The Building Control Amendment Regulations 2013 have been revised and were signed into law on 15th January 2014 effective from 1st March 2014 without any transitional period. Now known as BC(A)R S.I. No. 9 of 2014, the full version can be read in full here. This has far reaching consequences for all involved in building from clients to builders and architects and will add a further layer of control to the building industry.
Why is it being introduced? : It is primarily a reaction to a number of high profile building control failures whereby completed buildings were occupied or inhabited having never been safe to do so. It does not increase the building regulation standards but rather aims to ensure compliance with existing regulations. The intent should be to protect the consumer or building users however it falls short in many areas as outlined below. The current system relies on self-regulation by professionals in the form of Opinions on Compliance required for conveyancing. The new system still involves self-regulation by building professionals but now on a Statutory basis. To save on costs and resources the Building Control Authorities will hold an administrative function with zero liability unlike the UK where such authorities assume a central role and are actively part of ensuring better building standards collectively.
It will effectively signal the end of house construction without the mandatory involvement of competent professionals and builders and may ultimately bring the practice of ‘self-build’ to an end.
Who does it affect? It will affect any building works that involve any of the following:
– A Fire Safety Certificate (ie, most non-residential buildings but including apartments)
– The construction of a domestic dwelling.
– The extension of a dwelling where the extension is >40sq.m in floor area.
What are the Changes? From 1st March 2014, the building owner is obliged under the law to engage an Assigned Designer and Assigned Certifier for works falling within the above categories. These new roles must be fulfilled by a qualified and registered architect, engineer or building surveyor. Therefore the days of a building owner engaging a builder directly without any professional involvement except on small domestic projects is coming to an end. In summary it will involve 1. Statutory Certification in relation to Design and Construction, 2. Mandatory Site Inspections by registered professionals and 3. Public Record for future reference by future building owners or prospective purchasers.
Before eligible works start… a Commencement Notice is submitted (current requirement) but now it must include a Notice of Assignment by the building owner of an Assigned Certifier and competent Builder including Certificates of Undertaking by both. Also to be submitted is a Preliminary Inspection Plan, which outlines the key site inspections to be undertaken and recorded, as well as drawings, calculations and specifications demonstrating compliance with the building regulations. The Assigned Designer is also required to submit a Certificate of Compliance for Design.
During the Site Works… the site inspection plan must be implemented, records kept and revisions to the design drawings updated.
Upon Completion of the Building… a Certificate of Completion from the builder and Assigned Certifier must be submitted along with any revised plans, calculations or specifications and the implemented inspection plan. The Building Control Authority have 21 days in which to validate the submission and place the details on the public register. Until the building appears on the public register the works cannot be used or occupied. This will prove particularly impractical in the scenario where a house is occupied during extension works but the extension, possibly containing the kitchen, cannot be occupied until on the public register.
The Verdict? The new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations do not go far enough for the consumer but instead will likely add unnecessary professional fees for some who often may have been as well served by a competent Building Control Authority. The online filing and electronic records are a good development provide the I.T. resources can cope and it will improve building standards although possibly not enough. Because it relies on professional self-certification, the redress mechanism by building owners will rely on the professional indemnity insurance of the Assigned Certifier and Assigned Designers. Like any insurance providers P.I.I. firms will seek to defend claims and ultimately it is the building owner who will be given the run around and possibly prolong the remedy of the defect. A better system would be the inclusion of Latent Defects Insurance whereby defects arising within a prescribed period after completion are fixed without contestation of claim. The compliance of any building is only as good as the skills of the builder and the current legislation does not include any mandatory licensing of contractors though this is expected in the years to come.
How can Bright Designs help? The roles of Assigned Designer and Assigned Certifier may be fulfilled by the building’s architect as a separate role and responsibility to architectural design. As a practice we have been engaging in CPD provided by the RIAI (http://www.riai.ie/) to up-skill for these imminent changes. We design with compliance in mind and this additional level of regulation will be implemented on behalf of our clients with the same attention to detail and level of professional service we apply to all of our projects. For a free consultation on how this might affect your planned building project please visit our home page.
The full version of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations can be found at : http://environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/BuildingStandards/FileDownLoad,35135,en.pdf
The above information is intended only as a brief overview or summary of the new regulations from the perspective of the building owner. Therefore reference should be made to the www.environ.ie website and all current information published at time of enquiry. No responsibility will be taken by Bright Design Architects for any error or omission in the foregoing which is offered in goodwill.