In what will be seen as a further major embarrassment for officials, Aidan O’Connor and Martin Vaughan, at the Architecture and Building Standards section of the Department of the Environment, the RIAI yesterday issued its Practice members with a copy of legal advice that it received on the SI.9 40 sq.m. question. The advice issued (see link below) is that the SI.9 regulations are clearly not cumulative and previous extensions cannot be considered when determining the works to which the ‘additional requirements’ or statutory certification of SI.9 apply to domestic extensions under 40 sq.m.
This latest RIAI position supports the case that the BRegs Blog and most industry professionals have been putting forward for months. It is at complete variance to the position adopted at the DECLG. This is a very precarious position for Assigned Certifiers who may find themselves interpreting the legislation incorrectly based on conflicting advice without any means of rectifying genuine errors. The BRegs Blog’s advice to practitioners is not to get involved in works involving extensions to dwellings that are in anyway borderline. Please refer to the earlier posts for further advice.
There are a number of confusing elements to the notice issued by the RIAI to its Practice members including:
- The RIAI notice seems to imply that Minister Paudie Coffey T.D. stated in a reply to Mick Wallace T.D. in the Dáil last week that extensions needed to be assessed cumulatively. The Minister said no such thing and only made reference to “concurrent” extensions – an all together different matter. The Minister did not even use the word “cumulative” in his reply. Read our full post on the Minister’s position below.
- The RIAI legal opinion makes reference to a generic ‘extension’ and a view could be taken that the opinion refers to all extensions. It should be noted that the matter under discussion relates to extensions to dwellings only.
- The RIAI advised its members to contact the relevant Building Control Authority to ascertain from them in writing, the interpretation being implemented by them, prior to advising their clients. Unfortunately this is likely to lead to 34 different interpretations and certainly none that could be relied upon in defending a legal action.
- The RIAI legal opinion mentions a member of the BCMS team as a person who provided a professional Opinion. The BRegs Blog is not aware of any legal advice issued from this source and the stakeholders have previously confirmed that the BCMS are the ‘post box’ and the conduit of DECLG information. In fact, the BCMS service to practitioners has been exemplary providing prompt and clear supports during a difficult implementation phase.
- The RIAI advised that it will write to the DECLG, and issue to them the legal opinion obtained and “will request that the interpretation of cumulative floor area, or not, (our emphasis) be placed on the agenda for the “stakeholders” review of S.I. 9 of 2014, with the objective of devising wording that has a clear meaning that can be interpreted and understood, without disagreement”. Does any reader know what this sentence means? Please email us and let us know if you do.
For those analysing SI.9 in detail over the past year it is clear that the confusion around the issue of the 40 sq.m. question is just the tip of the iceberg. There are much greater problems with regard to SI.9 and we intend to start covering some of the others in detail shortly.
.jpeg of RIAI advice:
Other posts of interest: