This opinion post was submitted to the blog on Friday 6th June 2014.
BC(A)R SI.9- BCMS: “must do better”
More than three months after the launch of the new national building regulation online I.T. system, Building Control Management System (BCMS), users have been told to submit all of the paperwork for the completion of every building project in the country…. on paper. (See link here)
The new system has been developed by Fingal County Council with the Local Government Management Agency. Figures for the exact cost of the BCMS are not currently available, but we believe the quoted cost this year to date is in the region of €200,000 (See link here). It is unclear as to who tendered for, was awarded and then designed and developed the BCMS website late last year.
There have been widespread concerns about the security of the system, lack of password protection and security protocols (See links here and here🙂 and serious teething problems both for users and the local authorities (See link here).
Short Form Commencement Notice issues
The ‘short form’ Commencement Notice, for some smaller building works was not available for more than 2 months during which time the old version continued in use. These notices (approximately 174 submitted in March and April- see post here) may now be invalid as the old form was not in accordance with the new regulations. This is a concern for the legal status of these projects which may only become apparent in the future at conveyancing stage if the buildings involved are sold.
The ‘electronic’ short form was briefly available in May but was withdrawn because it required users to upload blank pages in order to complete their application. A paper version of the new short form is now is use; this must be posted to the local authority for them to scan and upload at an additional fee of €20 (BCA charges-2014)
Commencement Notices continue to fall
The official BCMS Building Register lists 509 Commencement Notices validated until 26th May 2014 (BuildingRegister26thMay-1). This figure contrasts with the Minister for the Environment’s assertion of 800 validated Commencement Notices in his letter to the Irish Times on 23rd May 2014 (see post here) . The Department have advised that they can verify the Minister’s figure but have not done so to date. This worrying trend for falling commencement notices seems to be consistent over the first 3 months since the introduction of the BCMS in March.
BCMS latest issue: paper only completion submissions and delays
The latest request for ‘paper’ completion documents is by far the most serious issue for owners and builders users. The new regulations make it illegal for a building to be ‘opened, occupied or operated’ before this file is validated by the local authority. The file for even a small extension will stretch to hundreds of documents and larger projects to many thousands. Printing, collating, filing and checking paperwork will place additional demands on the builders, professionals and local authorities.
This latest problem with the new BCMS I.T. system may delay the completion of every building project by at least 7 days (under the regulations for paper submissions) and will also add cost, both in time and in local authority scanning fees. The additional upload charges are €60 per unit for residential and €80 per unit for commercial.
Of concern to many professionals is the fact that submission errors in the BCMS cannot be fixed (see recent comprehensive and helpful Cork County Council advice here) – the current problems in the system may inevitably end up in the courts with conveyancing problems, ‘illegal’ occupations that cannot be remedied, mortgaging problems and failed insurance claims. Many industry commentators feel that system may not be fit for purpose and should be withdrawn fully until it is fixed.
The construction industry is too important to the economy and job creation to be used for road testing a new IT system that is being built on the hoof.
Links mentioned in the above post:
Welcome to BCMS | localgov.ie – click link here
BCMS: 8 Apr 2014: Written answers (KildareStreet.com) – click link here
BReg Blog ALERT: Data Protection & BCMS – click link here
Is anyone checking Certifiers are registered? – click link here
ALERT: Cork CoCo guide to BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here
Commencement notices fall: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here
BCA Charges 2014 – pdf link
BCMS | localgov.ie – click link here
Building Register (LGMA) May 26th 2014 –
excel doc BuildingRegister26thMay-1
Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article – click link here
Other posts of interest:
Is anyone checking if certifiers are registered? click link here
No checks of Designer, Builder or Assigned Certifier on BCMS – click linkhere
BCMS- are we getting what is said on the label? – click link here
The BCMS system: a quickstart guide- click link here
Building Control Officers Survey – click link here