Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

 

Open letter Part L

The BRegs Blog has been in receipt of a series of letters  from its readers requesting that we publish them. This week we have decided to start doing so.  The following letter was received on 5th August 2014 from Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

An Open Letter to those Contemplating Certainty

It is unwise of those with a professional duty to know better, to ignorantly encourage their professional colleagues to implement, at significant personal risk, regulations that they appear to know little about.

Ireland is probably unique in the world in requiring three dimensional numerical calculation for surface temperature (fRsi > 0.7) in every residential project, new build, extension or renovation.

There are currently just two people competent to undertake these calculations within Ireland, or beyond. Every other professional – engineer, surveyor or architect, regardless of how elevated – is, by definition, not competent – repeat: not competent – to certify compliance with Part L/F of the Irish Building Regulations for residential buildings.

That may be news to some.

However good an idea it is to require such 3D calculations (and I happen to believe it is good) it is underhanded, at least, to introduce such a regulation without advising those responsible for certifying its implementation of their need to upskill, pass an exam and pay an annual fee to join an NSAI administered register, in order to sign a certificate of design compliance for even a simple residential extension.

It is insulting to building owners and professionals alike to suggest that this can be done at almost no cost.

Those in authority who are at the receiving end of criticism from practicing, experienced professionals would do well to educate themselves to the reality of delivering mathematical certainty in the real world.

Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.

No architect, regardless of their position, has any business encouraging other building professionals to accept significant personal risk untill they are sufficiently knowledgeable of those risks to be able to exercise proper professional judgement over them.

Then, and only then, should their encouragement be heeded, if indeed, any semblance of it survives the rigour of academic enlightenment.

Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

Correspondence may be submitted to: bregsforum@gmail.com

0 thoughts on “Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

  1. Rp McMurphy

    “Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.”

    let me fix that for you….

    Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, NOT surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.

    heres the thing – all this upskilling costs time and money. Here is a question I would like to see addressed by the RIAI

    What is the estimated total cost for an Individual Architect to upskill COMPLETELY Post 2007 so as to be fully competent to certify all aspects of current Building Regs. in order to avoid prosecution ? ( the Original Poster acknowledged this ‘total competence benchmark ‘ above )

    Please leave out grants and government subsidies when providing this cost

    then add BIM training and software costs including annual subscriptions.

    many of us are asking ourselves whats in all this for me ? when Govt Ministers set fee scales for us of 6 euros an hour with the threat of prosecution for genuine mistakes or deceit by others.

    Further education and upskilling are facts of life for people who wish to get ahead in their chosen field. But what do you do when it is forced upon you by legislation during an economic depression ?

    Reply
  2. Rp McMurphy

    “Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.”

    let me fix that for you….

    Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, NOT surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.

    heres the thing – all this upskilling costs time and money. Here is a question I would like to see addressed by the RIAI

    What is the estimated total cost for an Individual Architect to upskill COMPLETELY Post 2007 so as to be fully competent to certify all aspects of current Building Regs. in order to avoid prosecution ? ( the Original Poster acknowledged this ‘total competence benchmark ‘ above )

    Please leave out grants and government subsidies when providing this cost

    then add BIM training and software costs including annual subscriptions.

    many of us are asking ourselves whats in all this for me ? when Govt Ministers set fee scales for us of 6 euros an hour with the threat of prosecution for genuine mistakes or deceit by others.

    Further education and upskilling are facts of life for people who wish to get ahead in their chosen field. But what do you do when it is forced upon you by legislation during an economic depression ?

    Reply
  3. Rp McMurphy

    “Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.”

    let me fix that for you….

    Fortunately, FETAC accredited postgraduate courses are available in DIT which are designed to enable experienced architects, engineers and surveyors to upskill in the necessary compliance skills. Those courses are, NOT surprisingly, not currently oversubscribed.

    heres the thing – all this upskilling costs time and money. Here is a question I would like to see addressed by the RIAI

    What is the estimated total cost for an Individual Architect to upskill COMPLETELY Post 2007 so as to be fully competent to certify all aspects of current Building Regs. in order to avoid prosecution ? ( the Original Poster acknowledged this ‘total competence benchmark ‘ above )

    Please leave out grants and government subsidies when providing this cost

    then add BIM training and software costs including annual subscriptions.

    many of us are asking ourselves whats in all this for me ? when Govt Ministers set fee scales for us of 6 euros an hour with the threat of prosecution for genuine mistakes or deceit by others.

    Further education and upskilling are facts of life for people who wish to get ahead in their chosen field. But what do you do when it is forced upon you by legislation during an economic depression ?

    Reply
  4. Michael O'Neill

    As usual, Simon nails and and the follow up by Rp McMurphy is entirely appropriate.

    Architecture goes through phases of self-justification and the current phase seems to present architects as Building Physics Experts.

    In my experience most people involved in the design of buildings are not experts in building physics: I include the several varieties of engineers.

    I think the building regulations have taken a fundamentally wrong turn. Not once, but twice.

    The first wrong turn was when we bought into the whole Global Warming debate. We focus on energy usage and carbon generation. We should be focussed on new and existing sources of carbon-free ambient energy. This is not pie-in-the-sky.

    The energy industry is currently in the thrall of those who control fossil fuels and use then to general heat, electricity and cooling effects. 10,000 feet up and the air is clear and well below freezing. All the cooling you need. The temperature difference could drive a massive heat pump. The tower needed to do it could generate gigawatts of solar power. Every new building surface should be a generator.

    This is no leap of faith, its a logical conclusion for anyone who has been up in a plane and see sunlight reflecting off tall buildings. Why hasn’t this been done?

    The second wrong turn was when we started to buy into the whole super-conservation approach to energy usage. Living in a bubble is not for me. I am sitting here writing this with the windows open clearing the house of stale air and letting buckets of hear escape.

    I don’t want to live in a sealed container. Happy to super-insulate, unless its the external plastic flammable type that might send my house up like a Roman candle if it ever goes on fire (touch wood). Not so happy to riddle my house with interstitial passageways which allow cold smoke fumes and gases to migrate around the place and breach the 1/2 hour fir rating between active and sleeping accommodation.

    There ARE alternatives to the increasingly extreme standards of Part L. We only need to open our minds and stop thinking like self-builders with limited capabilities and budgets and start thinking like architects again, with competent engineers, venture capitalists and nation-state mobilisation capability – more than enough to create a sustainable future.

    Reply
  5. Michael O'Neill

    As usual, Simon nails and and the follow up by Rp McMurphy is entirely appropriate.

    Architecture goes through phases of self-justification and the current phase seems to present architects as Building Physics Experts.

    In my experience most people involved in the design of buildings are not experts in building physics: I include the several varieties of engineers.

    I think the building regulations have taken a fundamentally wrong turn. Not once, but twice.

    The first wrong turn was when we bought into the whole Global Warming debate. We focus on energy usage and carbon generation. We should be focussed on new and existing sources of carbon-free ambient energy. This is not pie-in-the-sky.

    The energy industry is currently in the thrall of those who control fossil fuels and use then to general heat, electricity and cooling effects. 10,000 feet up and the air is clear and well below freezing. All the cooling you need. The temperature difference could drive a massive heat pump. The tower needed to do it could generate gigawatts of solar power. Every new building surface should be a generator.

    This is no leap of faith, its a logical conclusion for anyone who has been up in a plane and see sunlight reflecting off tall buildings. Why hasn’t this been done?

    The second wrong turn was when we started to buy into the whole super-conservation approach to energy usage. Living in a bubble is not for me. I am sitting here writing this with the windows open clearing the house of stale air and letting buckets of hear escape.

    I don’t want to live in a sealed container. Happy to super-insulate, unless its the external plastic flammable type that might send my house up like a Roman candle if it ever goes on fire (touch wood). Not so happy to riddle my house with interstitial passageways which allow cold smoke fumes and gases to migrate around the place and breach the 1/2 hour fir rating between active and sleeping accommodation.

    There ARE alternatives to the increasingly extreme standards of Part L. We only need to open our minds and stop thinking like self-builders with limited capabilities and budgets and start thinking like architects again, with competent engineers, venture capitalists and nation-state mobilisation capability – more than enough to create a sustainable future.

    Reply

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