The following opinion piece was submitted by a Registered Architect on October 31st 2014.
Opinion- Commencement notice problems (the 40 sq. metre issue)
The BRegs Blog has on a number of occasions referred to reports of Building Control Officers invalidating commencement notices, which building owners believed were perfectly valid, and acting in a fashion which readers suggested were not supported by the legislative wordings.
This was becoming most apparent in the whole issue of whether the full measures of S.I.9 itself applied in full, or whether a reduced commencement notice submission was required.
Eight months into the workings of S.I.9, the BCMS (the content management system, and not as we were led to believe in their responses to us in May, the arbitrator of what is valid or not) have published advice on the most contentious distinction – that relating to the requirement to invoke the full S.I.9 for domestic extensions greater than 40 sq metres.
The advice is published on the BCMS site itself, as follows : –
“QUESTION: Can you clarify the circumstances in which an extension to a dwelling comes within the scope of the requirements for statutory certification under the Building Control Regulations?
ANSWER: In the case of an extension to a dwelling, the requirements for statutory certification of design and construction in line with the Building Control Regulations apply when the total extended area of the dwelling exceeds 40 square metres. Every new dwelling has a permitted area determined by its planning permission. Any works which extend the building by more than 40 square metres beyond this permitted area must be certified.
The regulations refer to the total extended area because separate extensions can be added to different areas of a building at the same time or different times. It is therefore not possible to avoid certification requirements by building a series of small extensions each of which is less than 40 square metres but which together give a combined extended area greater than 40 square metres.”
There must now be real anxiety, that based on the proposed BCMS advice, that professionals, acting in good faith, and having read the S.I.9 legislation carefully, have submitted and had validated the wrong commencement notice – and by the implications of the BCMS advice, these people now have projects under construction illegally on site!
It is reasonable to complain that it is not possible to see any comment whatever relating to previous extensions or the like in the S.I.9 legislation.
One colleague has suggested that the Breg Blog put an open call out to readers as to whether their already submitted projects are compromised by this, and to see if we can assemble data on the matter.
Another reader has told me she cannot find where the “regulations refer to the total extended area” and if readers can find this, or any wording in the legislation which supports the BCMS interpretation [BReg Blog Admin Team note: If readers can find this Breg Blog would be happy to publish it].
But in short, and following the BRegs post earlier in the summer, it does seem, from the point of view of the BCMS at least – that, yes SIZE MATTERS ! You may need an Assigned Certifier to build a porch !!!
No doubt Local Authorities are relishing the opportunity of using careful resources policing all of this !
Will bouncy castles be next ? Or tree houses ?
Other points of interest: