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: