In a fortnight’s time, on the 12th August 2014, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) will host an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to debate a resolution calling for the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations introduced in March of this year to be scrapped and replaced with a system which better protects the consumer.
The call for this EGM seems to stem from RIAI members’ frustration with trying to implement the new legislation which to most construction industry observers is not fit for purpose (see detailed list of problems in the resolution below). As one of those calling for the EGM stated, “Architects are not afraid to take responsibility for their own work but how the hell can we be expected to take responsibility for pyrite in hardcore from a dodgy quarry or a faulty factory-manufactured component in a central heating boiler?”
The case for supporting the regulations has not been helped by a recent radio interview with Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation who claimed that Engineers, Building Surveyors and Architects, who act in the new role of Assigned Certifiers, would have to take responsibility and “stand over” any bad workmanship by incompetent builders!
Over 500 architects at a previous RIAI EGM in October 2013 voted almost unanimously that official policy should be that S.I.80 (now S.I.9) was not in the interests of the consumer. These regulations were introduced so that home-buyers would have protection from cowboy developers and that tax payers would not be left to pick up the tab for another Priory Hall or pyrite failure. Neither has been achieved. Dissatisfaction remains high among architects that these concerns were not heeded and pursued more vigorously by the RIAI with the Government before the legislation was enacted. There is also anger that the Department of the Environment introduced exemptions from the legislation for Education and Health projects when faced with the same objections from these government departments.
Should the resolution be adopted, it remains to be seen if the RIAI can achieve a better outcome with the newly installed Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. Perhaps the fall off in commencements and the threat to jobs programme will now focus minds on finding a solution.
The EGM motion is as follows:
The undersigned Registered Members have requisitioned an Extraordinary General Meeting in accordance with Article 40 of the RIAI Articles of Association.
The EGM was requisitioned to address the following concerns in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (S.I.9 of 2014) hereinafter called “the legislation”.
- Inadequate protection for consumer and building owners in the legislation.
- Inadequate resources for Building Control Authorities to monitor the legislation.
- The Building Control Management System is not fully functioning, is not password protected and cannot guarantee security of data (copyright).
- There is no Building Control Authority (BCA) Code of Practice resulting in individual BCA interpretations of the legislation.
- The legislation places intolerable and potentially uninsurable levels of liability on the approved certifiers.
- The majority of legal opinions advise against approved professionals taking on the roles of certifiers as defined by the legislation.
- There is no Building Contract available that addresses the legislation.
- The legislation is ambiguous in terms of the status of self-builders, a major component of work for rural-based members. There is no Inspection Schedule or Appointment Agreement available that addresses the role of certifiers under the legislation.
- Restrictive aspects of public service appointments favour architects for lead certifier roles and may be subject to reversal.
- No provision for retrospective compliance.
- No provision for transition arrangements in regulations of conflicts in same
- The regulations suggest additional exposure and /or delays to costs for owners and reduced protections for clients at completion stages
- An adequate Regulatory Impact Assessment was not conducted prior to the legislation being introduced.
- The legislation is proving almost impossible to implement in practice.
The purpose of the EGM is that the Registered Members debate and vote on the following Special Resolution to be adopted or rejected:
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.