House of Cards |  Could one fRsi claim for mould collapse BCAR system?

21657046_BG1

06 April 2016

The following comment was received on 4th April 2016 from Simon McGuinness, MRIAI in response to an earlier post “SI.9 – the ‘Red Flag Act’ for construction?“. Mr McGuinness highlights widespread non-compliance with Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) in the building industry under our continued ‘reinforced’ system of self-certification, and the insurance risks resultant for professionals and consumers. How many design certifiers even know what fRsi means, and how many are signing Design Certificates without any checks? Comments as follows:

_______________

Is fRsi non-compliance the”red flag” that confirms that uninsurable risk exists?

The current Irish Building Control system is a hostage to fortune depending on the proclivity of the Irish courts and a precarious international insurance industry.

The first design certifier who, to give just one example, is successfully sued for the appearance of mould in a house or apartment, is likely to collapse the system. They will be unable to prove, to the satisfaction of a court, that their design was compliant to two places of decimals (fRsi > 0.75 is the current BRegs requirement).  This will be the “red flag” that confirms that an uninsurable risk exists.

Ireland’s “joint and several” liability legislation, allied to extensive legal precedence favouring non-professional home owners in such cases and a test for compliance which is beyond the competence of 99.9% of the world’s building professionals, means that the outcome is reasonably predictable.

Following a successful civil prosecution, with an attendant award of damages for relocation, remediation, disturbance and compensation for ongoing health impacts, professional indemnity insurance premiums will soar, if cover is available to the Irish market at all. Building certifiers will be forced to withdraw from the Irish market as their PI insurance expires and, absent emergency legislation, construction will shudder to a halt for the second time in a generation. Developers and contractors will abandon the market, if they don’t go bust as a result of un-occupiable buildings.

It may be that this BCAR-derived risk profile is known to the market and is a component in the lack of investment in new house building, particularly multi-family housing, in spite of public and private funding being available. Even the get-out clause of incorporation available to contractors and developers (but not available to certifiers, who carry the ultimate liability) is insufficient.  The economic dependence of developers and contractors on the lowly certifier – fees effectively capped at €3,000 by ministerial decree – and their skill in negotiating an evolving regulatory and administrative quagmire – is counter-cultural and financially unsettling.

BCAR will be replaced with either:

a) an insurance-based system which allocates legal liability on the basis of culpability, or

b) a public inspection system.

Its just a matter of time and context.

Simon McGuinness, MRIAI.

_______________

Mr McGuinness comments on widespread non-compliance with Part L are well timed as a new Energy Efficiency Standard S.R. 54 is launched today (see link: http://www.nsai.ie/sr54). Quote from SEAI:

“The launch of this document will include a technical overview on the best practice on the energy efficient retrofit of dwellings having particular regard to fabric and building services, the application of retrofit measures on a whole dwelling basis, general building science and the management of retrofit projects in respect of dwellings…Technical guidance is provided on the energy efficient retrofit of dwellings having particular regard to fabric and building services, the application of retrofit measures on a whole dwelling basis, general building science and the management of retrofit projects in respect of dwellings.
The intended audience for this Standard Recommendation are property managers, designers, specifiers and installers working on energy efficient retrofit projects for dwellings. Download for FREE your copy of S.R. 54

Correspondence may be submitted to: bregsforum@gmail.com

Other posts of interest:

One-off houses and Certificates | Deirdre Ní Fhloinn

Housing crisis and building inspection | Eoin O’Cofaigh

House Buyers Beware! | Defects Insurance Dropped

Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2) | Look Back 14

Does the Minister want a cut-price building control service? | Simon McGuinness

Building industry objections to passive house are deeply flawed | Passive House +

Is there a regulation for thermal bridging condensation risk? | Part L

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

2 thoughts on “House of Cards |  Could one fRsi claim for mould collapse BCAR system?

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    Even if a designer does not sign a Certificate under SI.09 but submits a set of documents demonstrating compliance under SI.365 that designer would presumably be just as vulnerable.

    The formal submittal of documents to the Building Control Authority under SI.365 represents a considerable shift in liability in my view from the pre-SI.09 regime.

    The introduction of a formal submittal of documents to a Local Authority poses as step in the right direction towards consumer protection however with no statutory review of such documents by Local Authority Officers and the issue of certificates of approval by same, the individual who submits the documents will be targeted by the courts.

    My advice to all would be designers under SI.365 is to get your “self-builder” to review the documents, declare that they are satisfied that they are in compliance with the building regulations and get them to submit the documents to the local authority under their own name and signature.

    Reply
  2. Michael O'Neill

    Reply to House of Cards

    http://www.bregsforum.com/2016/04/06/house-of-cards-could-one-frsi-claim-for-mould-collapse-bcar-system/

    Thanks to Simon McGuinness for posting this considered comment.

    Compliance to 2 decimal places is beyond the scope of most building professionals
    Irish Building Regulations were not intended to be prescriptive to this draconian degree
    I believe that no Irish building has been audited to this level re all 12 building regulations

    In Regulation Part L for example there are few prescriptive requirements except; –

    1. For existing dwellings, there is a a qualified requirement for oil and gas fired boilers – these ‘shall meet a minimum seasonal efficiency of 90% where practicable’

    2. For new dwellings only, there is an unqualified (absolute) requirement for oil and gas fired boilers – these ‘shall meet a minimum seasonal efficiency of 90%’

    Many of the other requirements are qualified using terms such as; –

    – ‘insofar as is reasonably practible’
    – ‘use no more fuel and energy than is reasonable.’
    – ‘as appropriate’
    – ‘limiting’
    – ‘controlling’
    – ‘maximizing’

    So while the word ‘shall’ gives a legal imperative that cannot be denied or ignored, there appears to be some flexibility as to how the law – as opposed to the worked examples in the Guidance Documents – requires the requirements of the regulations to be met.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Regulation Part L Wording

    Part L comprises three building regulations, L1, L2 and L3

    “L1 A building shall be designed and constructed so as to ensure that the energy performance of
    the building is such as to limit the amount of energy required for the operation of the building
    and the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with this energy use insofar
    as is reasonably practicable.”

    “L2 For existing dwellings, the requirements of L1 shall be met by: –

    (a) limiting heat loss and, where appropriate, maximising heat gain through the fabric of the building;

    (b) controlling, as appropriate, the output of the space heating and hot water systems;

    (c) limiting the heat loss from pipes, ducts and vessels used for the transport or storage of heated water or air;

    (d) providing that all oil and gas fired boilers installed as replacements in existing dwellings shall meet a minimum seasonal efficiency of 90% where practicable.”

    “L3 For new dwellings, the requirements of L1 shall be met by: –

    (a) providing that the energy performance of the dwelling is such as to limit the calculated primary energy consumption and related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions insofar as is reasonably practicable, when both energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are calculated using the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) published by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland;

    (b) providing that, for new dwellings, a reasonable proportion of the energy consumption to meet the energy performance of a dwelling is provided by renewable energy sources;

    (c) limiting heat loss and, where appropriate, availing of heat gain through the fabric of the building;

    (d) providing and commissioning energy efficient space and water heating systems with efficient heat sources and effective controls;

    (e) providing that all oil and gas fired boilers shall meet a minimum seasonal efficiency of 90%;

    (f) providing to the dwelling owner sufficient information about the building, the fixed building services and their maintenance requirements so that the building can be operated in such a manner as to use no more fuel and energy than is reasonable.“

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *