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.

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BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

by Bregs Blog admin team

hand-9-nine

Stop! – SI.Nine is 9 months old

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

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

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

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

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

Link to Building Register: 

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

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

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

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

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

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started

 

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Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

by Bregs Blog admin team

EU_Hammercourt-300x197

 5th December 2014

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

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

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

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

___________

‘Pyrite heave’ case referred to European Court of Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supreme Court findings

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

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

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

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

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

EU law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terms and conditions

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

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

Other posts of interest:

Donegal Pyrite update 

Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo 

Irish Mirror | Call for an end to pyrite mess

Was pyrite discovered in concrete blocks in 2013?

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

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

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel

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

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

 14000121331771316054974

On 24th September 2014 the RIAI circulated a “précis” or summary, to their Practice Members, of various Senior Counsel opinions on S.I.9 and S.I.80 . The précis was written by David Phelan of Hayes Solicitors. The five Senior Counsel opinions had been prepared on behalf of the various stakeholder groups involved in the negotiations with the Department of the Environment on the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. The introduction to the précis stated:

“Balance of Opinions indicate that liability is not increased and a Certifier can rely on Ancillary Certificates.”

However if one reads Phelan’s full document it is clear that he said no such thing. It is unclear if this statement regarding liability was written by Phelan or added by a third party. Phelan’s text includes some of the following  comments [which we have paraphrased] from the Senior Counsel opinions:

  •  A Design or Assigned Certifier engaged to carry out work under the Regulations undertakes a very serious responsibility and considerably more than the limited qualified Opinions which could be given under the previous regime.
  • Issuing a Completion Certificate in circumstances where the appropriate criteria have not been met may in itself be an act of negligence.
  • The certification given by the Assigned Certifier involves significant responsibilities. The Certifier must certify compliance with plans, calculations, specifications etc. when the Certifier may not have had input into those documents.
  • There is nothing to qualify the nature of the inspections carried out. Building owners may rely upon this to try and pin liability upon Certifiers for failure to inspect a particular element of the building that they may not have physically been able to.
  • In relation to the Design Certificate and the Ancillary Certificate, it appears that the certifier is certifying not just that he or she has exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence but that other members of the design team have too. As such, the certifier is taking responsibility for the work of others and therefore exposed to liability.
  • Reliance on Ancillary Certificates does not represent any significant protection for the Certifier.
  • It is implicit in the Certificate of the Assigned Certifier that the Assigned Certifier must have satisfied himself or herself as to the general competency of the Ancillary Certifiers and the Assigned Certifier is responsible to procure and annex the Ancillary Certificates to the Completion Certificate.
  • The reference to reliance upon Ancillary Certificates in the Completion Certificate means that the Assigned Certifier will require that Ancillary Certificates be given by every other trade or profession involved in a particular project. The Ancillary Certificates may therefore run into several volumes.
  • Failure to co-ordinate the inspection activities of others and co-ordinating procurement of ancillary certification will give rise to a legal liability.
  • There may well be insurance implications, with a significant prospect that at the very least insurance companies will wish to reflect the increased risk in premium.

From these opinions one could take a very different view; a view that the balance of opinions of S.I. 9 indicate that liability is increased and a Certifier cannot rely on Ancillary Certificates; that it is poorly drafted legislation that some of our most eminent Senior Counsel and solicitors cannot make head or tail of. Nobody knows what this law may actually mean but most are agreed on one thing – it will take the Courts to sort it  out. The test case could be any diligent professional caught on the wrong side of a lorry load of contaminated aggregate or a badly sealed flue.

Could this be you?

The BRegs Blog strongly recommend that our readers read the full document even though this will be quite time-consuming. We wish that we could give a more definitive  analysis of the five Senior Counsel opinions but that is beyond the scope of our resources.

Extract to follow:

___________

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY BY DAVID PHELAN

In this memorandum, I have summarised the various Counsels’ Opinions in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. As I indicated at the outset of this memorandum, I would recommend that any interested party would read the actual Opinions as there is detail and nuance in them which by necessity is not captured in the summary.

You asked that I would include an executive summary identifying in short form the views ultimately reached by the various Counsel in relation to Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. I will do so here. However, I would reiterate what I have said immediately above, which is that people should read the more detailed summary of the Counsels’ Opinions contained in the rest of this document and indeed read the Counsels’ Opinions themselves.

INTRODUCTION

I have attempted to do that in this note.  However, there are a few very important points which I must make at the outset, as follows:

  • Each Counsel will have issued the Opinion to their instructing solicitor for the relevant client. As such, although I understand that the respective clients appear to have shared and exchanged the various Counsels’ Opinions, it is still important that I make the point that each Counsel will have given their Opinion only to their instructing solicitor and their own relevant client.
  • I am approaching this on the basis of an understanding that each of the respective clients agreed to share the Opinions they had been furnished by their own Counsel and, on that basis, that neither they nor their Counsel would have any objection to this summary note being prepared.
  • While I have attempted to summarise key points of the Opinions in this document, the reality is that the only way in which a person can establish and properly understand the actual views of the relevant Counsel is by looking at the actual Opinions themselves. As one would expect,  the Opinions  all  go  into  some  detail  in  terms  of  explaining  the  respective Counsels’ understanding of matters, relating some of the instructions they have received and explaining the rationale for any  conclusions reached. Furthermore, each of the Opinions make clear in their own different ways the fact that these are not necessarily straightforward, black and white issues, which lend themselves to very neat, concise Opinions and conclusions. The Opinions, and the underlying issues, are detailed, nuanced and often complicated. It is simply not possible to replicate that detail, those nuances and those difficulties in this note.
  • Where a Counsel gave more than one Opinion, it is necessary to read all of that Counsel’s Opinions together.
  • Finally, what I have outlined below is my own assessment of what appear to me to be the key issues in each of the different Counsels’ Opinions. In preparing this note I have focused on what appears to me to be perhaps the key issue for architects, which is the issue as to whether the Regulations (or before that the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013) impose additional liability on architects in the context of providing Statutory Certificates under the Regulations, as compared with the regime which pertained prior to the introduction of the Regulations. I have to say it may well be the case that any of the respective Counsel might disagree that I have identified the key points in that regard, but I have attempted to do so faithfully and objectively.

GAVIN RALSTON SC

  • The 2014 Regulations are not intended to alter the existing common law liability on architects. They do no more than require the building owner to engage suitably qualified property professionals to carry out a “full service”. The real onus of the Regulations is on the building owner. An architect engaged to carry out work under the Regulations undertakes a very serious responsibility and considerably more than the limited qualified  Opinions which could be given under the previous regime.
  • On the question as to whether the issuance of Certificates under the new regime impose any greater liability on the Assigned Certifier than already exists under the law of negligence, Mr Ralston answers it in two parts. Firstly, the Certificates are actually issued to the Building Control Authority and the Building Control Authority itself would not suffer any damage in consequence of an inaccurate Certificate.  Of course, any third party (such as a purchaser) may be able to make a claim but not as a result  of the Certificate but rather upon negligence (including the possibility of negligence in issuing a Certificate). Secondly, in the absence of negligence for which an architect would be liable, the issuance of a Certificate would not in itself be a ground of liability. However, issuing a Certificate in circumstances where the appropriate criteria have not been met may in itself be an act of negligence.

DENIS MCDONALD SC

  • In relation to the undertaking to be given by the Assigned Certifier, the second part of the undertaking (which relates to the certification given by the Assigned Certifier) involves significant responsibilities. The  Certifier must certify compliance with plans, calculations, specifications etc when the Certifier may not have had input into those documents. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Certificate to qualify the nature of the inspection to be carried out by the Certifier in the undertaking. One can therefore envisage that building owners may rely upon this in the future to try and pin liability upon Certifiers for failure to inspect a particular element of the building or works notwithstanding that the Certifier may not have physically been able to do so.
  • In relation to the Design Certificate and the Ancillary Certificate, it appears that the architect is certifying not just that he or she has exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence but that other members of the design team have too. As such, the architect is taking responsibility for the work of others onto himself or herself and therefore exposed to liability.
  • Mr McDonald is not convinced that the reference to reliance on Ancillary Certificates in the Design Certificate represents any significant protection for the Certifier.
  • The reference to reliance upon Ancillary Certificates in the Completion Certificate means that the Assigned Certifier will require that Ancillary Certificates be given by every other trade or profession involved in a particular project and the Ancillary Certificates may therefore run into several volumes.
  • There may well be insurance implications, with a significant prospect that at the very least insurance companies will wish to reflect the increased risk in premium.

PETER BLAND SC

  • In the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, the Assigned Certifier does no more than confirm the exercise of his own skill, care and diligence. It does not constitute a warranty as to the accuracy of the Ancillary Certificates of others.
  • The Assigned Certifier is entitled to rely on the exercise of reasonable skill, care and diligence by the Ancillary Certifiers in the context of the reference in the Completion Certificate to the Inspection Plan.
  • It is implicit in the Certificate of the Assigned Certifier that the Assigned Certifier must have satisfied himself or herself as to the general competency of the Ancillary Certifiers and the Assigned Certifier is responsible to procure and annex the Ancillary Certificates to the Completion Certificate.
  • The modifications to the form of the Completion Certificate (as compared to the 2013 Regulations) are reasonably effective in addressing the concern as to whether the 2014 Regulations extend the potential liability of the architect who signs the Certificate so as to amount to a warranty in respect of the works of others. The wording of the Certificate may still be less than perfect, but the Assigned Certifier should not fear being found liable for the negligence of an Ancillary Certifier.

DAVID NOLAN SC

  • The final Certificates in the 2014 Regulations are a significant modification of the previous Certificates.
  • The final draft Certificate of Compliance on Completion (the one in the 2014 Regulations) qualifies the role of the Assigned Certifier having regard to the work of others. The Assigned Certifier is no longer certifying the work of others, although it does have a role in co-ordinating the inspection activities of others and co-ordinating procurement of ancillary certification. Failure to so co-ordinate will give rise to a legal liability.
  • The final Certificate of the Assigned Certifier is based upon he or she exercising reasonable skill, care and diligence at all times and so long as the Assigned Certifier has exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, legal liability has been tempered.
  • The new wording of the Certificates in the 2014 Regulations are a very significant improvement from those appended to the 2013 Regulations. Necessary modification and improvement and clarifications have been achieved so as to lessen the broad legal liability previously imposed.

JOHN TRAINOR SC AND SADHBHANNA NI FHLOINN BL

  • Their Opinion, from September 2013, relates to the 2013 Regulations.
  • They consider whether in the future third parties might seek to hold builders liable by reason of a certification error.
  • A failure to comply with the undertaking and/or an error in certification in the Completion Certificate would not per say appear to impose any additional statutory liability on the builder for which he/she could not have previously been pursued.
  • In considering whether in the future third parties might seek to hold builders liable by reason of a certification error, they conclude that an argument in favour of civil liability is highly stateable and that the risk of a court imposing civil liability in respect of an error in certification is thus very real.  They have strong concern that Section 21 of the Building Control Act 1990 would not  be  sufficiently  strong  to  exclude  the  possibility  of  civil  liability  for  damages  for  misrepresentation  (arising  from  a  certification  error)  being imposed on a builder.
  • The prospect arises that in actions against Design Certifiers for errors in certification (against based on negligent misrepresentation) one might see such parties applying to the court for leave to seek contribution or indemnity from builders in appropriate cases.
  • The 2013 Regulations did present considerable potential risk to builders who have been subjected to additional potential liabilities over and above those extant under the regime prior to the 2013 Regulations

Read David Phelan’s full document: Memo re Senior Counsels’ Opinions 15 Sept 2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

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

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

 

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

Open Letter RIAI

The following letter was sent to the President of the representative body for architects (RIAI) by David McHugh MRIAI, one of the signatories of the recent RIAI EGM motion debated on 12th August 2014. The letter was forwarded on to us here on 15th September 2014. 

______________

Dear President,

As one of the proposers of the motion that the Institute should adopt as its first priority a policy that S.I. 9 be revoked and be replaced by better legislation, I fully respect all the members’ right to support or oppose the motion as they see fit, and the postponement /adjournment of the recent EGM has in effect frustrated the democratic right of the membership as a whole to decide this important matter.

So, please, publish the date for the reconvened EGM and let the members decide.

On the issue of the motion, I need to point out that this is not an “either or” motion, but is a “both and” strategy.

Publicly pointing out the need for replacement of a deeply flawed piece of legislation is not inconsistent with promoting a replacement. It is, in my view, being honest and consistent.

I believe there is a need to tell the truth here: it is clear that the Department of the Environment is promoting the position that it is all fine, and that there are just a few cranks and troublemakers within the profession opposing the system, when in fact an unprecedented attendance at both EGMs clearly shows that the profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9, and the RIAI executive has, by its public silence, aligned itself with the Department’s strategy.

I know that I speak for a significant number of members who feel completely betrayed by the Institute in their secretive conduct in negotiating and ushering in and even welcoming S.I.9.

I was shocked to be told by the Practice Director that the RIAI has no function in advising the members on whether and on what terms they should accept or refuse appointments as DC [Design Certifier] or AC [Assigned Certifier], all in the face of clear legal advice from several quarters of the very serious risks associated.

Is it any wonder that , as your recent column in Architecture Ireland says, there is a perception abroad now that the RIAI no longer represents its members’ interests ?

If it is indeed the case as you infer in your article that “policy and other maters in our members interest are decided at that Council table and not elsewhere”, one wonders what is the point of having any EGM or AGM, if  the membership cannot direct the Council policy.

On this much I hope we can agree, let the members have their say now and let the Council and executive listen .

Regards

David McHugh

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

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

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report

Minister Hogan’s departure- Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

Upcoming CPD for BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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UPCOMING CPD for BC(A)R SI.9

RIAI Design Certifier Dublin 4 September (Note this is a repeat of July 2014 event reported here:)

Innovation in Building 12 September in Citywest

CMG event Dublin 24 September (Repeat of March event reported here: )

CIF Annual Conference 1 October

RIAI Conference Dublin RDS 12-13 October (Note Building Control will be a topic for discussion)

Architecture Expo 12-13 October

Finally .. NZEB conference in October 15

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

by Bregs Blog admin team

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

Your essential Building Control ( Amendment) Regulation links. Don’t take our word for it go to source- here are all the source documents frequently referred to in any discussion about the regulations, including the regulations. Click on the link after each title to get to the site:

The Regulations: click link here

The Technical Guidance Documents (TGD): click link here

The BCMS ‘Building Control Management System’: click link here

The Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government: click link here

The Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Works: click link here

The 34 Building Control Authorities ( city and county councils): click link here

The SCSI Owners Guide: click link here

The local authority Building Control regulations leaflet: click link here

Cork County Council guidance for Commencement Notices: click link here

 

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert

by Bregs Blog admin team

danger_ahead

In this alarming radio piece on the “This Week” programme from Sunday 8th June on RTÉ Radio 1, the recent warning concerning pyrite affected blockwork is discussed.  New and very recent pyrite affected buildings appear to have been brought to the attention of the Department and Minister over 2 months ago, but are only coming to public attention now after recent alerts by professional representative bodies representing engineers and architects (ACEI and RIAI).

Listen to RTÉ Radio 1 podcast- click here

It is being alleged that current problems center around pyrite affected blockwork, a potentially more serious issue than previously affected pyrite affected ground floor slabs. Pyrite affected blockwork may require entire dwellings to be demolished; pyrete affected ground floors could be removed while leaving the overall building relatively intact.

We believe pyrite affected blockwork may have been detected in new housing in Drogheda and at least one school (under construction) in the Leinster region. It is not clear how this recent pyrite manifestation will affect certification (and certifiers) and the new system of building regulation introduced in March 2014, and it remains to be confirmed how certifiers can issue guarantees for building materials (like blockwork) in the absence of an independently certified and inspected system of quarries or building materials.

The cornerstone of the new bulding regulations was to be accountability and traceability of all materials, workmanship and professional input. This was to to eliminate issues such as pyrite- the Minister stated a “Clear and auditable trail” would ensure effective eliminate of a re-occurrence of the pyrite problems that permeated boom housing around the country. These new cases are notable as they appear to be recently completed or projects currently under construction.

Building control authorities are actively involved, as they are responsible for inspection of sites and building materials. A report is awaited from the Department of the Environment.

More information will be posted as it become available.

Other posts of interest:

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks – click link here

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification? – click link here

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel – click link here

Radio Clip- O’Cofaigh: self building, self-regulation & the consumer – click link here

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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

Dáil: Proactive vs Reactive Building Control? BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

 

The current cost of Building Control

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following list is the costs for Building Control in Local Authorities in Ireland currently, listed by county. Information source is the informative Government website link below (scroll down county by county- see relvant section “Enforcement and Building Control: Ensuring compliance with planning permissions and regulations through inspections and enforcement actions.“). Link:

http://localauthorityfinances.com/spending/1/.

Please note the following figures appear to include planning services also. If anyone has a more detailed breakdown please contact us.

County      Cost

Carlow   €352,000 (0.8% of €44m or €6.37 per person)

Cavan   €170,400 (0.3% of €56.8m or €2.33 per person)

Clare   €2,147,600 (1.3% of €165.2m or €11.14 per person)

Cork City   €991,200 (0.6% of €165.2m or €8.91 per person)

Cork County   €2,146,900 (0.7% of €306.7m or €5.21 per person)

Donegal   €1,108,800 (0.8% of €138.6m or €7.19 per person)

Dublin City   €4,028,500 (0.5% of €805.7m or €7.34 per person)

DL-Rathdown   €1,650,000 (1% of €165.5m or €7.91 per person)

Fingal    €1,740,800 (0.8% of €217.6m or €6.30 per person)

Galway City   €322,800 (0.4% of €80.7m or €4.74 per person)

Galway County   €974,400 (0.8% of €121.8m or €5.42 per person)

Kerry   €1,580,800 (1.6% of €98.8m or €10.61 per person)

Kildare   €1,107,000 (0.9% of €123m or €5.25 per person)

Kilkenny   €490,400 (0.8% of €61.3m or €5.07 per person)

Laois   €539,000 (1% of €53.9m or €6.51 per person)

Leitrim   €306,900 (0.9% of €34.1m or €9.53 per person)

Limerick   €1,385,600 (0.8% of €173.2m or €6.77 per person)

Longford   €449,000 (1% of €44.9m or €11.93 per person)

Louth   €745,800 (1.1% of €67.8m or €5.96 per person)

Mayo   €622,500 (0.5% of €124.5m or €5.02 per person)

Meath   €486,500 (0.5% of €97.3m or €2.74 per person)

Monaghan   €208,000 (0.4% of €52m or €3.37 per person)

Offaly   €325,200 (0.6% of €54.2m or €4.09 per person)

Roscommon   €727,200 (1.2% of €60.6m or €11.82 per person)

Sligo   €707,000 (1.4% of €50.5m or €10.64 per person)

South Dublin   €1,741,600 (0.8% of €217.7m or €6.21 per person)

Tipperary   €1,514,400 (1.2% of €126.2m or €9.32 per person)

Waterford   €493,200 (0.4% of €123.3m or €4.23 per person)

Westmeath   €924,000 (1.5% of €61.6m or €11.07 per person)

Wexford   €1,338,400 (1.4% of €95.6m or €9.54 per person)

Wicklow   €928,000 (1% of €92.8m or €6.48 per person)

EDIT: 

Following our post a comment suggested this link “Get raw data about local authority income and spending in Ireland” link here (from same Govt website).

Local Authority raw data excel doc here: Local-Authority-Raw-Data-1

Please note this is a revised version of an earlier post which had some arithmetic errors which have now been corrected. Many thanks to Building Control Departments for spotting these and bringing them to our attention.

Top 7 posts for the week-10th May

by Bregs Blog admin team

Top-7-Consoles-of-All-Time-by-The-English-Gamer

It has been a very busy week on the blog- we are approaching 70,000 views!

Here are the top 7 posts for the week of 10th May- click on the title to see post!

Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Plan (post 1 of 2)

An Architectural Technologist’s 6 questions to employer

Specialist Certifier 2- Architect: Questions and Answers

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE- Local Authority advice

Specialist Certifier 1- Engineer: Questions and Answers

Practical Post 12: “architects only” club?

Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Form (post 2 of 2)

Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Plan (post 1 of 2)

by Bregs Blog admin team

istock-photo-construction

The Blog was recently contacted by a Registered Building Surveyor. His letter addressed Minister Phil Hogan’s stated costs for BC(A)R SI.9 at between €1000 and €3000. We table the letter received and also the pdf inspection plan kindly prepared for review by blog readers which is attached also. This is part 1 of a two part post. The second post will deal with a Draft Inspection Form.

___________

Post 1: A Registered Building Surveyor’s Inspection Plan

Dear BReg Blog,

Please find attached my Preliminary Site Inspection List. I prepared this overall list to help evaluate the number of site inspections that would be required. This list is not exhaustive.  Some may think it is too in depth, others may think it is not enough. Anyone wishing to comment or add to this list please do so.

It would be of great benefit to everyone and maybe a global template can be established.

This will be broken down into separate Inspection sheets for each of the stages, (33 inspection sheets minmal per project),where critical information, client name, address, date of inspection, completed Elements of construction can be signed off, even jointly by certifier and contractor.

All this will be backed up by photographs and sketches.  It can then be all collated and sent to the Building Control Authority with the final completion certificate.

The list is prepared on the basis of carrying out inspections at the various critical stages, throughout a project, from start to finish.

It is important to note that no matter how small or big the project is (an extension greater than 40 sq.m. or a new house), the list shows the minimum inspections. An architect’s designed one-off house would have more specific detailing and as such would require additional inspections and more attention to detail

From looking at the attached list of 33 inspections, each stage could take upto three hours, (99 hours)

Taking into consideration travel time, the inspection, meeting with the builder, returning to the office collating information, downloading photos and contacting and reporting to the client.

On comparing this list from a time perspective, it was interesting to see that it is comparable to the RIAI’s quantative time of 160 hours and the recent posting which appeared in The Engineers Journal on 24th April 2014: “Building Control Regulations: how it works in practice”, where 13 days work has been established for the on-site works(7 hour day = 91 hours). See post here.

Another posting quantified an hourly rate of €6.25, based on the ministers thinking of what an Assigned. See post here.

Designer/Certifier should charge.  Who would engage in such work and take on the responsibility required Under BC(A)R SI9. We are professionals, who have studied and learned through experience aiming to make a living and take on responsibility.

The Minister should read this list and have a re-think!!!

I hope that anyone reading the list will find it of benefit and to reiterate if anyone wants To add or detract any item, please feel free to do so, it will be for the common good.

Regards,

Registered Building Surveyor

Attached PDF Inspection Plan: Preliminary Site Inspection Framework

___________

Other posts of interest on the topic of certifiers, certification, inspections and fees:

Specialist Certifier 1- Engineer: Questions and Answers – click here

Certifiers call for help! – click here

Practical Post 9: Fees & numbers of inspections? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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

O’Cofaigh: Competitiveness issues & BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice | BRegs Blog- click link here

Complaint to Minister: Fee fixing & BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

 

FAQ: BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Here is a link to the representative organisation for self-builders (IAOSB) frequently asked questions section for Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014):

Questions_and_answers_on_building_control_(amendment)_regulation_s.i.9_of_2014

Extract from IAOSB website (with permission):

______________

Questions and Answers on Building Control (Amendment) S.I.9 of 2014

What is Building Control (Amendment) S.I.9 of 2014?

According to Minister Phil Hogan, “the new Building Control Amendment Regulations which came into operation on 1 March 2014 will greatly strengthen the arrangements currently in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgment of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.The new regulations are necessary following the widespread instances of failure by owners, designers and builders to comply with their statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990 to design and construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations. These obligations apply to all sectors of the housing market, including the self-build sector.” The Minister is referring to Priory Hall and Pyrite situation in which self builders had no involvement with and was caused mainly by developers and dodgy building contractors.

Will it effect self builders?

Yes, this Amendment will cause severe restrictions on self builders and extra costs which could be as high as 10% of the overall cost of the build.

What is different for self builders now and prior to 1st of March 2014?

As a self builder you now have to nominate:

• A competent Design professional to design the house in accordance the Building Regulations.

• A competent Builder to construct the house in accordance the Building Regulations.

• A competent Assigned Certifier who will inspect and certify the build from start to finish. You as the building owner also have to make sure that all the certifications are done according to the Building Regulations.

 Can the Architect be nominated as the Builder?

No

Can the Design Certifier also be the Assign Certifier?

Yes

Can you nominate yourself as the Builder?

According to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government “yes”. However, there are still legal question that have got to be clarified as far as the signature on the undertaking by the builder form. More….

 Is it legal for you to sign as the builder?

According to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government “yes”. However, we are still waiting for clarification on this matter from Attorney General. More….

Can you self build using Direct Labour?

According to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government “yes”. However, as the building owner you have to be satisfied that the contractors you have chosen are competent. More….

Do builders have to be registered?

There is a voluntary registration of the building contractors through the website CIRI.ie until 1st of March 2015 when it becomes compulsory.

What is the definition of “competent” as far as this Amendment?

According to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, “the Building Control Authority has no role in checking or verifying the builder’s competence – it is the owner’s responsibility.” However, under the Code of Practice a competent person is; “a person is deemed to be a competent person where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size and/or complexity of the building or works, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken” . More….

Would Assign Certifiers sign off a project done by self builders?

You have to shop around as there are a lot of professionals who are not happy with the way this Amendment will hold them responsible should something go wrong.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014, is it going to cost you more than before 1st of March 2014?

According to Minister Hogan, as a self builder you will find an increase cost of between €1000 to €3000. It is not clear where this figure came from and what methodology minister is using. Industry estimates an additional 190 hours needed by professionals to certify under si9. This would suggest a cost of €15k per typical house but may vary. Should you wish to use a Building Contractor, you need to add an extra 10% to cover the cost. So on a €180,000 house, a contractor would charge around €18000.

 Is the country ready for this Amendment?

No. There are a lot of issues that need to be clarified for both the self builders and professionals. Through our own experience, the local Building Control Authorities themselves are still in the dark regarding this Regulation. The Minister has even rejected letters from RIAI President, Mr Robin Mandal asking for the deferment . More….

Are we happy as an Association about the introduction of Amendment S.I.9?

No. While we welcome a tougher policing of the building industry, we believe that this Amendment will cause a lot of hardship on most self builders to the point that they will not be able to go ahead with their build. We also object to the system of registration of builders being set up by CIF. This system forces you to choose your contractors from a selected group who have been registered through CIRI by 1st of March 2015.

 

For more information contact us or visit BREG BLOG.

FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Projects & BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

FDI-investment

In our recent post “Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9” we noted “The impact of SI.9 was alarming enough for Minister Ruairi Quinn to insist on a part-deferral for healthcare and school projects. The FDI sector is as vulnerable to the adverse unintended consequences of BC(A)R SI.9 as any other”. (SI.105 previous post here)

In today’s piece we expand on the raft of unintended consequences of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) on the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector, critical for job creation and the economy. It is widely anticipated that the FDI projects will be the subject of another similar part-deferral. Minister Hogan’s explanation as to the reasons for SI.105 less than one week after BC(A)R SI.9 was discussed in the Dáil: see ” Minister explains part deferral SI.105“. President of the representative body for architects (RIAI) Robin Mandal wrote to Ministers Bruton and Hogan in February outlining the compelling reasons for deferral- see post here.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2014 and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Projects 31 March 2014

1. Background

The Regulations set out to improve standards in design and construction following the Priory Hall and pyrite disasters in the residential sector. Despite the limited need for any change at all, they impact on all non-residential projects requiring a fire safety certificate.

The regulations came into force on 1 March. Immediately afterwards, the Minister for the Environment issued a derogation from the regulations in respect of education and health projects. The question is, what other sectors do the regulations also affect adversely? Where will the next derogation come?

FDI projects are a leading candidate.

The regulations have been conceived primarily to respond to disasters in the speculative residential sector. In this sector, the technical design is not particularly complex. In this sector, also, the design is largely complete, or capable of being made so, before the construction process starts when the Design Certificate must be lodged with the local authority. Furthermore, in the commercial residential sector, there is an easily-achievable time lapse between Project Completion and Handover. None of this is true in many FDI projects.

The likely availability of detail drawings and specifications to future interested parties such as purchasers or tenants seems to be conceived to facilitate legal action against the designers and builders of houses and apartments by aggrieved owners. It does not protect the intellectual property latent in the information. Intellectual property in FDI projects is vital.

Furthermore, the regulations are not adapted to different forms of construction project procurement. One single “Assigned Certifier” must certify compliance with building regulations for the entire construction. The regulations do not allow for, e.g., multiple parallel main contractors; or for separate shell-and-core and subsequent fit-out contracts. They are not framed to facilitate the extensive design input from engineering or envelope specialists. This is how FDI projects are structured.

All in all, the unintended consequences for FDI projects are disastrous.

2. Consequences for projects scheduled to start on site in early 2014

By requiring the client to appoint a “Design Certifier” and an “Assigned Certifier”, the regulations cut across many of the defined relationships in the industry, as they are conceived in relation to a traditional design/construction “split”. Each certifier must be a registered professional. This may work satisfactorily if the lead consultant such as the architect or the engineer is appointed. However, at this time, the consequences for professional liability are serious. Several Senior Counsel have given Opinions to the effect that in their present wording, the certificates impose levels of liability which are tantamount to warranties and may be uninsurable.

If and when the liability problem is resolved, the problem of contractual relationships remains. The Forms of Contract, both standard and bespoke, in widespread use across Ireland require rewriting to include the new powers, duties and relationships. This has not been done.

Because of all this, parallel sets of unintended consequences are likely:

  • A hiatus in the start of construction projects in March-April 2014 as the construction sector struggles to adapt its work practices to a set of regulations which cut across the established relationships. Despite soothing words from the Minister in responses to recent Dáil questions, the decline in the number of Commencement Notices serviced indicates a 70% drop in construction starts.
  • Delays as the various actors rebalance their relationships and jockey for legal or commercial advantage.

3. Consequence for project cost

The Government expect the regulations will increase costs. This remark was made primarily with the commercial residential sector in mind. The increased cost of a project which would already be fully-designed is likely to be smaller. Such increases might arise in three areas:

  • Increased cost of professional indemnity insurance;
  • Cost of preparing and making new submissions to local authority;
  • Construction certification costs.

Professional indemnity insurance premia will increase.

The increase for 2014 is predicted to be 15%. This gives no visibility on what happens after that. It is likely that unless the regulations are changed, premia will increase further. This is because the sole “funding mechanism for redress” built into the system is the PII premia paid by the design professionals. If all construction defects going forward are to be funded out of PII premia (ultimately funded by clients), those premia cannot but increase.

Architects have been advocating no-fault Latent Defects Insurance / “project insurance” to be taken out by the client at the start of the job. Such a LDI scheme is already factored into many FDI projects and is unlikely to increase project cost.

There is a significant cost in preparing and making the detailed submissions required prior to handover. These require new dedicated sets of design drawings and specifications “to show compliance with the building regulations”. The level of information required is not fully established but is likely to be on a par with a fire safety certificate application.

The cost of contractors sourcing, providing and retaining, as they are required to do, sets of completion certificates, warranties and the like is difficult to determine.

It is difficult to hazard a guess as to the increased capital cost of these items. No regulatory impact assessment was prepared before the regulations were promulgated and so no cost estimate is available from any third party. Such an assessment should be undertaken, even at this late stage.

4. Consequence for project timescale to handover

The regulations introduce an extended gateway at the start of the project on site, and a new gateway just in advance of project handover on completion. These gateways are separate for each part-project or project-phase, with each fire safety certificate apparently requiring separate sets of certificates. More complexity.

The Commencement Notice is to be accompanied by a Design Certificate, signed by a named designer, to the effect that the design complies in full with the building regulations. The building control authority do not audit the design but must be satisfied that the Certificate has been duly worded.

The Design certificate is also to be accompanied by “such plans, calculations, specifications and particulars as are necessary to demonstrate how the proposed works or building will comply with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations.” This will involve dedicated drawings and specifications to cover the structure, accessibility, drainage, energy etc.. The length of time this additional work will take will vary between projects but will take some weeks.

Just before completion, a further submission is to be made, of revised drawings, specifications, inspection plan, commissioning certificates and more. Without the local authority being satisfied that this submission is valid, the building may not be not be occupied or used.

There are provisions for the accelerated lodgement of certificates which may ameliorate the problem. However, the amount of material needed (typically, some hundreds of documents) will take considerable time to assemble. A similar exercise is done in assembling a Safety File and an O+M file. These, however, are assembled after handover and there is no time pressure. Gathering material in advance of completion is likely to delay handover.

As no regulatory impact assessment was carried out, there is no independent third party advice on how much more time this process will add to a typical project. Designers and contractors will, presumably, be at pains to minimize the extra time involved. One would hazard a guess that the unavoidable extra time to gather the hundreds or sometimes thousands of documents in advance of Handover will add perhaps a couple of weeks to a typical project.

5. Consequence for the protection of intellectual property

The regulations require lodgement of design drawings, specifications, test certificates etc. It is intended that this be available to future purchasers of buildings. It is unclear whether this will be available to the public and on what terms. This is potentially a serious problem for foreign-backed projects. The requirement impacts on (a) design to non-Irish construction and engineering standards and (b) protection of intellectual property.

* (a) Design to non-Irish construction and engineering standards will be more problematic than it presently is. The drawings and specifications to be lodged must “demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the regulations”. Compliance is usually referenced to the building regulations technical guidance documents. Projects designed to other standards will be open to challenge in unnecessary ways and will be threatened by the requirement to lodge, for example, engineering calculations.

* (b) Protection of intellectual property. There is no clarity on whether public access will be denied to detail floor layouts, construction details and design specifications or on what conditions it will be facilitated. It seems likely that the tendency will be to facilitate public access to all this material, and to download it against a modest fee. Material on the web will be viewable all over the world. This is a grave threat to the valuable intellectual property in many FDI projects.

6. Problems relevant to promoters of larger or more complex projects

Furthermore, the following questions seem not to have been considered in drafting the legislation.

6.1 Appointments and tenders

* What happens if the client wishes to appoint his own Engineer from abroad as a Certifier? This person, or these persons, will have to be admitted to the Irish register of engineers – or of architects, depending on the qualifications – and this will involve sometimes protracted review of qualifications under international agreements. Delay.

* What happens if the Design Certifier and the Assigned Certifier are not the same person? This possibility seems sensible, but there is no provision for the Design Certifier to make further submissions after construction starts. Delay.

* What happens if the architect and/or engineer is novated to a Design-Build Contractor (having worked for the developer/other client at the design stage)? If the architect/designer is novated to the Design-Build contractor, the architect and/or engineer will either have to be retained by the owner in a separate direct appointment or another Certifier appointed to the project. The areas of potential dispute regarding design authority and liability appear not to have been considered.

6.2 The construction site

* What happens to Enabling Works contracts? Do all projects now have to have a main contractor on site from Commencement, with associated costs? This also has implications for other forms of procurement including construction management, management contracting etc.

* How does one ‘value engineer’ a change which is not in compliance with the Design Certificate when the project is on site and after the Design Certificates are complete, and the Design Certifier is no longer appointed?

6.3 Possession and handover

* What happens if the building owner wants to occupy the building on a phased basis or when part of the building is not complete? The Regulations permit the submission of Completion Certificates for ‘areas within a building or development of phases thereof’. However, there is no provision for the Certifier to ‘qualify’ the certificate to exclude certain works that are incomplete or not relevant at the time of the Certificate.

Solutions

A simple way to remove the problem for FDI and related projects is to rewrite the legislation so that it applies to projects in the residential sector only, and not to other projects. Then, the opportunity should be taken for a thoroughgoing review of all such hurdles, not to lower standards, but to simplify a process which is growing inexorably.

Chartered Surveyors: “More Priory Hall scenarios could happen if the laws are not enforced”

by Bregs Blog admin team

priory-hall

Kevin Hollingsworth, Chairman of the professional representative body of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI) in a recent article in the Sunday Business post on 9th February 2014 on the importance of enforcement and resourcing of Local Authorities. The SCSI is a key stakeholder involved in the design of the regulation.

extract off article: “More Priory Hall scenarios could happen if the the laws are not enforced

One of the key issues in relation to the success of the new system will be the resourcing of the local authorities. The administration of the system will involve maintenance of submitted information and registers of certificates. A consistent approach to the administrative validation by individual local authorities will need to be demonstrated, to ensure confidence in the system by the industry and others affected by it.

Local authorities will also be responsible for the policing of the system. Traditionally, the building control system suffered resource issues and struggled to achieve 15 per cent rates of inspection.

By way of comparison, there is a 100 per cent inspection level for new homes in Northern Ireland. The same is the case in the US and in much of Europe, where 100 per cent inspection levels are required by law. The adequate resourcing of local authorities to carry out inspections and administration will be a key factor in the effectiveness of the new building control legislation.

The resources allocated by Local Authorities to the implementation of BC(A)R SI.9 in one of the issues noted in the recent repeated calls to ministers by the architect’s representative body the RIAI  to defer SI.9. The RIAI is also a key stakeholder in the formation process for BC(A)R SI.9.

Link to SCSI Sunday Business post article on 9th February 2014:

http://www.odpm.ie/_fileupload/News/More Priory Hall Scenarios Sunday Business Post – 09022014.pdf

Link to RIAI letters to Minister Hogan and Bruton calling for deferral:

RIAI_PRESIDENT_LETTER_TO_MINISTER_BRUTON

Letter_from_RIAI_President_to_Minister_Hogan_15Jan2014

“We simply cannot allow buildings to go uninspected.. #CiaranCuffe #bregs

by bregs blog admin team

0003c128-314

..and I think that means Phil Hogan has to make sure that people inspect buildings. Whether its the council officials or whether its his officials, you need some system of inspection”

“Ultimately we have to move towards a registry for the builders, so we know if somebody is a bona fide builder or not, and also, I think the County Council or the City Council has to have some system of inspections. That’s what happens 50 miles up the road from Navan in Northern Ireland, it happens in Wales, it happens in Scotland, it happens in England. And around Europe there is some system of inspection”

“Without a reasonable expectation that you will be inspected, there will be people out there who will avoid complying with the letter and the spirit of the law”

Ciaran Cuffe on The Right Hook, Newstalk:   http://www.newstalk.ie/player/listen_back/9/5835/27th_November_2013_-_The_Right_Hook_Part_3 (Interview begins at 04:05)

A Rural Perspective #bregs #VivianCummins

by Mark Stephens

Vivian Cummins -  RIAI Eastern Region

Rural-Based Architect versus the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013

While I was reading the forty questions about the BC(A)R 2013 that the RIAI Past Presidents put to the current RIAI Council last week I was wondering about how many of them related to my own business and to rural dwellers in Ireland. I was particularly interested in Question 32: Where are the supports for architects [as recommended by the National Standards Authority of Ireland]?

With a small rural-based practice on the Kildare/Carlow/Laois borders I have a mixed bag of work. For the last five years it has morphed from medium scaled commercial work to mostly residential with fortunately lots of legal due diligence work that has helped to keep the wolf from the door.

My biggest challenge with residential work has always been justifying a reasonable fee when measured against a local unqualified ‘planning permission practitioner with pencil’ (aka Architecture-Lite). This is someone who does planning applications for a house, all in, say for €999 and does not charge VAT. It is a lonely, uphill battle to try and explain to potential clients the level of expertise now required in the increasingly regulated business of architecture from Building Regulations to Health + Safety requirements. The poor person trying to build their new home will be faced with so many new paperwork and bureaucracy costs that they are very likely to make the mistake of skimping on the most important part – having a suitably qualified architect from the outset who will produce compliant designs.

If these onerous regulations are imposed it is regrettable that there are no agencies being provided simultaneously that will provide guidance, help to improve standards and iron out problems such as currently exist with the food, farming and site safety sectors. I will be left to appear like the fuss-pot with all my ‘essential’ paperwork whereas ‘planning permission practitioners with pencils’ and their clients can continue to ignore all of that and self-build to their hearts content. They can seemingly disregard all legislation without any risk of censure from statutory authorities. Will this change in any real way with the BC(A)R 2013?

I am always proud to introduce myself as an architect when I first meet people. I am not so sure that ‘assigned certifier’ will have the same ring. I am not looking forward to 2014 and having to explain, on my own, yet another major raft of unnecessarily complex legislation to a largely unsuspecting public.

Vivian Cummins, B.Arch. (Sc), Dip. Arch., Dip. Arch. Tech., MRIAI
Nominee for the Eastern Region member of the RIAI Council 2013.

Continue the debate on this Linked-In group on the Building Control Amendment Regulations…

by Mark Stephens

If you’re on Linked-In then why not also join this separate Linked-In group discussing the Building Control Amendment Regulations:

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Conversation-about-Irish-Building-Control

The social media campaign has started…

by Mark Stephens

The BRegsForum is now ‘social-media’ active:

CLICK HERE FOR TWITTER – please follow-us

CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK PAGE – please Like-us

Posts from this blog will also auto-post to these destinations.