“Thank you, Minister!” | Registered Architect

Paudie Coffey and Alan Kelly

Ministers Paudie Coffey (l) and Alan Kelly (r)

24 August 2015

Dear BRegs Forum Blog,

As a Registered architect writing from the North-West I want to say that if the Minister delivers on his announcements about changing the building control regulations, my clients and I will be very grateful. The changes he is talking about can provide perfectly good regulation of “self-build” houses and one-off house extensions.

If I am no longer forced to provide “Assigned Certifier” services to my house clients, this means I do not have to do a pile of work for which I cannot get paid properly. I can escape the horrendous liability and insurance hikes in signing these certificates on behalf of everyone else involved in the building process. The situation is then back to the way it was before March 1st 2014. I am happy to compete with non-architects, because we operate in different market segments. Armani is not Dunnes, and everybody can be happy. I will continue to select only the best builders and I am confident that I will supervise my projects in accordance with my professional obligations. I don’t mind a building control officer looking over our shoulders once in a while.

My clients never wanted these regulations and don’t need them. They can save money for paper they did not want and can invest it in concrete, steel, energy renewables and good design.

The local authority can inspect as often as they wish, just like they do across the border, and there are no problems there!

I do not understand the shouting from the Engineers, CIF and RIAI. To say “250 older people die from falls in their homes each year and a further 7,000 require hospital treatment with an average stay of 12 days” and imply building control regulations would stop these deaths and injuries is nonsense*. The dogs that older people fall and break their hips over will not be regulated out of existence by SI.9.

Good news for me personally is I may no longer need to pay professional subscriptions for all my staff just to do our job. I can fill out my clients’ Commencement Notices and have them validated as I previously did before March 1st 2014. And every tradesman won’t have to pay to be on a toothless register. Is loss of captive income the real reason behind the opposition of these vested interests to the changes?

Now if the Minister would go further and equip Local Authorities to inspect all projects and not just the current 15% target, that would be a real advance to a proper system of building control. Competent professionals and builders will welcome it.

Anyway, thank you Minister for the promise of a good start. Get the local authorities to inspect every one-off house. My clients will be happy, they will save money, and I can sleep easier in my bed  while not having to do ineffective loss-leader work.

Yours etc.

(name and contact details with BRegs Blog Admin.Team)

 * CIF are the Construction Industry Federation, RIAI are the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland. The author refers to an Irish Times Letter to the Editor of 19th August 2015- see link here

Other posts of interest:

“Between a rock and a hard place”| SI. 9 Review

RIAI Response | Ministerial Review SI.9

First Responders | Engineers Ireland criticise proposed SI.9 reforms

DECLG Report on the consultative process | SI.9 Review

“Major Reform of Building Regulations” (sic) | Minister Alan Kelly

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

CIF advises against any easing of regulations for Self-builders | Irish Building Magazine

2 thoughts on ““Thank you, Minister!” | Registered Architect

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    I agree in principle with the author’s opinion piece and while I agree with the Professional Institutes concern with building and maintaining a culture of compliance I do not agree with the opinion they give in their statements that it should be SI.9 or nothing.

    In what I presume will become a two tier or perhaps even multi-tier certification environment however insurance companies may decide to look unfavourably at the old “opinion of compliance” when set against the “guarantee” on the table when they deal with homes that go through the full statutory procedures.

    In that light the RIAI instead of beating the drum for SI.9 should “re-launch and re-package ” the old opinion of compliance which should only be issued on foot of implementation of an Inspection Plan complying with the SI.9 Code of Practice for Inspection (minus the ridiculous and worthless Completion Certificate).

    Clients and insurers could then be offered a choice – a house with no opinion of compliance or a house with an opinion of compliance backed by a reliable inspection plan, signed by an inspector who is a registered architect.

  2. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    I agree with “Anonymous Architect from the North West”, up to a point. He would have had still more credibility if he had signed his name. He could be Alan Kelly in disguise for all I know, putting a good face on things.

    Any reduction in the onerous requirements of BC(A)R SI 9 are to be welcomed, so long as they still give reasonable assurances to those who procure buildings without attracting unwarranted liability that can follow a certifying professional into retirement or plague his family.

    Two successive Ministers have got BC(A)R SI 9 wrong. The threat of lost votes have finally started some action towards redressing this situation, and no credit to anyone involved that it has come down to votes and money.

    The professional bodies are starting to wake up. Soon they will realize the dog’s dinner of unsustainable liability their Members face, a liability that cannot be covered by professional indemnity cover alone.

    As usual in Ireland, when a politician wants votes they sit around the Dail Bar and decide on policy. Stupidly bad policy in this case placing unsustainable liability on persons who stands to make little or no profit from the undertaking being Certified. Legislation was then written by civil servants who in this case had no clue what they are doing when it comes to the Building Industry.

    It’s time for politicians and civil servants to step back. You got this wrong boys, and the first timid steps of this present Minister is garnering support from the grass roots.

    So fare well then “Anonymous Architect from the North West” OR Alan Kelly OR Fine Gael’s political handler, OR whoever you are. Don’t think this will translate into votes though.


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