Architectural Technologists to be engaged as Certifiers? | Minister Alan Kelly

Alan-Kelly

24th March 2015

Martin Vaughan, Senior Civil Servant in the Department of the Environment and one of those centrally involved in the formation of BC(A)R SI.9 is the keynote speaker for a gathering of Architectural Technology professionals this week on the 27th of March in the Dublin Institute of Technology (see event information HERE). No doubt he will provide comprehensive answers to some of the questions from the Architectural Technologists present, and some listed here, concerning this professional sector hugely impacted upon by SI.9.

Building regulations introduced by former Minister Phil Hogan last March are being blamed as the reason for the construction of homes “slowing to a trickle” in the latter half of last 2014. Figures quoted in a Dáil debate on 25th February confirm that 12 month total to March 2015 of commencements nationwide is 25% down on the 2013 level, a historic low point for the construction industry. The 1,100 once-off house total for this period confirms once-off house building is down by over 60% since the regulations were introduced. Widely believed to be not working at present, this quarter will see a government review with select key stakeholder groups after one year of operation of SI.9.

The Minister for the Enviroment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly T.D., said at the recent Labour Party National Conference that he intends to relax the rules surrounding the requirement to engage architects, engineers and chartered surveyors. The changes will allow owners and builders to appoint Architectural Technologists as part of the certification process, and relieve costs which have spiralled due to roles being restricted to certain professionals.

We have to change them and I can tell you we are changing them imminently in the next few months because rural Ireland needs it,” he said.

“..Rural TDs say people building homes have to fork out tens of thousands on architectural, engineering and surveying services, and that this is creating a serious financial burden.

See article Irish Independent article from March 2nd “Building law reforms to slash costs of constructing new homes

The changes, which will be introduced within months, will allow builders to engage the services of architectural technicians as part of the certification process.

“But certainly the clarity and the modelling in relation to small one-off houses and extensions is not sustainable…” he said.

Many Architectural Technologists are wondering, one year on, has anything changed?

Here is a selection of questions and comments received by the BRegs Blog :

  • How long will it take to make key changes?
  • Will the Professional institutes (SCSI, RIAI IEI etc) accept opening up of competition?
  • Who will the registration body / regulator be ? Will there be one, or two ? How will all of this be decided ?  
  • How will certifiers be assessed and registered? What qualification standards will be required?
  • What ‘grandfather provisions’ will be put in place for those already practicing, or will those all be required to prove competence ?
  • What provisions will there be for the unaffiliated AT, those in the majority if IATGN figures are reliable.
  • Will an increase in numbers allowed to certify result in a drop in fees, or a race to the bottom with minimum inspections, thereby not achieve what the legislation set out to?
  • The Minister says the current system is unfair to rural Ireland – Will there be a 2 tier system or will rural areas revert to a light-touch system?
  • Will the AT register become the destination for those unable or unwilling to secure a place on the Architect’s or Building Surveyor’s Registers – this was a big concern at the time of the enactment of the original Building Control Act ?
  • Will Professional Indemnity Insurance be available at reduced rates to professionals who take on a more limited role on projects?
  • Will PII be tailored specifically to suit technologists and their training ? (For years AT’s had to strike out the term architect on proposal forms and correct it to Architectural Technologist – if a claim was made would this give an insurance company an ‘out’?
  • How much more complicated can the Government make these regulations, already fraught with legal anomalies?

There are many more questions than answers…

Other posts of interest:

One year of SI.9 and where is Architectural Technology in Ireland? | John O’Sullivan MCIAT MIPWEA

The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

Should the Architectural Technology Profession stay within the RIAI? | Liam Innes

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

3 thoughts on “Architectural Technologists to be engaged as Certifiers? | Minister Alan Kelly

  1. Michael O'Neill

    This is little more than a race to the bottom on price to get votes – hanging technologists out to dry as we go – and the minister still flashing the “certification of perfection” card and hoping no-one will notice that the local authorities are still disavowing their responsibilities in independently inspect.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    Bruno Mars “Grenade” lyrics

    Easy come, easy go
    That’s just how you live, oh
    Take, take, take it all,
    But you never give
    Should’ve known you was trouble from the first kiss,
    Why were they open?
    Gave you all I had
    And you tossed it in the trash
    You tossed it in the trash, you did
    To give me all your love is all I ever asked,
    Cause what you don’t understand is
    I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
    Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
    I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
    You know I’d do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
    Oh, oh
    I would go through all this pain,
    Take a bullet straight through my brain,

    Source: http://www.directlyrics.com/bruno-mars-grenade-lyrics.html

    Why do we need designers to certify built work?

    If the CIFI Register is all it’s cracked up to be and truly provides a list of companies who are suitable, competent and qualified to build compliant buildings why can’t they just certify their own built work?

    Designers should take liability for the design and builders should take liability for the built work, it’s as simple as that.

    If this cannot be accepted then there is something which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency with the knowledge, training and site supervision of our construction companies.

    At an RIAI CPD seminar a few years ago one of the speakers from the legal profession (whose wife was an architect) was astounded at the number of instances in which architects set themselves up as the straw man (or woman) to be blown down in the event of contractual or legal disputes – going out on a limb for the client or the builder to get the job over the line or secure the next project.

    In this context he was reminded of the song his daughter was listening to at the time by the artist Bruno Mars, in particular the lines “Cause what you don’t understand is
    I’d catch a grenade for ya”.

    His message to the CPD audience was “stop catching grenades for others”. None of the other professions are doing it – least of all his own.

    It’s a pity the stakeholders did not adopt this as a guiding principle during the consultations that led to SI.09.

    Reply
  3. Michael O'Neill

    “Catching Grenades”.

    I endorse the points made by Andrew Alexander in relation to “catching grenades for others”. Building professionals should not do this, but S.I. 9 (2014) effectively forces them to do so. Yes, they can demur, but they are unlikely to be appointed for the job if they do so.

    Shortly after the new “Opinion” certificates were introduce in the early 1990s I was approached to sign one of the Certs which included Schedule A assurances. At that point I looked at the mechanism.

    From what I knew from my own personal experience of the building industry in Ireland I viewed it as someone in a solicitor’s office trying to put a gloss on what the builder did by associating it with the professionals who had designed the scheme.

    At that point I questioned why Builders were not providing a separate certificate for the built work while the professionals should only certify the design work. There was a clear division of responsibility, liability and profitability, with the builder taking the lion’s share of the reward in terms of percentages and the developer making his profits on top of that.

    In addition, I knew that some Irish builders in previous decades had developed a reputation for not completing work, not building compliantly and not being easy to pursue in court. This was partly due to the way they used “disposable companies” to avoid paying VAT and as a consequence, they were able to avoid liability for defects in the build work.

    I acceded to the request eventually, relying on a clause which referred to the schedule A assurances to show where the clear path of responsibility and liability law for the design of other elements of the building or works and the carrying out of the built work

    With many professionals being able to show that they designed the works correctly and where a defect occurred it was due to a latent or hidden defect, this left the purchaser vainly looking for someone to hold accountable for the defective works.

    As the provisions of the Building Control Act 1990 and its attendant Regulations kicked in and the Building Control Officers in Local Authorities began to understand the nature of the legislation, they realized that the owner and contractor could both be held liable for defects to the built works.

    This is because the onus was on the Builder to Build in Accordance with the Regulations and not a set of drawings. Thus the liability rested with the person who built the building – as it should.

    This allowed Building Control Officers to pursue both Rogue Developers and Non-Compliant Contractors and achieve just resolutions of disputes for the Purchaser the good of the public.

    Now we have a complete about-face.

    The developer and builder hide behind “complying with the documents” AS WELL AS the Completion Certificate from the Assigned Certifier.

    The Assigned Certifier is the primary target of any litigation and the Rogue Developer and Non-Compliant Builder are off and running looking for a safe haven.

    This is UNACCEPTABLE IN PRINCIPLE as a means of offering assurances to the public. One person should not have to “catch a grenade” for the entire building team, PLUS lazy local authorities, PLUS Rogue Developers, PLUS Non-compliant Builders.

    That kind of skullduggery – one person promising perfection – is a distraction from what this legislation actually does –

    (i) the ring fencing from direct liability of Rogue Developers and Non-Compliant Builders conspicuously donate to political parties in Ireland – .

    (ii) the taking of responsibility off the back of the Local Authority, who have a mandate to regulate development in their respective bailiwicks for the common good and

    (iii) the unwarranted, arbitrary and illogical shoveling of all direct responsibility and liability onto the back of a mythical all powerful, all-seeing entity, the Assigned Certifier – an entity that only comes into being at the signing of a piece of a Completion Certificate.

    Its a bit like Banks creating money out of thin air when they give someone a loan under the fractional reserve banking system. And we know how sustainable that has turned out to be.

    Reply

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