FACTCHECK | Dáil + Building Regulations

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14 June 2016

In a Building Regulations Dáil debate on 2nd June 2016 (Link here) , Barry Cowen TD asked Damien English TD (pictured above) the following question:

“To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government his estimate for all additional average unit construction costs for a multi-unit dwelling that were incurred since March 2014 under BC(A)R SI.9, including estimates for BC(A)R additional contractor and specification costs, BC(A)R Part L (fRsi/Wufi) certification costs, BC(A)R acoustic testing for Part E costs, multi-unit BC(A)R phasing costs, and Part V costs”

As Damien English TD was not in a position to give a full reply, the BRegs Blog ‘FACTCHECK’ Team decided to fill in the blanks [Bregs Blog NOTES IN CAPS]:

Damien English (DE): “The key impact on costs associated with the implementation lies in the requirement for the appointment of an Assigned Certifier whose role, in conjunction with the builder and the project team, is to draw up and execute an appropriate inspection plan and to certify the building’s compliance with Building Regulations on completion”

Bregs Blog: THE ASSIGNED CERTIFIER IS ONLY ONE ROLE, THESE REGULATIONS ALSO REQUIRE OWNERS TO APPOINT A DESIGN CERTIFIER AND NUMEROUS OTHER SPECIALIST ANCILLARY CERTIFIERS.

DE “While fees for professional services are determined by market forces and are therefore outside the scope of my regulatory powers, as part of last year’s review of the first twelve months of the operation of the regulations, my Department prepared a Sample Preliminary Inspection Plan for a Single Unit Dwelling on a Single Development…The cost calculations published to accompany the Sample Preliminary Inspection Plan demonstrated that the Assigned Certifier role could be achieved at an approximate cost of €3,800 inclusive of VAT”

Bregs Blog: THESE INSPECTION FEES (€3,800) SUGGESTED BY THE DEPARTMENT WERE DISPUTED BY THE PROFESSIONAL BODIES, PRINCIPALLY THE RIAI WHO COMPUTED €7,990 (NOT €3,800) FOR THIS ONE ROLE, SAYING…”There seems to be an absence of awareness of the various costs that apply in complying with Building Regulations in general, as well as the additional costs involved in S.I.9. The system requires an onerous involvement in inspection and certification by the architect who must use reasonable skill, care and diligence. Yet the Ministers seem to think this can be achieved by putting an unrealistically low number of hours into providing the service….. (LINK)

THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTURAL TECHNOLOGISTS (CIAT) TOOK ISSUE WITH… “the charge out rate suggested by the DECLG. A €65/hour charge out rates equates to an annual salary in the region of €52,000 which is comparable to the pay of a clerk of works in the public sector” (see LINK)

FORMER MINISTER PAUDIE COFFEY CRITICISED THE ‘OUTLANDISH” COST OF REGULATIONS AND BROUGHT IN AN OPT OUT FOR ONE OFF HOUSES IN SEPTEMBER 2015 (SI.365) BECAUSE OF THE HIGH COSTS (LINK) ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE DEPARTMENT’S OWN ESTIMATE OF €3,800 COULD NOT BE ACHIEVED AND WAS EXCESSIVE.

DE: “Where additional design work is required the combined cost of Assigned Certifier duties and additional design work will be of the order of €6,000 inclusive of VAT”

Bregs Blog: THE BASIS FOR THIS IS NOT CLEAR AND IS NOT CALCULATED OR CLARIFIED IN ANY PUBLISHED DOCUMENTATION.

DE: “These costs relate to the implementation of the inspection plan on a single non-complex dwelling; they do not relate to multi-units dwellings, such as apartments, where the costs may be considerably lower due to economies of scale”

Bregs Blog: MULTI-UNIT DEVELOPMENTS (APARTMENTS) HAVE SOME SAVINGS WHERE MULTIPLE INSPECTIONS CAN BE DONE ON THE SAME DAY, BUT THERE ARE ADDITIONAL COSTS SUCH AS INCREASED FINANCING CARRY COSTS AT COMPLETION STAGE, DEFENSIVE SPECIFICATION COSTS, INCREASED ACOUSTIC TESTING, ANCILLARY CERTIFIER AND SUB-CONTRACTOR COSTS, INCREASED CONTRACTOR ADMIN COSTS, fRsi CALCULATIONS ETC. AND CAN BE IN EXCESS OF €25,000 PER UNIT (see link here)

DE: ” A copy of this plan and all other documents released as part of that public consultation are available on my Department’s website at .

Bregs Blog: IS THERE A LINK TO THESE SUBMISSIONS? AT TIME OF WRITING BREG BLOG TEAM WERE UNABLE TO LOCATE THE DOCUMENTS NOTED.

DE: During the public consultation, a number of respondents confirmed that the Assigned Certifier services could be secured in line with the Department’s estimates”

Bregs Blog: IT’S SURPRISING THAT A NUMBER OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONDENTS ARE MENTIONED AND NOT THE REPRESENTATIVE PROFESSIONAL BODIES SUCH AS SCSI, CIAT, ENGINEERS IRELAND AND RIAI WHO ACKNOWLEDGED HIGH COSTS OF BCAR SI9 AND REPRESENT MANY THOUSANDS OF MEMBERS WHO ARE OPERATING THE SYSTEM.

DE: “In general terms, the cost of delivering housing is dependent on the type, size and geographic location of the development concerned and on the contractual arrangements leading to its construction…Fees for professional services, including those relating to acoustic and energy performance requirements in accordance with Parts E and L of the Building Regulations, are determined by the market place and are separate to requirements under S.I. No. 9 of 2016 as are contractor and specification costs and Part V** obligations”

Bregs Blog: THE COST OF DELIVERING CERTIFICATION SERVICES INCREASED UNDER THESE REGULATIONS AND SO HAS THE COST OF MULTIPLE TESTS BECAUSE EVERY HOUSE/ APARTMENT HAS TO BE FULLY TESTED AND CERTIFIED INDIVIDUALLY UNDER SI9. SPOT-CHECKS IN AN ESTATE OR APARTMENT BLOCKS ARE NO LONGER ADEQUATE.

DE: In the latter case, new obligations under Part V** of the Planning and Development Acts have been introduced to balance viability and social housing delivery. In addition, revised planning guidelines on apartment standards, which are now on a statutory footing under the Planning and Development Acts, have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of high quality apartment building”

“In accordance with the Programme for a Partnership Government, my Department is preparing a new Action Plan for Housingand will continue to liaise closely with other Departments and agencies as well as with industry stakeholders with a view to identifying any reasonable and appropriate measures that may be taken in the interests of reducing construction overheads to facilitate an increased level of housing output.”

Bregs Blog: THIS IS TO BE WELCOMED. SEVERAL OTHER PROPOSALS HAVE BEEN MADE FOR AN ALTERNATIVE BUILDING CONTROL SYSTEM AND THE BREGS BLOG UNDERSTAND THAT CHANGES ARE PLANNED.

Other posts of interest:

FACTCHECK: “If my house is defective, Do I have any rights?”

“ BCAR… is one of the key reasons behind the absence of new housing supply” | BARRY COWEN (FF)

How much does Building Control cost in the UK (Northern Ireland) for apartments?

BCAR “is estimated to add about €25,000 to the cost of each home” | Ronan Lyons

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

UK and Ireland: Take a quick drive to Newry with BReg Blog…

RIAI ALERT: Inspection Fees for House Extensions

The Cost of SI.9 on SMEs (very small enterprises)

Regulations add up to €60k to house cost | Karl Deeter

Fire Trap Home Buyers Beware | Still No Consumer Remedy

 

3 thoughts on “FACTCHECK | Dáil + Building Regulations

  1. Michael Tweed

    Not only are the direct BC(A)R costs of Assigned Certifier etc an additional financial cost on building, it has to be recognised also that the latest revisions to the TGD’s are also adding significant costs AND greatly increased financial risks for potential developers. A clear example of this risk is due to the revisions of TGD E Sound.
    Section 1.1.2.2 of TGD E Sound advises that prime facie compliance is be determined by testing each completed dwelling. Obviously this testing is an additional cost. But it also creates a potentially huge financial risk for a developer of a multi-unit apartment building. In the first place the building has to be totally complete before any meaningful testing can be carried out (Section 2.1.3.2 advises that “the sound insulation tests should be carried out once the dwellings either side of a separating element are essentially complete, except for decoration”). Therefore every single apartment must pass the test before the final certificate of compliance can be issued. If just one of the apartments fails the test, certificates of compliance for all the apartments can’t be issued until remedial works are carried out and the apartment passes the retest.
    The fact is that sound is produced by vibrating air. A building is a complex interconnection of elements, the majority of which much touch each other for one reason or another. So the number of ways sound can transfer through a building are multiple. There is no way to test sound insulation DURING the building process. It simply is impossible. An apartment building must now be built in the HOPE that when tested ALL apartments will pass the test. My mind boggles thinking of the problems that might arise from a failed sound test and the huge cost that might accrue from remedial work to get a positive retest!
    Unlike building housing schemes it’s impossible to build in phases, raising cash from sales to finance later phases of the development. An apartment building has to be totally completed with every part ready for occupation prior to making the first sale. If a pair of semi detached houses fail a sound test the financial implications on a developer are likely to be far less than those experienced by an apartment developer is a sound test on an apartment fails.
    It’s hardly surprising that so few of the cranes over Dublin are on residential building sites.
    The increasingly onerous nature of the TGD’s is directly related to the real problems that arise from self-certification. So long as compliance is self-regulated the political impulse is to make it increasingly easy to “finger” developers, builders and designers so the politicians and Local Authorities can deny all responsibility or accountability.
    The TGD amendments add costs and significantly increase financial risk for developers.I believe they’re a major factor in the creation of the housing emergency.

    Reply
  2. Michael O'Neill

    All the focus is on the certification.
    All focus is on the chimera of ‘the perfect design’
    No focus is on those doing the work or quality of work
    No focus is on providing a speedy method redress for the consumer
    No focus is on the builder learning the nuts and bolts of compliant building practice
    Politicians till chasing quick political solutions and parroting costs from unknown sources

    This is going to end well, isn’t it?

    Reply
  3. Michael O'Neill

    In relation to sound the reference I have is here
    http://www.environ.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/BuildingStandards/FileDownLoad%2C39956%2Cen.pdf

    Current Edition
    Technical Guidance Document E – Sound (2014)

    I was intrigued to read some of the comments re sound and I note the following

    2.1.3.2 The sound insulation tests should be
    carried out once the dwellings either side of a
    separating element are essentially complete,
    except for decoration.

    In stacked residential accommodation the test is to determine the transmission of sound between dwellings whereas this is worded to test – inter alia – between houses. For apartment dwellings it would be necessary to ensure that not only the dwellings adjoining but all dwellings abutting are completed. In urban situations a more complex context may apply and Diagram 1 clarifies the position on this a little.

    The previous commentator wisely notes the contiguity of construction pertaining to most apartment buildings and this is a huge factor. Add to this the carrying of sound along services and the adjoining dwelling may not even be the major source of intrusive noise. Diagram 2 is an exposition of Sound Transmission Paths.

    Incongruously, the TGD E also notes the following

    2.1.3.8 While only a proportion of dwellings
    must be tested, all separating walls or
    separating floors, subject to the requirement
    of Regulation E1, should be designed and
    constructed to achieve the performance as
    described in Section 1.

    This seems to be at odds with that the previous commentator has stated and my own understanding of the building regulations where absolute, not qualified (i.e. ‘substantial’) compliance is required. In short, you cannot certify compliance of every dwelling unless every dwelling is tested.

    If we accept that my assertion above is correct then this carries through all of the regulations. This implies a sea change and massively increased costs in Structural and Civil Engineering construction and production methods alone. No more sampling of concrete in cubes. Each batch must be tested. No more relying on calculations to ‘prove’ things in isolation from site conditions. Each structural element must be assessed – somehow.

    This is only the start of the realization of liability imposed on both professionals and contractors by the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations as amended

    Reply

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