The BRegs Blog conducted a survey of its readers between 16th and 20th October 2014 in relation to their level of engagement and experience of undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier (or not as the case may be) in accordance with S.I. 9. Thanks to all who took part in the survey. Once again we are indebted to the huge number of you who added comments to elaborate on your answers. These will provide very useful guidance to us in determining subjects for future blog posts.
The make-up of our respondents in terms of professional groups seems to accord with the BCMS indicators for those submitting commencement notices. The clear majority of you were architects (60%). The BCMS are currently advising that “there are a number of Building Surveyors registered as Assigned Certifiers on the BCMS system but the percentage is very small compared to Architects and Engineers”. We had a higher response from building surveyors (20%) and lower from chartered engineers (18%) which probably reflects our readership. It is understood that the BRegs Blog surveys are unique in that they have been conducted among an industry-wide group comprising all three approved professional groups.
Almost 60% of respondents had submitted at least one Commencement Notice with the average being two. It was observed that certain respondents had undertaken multiple commencement notice submissions with one chartered engineer claiming to have submitted 15 commencement notices. It was also noted that the other respondents who had submitted multiple commencement notices (from 6-10 each) were mostly chartered engineers with one architect alleging to have completed 10 commencement notices.
Of the 40% of respondents who had not undertaken the role of Assigned Certifier the largest group (almost 40%) gave as a reason that they were unwilling to accept the level of liability involved with the role. In the comment section on this question many respondents, who had undertaken the role of assigned certifier, indicated that they would be reluctant to do so again.
Comment: “The whole thing is a minefield with a genuine lack of real guidance provided. We will not be acting as Assigned Certifier again in the foreseeable future “
The fees being charged for acting as an Assigned Certifier varied considerably although 64% of fees were below 2% of the project contract value. The lowest fee indicated was € 1,200 for a seven-day notice with the highest fee being €15,000 on a € 500,000 Public Sector extension project.
Comment: “I have undertaken some projects at a low fee in order to get the experience of getting familiar with the requirements of the revised legislation”
60% of respondents continue to experience problems with the BCMS. These varied from the speed of the system to subsequent problems with individual Building Control Authorities. The comments submitted with this question will be the subject of a future post for assistance to our readers as many of the problems would appear to stem from lack of familiarity with the BCMS process.
Comment: “The BCMS is technically a very poor and clunky site, slowly improving but should be far better. A ‘help’ or ‘FAQ’ section is imperative”
About one third of respondents who had acted as Assigned Certifiers had submitted Commencement Notices in more than one Building Control Authority. Two thirds of these had encountered variations between how the Building Control Authorities were interpreting the regulations. These included requests for different levels of information to completely different procedures for accepting seven-day notices.
Eight months after their introduction only 21% of respondents, who are undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier, feel that they are confident to implement the regulations. Most concerns stem from defects arising with the legislation in practice and the fact that the construction industry was so ill-prepared for such a massive shift in how it did business.
Only 15% of respondents are satisfied with the documentation provided by their professional organisations with EI and the SCSI coming in for particularly strong criticism. Concerns were expressed about incomplete and draft documentation from the RIAI. It is worrying to note that all of those undertaking multiple commencement notice submissions (see Question 2 above) were also indicating that they were not confident to undertake the role of Assigned Certifier nor were they satisfied with the documentation available from professional organisations.
Comment: “Not enough experience or documentation yet – but this is not the fault of the RIAI. It is the inevitable result of a poorly written piece of legislation. I believe that the RIAI are doing their best in a difficult situation”.
Only 8% of respondents are willing to consider undertaking the role of Assigned Certifier on a self-build project and only then with strict terms and conditions in relation to the building owner’s experience of construction.
Comment: “Only in very limited circumstances where the self-builder can prove to me that they have the experience and competence to carry out the building work, and are willing to pay the requisite fees that will be required as I would envisage a weekly site visit being required for a project such as this”
The good news from the survey is that half of respondents believe that S.I. 9 will increase compliance with the Building Regulations on building sites.
Almost 90% of respondents would favour a system of independent inspections instead of the existing S.I. 9 system.
Comment: “While I can implement the administrative structure and carry out the inspections as outlined in the code of practice, I remain apprehensive about the ‘certification’ of work carried out by others, particularly outside my area of expertise as the status of ancillary certs is also uncertain”