal.1

On 5th November 2014 the President of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), Robin Mandal, emailed members with a record of the votes taken at the EGM held the previous evening. Bregs Blog note shown [ ]. Extract:

“DEAR MEMBER,

I want to update members who were unable to attend last night’s EGM, which was attended by 340 Institute members, at the Alexander Hotel on the outcome of the motions considered at the meeting.

The three Resolutions put to members were as follows:

ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_1

“For the reasons outlined above and in the interests of the Registered Members, the consumer and the wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I.9 of 2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to other groups to seek support for that policy.”

Decision: defeated by 165 to 102 votes.

ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_2_EGM_041114_JKENNEDY

“That the registered members endorse and confirm their support for the decision of the

Council made at the July 2014 Council Meeting to develop a working document on Building

Control that would propose amendments to S.I.9 of 2014 and constructively engage with

stakeholders in order to realise the best interests of the profession for the long term”.

Decision: Carried by a three to one majority (through a show of hands).

ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_3_EGM_041114_OHEGARTY

“In response to the housing crisis and to ensure that the planned house building programme will provide well-built and sustainable homes under a cost-effective Building Control system, we request the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Mr. Alan Kelly TD:

  • to bring forward the review of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations S.I.9 that is planned for 2015;
  • to undertake a full Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations;
  • to review the limitations on self-building that is a constraint on housing supply under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations.”

Decision: Defeated by a four to one majority (through a show of hands).

On behalf of Council I welcome the Members’ endorsement of Council’s strategy and work programme and will continue to keep the membership informed of progress on these important matters.

[BRegs Blog Admin Team Note: The following item was in the email but was not mentioned during the EGM]

I also wish to advise members that the following Council members – who had proposed Ordinary Resolution 3 referred to above – resigned a few hours in advance of the meeting: Caomhan Murphy, Deirdre Lennon, Orla Hegarty, Joan O’Connor, Vivian Cummins and Eoin O Cofaigh. I also regret the recent resignation of Darren Bergin from Council.

I am disappointed that the Council members have decided to resign but respect their decision to do so given their views are divergent from the majority of Council and other members of the Institute as resolved at last night’s EGM. Notwithstanding the six resignations yesterday, 17 Council members remain and under the bye laws will continue to oversee the direction of the Institute as mandated by the majority of members.

I would also feel it important to address some misleading claims of mismanagement of membership finances, corporate governance issues and lack of inclusion of diverse views which were represented in the media this morning.

Contrary to the claim that there is a “recurring and increasing deficit” I would like to reassure all members that the finances of the Institute remain robust with reserves of €2.9 million. While there has been a deficit in recent years, as previously communicated to members, this relates to a strategic decision to invest in the delivery of services in the interests of members and to subvent annual charges.

As President of the RIAI for almost a year I am impressed by the day-to-day management of the Institute and am confident that the corporate governance measures in place are appropriate. However, to ensure governance structures are in line with best practice I have established a review task force which has been reporting to Council. Following its initial phase it will now commence engaging with members. I look forward to sharing any recommendations that this group arrives at once its work is completed.

I would also like to reiterate that I have promoted full and open debate on a broad range of issues at all meetings of the Institute including last night’s EGM and look forward to ensuring that all views can be accommodated while balancing the interests of the majority.

If any member has any queries on any of the issues referred to above, or indeed on any matter relating to the Institute or the profession, I would happy to discuss this with you. You can email me at president@riai.ie

With kind regards

Robin Mandal

RIAI President”

Other posts of interest:

Architects council members resign over ‘governance failings’

RIAI EGM | 4th November 2014 | Who said what?

RIAI EGM | Tuesday 4th November 2014

RIAI AGM | Full Report “On Hold”

RIAI AGM – Topics of Interest 

A Profession Divided? Reflections on an RIAI EGM 

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

RIAI EGM | Seven Issues to Consider

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

phpmotyaoam

In the following article by Ronan Lyons “Dublin: An enclave for the wealthy?” in the Village magazine, the author attempts to quantify current development standards for residential development in Dublin, and asks if these standards, more onerous than other parts of the country, are pushing affordability further away from ordinary home owners.

Screen-Shot-2014-11-05-at-16.44.36

The cost impacts may be a contributing factor to lower planning applications for residential Developments in Dublin.

So the final price, which includes VAT, of a two-bedroom unit in Dublin is currently €460,000, as opposed to €345,000 if the standards that apply elsewhere in Ireland applied in central Dublin. Translating this into the monthly rent required for a two-bed to be viable for an investor to buy (at a 6% yield) and thus for a developer to build in the first place, the rent for a Dublin two-bed would need to be €2,750 per month. Under DOE standards, the rent would need to be €2,050. Rents for two-beds in Dublin currently range from €1,150 in Dublin 9 to €1,650 in Dublin 4. What sort of income would you need to have to pay €2,750 a month on your rent?

Screen-Shot-2014-11-05-at-16.44.46

…Accepted financial wisdom is that the highest fraction of your income to spend on housing that is sustainable is 35% of your disposable monthly income. A professional couple earning €120,000 gross per annum should not be spending more than €2,250 on housing costs per month. To afford a DCC-standard two-bedroom apartment, with its two balconies, its lift and basement car parking space, you would need to be earning €140,000 a year. Is it any

wonder that nothing has been built in Dublin in the last few years? DCC’s regulations are effectively turning Dublin – or certainly its new developments – into an enclave for the wealthy.”

We note the author may not have factored the recent additional costs of the proposed 10% social housing requirement introduced in the recent budget, or increased costs due to BC(A)R SI.9. Quote:

“The problem is that, in the rush to prevent another Priory Hall from happening again, the government is making the mistake of thinking that lots of regulation is an adequate substitute for effective regulation. Something like Priory Hall should never have happened – where the system failed was not that it didn’t regulate against it.`”

“The problem was that existing regulation was not enforced.”

Other posts of interest:

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

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?

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

IAOSB submission to DECLG

by Bregs Blog admin team

huf-haus-art-9-350

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) invited submissions from the public to help inform the development of their future Strategy on or by last Monday. The following letter was submitted by the representative body for self-builders in Ireland (IAOSB-. letter posted here with permission).

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you regarding Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I.9 of 2014 which came into effect on 1st of March 2014.

This new regulation was the answer by then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan T.D., to ensure properties are safe and compliant with Building Regulations. According to Mr. Hogan, this amendment would stop situations like Priory Hall and Pyrite problems and give extra protection to home owners against bad workmanship by building contractors. The idea sounded great but like all his other policies it has done nothing but make life more difficult for the people of  Ireland.

Under the new regulations as a self builder, you need to have a Design Certifier to design the house for you which is not a problem as it is always advisable to get professionals involved for this part of the build. However, you also need to have an Assigned Certifier to sign off each section. This is where the problem starts as there are currently  only a few professionals who are prepared to sign off on a build done by a self builder. It is a general attitude by Architects, Engineers and Building Surveyors that a project done by a self builder would be a huge risk on their practice should something go wrong.

Following legal advice, we were also told that, as a self builder, you will not be able to legally nominate yourself to be the builder . What this means is that  you will not be able to participate in the construction of your build if you wish to do so unless you can find an Assigned Certifier that is prepared to sign off each section off for you. Without a certifier, for you to operate in the role of contractor you will  be deemed to be not in compliance with the building regulations as you do not fulfil the Department’s criteria of a “competent person”: which requires you to have at least 3 years relevant contracting experience and also be the principal of a building firm. Legally, a self builder can not sign the certificates as the builder while the wording’s “(to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only)” remain on the documentations. DECLG’s recommendation would be to break the law and declare yourself as someone you are not.

It is a known fact that due to inadequate resources the likely hood of getting a local authority inspection are remote. However should you decide to sell on your property, if the necessary compliance documentation is not in place in the local authority you may not be legally able to sell. These requirements will essentially preclude non-contractor self-builders from operating the role as contractor for their own projects.

According to a recent survey done by Iaosb, we found out that 1/3 of all self-builds this year have either been postponed or abandoned due to the huge costs and unintended consequences of S.I.9. This results in between 800 to 1,000 homes not being built.

Self-building has been a major sector of all the house’s built in Ireland in the past decade and I am sorry to tell you that since the commencement of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 it has denied many of us the centuries old Irish tradition of building a house for ourselves and our families.

S.I.9 has caused nothing but problems for self builders and professionals.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 has failed and needs to be revoked.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Irish Association of Self Builders

www.iaosb.com

Other posts of interest:

Help Required | Dept. of the Environment | Deadline Monday 3rd November 2014

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

RIAI EGM | 4th November 2014 | Who said what?

by Bregs Blog admin team

hear no evil

Hear no evil

On a previous occasion when the BRegs Blog reported on what was said at an EGM, held by the representative body for architects (RIAI), we received a request from an RIAI officer to take down the comments. The reason for the request was as follows:

[RIAI] Members on the night believed that they could speak openly, but privately to other members. By publishing what people said, the blog takes this away from people. I don’t believe we will be able to have such open debate at the next EGM if people believe what they say will be published.”

As all of our readers will appreciate the BRegs Blog is firmly on the side of open debate but respects a right to confidentiality where requested. As a result we are respecting the wishes of the EGM organisers and we will not be posting any report of the evening.

An RIAI member in attendance was live – tweeting the entire event so readers may wish to search Twitter for further information. (Link: Here)

In addition Frank McDonald of the Irish Times posted an online report at 10 pm last night including some of the evening’s activities. (Link: Here)

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

Other posts of interest:

RIAI EGM | Tuesday 4th November 2014

RIAI AGM | Full Report “On Hold”

RIAI AGM – Topics of Interest 

A Profession Divided? Reflections on an RIAI EGM 

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

RIAI EGM | Seven Issues to Consider

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

1712012-united-left-alliance-troika-meetings-630x461

United Left Alliance TDs Richard Boyd Barrett, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace with Independent TDs Shane Ross, Catherine Murphy and Mattie McGrath (Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

Numerous TD’s have noted the unsuitability and defects of SI.9 in the Dáil. From an informed construction background, Mick Wallace TD brought forward a Dáil debate to highlight the situation of Architectural Technologists, excluded from registers of competent persons under the new regulation in June. In a message to the many contributions received in advance Deputy wallace noted :

“Rather than make many of the strong technical points, which I believe have long been thrown the Minister’s way, I thought it better to focus more on the realities on the ground, the need for common sense to prevail, and the need for the Minister to get real and stop just taking the word of some people with a vested interest in the alternative.”

Read more here: Mick Wallace message to Architectural Technologists

Mick Wallace in the Dáil in 1st July 20-14  :

The Minister’s system of assigned certifiers will crack up within the next couple of years. He should not ask me how they will deal with the insurance implications arising from trying to stand over absolutely everything without on-site checks. Does the Minister honestly believe the architect will employ someone to be on site continuously to check that things are done right? “

Read post here: Mick Wallace: Building Control needs Strengthening

As to why nothing appears to be happening in response to the widespread call to revoke SI.9, Independent TD Catherine Murphy recently spoke of the intensive lobbying by vested interests in the construction sector.

Catherine Murphy TD- Registration of Lobbying Bill- Quote

As a public representative at both local and national level, this is the second time I have experienced a crash in the construction sector. We are moving back into construction without having repaired the problems or addressed the issues involved. We are starting the process again. The Government just has a short time left in office and the important changes that should have been made before construction started again have not been made.

…This is a small country and we are all aware of the informal lobbying that takes place, whether in the Galway tent, on golf courses or wherever else

See Dáil Debate here.

These are just an extract off the numerous Dail exchanges regarding SI.9, teh construction industry, lobbying and its unintended consequences.

Hard to believe there are any tracks left!

Other posts of interest:

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 

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

Revoke S.I.9 – Fine Gael internal report to Phil Hogan in 2013 (3 of 4)

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

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

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.9

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9

S.I. 9 | We have found the Gaps!

by Bregs Blog admin team

mind-the-gap-

The BRegs Blog has received many submissions in response to the alleged divisions among professionals in relation to S.I.9. Some of these have been published already with clear and cogent analysis as to how little difference of opinion there actually is on how bad this legislation is for those trying to build in this country.

Interestingly this piece acknowledges that there are at least half a dozen divisions but not the ones that some would have you believe!

S.I. 9 | We have found the Gaps!

Is there a real divide on S.I. 9 among construction professionals or do the gaps lay elsewhere? If it is the latter, as most commentators seem to think, then why is a message of division within the professions being promoted by some?  Some believe that it is the classic tactic of trying to divide and rule by vested interests who seek to mask how they will benefit under these new Building Regulations. These vary from the officials at the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government (DECLG) who simply want to solve a problem for their Minister, at no cost to the public purse, through to some of the stakeholder groups who stand to earn millions of Euro from operating S.I. 9 related mandatory registers.

At best S.I. 9 is a yellow-pack sticky plaster stop-gap solution to cover over the serious cracks in Building Control in Ireland. Some of these cracks, divides or invisible gaps include:

Gap 1 | Increased consumer costs for no benefit

The biggest gap around S.I.9 appears to be between what building owners need and what they are actually getting from this legislation. This law is increasing building costs for the consumer without delivering better building or real value for money. This is the biggest flaw with S.I.9 and the one that should unite opposition to the legislation and calls for it to be altered or revoked.

Gap 2 | Lack of public information campaign

This is the information deficit between professionals and the public. Where is the information campaign that the DECLG indicated they would put in place to inform building owners of the advantages or their obligations in relation to S.I. 9? Have you seen anything about BC(A)R on a billboard or side of a bus lately? This invisibility is in stark contrast to the introduction of  legislation by the Health and Safety Authority.

Gap 3 | Communications between stakeholder groups and members

This is the gap between the BC(A)R negotiating teams of the various stakeholder groups (ACEI, RIAI, CIF, SCSI and EI) and their members who have to implement the legislation. The cheerleaders of BC(A)R, from the professional consultation groups, have gone very quiet of late in the face of massive opposition to the legislation from practitioners. The BC(A)R negotiations took place during 2013 in secrecy. The DECLG confirmed that the stakeholder groups were not bound by any confidentiality agreement and that the DECLG had merely advised discretion be used in disseminating information on progress with the legislation. Not one stakeholder group called an EGM to put the acceptance of S.I.9 to a vote. Why this gap in communication between the stakeholder professional groups and their members?

Gap 4 | Groups excluded from SI.9 consultation process

This is the gap in how S.I. 9 should have been drafted and how it was. It exists between the five official stakeholder negotiators (RIAI, ACEI, EI, SCSI and CIF) who were formally part of the consultation process and those professional bodies and semi-state / government bodies who were left out of the negotiations such as the Law Society and the Competition Authority. How this oversight will be resolved remains to be seen.

Gap 5 | Official channels and social media

This is the gap between what the various stakeholder groups are saying to their members about BC(A)R in their various official publications and what their members are saying among themselves through Social Media. The BRegs Blog is one example of this chasm. Professionals should not be relying for information on BC(A)R S.I.9 from “anonymous” social-media sources!

Gap 6 | Registered professional approaches to SI.9

This is the engineer/architect / surveyor gap in the approach to S.I. 9. Large engineering consultancies are mainly ignoring S.I. 9 except where they can pick up substantial fees for lower liability Design or Ancillary Certifier roles. Large architectural practices are struggling with the ramifications of S.I. 9 as they are being pressurised to take on the much more onerous roles, for them, of Design and Assigned Certifier. Building surveyors are jubilant that they were included in the legislation and are mainly keeping their heads down in case anyone notices. Small design firms, whether engineering, surveying or architectural, have no option but to take on the risks of acting as Design and Assigned Certifiers or face starvation.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Engineers Ireland Journal | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI Ancillary Certificates + Self-certification

SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

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

A Profession Divided | Reflections on an RIAI EGM

‘All Ireland’ | BC(A)R Boycott

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

No more snag lists | with S.I. 9

by Bregs Blog admin team

image

03 November 2014 | Registered Architect’s Opinion

Certificate of Compliance on Completion issues

In a recent blog post we quoted Rory O’Donnell, solicitor and advisor to the Law Society, who said that “the Assigned Certifier is the one on the Lion’s Den”. He seems to have been referring to liability for building defects if there is a claim after a building is completed.

Mr. O’Donnell may be wrong. Not because a claim will not  happen, it might and the Assigned Certifier might or might not be the last man standing if there is a judgment. He is wrong because the lion’s den is Practical Completion. The Assigned Certifier will take his courage in his hands and walk in there on every single job.

Under the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations commercial contracts and statutory requirements have been forced together into the same process. Practical Completion is no longer certified by the architect; it is now a complex dancing maneouvre between Certifiers and contractors that will be ultimately decided by the Local Authority. Nothing is done until everything is done and there can be no Snag List under S.I. 9 legislation. The entire process is only as strong as the weakest link and if that is  the widget supplier from Slovakia who has not been paid and will not sign his ancillary certificate or hand over his inspection plan,  it will all grind to a halt. The builder cannot leave the site and will not be paid until the works are on the Building Register. This is now the new ‘Practical Completion’. The widget supplier can sit on his hands and the Assigned Certifier has to face down the pack.

What if the Ancillary Certifiers will not provide Ancillary Certificates and Inspection Plans until they get paid? The Assigned Certifier can either proceed without the Ancillary Cerificate (taking the risk on his own insurance policy or delay completion, leaving everyone waiting to be paid, the builder racking up costs and his client with no building.

Getting a completed building over the line with so much paperwork to control and contractual claims racking up for every day’s delay is when you will be standing in the lion’s den.

Other posts of interest:

“The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den” Rory O’Donnell, solicitor

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

Post 4: Ancillary Certs Design – commencement & completion (by others)

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion)

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

Practical Post 2: completion- FAO Vintners & Retailers

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

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

S.I.9 CPD | The Costs + Conflicts

by Bregs Blog admin team

one eyed king

The introduction of new Building Control regulation, S.I.9, earlier this year seems to have spawned an entire industry associated with the provision of S.I. 9 related Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars and training. This is being provided by many of the stakeholders associated with negotiating the regulations with the Department of the Environment including the CIF, EI, RIAI and SCSI. Several private operators, including HomeBond and CMG Events have also moved in to capitalise on the fears and lack of industry readiness of those whose livelihoods depend on having to implement the regulations.  The month of November alone sees a rash of S.I.9 CPD in Cork, Dublin, DunLaoghaire, Galway, Liffey Valley, Limerick and Navan.

The provision of CPD is worth hundreds of thousands of Euro to the professional bodies providing it and a valuable revenue stream to those organisations. While there is widespread divergence of opinion among the relevant professionals as to the interpretation of the regulations, from the BCMS to Senior Counsels, the value of some of this CPD must be questionable. There has been a great deal of confusion around the definition of development exempt from S.I.9. Who is correct at this stage and who is accountable if the information being provided is wrong? Remember there is no corrective procedure associated with S.I. 9 if any Building Owner or Assigned Certifier makes a genuine error. Many stakeholder spokespersons argue that they have to provide something to their members and “that something is better than nothing”. The BRegs Blog Admin. does not agree with that contention and feel that if CPD providers are charging for their presentations than the paying attendees deserve the highest standards.

In the current information deficit in the construction industry about Building Control there is a real fear of a ‘king-making’ scenario developing where the one eyed man is stepping in to lead the blind.

Legitimate questions should be asked of any CPD provider in order to ascertain standards of quality, improve performance and provide credibility and these might include:

  1. Was the speaker involved in negotiating S.I.9?
  2. Does the speaker have any vested interest in its continuance or any potential conflict of interest?
  3. Is the speaker being paid for their presentation or a ‘volunteer’ receiving payment in lieu e.g. offers of other paid speaking engagements or were paid for previous speaking engagements?
  4. What qualifications, experience, training or CPD has the speaker undertaken in S.I. 9 or the subject on which they are speaking?
  5. What peer review or evaluation of the speaker’s presentations took place in advance of the presentation and what competences did those undertaking the review have of the subject?
  6. What liability does the speaker or the organisation providing the CPD have if the advice being provided proves to be incorrect?

Note: the BRegs Blog is an entirely free resource based on the concept of open source sharing of information and probably the format most suited to the dissemination of information on S.I. 9 in its current state of flux.

Note: Engineers Ireland put out a request for questions to be submitted in advance of their forthcoming CPD this week which the BRegs Blog requested readers to submit to us also. Soon the BRegs Blog hopes to post a series of questions received that we would like assistance in answering too. Perhaps if you are attending any CPD you may be able to seek answers on our behalf.

Other posts of interest:

“The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den” Rory O’Donnell, solicitor

Commencement notice problems | Does size matter?

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

Results | S.I. 9 Assigned Certifier Survey

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Upcoming CPD for BC(A)R SI.9

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

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

RIAI EGM | Tuesday 4th November 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

1197050_f053dfd7

 Alexander Hotel, Fenian St., Dublin 2

The RIAI are hosting an EGM at the Alexander Hotel at 6pm on Tuesday 4th November 2014. This is a follow on to an EGM held on 12th August 2014 when a vote on whether to call for S.I. 9 to be revoked was deferred (Resolution 1 below). In the meantime two further resolutions have been added to the ticket for what promises to be another great evening of debate for architects at The Alexander. It will be interesting to see if the appetite for discussion of the Building Control Regulations remains strong, eight months after their introduction, and if the attendance remains at the level of 400-500 architects as attended the previous EGM. The motions are as follows:

Resolution No. 1

(pdf here: ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_1)

“For the reasons outlined above and in the interests of the Registered Members, the consumer and the
wider construction industry, we the Registered Members, call for the RIAI Council to adopt as their first
priority a policy to seek publicly the revocation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations: S.I.9 of
2014 and its replacement by a system which better protects the consumer and to actively reach out to
other groups to seek support for that policy”.

Proposed by:

Gerald Murphy
Barry Kelly
Seán Carew
Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds
Ciarán Ferrie
Stuart H. Blain
Edward Hedderman
Manfredi Anello
Eric Govin
David McHugh

This is the original motion that was deferred from August  having seemingly being considered so radical and controversial. It mirrors similar calls throughout the year by a series of County Councils, members of the Dail and Seanad and even by a Fine Gael sub-committee on the Environment.

Resolution No. 2

(pdf here: ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_2_EGM_041114_JKENNEDY)

“That the registered members endorse and confirm their support for the decision of the
Council made at the July 2014 Council Meeting to develop a working document on Building
Control that would propose amendments to S.I.9 of 2014 and constructively engage with
stakeholders in order to realise the best interests of the profession for the long term”.

Proposed by:
Paul Keogh
James Coady
Martin Donnelly
Sean O’Laoire
David Browne
Arthur Hickey
John Mitchell
James Pike
Liam Tuite
Jack Coughlan
William Gleeson
Ruth McParland
Anne Fletcher

This is one of the two new motions and has four RIAI Past Presidents among its signatories. This is probably the vanilla option and the one least likely ‘to frighten the horses on the street’ or the officials at the Department of the Environment.

Resolution No. 3

(pdf here: ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_3_EGM_041114_OHEGARTY)

“In response to the housing crisis and to ensure that the planned house building programme will provide well-built and sustainable homes under a cost-effective Building Control system, we request the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Mr. Alan Kelly TD:

to bring forward the review of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations S.I.9 that is planned for 2015;

to undertake a full Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations;

to review the limitations on self-building that is a constraint on housing supply under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations.

Proposed by:
Deirdre Lennon
Eamon Hedderman
Vivian Cummins
Orla Hegarty
Eoin O Cofaigh
Michael Collins
Caomhan Murphy
Eoin O’Morain
Joan O’Connor
Brendan Gallagher

(Darren Bergin)

This is the second of the two new motions. It is being proposed by nine of the current RIAI Council members of whom two are RIAI Past Presidents. The original resolution was signed by the Architectural Technologist Member of the RIAI Council, Darren Bergin, but his name was not permitted for inclusion as Architectural Technologists are currently not recognised as full members under the RIAI By-Laws.

Previous posts of interest:

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

RIAI EGM | Seven Issues to Consider

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

Top dozen posts | October 2014.

by Bregs Blog admin team

October

02 November 2014

We received over 21,000 views during October helping us pass the figure of 195,000 views since starting the BRegs Blog almost one year ago. New information on the practical impacts of S.I.9 on the construction industry came to the fore and our readers seem to appreciate our rapid response time to these unfolding developments.

Our top read post was the survey results on the Assigned Certifier. Thanks to the many people who participated in the survey – we re-posted it earlier today. The ‘topic’ of the month in terms of Social Media comment was the confusion around the area of cumulative extensions and the 40 sq.m. exemption from BCAR (still unresolved).  A prescient piece earlier in the month by two Past Presidents of the RIAI, Michael Collins and Eoin O’Cofaigh, on the complexity of our new regulations – the 38 steps for a standard warehouse project – went a long way towards explaining Ireland’s poor performance (128th) in the World Bank ratings for ‘Doing Business’ and cost of Construction permits.

Interestingly several BRegs Blog posts went mainstream with many economic and media commentators sharing them via Twitter. Thanks to David, Constantin, Glenna, Sean, Su, Frank, Karl and Rob for the help in spreading the word.

Don’t forget reading these dozen blog posts qualifies for CPD (unstructured) points! Enjoy!

  1. World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking
  2. Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014
  3. 3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9
  4. Collins & O’Cofaigh | “the 38 steps” and the complexity of our regulations
  5. The Design Certifier Conundrum | Retraction
  6. Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?
  7. Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment
  8. Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?
  9. SI.9 costs for a typical house
  10. Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014
  11. 60 new schools delayed due to SI.9 | Independent.ie
  12. UK and Ireland: Take a quick drive to Newry with BReg Blog…

 

“The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den” Rory O’Donnell, solicitor

by Bregs Blog admin team

rory

Rory O’Donnell, solicitor, is a former president of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, a former vice-president of the Law Society and a consultant to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Committee. He was the main author of the Law Society Practice note ‘Update on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 issued in April.

In an interesting and very comprehensive interview Mr O’Donnell explains to “Self build and Improve Your Home” magazine (Winter 2014) what the future holds for the industry under BC(A)R SI.9. See complete online version of the magazine here (link to pages here– see pages 36- 41 inclusive).

Extract from article:

When CIRI becomes mandatory:

“according to the legislation, if the register is mandatory then the builder will have to be on the register, so unless the [self-building] owner is able to get on the register (among other things, the requirements include having previously worked on three projects) they will not be able to sign the statutory forms. Even if they were willing to sign the statutory forms I doubt that they would be able to get an Assigned Certifier to work with them. What this implies is that the owner will have to appoint a builder other than himself.”

On Completion Stage invalidations:

“This would be a potential disaster area for any property owner. The legal process is very unwieldy for taking action in these cases and while a claim for expenses may arise, that can often be a long, hard road. Every effort should be taken to ensure that this does not happen.”

On Architectural Technologists:

“Unless and until Architectural Technologists are formally recognised I do not see how anyone could recommend appointing someone, no matter how competent, with such a qualification in any important role  in connection with a building project to which these regulations apply.”

On claims to be made under the new regulations:

If there is a major problem, the person that is most likely to be sued is the Assigned Certifier. On the other hand as mentioned, solicitors will almost certainly advise that action be taken against all members of a team that could possibly be liable for a problem.

If  CIRI becomes mandatory, who will be liable for faulty work undertaken by a self-builder?”

Before and after the most likely person to be held to account is the Assigned Certifier because his work is the most onerous part of the project. The Assigned Certifier is the one in the lion’s den.

Other Law Society Posts:

S.I. 9 | Your Questions for the Law Society

Law Society : Certifier is single point of responsibility

Law Society of Ireland Update on BC(A)R SI.9 | BRegs Blog

Law Society response to self-builders

Self builders escalate to Law Society: BC(A)R SI.9 

New Law Society Guidance Note on BC(A)R SI.9

BC(A)R SI.9 and Law Society of Ireland? 

Other posts of interest:

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

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

3 must-read posts for employees

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

Commencement notice problems | Does size matter?

by Bregs Blog admin team

Megaphone

The following opinion piece was submitted by a Registered Architect on October 31st 2014.

Opinion- Commencement notice problems (the 40 sq. metre issue)

The BRegs Blog has on a number of occasions referred to reports of Building Control Officers invalidating commencement notices, which building owners believed were perfectly valid, and acting in a fashion  which readers suggested were not supported by the legislative wordings.

This was becoming most apparent in the whole issue of whether the full measures of S.I.9  itself applied in full, or whether a reduced commencement notice submission was required.

Eight months into the workings of S.I.9, the BCMS (the content management system, and not as we were led to believe in their responses to us in May, the arbitrator of what is valid or not) have published advice on the most contentious distinction – that relating to the requirement to invoke the full S.I.9 for domestic extensions greater than 40 sq metres.

The advice is published on the BCMS site itself, as follows : –

“QUESTION: Can you clarify the circumstances in which an extension to a dwelling comes within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification under the Building Control Regulations?

ANSWER: In the case of an extension to a dwelling, the requirements for statutory certification of design and construction in line with the Building Control Regulations apply when the total extended area of the dwelling exceeds 40 square metres.   Every new dwelling has a permitted area determined by its planning permission.   Any works which extend the building by more than 40 square metres beyond this permitted area must be certified.

The regulations refer to the total extended area because separate extensions can be added to different areas of a building at the same time or different times.  It is therefore not possible to avoid certification requirements by building a series of small extensions each of which is less than 40 square metres but which together give a combined extended area greater than 40 square metres.”

There must now be real  anxiety, that based on the proposed BCMS advice, that professionals, acting in good faith, and having read the S.I.9 legislation carefully, have submitted and had validated the wrong commencement notice – and by the implications of the BCMS advice, these people now have projects under construction illegally on site!

It is reasonable to complain that it is not possible to  see any comment whatever relating to previous extensions or the like in the S.I.9 legislation.

One colleague has suggested that the Breg Blog put an open call out to readers as to whether their already submitted projects are compromised by this, and to see if we can assemble data on the matter.

Another reader has told me she cannot find  where the “regulations refer to the total extended area” and if readers can find this, or any wording in the legislation which supports the BCMS interpretation [BReg Blog Admin Team note: If readers can find this Breg Blog would be happy to publish it].

But in short, and following the BRegs post earlier in the summer, it does seem, from the point of view of the BCMS at least – that, yes SIZE MATTERS ! You may need an Assigned Certifier to build a porch !!!

No doubt Local Authorities are relishing the opportunity of using careful resources policing all of this !

Will bouncy castles be next ? Or tree houses ?

Other points of interest:

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

Catch 22 Commencements 

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

Help Required | Dept. of the Environment | Deadline Monday 3rd November 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

SSCOVER1.pdf [Converted]

 Help Required | Dept. of the Environment | Deadline 3rd November

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) are inviting submissions from the public to help inform the development of their future Strategy on or by 3 November 2014. This review will include Building Control. Link to request for submissions here.

In the previous Statement of Strategy 2011-2014 the DECLG wrote:  “We will examine what services could be converged between two or more local authorities, such as technology support, human resources and fire services. We will introduce a single national building inspectorate service.

Link to previous statement PDF here: DECLG Statement oF Strategy 2011- 2014

It is important that the DECLG receives informed submissions from industry and consumers on the impacts of S.I.9 to date. Any suggestions as to how to address current issues such as costs, delays, the exclusion from the register of professionals etc. should be submitted. This is a great opportunity to try and contribute to future strategy.

Given the many negative impacts on the construction sector and in particular building commencements since the introduction of S.I.9  an immediate review of the current building control system would seem to be imperative.

In light of the above we note that one of the proposed motions at this Tuesday’s RIAI EGM  is one that asks for a proper Regulatory Impact Assessment to be completed for S.I.9 and immediate industry-wide review of the new regulation.

This would be of great benefit to the Minister for the Environment  in the context of this immediate call-out for submissions. Submissions can encompass all areas of our built environment, not just building standards. Topics can be planning, housing supply, social housing, self-building, Part L and sustainability issues, water policy and harvesting etc.

Please feel free to send any submissions to BRegs Blog also where we will consider all material for publication.

RIAI EGM Motion No. 3 is shown below:

ORDINARY_RESOLUTION_3

Extract off DECLG website:

“Call for Submissions – Statement of Strategy 2015 – 2017

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government is currently preparing its Statement of Strategy for the three-year period from 2015 to 2017.

The Department’s new Statement of Strategy will serve as a framework for it’s work during the three year period.  The current Statement of Strategy (pdf 1,737kb)can be found here.

The Department is inviting submissions in relation to its Strategy Statement to be received by close of business on Monday, 3 November 2014.

Submissions should be emailed to: strategystatement@environ.ie or sent in writing to:
Statement of Strategy
Strategic and Business Support Unit
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Newtown Road
Wexford

Please note that in the interests of transparency, all written submissions received will be publicly posted on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government after Monday, 3 November 2014.

Previous Strategy Statements

Statement of Strategy 2011 – 2014 (pdf, 1,737kb)

Statement of Stragey 2008 – 2010 (pdf, 1,917kb)

Statement of Strategy 2008-2010 (html)

Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 (pdf, 1,101kb)

Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 (doc, 531kb)

Statement of Strategy 2003-2005 (pdf, 1,271kb)

Statement of Strategy 2001-2004 (pdf, 169kb)

Statement of Strategy 1998-2001 (pdf, 189kb)

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

seat-table

Calls to revoke SI.9 have come from County Councils, the Dáil, Seanad, along with Oireachtas Committees.

A Motion proposed by Senator Mark Daly and seconded by Senator Darragh O’Brien was debated on Thursday, 10th April 2014. The debate was directed at the the making of better construction regulations in response to the Priory Hall and Pyrites scandals. The motion was “That Seanad Eireann resolves that Statutory Instrument No 105 of 2014. Building Control (amendment) regulations 2014 be annulled.

It turned out to be a robust Seanad debate on the new regulation, which resulted in numerous senators adding to the calls to revoke SI.9. Many will remember the debate where there were exchanges between Senators and the former Minister about the fitness for purpose of the new regulations.

See post on Seanad Debate: SI.9 (SI.105) here, for transcript click here.

Numerous senators voiced opposition to the new regulations and called on former Minister Hogan to revoke SI.9. Here are some extracts:

Senator David Norris:  “If the government introduces regulation and then exempts some of its own operations from those regulations there is something very fishy going on…

The certificate does not contemplate fraud, concealment…set up an artificial paper trail … self certification does not work…no requirement for the building control to check design or the work…the architect used to be able to rely on the advise of consultants, now the architect is solely responsible. We’re actually going to criminalise architects.

an honest architect can be trapped by dishonesty and he can still become a criminal…500 to 8 voted that this was a dangerous proposal

…ancillary certificates cannot be relied upon, so offer no protection for the architect…the certificates do not have let out clauses for fraud, dishonesty or concealment…I am very very worried about what the impact of the introduction of these regulations will be.

…this won’t protect the consumer”

Minister Hogan: “professional bodies making outlandish quotations…not allow any body to think this will be an easy way to financial extortion, make easy money…There is a not a majority of architects against  these proposals, the majority are in favour of these proposals… in fact the former president of the RIAI, Michelle Fagan is on the oversight group that is monitoring all of these regulations and has come out in support of these regulations.

…in the past…professionals, particularly architects.. signed off on buildings without even seeing them…people should be able to do this for a modest amount of money.. an average of €3000 in rural areas”

On 16th April after the Seanad Debate Senator Paschal Mooney wrote to former Minister Phil Hogan on behalf of the Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB). The IAOSB separately had written a letter of complaint to the Minister and have requested a formal investigation into statements made in the Seanad (see post here). Senator Money concluded by requesting the Minister to instigate an immediate review of SI.9 taking account of the issues relating to the self build sector. Read post here: Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate

At recent EGM and AGM held by the representative body for architects (RIAI) it was suggested that asking the Minister to revoke SI.9 was inappropriate and that members would not be listened to by the Department and the Minister. Architects would ‘loose their seat at the table’.

Members of the RIAI should click on the Senate Debate link to hear plenty of passionate and reasoned debate on the matter in the Seanad, where it appears a consensus exists that SI.9 is defective and should be revoked.

Senators like David Norris and Mark Daly would agree that the table is not a place to be seated and say nothing- rather it is a place to give voice to your opinion. And the opinions of the people they represent. The people they should look after- the consumer.

Other posts of interest: 

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

Complaint to Minister re Seanad Debate: BC(A)R SI.9 (SI.105)

Seanad SI.9 (SI.105) Motion Thursday 10th April

Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate 

Architectural Technologist: Minister “disrespectful and misleading” in Seanad

Senator Mooney letter to Minister Phil Hogan

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Commencement Notice issues

by Bregs Blog admin team

 

Mass-Confusion

BRegs Blog admin on October 30th 2014

There has been a lot of discussion (some heated!) over the last few days about the legality of small house extensions carried out by home owners since March 2014 based on their floor area. This is as a result of revised advice, in relation to S.I.9, issued by the BCMS and the RIAI last Friday (link here).

Unfortunately there is also another significant problem with S.I.9 involving Short Form Commencement Notices that seems to have gone largely unnoticed but its impact will be just as serious with similar conveyancing and financing problems for homeowners as with the potential floor area problem.

On 12th May the RIAI issued an advice note* to members (see link here). On 19th May the RIAI issued a further advice note* to Practices  about Short Form Commencement Notices lodged between 1 March and 19 May 2014. This was contrary to the advice issued just one week earlier on 12 May.

The RIAI Practice Advice* is evidence that for the first 11 weeks of S.I.9, Local Authorities issued and validated the wrong form for Short Form Commencement Notices (seemingly unaware that S.I.9 required them to be in the new format signed by the building owner). This was compounded by the fact that BCMS was not set up for Short Forms so each of the 34 Building Control departments were working in the dark. The leaflet issued by the Department at the time was unclear (link here)

If you were involved with such a project what should you do now?

Home-owners should be advised that this issue has not been resolved and even where the local authority confirmed a Short form Commencement Notice as valid between 1 March and 19 May 2014 the extension may not be in compliance with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. As there are no remedies in S.I.9 there is no going back to rectify administrative errors and genuine mistakes.

Note: The BCMS have little advice for anyone who may have inadvertently failed to submit the correct Commencement Notice, where applicable, for building work carried out since the 1st March 2014. The BCMS advice is that it is up to the building owner to submit proposals for how they intend to regularise the situation to the relevant Building Control Authority.

*PDF of RIAI advice (12th and 19th May): RIAI BCAR ADVICE 12 + 19 MAY 2014

Other posts relevant to this topic:

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014 

Invalid “short form” commencement notices: BC(A)R SI.9 | BRegs Blog

CATCH 22 COMMENCEMENTS

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE- Local Authority advice | BRegs Blog

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

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working under the new regulations. 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

delayed-1.gif [Converted]By Bregs Blog admin on 30th October 2014

Despite the special exemption (aka ‘derogation’) from Building Control Regulations for some pressing public sector building projects it would appear that S.I.9 is continuing to have an impact on capital budgets and programmes, particularly, on schools. See this recent Independent article here.

Quote:

the Building Section in the Department of Education and Skills has been under severe pressure over the past six months because of the new building regulations as have been architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors, and that 60 new school building projects similar to the New Ross project have been stalled

Earlier in the year TD’s like Kevin Humphries were particularly active in asking various Government Departments if any  assessment had been made of the cost impact of S.I.9 on capital budgets at the time of its introduction in March 2014. Many did not reply. However the Department of Education was quick to get former Minister Phil Hogan to introduce a part deferral or ‘derogation’ for educational and health  projects already in progress. Despite this, since its introduction on 7th March, only a handful of school projects have availed of the process, known as S.I. 105 as it is quite onerous and lengthy.

This will not come as welcome news to contractors and members of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). We note delayed capital projects is normally a hot topic for the CIF, whose members turnover is affected by any delayed government capital spending.

Issues associated with the new regulations include additional construction costs and delays, vague and conflicting wording in the regulations, legal uncertainty, concerns regarding liability and consumer benefit, huge additional consultant and contractor costs, additional red-tape and industry readiness have beset the introduction and roll-out. Reduced residential output and falling commencement levels post-implementation have been masked somewhat due to the upturn in the commercial sector in Dublin. Two cohorts remain seriously affected by S.I.9: self-builders who are effectively banned under the new regulation, and Architectural Technologists whose income and livelihoods are seriously impacted upon by their exclusion from privately run statutory registers of professionals allowed to undertake new roles.

However for rural based contractors delays in public projects such as schools i.e. ‘bread and butter’ projects, will be of serious concern.

Other posts of interest:

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

Time needed for School Certifier 

Jobs in Construction

Drop in Commencements

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

IMG_3531

“The BC(A)R train has left the station!”

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (1 of 4)

Wexford Co. Council recently voted to call on the Minister for the Environment to revoke SI.9. In an article in the Independent newspaper “Going through the motions at speed” on 30th September 2014, it was noted that the motion to “Revoke Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Statutory Instrument Number 9” was unanimously approved by Wexford Co. Council.

Wexford is now the third County Council to formally write to the Minister of the Environment formally to revoke S.I.9. Co. Wicklow was the first county council to do this (see post below). In April 2014 Wexford Co. Councillors voted to write to the Minister for the Environment to request that once-off houses be exempt form the new BC(A)R SI.9 regulations.

Sligo Co. Council went one step further and passed a council motion to formally write to the Minister to revoke SI.9. The motion “I, Councillor Thomas Healy, now table a Motion to call on the Minister of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan, to revoke the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Statutory Instrument Number 9” was passed on 7th July 2014. (see self-build post below).

There is widespread disapproval of former Minister Hogan’s Building Regulation S.I.9.  In April 2014, Fingal Councillors called for S.I.9 to be reversed (see previous post below).

Councillors in Dublin City Council and Donegal, Kerry and Kildare Co. Councils are currently discussing the effects of S.I.9 on house building. Numerous Co. Councillors have responded positively to the continuing nationwide campaign by self-builders confirming they will be taking the motion to revoke S.I.9 forward for a formal vote.

At a  recent EGM of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), opposition to a motion to revoke S.I.9 appeared revolve around one issue- whether it was ‘appropriate’ to ask for this at the moment and if it might offend the Minister and his Department.

At the subsequent AGM of the RIAI, a meeting between RIAI CEO, John Graby, President Robin Mandal and Minister Alan Kelly was discussed. The impression given was that robust representations of members’ concerns somehow would be ‘inappropriate’. Proponents of this position previously suggested that asking for S.I.9 to be revoked would be like ‘blowing up the tracks’ and risking the minister’s door being shut in architects’ faces.

This silent acceptance of S.I.9, with all its obvious flaws, is not unique to the leadership and staff of the RIAI. It seems to be mirrored in other key stakeholder representative bodies, all keen not to upset the status quo, stick their heads over the parapet or voice members genuine concerns more robustly.

It is interesting to note a growing number of local politicians, consumer groups, Senators and elected members of the Dáil hold a very different view of the building regulations. Or ask any self-builder or Architectural Technologist what they think……

Other posts of interest:

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

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

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI.9

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

by Bregs Blog admin team

Dr. Philip Lee (Philip Lee Solicitors), Joe Millar (RIAI)

Joe Miller – RIAI  Practice Director

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has recently clarified a key element of the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations i.e. that the Design Certifier must have a separate agreement with the building owner (even if the Design Certifier is also the Architect and/or the Assigned Certifier).

Speaking to ‘Self Build & Improve Your Home’ magazine (link to magazine here– see page 130) RIAI Practice Director, Joe Miller, is quoted as saying that “while registered architects will continue to use the standard contract for their design services, the additional time and risk associated with signing off on the design could translate into additional costs. Indeed the RIAI is advising architects to use a separate appointment for the Design Certifier role (and if appointed as such, the Assigned Certifier role)” [emphasis by BRegs Blog]

Firms that are appointed corporately as the architects for a building project will need to name an individual from among their employees, in the separate appointments as Design Certifier and Assigned Certifier (if taking on these roles). For the professional this brings clarity to an issue that has caused much confusion since 1 March this year. This advice for a separate appointment (to that of the architect) coincides with similar advice issued recently by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland on the same subject.

However it may not bring much clarity to building owners who now have to make at least five* separate appointments for a simple domestic extension or commercial fit-out. They must be wondering why an initiative intended to improve on-site standards in the construction industry has in reality just meant more and more paperwork and increased costs.

*Architect, Design Certifier, Assigned Certifier, Project Supervisor Design Process, Project Supervisor Construction Stage and competent builder.

Jpeg of ‘Self Build & Improve Your Home’ magazine, p130

joemillarSB

Other posts of Interest:

SCSI: SI9 is “positive change”

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

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

Engineers Ireland CPD 10th June

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

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

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read

Post 1: Architect’s Ancillary Cert (Design & Completion)

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

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

Practical post 26: Design changes on site?

Results | S.I. 9 Assigned Certifier Survey

by Bregs Blog admin team

Survey logo

The BRegs Blog conducted a survey of its readers between 16th and 20th October 2014 in relation to their level of engagement and experience of undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier  (or not as the case may be) in accordance with S.I. 9. Thanks to all who took part in the survey. Once again we are indebted to the huge number of you who added comments to elaborate on your answers. These will provide very useful guidance to us in determining subjects for future blog posts.

The make-up of our respondents in terms of professional groups seems to accord with the BCMS indicators for those submitting commencement notices. The clear majority of you were architects (60%). The BCMS are currently advising that “there are a number of Building Surveyors registered as Assigned Certifiers on the BCMS system but the percentage is very small compared to Architects and Engineers”. We had a higher response from building surveyors (20%) and lower from chartered engineers (18%) which probably reflects our readership.  It is understood that the BRegs Blog surveys are unique in that they have been conducted among an industry-wide group comprising all three approved professional groups.

Chart_Q1_141027 Click on graphs to enlarge 

Almost 60% of respondents had submitted at least one Commencement Notice with the average being two. It was observed that certain respondents had undertaken multiple commencement notice submissions with one chartered engineer claiming to have submitted 15 commencement notices. It was also noted that the other respondents who had submitted multiple commencement notices (from 6-10 each) were mostly chartered engineers with one architect alleging to have completed 10 commencement notices.

Of the 40% of respondents who had not undertaken the role of Assigned Certifier the largest group (almost 40%) gave as a reason that they were unwilling to accept the level of liability involved with the role. In the comment section on this question many respondents, who had undertaken the role of assigned certifier, indicated that they would be reluctant to do so again.

Comment: “The whole thing is a minefield with a genuine lack of real guidance provided. We will not be acting as Assigned Certifier again in the foreseeable future “

Chart_Q2_141027

Chart_Q7_141027

Q7 a

The fees being charged for acting as an Assigned Certifier varied considerably although 64% of fees were below 2% of the project contract value. The lowest fee indicated was € 1,200 for a seven-day notice with the highest fee being €15,000 on a € 500,000 Public Sector extension project.

Comment: “I have undertaken some projects at a low fee in order to get the experience of getting familiar with the requirements of the revised legislation”

Chart_Q3_141027

60% of respondents continue to experience problems with the BCMS. These varied from the speed of the system to subsequent problems with individual Building Control Authorities. The comments submitted with this question will be the subject of a future post for assistance to our readers as many of the problems would appear to stem from lack of familiarity with the BCMS process.

Comment: “The BCMS is technically a very poor and clunky site, slowly improving but should be far better. A ‘help’ or ‘FAQ’ section is imperative”

Chart_Q4_141027

About one third of respondents who had acted as Assigned Certifiers had submitted Commencement Notices in more than one Building Control Authority. Two thirds of these had encountered variations between how the Building Control Authorities were interpreting the regulations. These included requests for different levels of information to completely different procedures for accepting seven-day notices.

Chart_Q5_141027          Chart_Q6_141027

Eight months after their introduction only 21% of respondents, who are undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier, feel that they are confident to implement the regulations. Most concerns stem from defects arising with the legislation in practice and the fact that the construction industry was so ill-prepared for such a massive shift in how it did business.

Only 15% of respondents are satisfied with the documentation provided by their professional organisations with EI and the SCSI coming in for particularly strong criticism. Concerns were expressed about incomplete and draft documentation from the RIAI. It is worrying to note that all of those undertaking multiple commencement notice submissions (see Question 2 above) were also indicating that they were not confident to undertake the role of Assigned Certifier nor were they satisfied with the documentation available from professional organisations.

Comment: “Not enough experience or documentation yet – but this is not the fault of the RIAI. It is the inevitable result of a poorly written piece of legislation. I believe that the RIAI are doing their best in a difficult situation”.

Chart_Q8_141027 Chart_Q9_141027

Only 8% of respondents are willing to consider undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on a self-build project and only then with strict terms and conditions in relation to the building owner’s experience of construction.

Comment: “Only in very limited circumstances where the self-builder can prove to me that they have the experience and competence to carry out the building work, and are willing to pay the requisite fees that will be required as I would envisage a weekly site visit being required for a project such as this”

Chart_Q10_141027

The good news from the survey is that half of respondents believe that S.I. 9 will increase compliance with the Building Regulations on building sites.

Chart_Q11_141027

Almost 90% of respondents would favour a system of independent inspections instead of the existing S.I. 9 system.

Comment: “While I can implement the administrative structure and carry out the inspections as outlined in the code of practice, I remain apprehensive about the ‘certification’ of work carried out by others, particularly outside my area of expertise as the status of ancillary certs is also uncertain”

Chart_Q12_141027

Other links:

BRegs Blog  | 100 Days | Assigned Certifier Survey

BRegs Blog: Snapshot Survey – Building Control Officers

RIAI Assigned Certifier | Results

 

Legal Alert | Commencement Notices since 1st March 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

legal alert

By BRegs Blog October 28th 2014

Hundreds of homeowners have been left in a legal mess following new advice from the government run Building Control Management System (BCMS). The RIAI issued the new BCMS advice to their Practice members at around 5 pm on Friday 24th October 2014 and Building Surveyor, Nigel Redmond, received the advice from the BCMS yesterday, 27th October (Link:).  This is 8 months after the new rules were introduced and means that many domestic extensions started since 1 March 2014 may be illegal.

The implications for homeowners are stark – there are no remedies under the new regulations and if the “commencement” (building start) was not correctly notified before work started there is no way back. While this situation may not prove to be a problem in the short term, as Building Control Authorities are unlikely to enforce the regulations in such instances,  this will be a significant obstacle for owners when they come to sell or finance their homes without the correct paperwork for an extension that is “unauthorised”.

It was generally understood that the new system which came in on 1 March last applied only to larger home extensions over 40 square metres (430 sq ft). However, almost eight months later, when hundreds of domestic extensions have started and finished around the country, the goal posts have been moved and all extensions to the house since 1964 are being counted cumulatively. So if your home had a new porch in 1965 then your extension in 2014, that you thought was exempt, may well be over the limit.

Professionals are divided over whether this BCMS interpretation is legally correct. Some legal commentators do not agree and believe confusion may have arisen in the interpretation of the very different Planning and Building Control legislation due to the commonality of the 40 square metre classifications.

Either way this is yet another significant oversight in drafting and it will add to professionals’ concerns that they have been put to work in an untested system that is proving to be a legal and practical minefield.

Extract from RIAI Practice News: 24th October 2014

The RIAI posed the following questions to the Building Control Management System:

Question: Can you clarify the circumstances in which an extension to a dwelling comes within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification under the Building Control Regulations?

Answer: In the case of an extension to a dwelling, the requirements for statutory certification of design and construction in line with the Building Control Regulations apply when the total extended area of the dwelling exceeds 40 square metres.   Every new dwelling has a permitted area determined by its planning permission.   Any works which extend the building by more than 40 square metres beyond this permitted area must be certified.

The regulations refer to the total extended area because separate extensions can be added to different areas of a building at the same time or different times.  It is therefore not possible to avoid certification requirements by building a series of small extensions each of which is less than 40 square metres but which together give a combined extended area greater than 40 square metres.

N.B. from RIAI
Existing extensions which are to be demolished and reconstructed must be added to the floor area of the proposed extension to the dwelling, and if the cumulative floor area of the demolished floor area (to be reconstructed) and the new extension exceeds 40 sq. m. then BC(A)R apply.

Question: Do loft/attic conversions come within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification?

Answer: The position regarding loft/attic conversions has not changed.  Loft/attic conversions do not therefore generally come within the requirement for statutory certificates.    Where upgrade works may combine a loft/attic conversion with an extension, it is the size of the extension only (i.e. not counting the pre-existing attic space) that would determine whether the requirements for statutory certificates apply.   The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has produced a guidance note on Loft/Attic Conversions.

Homeowners, builders and designers are reminded that the relevant requirements of the building regulations generally apply to works irrespective of whether the works are subject to any building control procedures.

BCMS FAQ

Recently added advice on the BCMS FAQ

Links to earlier posts:

Catch 22 Commencements 

Owners may need a Certifier for a Porch?

“Dangling Participles” and why all extensions may now require compliance with S.I.9: 2014

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with S.I.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (S.I.9 of 2014). 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

question-get-answers-button-258x300

Recently a reader asked a general question about S.I.9 impacts on housing and the industry in general. She was due to address an industry group and had been asked to talk about the new building regulations, BC(A)R S.I.9.

Here is the briefing summary of posts we forwarded. These are a mix of factual pieces, commentators’ articles as well as contributors’ opinion pieces.

How much is S.I.9 costing and how is the industry affected?

See a breakdown of where the additional SI.9 costs are coming from, a detailed architect’s  cost estimate for a typical house and the range of new professional duties the Certifier roles entail. For the big picture we see the extraordinary costs to residential and non-residential sector as a whole, the huge costs of pyrite remediation up to 2012 (based on current DECLG estimates) and note by 2020 our continuation with a reinforced system of self-regulation could cost us €5bn. For little or no additional consumer protection and no increase in technical building performance standards.

Factors affecting housing at the moment gleaned from commentators and objective sources such as the Central Statistics Office are noted. According to government data (BCMS register) commencements are still down 30% compared to last year, with residential sector output is down 8%. This data must be of concern to legislators and policy-makers at the moment.

How complex is S.I.9 and our regulations?

Has the cost impact on the industry and the consumer been adequately assessed? Remarkably it would appear not, as no regulatory impact assessment was undertaken in 2013 on the last version of S.I.9.

How complex are our regulations now? The answer is very and our guest post shows there are 38 steps now involved in getting the appropriate permissions and permits in place for a simple warehouse building. In a separate post one architect tables on one sheet the multitude of regulations that are needed for a simple house. Hardly ‘lean’ construction.

Solutions and how much will they cost?

How can we fix this and how costly are the solutions? Travel over to Holyhead in Wales and look at the simplicity of the much-praised and proven UK system of 100% independent Local Authority inspections and the ‘Approved Inspector’ model. We used to have a similar system here. How do we compare to the UK? the World Bank ranks the UK at 27th out of 189 countries and Ireland is at 115th.

Surely a proper system like in the UK would cost a fortune? Think again, the cost of S.I.9 for 2014 would probably fund a nationwide system for 60 years.

How to immediately kick-start a solution for low-cost and social housing? Revoke S.I.9 and let self-builders build again.

This alone could create 12,000 additional dwellings at no cost to the taxpayer by 2020. Use funds allocated for social housing to immediately tackle the housing crisis: get people off the streets for Christmas 2014. One stroke of Minister Kelly’s pen and he can blame the mess on the former Minister, Phil Hogan.

If you think that is unreasonable, ask the three County Councils that have already written to the Minister to ask just that: Sligo, Wicklow and recently Wexford.

Remember if doing CPD these all count as ‘unstructured’- Enjoy!

  • Here is a good overview of where multitude of costs will come from:

Value-engineering, defensive specifications and BCAR SI.9

  • What do new roles entail for professionals? Look here:

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

  • Some interesting posts on cost impacts of SI9 on construction, and housing:

SI.9 costs for a typical house

SI.9 to Cost €532m in 2014 | Residential Sector 

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

  • Here’s a summary of the main SI.9 costs including pyrite by 2020. Big numbers:

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

  • Where are commencements at now? are we up or down? Look here:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

  • Accurate, non-spun general information, planning application levels, total outputs from Constantin Gurdgiev, and recent CSO figures for residential building output:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

  • And other commentators:

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

  • How much no local authority materials policing will cost the taxpayer (pyrite)?:

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

  • What we should have done- a regulatory impact assessment…

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

  • How complex is our system now? Look here at “The 38 steps”:

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

  • Many self-builds are passive houses. What’s happening in this sector? look here:

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

  • This month the World Bank Report is due out. We ranked 115 out of 189 last year, Uk was 27. “Room to improve!”

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

  • Any solutions?

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

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

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

  • What is the UK ‘Approved Inspector’ system like? 

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

  • And we can’t forget our main post:

SI9- where do I start?

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

cloud storage

By BRegs Blog admin on 26th October 2014

S.I.9 completion stage and the BCMS

Sources close to those working on the delivery of S.I9 have indicated that the BCMS system may not be expanded for Completion documents as planned. Assigned Certifiers might only be asked to upload the one single Certificate of Compliance  (Completion), signed by the Assigned Certifier and the builder.

There are alarm bells ringing for some professionals who believe it leaves them right back at the ‘uninsurable’ S.I.80, which named one individual only on the public record. In this case all liability will fall on the Assigned Certifier as the lone ‘mark’ named on the local authority Building Register.

The extraordinary efforts of Assigned Certifiers to compile lists of Ancillary Certificates, Ancillary Inspections Reports, as-built drawings and Testing Certificates might just make a short trip from your desk  to the box under your feet, to lie gathering dust until the day that you, as the lone certifier, have to defend a claim.

So what does the Framework for Building Control Authorities say?

see pdf here: https://bregsforum.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/framework-for-building-control-authorities-july-2014.pdf

It outlines the procedures for receiving, validating and archiving documents at Commencement stage. However it does not require any more than a single Completion Certificate ( with a “table” or list of documents) at the end of the project.

“Completion stage-Overview

The role of the Building Control Authority at completion stage is to validate the submission of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion and, where appropriate, to include details of same in the Register”

“The Annex detailing the Table of Plans, Calculations, Specifications, Ancillary Certificates and Particulars, and other Documents accompanying the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, should be retained on the Building Control Management System by the Building Control Authority”

The retention of documents (Ancillary Certificates, as-built drawings etc.) seems to be a private matter between the Assigned Certifier, his conscience and the limitations of his client’s fees? The next problem for the Assigned Certifier is where to keep it all. With every project the paperwork will keep piling up and you will have to keep it for years. The framework also requires documents to be stored for at least six years.

Assigned Certifiers are fortunate that ‘cloud storage’ is now available at little or no cost so a secure archive of completion documents will not add anything major to practice overheads. The real concern is that homebuyers and building owners will have only two names to go after – the Assigned Certifier and the builder, the latter who may be well gone.

Other posts of interest:

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

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”

8 Questions for Professional Insurer

4 tips for sub-contractor Ancillary Certifiers

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

5 POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT BC(A)R SI.9 

4 tips for Design Certifiers… 

4 tips for assigned certifiers

4 things I am putting in my fee agreements

7 posts all architects (surveyors + engineers) should read 

Gurdgiev: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

house-prices-on-the-rise

We table the following post from Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev’s blog “True Economics” to explore current residential price issues. As readers of the BRegs Blog are aware we are keen followers of Mr Gurdgiev as he tends to “drill down” into actual figures and frequently gets beyond spin and other anecdotal commentaries on topics. Link to: True Economics: 23/10/2014: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014

Although not directly related to building regulations house prices are one ingredient contributing to a perceived housing crisis at present, along with new building regulations, increased costs and lower commencement levels.

When viewed alongside the continued fall in commencement notice levels and CSO figures confirming falling residential construction output, the house price and rental cost increases may continue due to lack of supply and continuing demand.

Extract:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

23/10/2014: Irish Residential Property Prices: Q3 2014 data

Latest data for residential properties price index for Ireland is out, covering September. Instead of repeating all the analysis provided elsewhere, here is a look at quarterly data series and longer-term comparatives.

Firstly, on quarterly basis, Q3 2014 ended with index averaging at:

  • 79.1 in Dublin, up strongly on Q2 2014 reading of 72.0. This brings property prices to the levels of Q2 2010 or on pre-crisis comparative basis close to Q4 2002 (80.8).  Year on year prices in Q3 2014 stood 23.9% above Q3 2013 reading, which is a modest increase on Q2 2014 y/y increase of 21.2%.
  • Outside Dublin, index read 71.4 in Q3 2014, marking a rise of 5.8% y/y. In Q2 2014, y/y increase was 2.2%. Outside Dublin prices are currently trending at the levels comparable to Q1 2012 (71.2) and on pre-crisis basis – at the levels between Q2-Q3 2001
  • National prices index is at 76.9, up 14.4% y/y and this compares to a rise y/y of 10.6% in Q2 2014. National prices levels are around Q2-Q3 2011 averages and on pre-crisis basis these are up at the levels of Q2-Q3 2002.

Chart to illustrate:

chart 1

Rates of growth in prices are worrying, as they were for some time now. Chart below shows y/y increases in price indices for quarterly averages:

chart 2

The chart above clearly shows that Dublin price increases have been running well above the historical averages for the main periods since Q1 2000. Q3 2014 marks full year since price appreciation in Dublin market has risen above sub-period (2013-present) average and this now becoming a serious issue.

At the same time, long-term level indices suggest that prices remain below historical trends:

chart 3

So once again, data is showing troubling developments in the rate of price increases in Dublin and below-trend price levels. Based on historical evidence, real price bubble concerns are still outside the scope of index readings by some 25-30 percent. But we are closing that gap very fast.

Other posts of interest:

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Ireland via Holyhead

By bregs Blog on October 20th 2014

Following our recent post about Newry & Mourne District Council, we decided to travel a bit further- to Holyhead!*

Building Control in a Holyhead is delivered by  the Isle of Anglesey County Council (Link here).

This local authority  service “ensures that (Building Control) standards are met, by checking and approving drawings and calculations as well as inspecting work in progress”

In Wales, there are two methods of applying:

  1. the deposit of full plans
  2. the giving of a building notice

What is the difference?

Full plans

For a full plans application, plans need to be produced showing all constructional details, preferably well before you begin building. The application will be thoroughly checked by us, and we may request amendments to the plans prior to approval being given. We may add conditions to an approval, with your written agreement.

Building Notice

With the building notice procedure, the building work will be inspected as it proceeds. You will be advised by the building control surveyor if, at any stage, the work is found not to comply with the regulations. However, if we require any further information about your proposal either before the commencement date or during building, you will be asked to supply us with the details requested. You must feel confident that the work will comply with the regulations or you risk having to correct it at the request of the council”

And the fees? The Building Control fees for a single house are £200.27 for approval of plans and £391.93 for inspections, a total of £592.20 (approx. €725.00).

(Link to pdf here)

As we noted before, In Ireland the fee to Building Control for a one-off house is only €30. a fee that hasn’t increased since 1997.

The cost of a system of independent building control for Ireland will be expanded in future posts.

*Bregs Blog have a very limited travel budget.

Posts of interest:

UK + Ireland | take a quick drive to Newry with Breg Blog…

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

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

SI.9 costs for a typical house

O’Cofaigh letter to senators BC(A)R SI.9

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

constructionGeneral_large

The Irish Examiner published the following letter by Maoilíosa Mel Reynolds on October 21st 2014. Link  here.

Extract:

Clampdown on self-building is stymying construction industry 

Good news in the construction industry? Central Statistics Office figures indicate an increased number of smaller residential extensions. But the number of commencement notices lodged in local authorities continues to be depressed, now at 30% below 2013 levels, a historic low.

A major drag on the industry is building control system, S.I.9, introduced in March 2014.

Criticised for having little or no additional consumer protection, it was a rushed, paper problem-solving exercise by former Environment Minister Phil Hogan before he went off to Europe. The problem for the new Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, is to reverse these alarming trends, but how without causing embarrassment in the Department?

S.I.9 has added between €20,000 and €40,000 for every new house. It is having a negative effect on speculative residential housing, depressing site values and delaying starts. However, the main fall-out is for self-builders, ordinary people who manage their own building projects and who are now in a legal minefield.

Self-building is one of the biggest sectors in residential construction — one third of all houses built in any year have owners as main contractors. SI.9 is adding a whopping 22% onto the cost of a modest house — for no increase in technical performance.

The IAOSB, the consumer group representing self-builders, has obtained independent legal advice that SI.9 precludes self-building.

The legislative vagueness of S.I.9 is having a catastrophic effect on self-building, particularly at the lower-cost end. The IAOSB estimate that one third of all self-builds will be indefinitely postponed or abandoned, due to S.I.9. Self-builders who have stalled are remaining in rental accommodation or in council housing, or on waiting lists.

Construction is straining to get started. Perhaps the Minister should cut ineffectual red tape rather than provide dog-box apartments and reduce standards?

Due to the impact of S.I.9 on self-builders, three local authorities, Wicklow, Sligo and, most recently, Wexford, have called on the Minister to revoke SI.9.

Many of these problems were forecast last year, in advance of the introduction of S.I.9, by consumer groups and professionals, who called for deferral of the new regulations.

One thing is for sure: unless the Minister acts fast, current housing problems will only become more acute. Do we really need to be saying “I told you so” in 12 months’ time?

Mel Reynolds

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

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?

RIAI Complainee investigates IAOSB Complaint

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

IAOSB Letter to Minister Alan Kelly

Fine Gael Report opposed new building regulations- 2013

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

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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

The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) September 2014 release  is mixed news for the construction industry and for those tasked with solving the housing crisis. Construction is improving, however residential activity and output is decreasing. See link to CSO webpage here.

Quote: “The volume of output in building and construction increased by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding period… The annual rise in the volume of output reflects year-on-year increases of 23.4% and 8.5% respectively in non-residential building work and civil engineering.

Residential Building decreased by 8.8% in the year to Quarter 2 2014.  See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.” [emphasis in bold by Bregs Blog]

Not good news for policymakers attempting to deal with spiralling rents, house prices and supply issues. Indeed not good news for consumers, housing lists or first-time buyers. This reinforces anecdotal accounts of a Dublin-centered commercial property resurgence and runs counter to recent media spin on the issue.

Reduced residential activity is marked by a continuing fall in commencement notices since implementation of new building regulations S.I.9 in March 2014. Current levels are 30% below 2013 levels, a historic low for construction output.

Extract off CSO website:

CSO statistical release, 10 September 2014, 11am

Production in Building and Construction Index

table 1

Building and Construction Output increased by 4.1% in 2nd quarter 2014

table 2

The volume of output in building and construction increased by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared with the preceding period.

This reflects increases of 9.3% and 4.7% in civil engineering and non-residential building respectively while there was a decrease of 1.9% in the volume of residential building*.  The change in the value of production for all building and construction was +5.9%. 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 second quarter of 2014*.  There was an increase of 11.1% 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 23.4% and 8.5% respectively in non-residential building work and civil engineering.  Residential Building decreased by 8.8% in the year to Quarter 2 2014.  See tables 1(c), 2(a), 2(b) and graph.

table3Other posts of interest:

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The latest Building Register was published by the Building Control Management System (BCMS) on 22nd  October 2014 at 8.46 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 3,476 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past 34 weeks since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014. This is quite a jump since 6 months figures were posted.

Of these 692 (20%) are Short Form (minor works) and 201 (6%) are seven-day notices (Fire Safety Certificates).

At the moment the average number of commencement notices being lodged is 102 per week. However in 2013 the average number lodged per week was 143 (7,456 in total).

Currently commencement notices are running 30% below 2013 levels which was an historic low point in construction industry output. Notwithstanding the late pick-up of commencements and recent hype in the media, we still have some way to go to even equal the very weak output achieved last year.

Let’s hope some of the budget initiatives will have a positive effect.

Link to Building Register: 

PDF: buildingregister Oct13 2014

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

Minister Damien English “have to get construction right – this time”

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By Bregs Blog on October 19th 2014

Minister Damien English (pictured above) at Nzeb conference last week called for the passive house standard to be introduced in housing and suggested moves be made by the construction industry to address skills shortage problems in construction. He suggested we could have a lot of jobs associated with new technical standards that we can’t fill unless the industry gets moving to upskill. Link to conference programme here

Minister English, who told the Conference that he had built his own passive house said that …”we have to get construction right – this time“.

He called for higher construction standards so that houses are cheaper to run. He also gave a timely warning that if the construction industry doesn’t upskill “we could have a lot of jobs we cant fill

In the article in the Journal.ie from 15th October 2014  “Pressure is on to get building, but those in construction need to learn new skills“, the message from the Better than Best Practice building-skills conference was that construction professionals and contractors needed to ‘up their game’ in the face of increasing building performance requirements.

Extract from article:

“BUILDERS, ARCHITECTS AND engineers are under huge pressures to get building as the country is in the midst of a housing crisis, says the Irish Green Building Council.

However, they said that the game has changed for many developers since the boom, and there are a lot more stringent checks and balances that need to be met.

Under new rules, the construction sector must meet the EU Near Zero energy requirements for buildings by the year 2020, with the council stating that buildings “effectively have to start paying for themselves”.

Learn new skills 

To achieve this many builders will need to learn new skills, something the government addressed in its Construction 2020 document published earlier this year.

The report states: “Address skills gaps relating to the ‘greening’ of construction … including the piloting of training initiatives.”

A spokesperson for the council said that Ireland is undergoing a “revolution in standards and regulation” adding that everyone involved in the building industry have to meet stricter and more stringent regulations than they did a few years ago.

Due to the building catastrophes like pyrite and the likes of Priory Hall, all eyes are on the construction industry to not only build sustainable and “green” buildings, but safe ones too.

Signing-off on builds

“The laws have tightened and there are a lot more regulations to meet than there were five years ago. Now architects and engineers have to sign-off on buildings and make sure that builders do it right. There is huge pressure out there for people to get building and we can’t have the case where people flout the regulations and not bother with the rules. Architects and engineers are not going to sign off on buildings that are not done right, so we are going to need more professionals in the industry and upskilling will be needed, ” said the council spokesperson.

The Better than Best Practice building-skills conference opening today, aims to address one of the biggest challenges facing the Irish construction industry.

Pat Barry, Executive Director of the Irish Green Building Council, said:

We are in a totally changed regulatory environment to that existing in 2006. It is now all about quality and attention to detail.”

zeta-features

Other posts of interest:

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Part L- is compliance worth the paper its written on?

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 

BC(A)R SI.9 or… green alternative No 1

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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17th October 2014 (Quotes with consent of IAOSB)

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

Let’s look at social housing and the new building control regulations.

We know all the headline issues, the costs and legal issues in the new regulations that has forced over 800 to 1000 self-builders this year alone to indefinitely postpone or abandon planned home builds.

In parallel we see new Minister Alan Kelly pledging to  build up to 1,000 new homes for social housing next year. Including rentals and leased properties this will rise 10,000 in 3 years. A welcome development but also costly at €2.5 billion to the taxpayer.

However there may be another far more cost effective way to achieve the same result. Self-building.

Self Build is a political problem

Acknowledged as a major political headache, one unintended consequence of S.I.9 is the banning of self-building since implementation in March 2014. The Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB) have protested vigorously on this issue nationally.

As a result three County Councils have voted formally requested the Minister Alan Kelly to revoke S.I.9. They are Sligo, Wicklow and more recently Wexford. More are expected to follow suit.

To put the issue in a more personal context we looked at the example Amanda Gallagher and her family. In radio interviews and written pieces she noted her planned family home was to be built using direct labour. Her electrician husband Raymond would manage the project on a site given to them by her father-in-law in Sligo, a site on the family farm.

Amanda and her family are currently tenants in Local Authority Housing and have indefinitely postponed their build, citing the increased costs under S.I.9 as the main reason. Estimates from her Architect suggest the extra-over cost now to build her house using a main contractor are almost double (we have separately tabled a conservative cost estimated for S.I.9 for a typical house at between €20,000 to €40,000- see below).

There are a number of people in a similar situation, electing to put in the hard graft of managing their own house build in stages. Self build means removing developer’s profit and a main contractor’s management costs thereby reducing the cost of home ownership. Frequently self-builds are of a higher standard than speculative housing.

This is a difficult personal situation to be in, to have plans ready to go only to be confronted by poorly-worded and vague legislation that imply there may be legal completion problems later on.

However there is one other observation that may have been lost in the personal story here.

Is self-build the practical solution to social housing?

Housing supply in Amanda’s situation is a bit like money velocity in the economy.

If Amanda and Raymond built their own house, their current council house would become available to others. At no cost to the state. If they were renting it would be another rental unit becoming available, adding to supply and reducing rental costs. If they were living with family and on a housing list, they would be one less name on the list.

In Amanda’s situation her self-build completed is equal to two social/rental houses. At no cost to the taxpayer.

So if S.I.9 was either revoked or amended to facilitate self-building, the 800- 1000 self-build houses abandoned this year could translate to 1600- 2000 social/ affordable units. Every year. At no cost to the taxpayer.

Imagine if the government released details of support schemes (like those in the U.K.) for prospective self-builders, persons currently in local authority housing to build on state-owned sites and build their own houses in a more economic fashion?

So, immediately Minister Kelly could create 12,000 social/ affordable houses by 2020. At no cost to the taxpayer. One stroke of the pen- revoke S.I.9.

Could it be that easy?

To read more of Amanda’s commentary visit her blog here.

Other posts of interest:

IAOSB Letter to Minister Alan Kelly

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

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

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI- A changing landscape?

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents 

UK and Ireland: Take a quick drive to Newry with BReg Blog…

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By BRegs Blog on October 20th 2014

It was commented in an earlier post about independent inspections  (see posts below) that:

one need only take the train to Newry or the boat to Holyhead. Such system can and does work, deliver better building, and can cost the State a net nothing

So to save you the drive along the new road, we took a look at the Building Control Service provided in Newry & Mourne District Council*, a short distance from Louth County Council where “responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations lies with you, your designer and construction teams” (Link louthcoco.ie )

In Newry, the role of Building Control includes “assessing your plans and inspecting your house at various stages as it is being built” (Link newryandmourne.gov.uk )

This is an extract from the section about building your new house in Newry:

Inspections

Surveyors from Building Control will arrange to inspect your new house at various stages as it is being built.

Whilst it is ultimately your responsibility to notify us, in advance, of any inspection you can arrange for your builder to do this for you.

The building Regulations require you to give us 2 days notice prior to any inspection, but if we receive a request before 10.30 am we will do our best to carry out an inspection that day.

It is also important to note that 5 days notice is required prior to you occupying or completing your house. Please therefore ensure that we are given the appropriate notice at the following [eight] stages:

  1. Commencement
  2. Excavation of foundations
  3. Substructure / hardcore
  4. Damp proof courses
  5. First fix
  6. Drainage
  7. Pre-occupation
  8. Completion

If we do not receive notice and you or your builder cover up work before we have inspected it, you will be asked to expose all or part of that work to allow us to determine whether it complies with the Building Regulations.

Completion Certificate

When your house has been built and we are satisfied, in as far as we can reasonably tell, that the requirements of the Building Regulations have been met, we will issue you with a “Completion Certificate”.

This is an important document and you should file this away for safe keeping. If you ever sell or re-mortgage your house your solicitor, bank or building society may request a copy of the Completion Certificate for the house. It may also be required for the purposes of reclaiming VAT.

Fees

There are two occasions when you pay us fees.

  1. When your plans are sent to us for approval.
  2. When we carry out the inspections.

The fees for the inspections is payable in one lump sum and we will send you an invoice for this, once we have completed our first inspection.

For your convenience you can pay by cash, postal order, cheque, debit card, or credit card”

That sounds like a great service- it must be expensive? Same day call out, eight independent inspections, approval of plans and a Completion Certificate!

There’s a handy fees calculator at http://buildingcontrolfees.tascomi.com/

The fee for one-off house (under 250 sq. m.) for the full Building Control service is:

  • Plans £90
  • Site Inspections £210

That is a total of £300.00 (approx. €370.00) and this service is largely self-funding.

In Ireland the fee to Building Control for a one-off house is only €30 – a fee that hasn’t increased since 1997.

The cost of a system of independent building control for Ireland will be expanded in future posts.

In the The World Bank “Doing Business” Report 2014 Ireland ranks 115th out of 189 countries in “Dealing with construction permits”. The UK ranks 27th. The World Bank Report is due out at the end of the month- it should make for interesting reading.

And better still………………. they have no pyrite in Newry.

*Bregs Blog have a very limited travel budget.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

SI.9 costs for a typical house

O’Cofaigh letter to senators BC(A)R SI.9

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Pat Barry, Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant: 20th October 2014

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

How often have you heard the expression on site “ aaah jaysus ….this is the way I have always done it”  Well you are not alone. Construction workers are not known for filling in their CPD points at the end of October.  Is this all about to change?

At the recent conference Better than Best Practice  Zoe Wildiers of the European commission spoke about the need to tackle the lack of skills among Europe’s three million strong construction workforce, if we are to  meet the energy efficiency targets set by the EU. But she added it was not just construction workers but Architects, Engineers and other Construction professionals , who also lacked basic skills and knowledge in energy efficiency.

It was also  interesting to hear Thorston Windmueller of Kozmet,  speak  of his experience of training Irish Craft workers in their facility in Germany under the EU project CESBEM. Whilst the German craft workers understood basic building science and could carry out simple condensation risk analysis whilst the Irish construction workers did not. They also lacked understanding of the importance of quality and attention to detail in achieving energy efficient construction.

The Build Up Skills report from 2014 found that Irish trades do have the the ability and skills to build to high quality. They just lacked the knowledge to put this together in a systems thinking way, with the other trades. It also found construction workers were confused by terms such as green or energy efficient, but  they did understand the term “quality”

Qualibuild is an EU funded programme made up of a consortium of Blanchardstown, Dublin and Limerick Institutes of Technology, the Irish Construction Federation and the Irish Green Building Council  – to provide foundation energy courses  in energy efficiency to trades and operatives. These are not designed to turn trades such as plumbers, electricians, plasterers, bricklayers etc. into passive house experts. The idea is to create a mind altering change over three days …. but without the drugs!  We want to create thinking members of an onsite collective delivering a damn fine building.  We want to give them the collective goal of QUALITY!

This is a pilot programme with the intention that it will become a requirement like safe pass for all construction workers.The programme will be accompanied by a communications campaign to house owners on what quality means in construction. This is intended to equip them with the language to ask trades the right questions and demand the right result.

With the new, Construction Industry Register Ireland  (CIRI) requiring contractors on the register to upskill all of their staff at every level, including engineers, site managers, foremen and site operatives, we may just start to get a more educated workforce.

The next time you hear the expression, “ …this is the way I have always done it” and you are pondering your liability under BC(A)R just say ……www.qualibuild.ie

 About the author: Patrick Barry

Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant

Patrick Barry (Dip.Arch, M.Sc. MRIAI, Dip. Project Man), is an architect with twenty years experience in architectural practice in France, Germany and South America, working with leading architectural practices in Ireland on residential, mixed use, social housing, healthcare and education. He holds a Masters in Environmental Design of Buildings from University of Cardiff, and has completed studies in Leadership in Strategic Sustainability, He is a Certified European passive house designer, and a qualified DGNB international auditor,  He is currently executive director of the Irish Green Building Council

Other posts of interest:

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

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 

Sound advice and SI.9 – 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 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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By BReg Blog October 20th 2014

There are about 67 building control officers in Ireland , many doubling up as fire officers (see post below).

We have not been able to extract out the current cost of building control as these are lumped in with planning and enforcement for Local Authority budgetary purposes. In earlier posts, based on the UK model, we estimated that 200 additional Local Authority staff were required to undertake a 100% nationwide inspection of all buildings .

Recently the Irish Times reported – “Dog wardens issued more fines last year than in past decade“. According to this article there are the same number of dog wardens – 67 (46 full-time & 21 part time) as there are Building Control Officers (BCO) at a nett cost €3.9m when income from fines is accounted for.* This is a cost per Local Authority staff member of €58,200.

Based on these recent figures, the cost of 200 additional BCO staff to achieve 100% Local Authority independent inspections nationwide would be €11.64m.

This cost for independent Local Authority inspections seems like very good value when compared to an estimated cost to the industry and consumer for S.I.9 of over €700m per annum and a cost to remediate pyrite of €780m (DECLG estimate of pre-2012 cases).

An annual cost to the taxpayer of a little over €11m to regulate a €10bn industry would give the consumer the benefit of a proper independent building control inspectorate, as opposed to continuing with our defective system of self-certification at vast cost to both taxpayer and consumer.

The bill for poor regulation at just one development, Priory Hall, is currently running at €30m. S.I.9 costs for one year alone would fund 100% Local Authority independent inspections for 60 years. Self building could resume and this would create 800 more houses this year. Consumers would be protected – no more Priory Halls. Pyrite would be policed at a taxpayer saving of over €780m.

Is the Department of the Environment being penny wise and pound foolish?

Notes: *Net cost less income from fines. We believe there are 5 staff separately employed now processing claims for pyrite remediation. 

Other posts of interest:

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

SI.9 costs for a typical house

More dog wardens than building inspectors in Ireland- Self Builders to be made extinct