Minister Coffey announces changes to BC(A)R SI.9

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29 July 2015

A Ministerial review into BC(A)R SI.9 is expected to conclude this week and a number of possibly significant changes are anticipated. Since implementation of the widely criticised BC(A)R SI.9 in March 2014, the industry has seen a 60% fall in the commencement of once-off houses. Residential completions are running 50% lower than the same period last year. Over 160 submissions were received by the Department of the Environment as part of the public consultation element of the review process. Bregs Blog have published a number of submissions that have made their way into the public domain (see posts below).

Back in March of this year, one year since implementation, Minister for State Paudie Coffey addressed the Dáil about SI.9 costs and on the impact on the industry, and the residential sector in particular. It was noted:

“There has been on-going controversy since former Minister Phil Hogan suggested that the onerous obligations and inspection regime required under SI.9 could be carried out for €1,000-3,000.” (see post Minister signals changes with Certifier fees of €3,500):

The Minister’s review is an attempt to address the impact of SI.9 on construction costs. Additional costs for fees and administration have been widely recorded from €22,000 up to over €40,000 for a typical once- off house.

The current review has concentrated on the residential sector. Extract from Independent article to follow:

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“New rules will remove requirement for one-off homes to be inspected

One-off homes and house extensions will be exempt from regulations introduced just last year to prevent shoddy building work, it has been confirmed.

The Government will today announce that from September these properties will not be subject to a formal sign-off from a building professional to ensure they are built in line with the building code.

However, they will be subject to inspection from local authorities, according to Planning and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey.

The regulations, introduced in May 2014, will also be extended to local authority housing developments and will be required for all multi-unit developments comprising two or more units.

The move to exempt one-off homes comes amid concerns that the cost of inspecting a property was too expensive, with suggestions that complying with the regulations costs up to €16,000, and was adding considerably to building costs.

Last year, some 5,171 homes – almost half the total constructed in Ireland – were one-off.

“I am satisfied that the new arrangements will level the playing field for individuals and families planning to build or extend their own home,” Mr Coffey said. “They will no longer be held to ransom by excessive quotes for design and completion certificates. Owners who wish to invest in statutory certification may of course continue to do so and I believe many will do so where reasonable and affordable prices can be obtained.”

Under existing regulations, each home under construction is obliged to be inspected by an “assigned certifier” – which includes an architect, engineer or quantity surveyor – to ensure that building regulations are complied with. If a problem arose, the certifier was held legally responsible. However, the regulations will be changed from September, exempting one-off homes and extensions.

At the same time, however, a rigorous inspection regime will be rolled out in the local authorities to prevent a re-occurrence of the Priory Hall development, which had to be abandoned on fire safety grounds.

Property owners may be asked to demonstrate that what they have built is in line with the regulations, and these homes will be subject to inspection. At least 15pc of all new builds, including one-off units, housing developments and commercial buildings, will be inspected – including those funded by local authorities, which are currently exempt.

Education courses will also be developed to allow people become assigned certifiers.

The move comes despite industry sources cautioning against removing the requirement, given that so many one-off homes eventually come back on to the market. The lack of certification means that the purchasers of these properties might not be afforded the same protection as someone buying a home in a development…”

Full article here: New rules will remove requirement for one-off homes to be inspected” 

Other posts of interest:

Paudie Coffey: ‘We must build right homes in the right places’

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 1: ‘Self-Build issues’ | IAOSB

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 2: ‘12 Point Plan to fix S.I.9’ | UCD

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 3: The Legal Environment and Consumer Protection | Deirdre Ní Fhloinn

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 4: Proposal for a Better System

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 5 | Architectural Technologists: CIAT

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 6 | Practically Trained Architects: AAOI & GIAI

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 7 | Architect’s issues: Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 8: Stakeholders ACEI, SCSI & RIAI

ALERT: Ministers Kelly & Coffey Commence Review of Building Control Regulations | BRegsForum

4 thoughts on “Minister Coffey announces changes to BC(A)R SI.9

  1. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    http://www.bregsforum.com/2015/07/29/minister-coffey-announces-changes-to-bcar-si-9/

    “New rules will remove requirement for one-off homes to be inspected”
    Irish Independent by Paul Melia, 28 July 2015.

    “At the same time, however, a rigorous inspection regime will be rolled out in the local authorities to prevent a re-occurrence of the Priory Hall development, which had to be abandoned on fire safety grounds.”

    So they can do it for one-off houses, but not for duplexes or apartments? Apart from the fact that one off houses are built in the least sustainable manner of all, using the most resources in terms of land and transportation, they comprise half the dwellings in Ireland each hear and between 24 and 35% of the total built work during the Celtic Tiger years.

    Still, at least we are seeing some progress in relation to the draconian Certification requirements of SI 9 (2014) BC(A)R.

    There is now a clear line of argument that where something promotes political gain for one party or perhaps two, it can be done.

    Reply
  2. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    “Education courses will also be developed to allow people become assigned certifiers.”

    These Courses will offer a Certifier Information Pack, including; –

    “Catching Grenades for Deserving Causes” by the CIF

    “Aspirational Insurance Policies” from ACME Insurances

    “Asset Transfer To Safe Havens” by De Wife & Family

    “Divine Inspection Techniques” by Godlike Technologists Productions

    “D.I.Y High Court and Supreme Court Cases” by Seymore Fees Solicitors

    “Personal Stress Management” by Dr. Manchurian C. Andidate and finally

    “Irish Bankruptcy Law and Practice [Updated]” by Four Goldmines Press

    Reply
  3. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    This is the most frightening line in the article;

    “Under existing regulations, each home under construction is obliged to be inspected by an “assigned certifier” …If a problem arose, the certifier was held legally responsible.”

    This is how the layman is interpreting the current regulations.

    And this statement is just plain stupid and beggar’s belief;

    “Owners who wish to invest in statutory certification may of course continue to do so and I believe many will do so where reasonable and affordable prices can be obtained.”

    A voluntary ‘paper certification’ carried out for something which has been exempted under the legislation cannot be called statutory.

    What would even give such parties the right to use the statutory form of certificate?

    Why would a certifier go out of their way to accept liability for something which is exempt under the regulations?

    I suspect the “a rigorous inspection regime will be rolled out in the local authorities” is that 15% of one off houses that will be inspected – for the first time perhaps enshrining in legislation that local authorities will actually have to carry out inspections.

    No existing legislation mandates that Local Authorities should carry out any inspections – not even SI.09.

    If the goal is going to be to inspect 100% of one off houses and if scope exists for the engagement of qualified Inspectors to be hired from the private sector to act on behalf of the local authority as an “authorized person” – to carry out a rigorous inspection plan, then this would amount to progress.

    If however the goal is to be for 15% or even 100% of one off houses to be given a cursory once off “how’s your father” visit from someone in the Local Authority this will not represent progress.

    I suspect the proposal will be the latter.

    I look forward to reading the Minister’s proposals in full.

    Reply
  4. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    Votes and Donations

    From

    http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/BuildingStandards/News/MainBody,42399,en.htm

    Ministers Coffey and Kelly ease application of Building Control Regulations for single dwellings houses and extensions
    31/07/15

    “This approach restores the balance of power to consumers”, Minister Kelly said. “Nobody who invests in their own home would spend money on substandard work but people should not have to pay at inflated rates for excessive inspection services.”

    Having imposed a requirement for one individual to shoulder ALL the responsibility for ALL design work that goes into a building, even where it is not possible to have input into it or oversee it (including factory made-components, off site manufacturing) and for a separately named individual – who is neither the Builder or Developer – to shoulder the ENTIRE RESPONSIBILITY for the Built Work, this hypocritical government has the brass neck to suggest the fees for this Certification of Perfection are ‘inflated’ and the levels of inspection are ‘excessive’.

    Have these political animals every done ANYTHING they can be held personally liable for? I doubt it! Their only job is to get elected and stay elected.

    Having introduced draconian levels of certification and liability for Architects, Engineers and Surveyors acting as Design and Assigned Certifiers, they are now going to remove these totally for the persons they were designed to help, homeowners, in the hope of catching votes in the next election. That is all these creatures do, after all – catch votes.

    A middle route placing the liability squarely on builders and rogue developers was what was required, but then where would the government parties get their donations to fill their coffers?

    Exactly.

    More Hypocrisy.

    Less Good Government.

    The Usual Fare From Politicians Chasing Votes and Donations.

    Reply

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