22 March 2016
In the spirit of open discussion and debate, we will be posting a number of situations and problems presented by readers, with suggested answers from an informal blog panel of experts. Answers to some of these issues are not definitive, and due to vague wording of the building control regulation may be subject to more than one valid interpretation. We hope that this dialogue, along with readers informed observations, may evolve thinking on some of the practical problems and unintended consequences. As with all questions regarding the building control regulations, the BReg Blog recommends contacting your local Building Control Officer.
This series of practical scenario question and answer posts is complimentary to an earlier series of practical posts- see below.
The following email was received last week and refers to SI.365 ‘Opt -Out” introduced in September 2015. This “opt out” procedure was introduced in an effort to reduce the extraordinary BCAR SI.9 costs for once-off housing SI.9 introduced in March 2014. We put this question to our technical team to see what they thought of this situation. If you have similar problems or issue please don’t hesitate in contacting us.
I was wondering if I could clarify advice I received relating to building regulations and the option of opting out of using an assigned certifier (after commencing)?
We commenced a self build having submitted a commencement notice on 2nd Nov 2015. At the time our architect advised us that we had to go down the route of appointing an assigned certifier and when we enquired about the relaxing of regulations, we were told it was a mandatory obligation. In our ignorance we took his word on this and did not complete the new opt out form at commencement.
We have since been made aware that the option of opting out was available and because we were left in ignorance of this, we have now been burdened with a serious financial increase in overall build which we simply can’t afford.
We’ve been told by X county council that we cannot opt out at this stage, which seems totally unjust given that the information that we received at the unset was incorrect. Plus it seems somewhat nonsensical that you can opt out at commencement but not at a later stage. As a consequence I now face increased inspections / stress and possible fines for not complying to regulations that have been relaxed.
I don’t know if this is something you can assist with, but I’m at my wits end to know whom to go to.
Comment from BRegs Blog technical team:
Well, if the account is an accurate one of what happened (and there are two sides to many stories), it looks like the architect listened to the RIAI’s (and other key stakeholders’) advice that the opt-out was a mistake and either didn’t advise or advised against adoption SI.365 “opt-out” procedures.
I would say that the advice that one cannot opt-out retrospectively is correct. This is not nonsensical at all:- the Building Control Authority need to be advised of the opt-out in advance of works starting, so that they can themselves decide to inspect, e.g., opened foundations, blockwork and so on. If you could opt-out retrospectively, there would be a phase of work which had been subject to no inspection at all by anybody.
One possibility might be to serve a Certificate of Completion now for the work to (say) roof level; then to serve a new Commencement Notice, with Notice of opt-out, for the rest of the work. However, the BCA should be asked will they accept this, because the original Commencement Notice described the full works, not just something up to roof level.
If the BCA go along with this, it would lessen the AC inspection workload and presumably cost, from this point on.
Presumably if this is a self-build project, the building owner can collect all the drawings, specifications, test results, certificates and so on. This would all need to be sorted in advance of instructing the Assigned Certifier to issue the Certificate of Completion, to avoid a dispute with the Assigned Certifier, a dispute which could get quite messy legally.
For other practical posts please see series below:
NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these practical posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working under the new regulations.