30 August 2016
In recent weeks advisory bodies like the Housing Agency have suggested tackling widespread vacancy rates in existing building stock as a means to immediately alleviate our current accomodation and rental crisis. One contributory factor to high vacancy levels is the significant regulatory barriers and costs involved for owners in undertaking works to existing buildings, in particular BCAR SI.9 introduced in 2014. The country has vacancy rates well above the European average and Dublin is back to pre-crisis rental levels.
For a modest existing building change-of-use application requiring internal work only the regulatory costs associated with getting all relevant statutory permissions are in excess of €15,000 including vat (see previous post here).
Remarkably 40% of this regulatory cost (over €6,000) relates to onerous administrative procedures introduced in 2014 by the current government BCAR SI.9, labelled by former Minister Phil Hogan as “reinforced self-certification”. Planning costs, the focus of much scrutiny by industry vested interests, are half this level.
In “Few quick wins but housing reform needs good foundations”, Irish Examiner 24 August 2016, the problems of high levels of vacancy and obsolescence coupled with regulatory barriers are outlined:
[Lorcan Sirr] “We need to make better use of our existing stock. We are losing 123 houses a week to obsolescence — that is houses being allowed for various reasons to fall into a state of being uninhabitable.
“That is 6,500 houses a year, and they are not all in isolated rural areas; many are in large urban centres. So even though we completed 12,666 private houses last year, we only added about 6,000 (at most) houses to the nation’s housing stock.
“It also means that in 2015, for every 100 houses we built, we lost another 63 to obsolescence. This is a sub-optimal use of our houses in a time of housing supply need.”
Orla Hegarty, assistant professor and a course director at the school of architecture, planning and environmental policy at UCD, says: “Re-using existing buildings is the fastest and most immediately available solution to provide sustainable housing at the least cost.
“However, there are significant regulatory barriers that need to be addressed urgently in order to bring buildings into use or to enable conversions from other uses.
“Many new homes could be provided in existing buildings for €30,000-€50,000 in less time than it takes to get planning permission and for less than the price of a site in some outer suburbs.
“However, regulation and bureaucracy are significant barriers to the reuse and adaptation of existing buildings.
“To convert a single unit over a shop requires three separate regulatory approvals, four statutory appointments and procedures under three different bodies of legislation, all operating to different timescales and with different authorities..”
Assuming one room with a 40 Sqm internal area, a €25,000 (incl vat) fit-out budget, here are the overall fees and charges for a modest fit-out for an upper floor apartment that will take less than one month to complete on site:
Statutory permission fees
- Measured survey (entire property, required for Planning Application, Fire Safety Certificate Application and Disability Access Certificate Application : €700 (all fee estimates exclude VAT @ 23%)
- Initial planning, preparation of design proposals, meetings and pre-planning consultation with Planning Department and others (incl OS maps €40): €800
- Preparation of Planning application (documentation, drawings, specifications): €2,000
- Preparation of Fire Certificate application (FSC incl. drawings and reports):€900
- Preparation of Disabled Access Certificate (DAC incl. drawings and reports):€900
- Mandatory Building Control Appointments: professional Design, Assigned and Ancillary Certifiers: €5,100 (see breakdown below*)
- Mandatory Health and Safety Appointments: Project Supervisor (Design Process): €700
- Mandatory Health and Safety Appointments: Project Supervisor (Construction Stage): included in Builder’s costs
Total professional fees: €11,600
SubTotal fees and costs incl Vat @23%= €14,268
Local Authority Application fees & costs:
- Newspaper advertisement (planning): €220
- Planning Fee €108
- FSC application fee: €87
- DAC application fee: €800
Sub-Total fees + costs: €1215
Total costs incl fees: €15,483
A modest “change-of-use” fit-out from office to studio apartment, with no external modifications or extensions and a construction budget of €25,000 incl vat, will incur planning/ building control regulatory costs of €15,483 incl vat- over 60% of the construction budget of the project.
40% of this figure (€6,270) relates to Building Control (Amendment) Regulations mandatory administration and inspection introduced in March 2015.
Other posts of interest: