Building Regulations add to Vacancy Rates | Look Back 16


17 November 2016

The current housing debate has focused on high vacancy rates, particularly in towns.  A major contributory factor to this trend is the significant regulatory barriers and costs that apply to existing buildings, the ‘heavy-hand of regulation’.  The case study submitted to the BRegs Blog in December 2015 below is a simple internal “change-of-use” fit-out, with a construction budget of €25,000.  There are no external modifications or extensions.  For this project, planning and building control procedures will cost €15,483, over 60% of the construction budget of the project.  In this instance 40% of the ‘soft costs’, €6,273, relates to Building Control (Amendment) Regulations SI.9 introduced by Minister Coveney’s Department in March 2015.  Regulatory costs for a modest upper floor change of use to residential use are similar to those listed in the following post.

BCAR SI.9 procedures apply to all project types and are acknowledged to add no additional consumer protections.

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


02 December 2015

The omission of the significant costs associated with complex administrative building control procedures BC(A)R SI.9 is a frequent mistake, even by members of key stakeholder bodies involved in the formation of the regulations. The time and cost required for even modest SME projects is considerable.

For a minor SME fit-out with a construction budget of €25,000 for an  internal “change-of-use” fit-out, SI.9 building control procedures introduced in 2014 will cost €6,273 including Vat i.e. 25% of the value of the project. The Blog has received other SI.9 quotes for similar projects at over twice this cost (see end of post for full breakdown).

A recent Q+A in the property section of the Irish Times on 25th November 2015 gave incomplete advice for such a change of use scenario; see the extract below without any mention of BC(A)R SI.9 costs:


“Change of use: I’m starting my own business within the next two years. I’ve got a concrete garage which is sound, but the roof is made of asbestos and is in bad repair. I’m thinking of converting the garage into a kitchen. Obviously it would need a new roof but I’m wondering if there was any other regulations or permission I need to have a kitchen in there. It already has access to water and electricity.

Planning permission is required for all developments… you will also be required to prepare…[a] Fire Safety Certificate Application; Disability Access Certificate Application; and a Commencement Notice (in advance of building works commencing on site)…” (Link to Full Article here)

Assuming a 30 Sqm internal area, a €25,000 (incl vat) fit-out budget and a 3 week construction period, here are the overall fees and charges one could expect. The following calculation does not include any of the additional administrative costs for the builder. The fit-out will take less than 3 weeks to complete.

Statutory permission fees

  • Measured survey (entire property, required for planning and FSC): €700
  • Initial planning, preparation of sketch proposals, meetings and pre-planning consultation with Planning Department (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
  • Building Control Appointments: professional Design, Assigned and Ancillary Certifiers: €5,100 (see breakdown below*)
  • Health and Safety Appointments: Project Supervisor (Design Process): €700
  • 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

For a minor SME fit-out with a budget of construction budget of €25,000 incl vat for an internal “change-of-use” fit-out, no external modifications or extensions, planning and building control procedures will cost €15,483 incl vat, over 60% of the construction budget of the project.

40% of this figure relates to Building Control (Amendment) Regualtions SI.9 introduced in March 2015, at €6,273 incl. vat.


*Building Control Costs (BC(A)R SI.9):

  • Preparing docs for upload; outline spec, notification plan etc: €1,500
  • Site Visits incl written reports for circulation & uploading to BCMS @ €400.00+VAT per visit and subsequent written report. Assume 4 visits: €1600
  • Completion Certificate Stage: €500
  • Ancillary certifiers (x 2 engineers): €1500
  • Subtotal BC(A)R SI.9 costs: €5,100 (minimum cost)
  • Total incl. vat @ 23%: €6,273

**All costs except statutory application fees are Plus VAT @ 23%.

Other posts of interest:

230,000 Vacant Homes | Tackling the Regulatory Burden

Cost of “Self-Certification” | Surveyors & Architects Fees

Tackling the Cost of Building Control | Minister Simon Coveney

Eoin O’Cofaigh: SME’S & BC(A)R SI.9

98% say “Building Regulations introduced in recent years are acting as a barrier to construction” | Knight Frank Survey

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

What do Building Control Regulations cost for a typical apartment?

“After 18 months of operation the industry view of SI.9 is pretty conclusive: it’s not working”

Other posts in “Look-Back” series

Here’s How to Avoid Another Longboat Quay: Dublin Inquirer | Look Back 15

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

Building Surveyor’s Inspection Plan + Form | Look Back 13

Murray letter to Senators: BC(A)R SI.9 (SI.105) | Look Back 12 

Is the scene set for another Priory Hall? | Look Back 11

Simon Carswell: Politicians, Construction industry lobbying and banking | Look Back 10

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 | Look Back 9

Minister Hogan defends BC(A)R SI.9 | Look Back 8

Christmas Past – What did you hope for from Santa in 2013? Look Back 7

Ghost estates and public housing: BC(A)R SI.9 | Look Back 6 

Government Reports + Professional Opinion Ignored in SI.9 | Look Back 5

SCSI | “Highly unlikely Priory Hall would happen in Britain”- Look Back 4

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

World Bank Rankings, Ireland & SI.9 – Look Back 1

1 thought on “Building Regulations add to Vacancy Rates | Look Back 16

  1. Michael Tweed

    I pointed the follow out in commentary to the previous post to which this relates, that if we had a Building Control system such as they have in Northern Ireland there would be other cost savings in addition to the BC(A)R costs. Rather than having to formulate the construction information into three separate components, one to demonstrate compliance solely with Part B, one to demonstrate compliance solely with Part M, and one simply to lodge the entire set of compliance documentation and have it registered as received by Building Control, there would be one submission only, for overall building regulation approval. The documentation submitted would be the same documentation which is required by the builder anyway, so I contend this is zero additional cost to the client. However the cost of preparation of and fee for the Fire Certificate and preparation of and fee for the DAC are additional costs occurring here which don’t arise in Northern Ireland. Adoption of a Northern Ireland type system would primarily ensure greater consumer protection. I assert that having Building Control actively assessing construction design and building process would also improve standards of both design and construction and helpfully to the consumer the cost of providing buildings would decrease!


Leave a Reply

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