Category Archives: Alan Kelly

SI.9 + Protected Structures | More gaps?

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The following opinion piece was sent to the BRegs Blog by a specialist conservation architect on December 3rd 2015. 

There is an alternative opinion on this topic which suggests gaps in the new regulations. Because planning for Protected Structures only came into 2000 Planning Act and SI.9 only refers to Planning Regulations 1963-93 (now revoked), it could well be that quite an amount of minor works (to protected structures) that require planning permission under the 2000 Act may be undertaken using the short form commencement notice and may not require the services of design or assigned certifiers. We would be interested in getting further input on this from specialist conservation professionals and readers of the Blog.

SI.9 + Protected Structures

We explained the position in which we and our clients find ourselves in connection with the  new building control regulations.

  1.  There is no dispensation from the full or long Commencement Notice  under SI 9, Article 2 resulting from the requirement for a Fire Safety Certificate for a Place of Public Assembly and the fact that the small extension marginally exceeds the 40 m sq limit.
  2. Under SI. 243.2012  article 4.  No Building Energy Rating is required for a Protected Structure or Place of Worship, therefore no DEAP study nor Part L compliance is required.

In other words the long and short of it is that if any works to a protected structure of any type exceed 40 sq metres  then a long form of commencement notice and the concomitant additional fees and additional costs on the construction side occur. The difficulty of obtaining even meagre funds is ever present for this type of work.

The same applies to any works to a protected structure if a Fire Safety Certificate is required regardless of size.

In the case of reconstruction to a Monument of Record, the building works are exempted from the Building Regulations but not from the BCAR.

This is all very confusing and there are no straightforward  nor logical answers to any of this. Whether we like it or not the BCA Regulations will have an ongoing effect on most if not all conservation work in terms of time and expense.

In our view all works to Protected Structures should be exempted from the Long form of Commencement Notice under the BCAR.  They shall comply with Part B where possible and be subject to a Fire Safety Certificate and DACs in connection with public access. The works, as at present, shall be designed and specified by an accredited Conservation Architect, be subject to the approval of the Conservation and Planning Authorities and the Department if needs be.

The very nature of older buildings mitigate against predictable outcomes as covered in the Building Regulations.

I suspect that the present arrangements will present Conservation Officers with long term difficulties. We are left floundering around without direction and our impecunious clients searching for funds to satisfy a bureaucratic monster. It would be great if you can raise the awareness of these issues with your colleagues and the Department, for the necessity for the Assigned Certifier to Certify compliance with the Building Regulations in say,  works attached to or connected with an ancient structure is patently a nonsense.

Other posts of interest:

You can still buy a non-compliant home…and it’s all perfectly legal | SI.9 Loopholes

BC(A)R SI.9 or… green alternative No 1

Stardust Remembered | Building Control is about protecting life, not property (Part 1)

New consumer protections for…spark plugs, not houses!

Collins & O’Cofaigh | “the 38 steps” and the complexity of our regulations

Fire-fighting | Rush and Lusk School

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 Rush and Lusk Educate Together School

In yesterday’s Examiner 26 October 2015  (Link:) journalist, Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, alleged that Ruairi Quinn refused fire-trap school repairs while he was Minister for Education. In the article Ó Cionnaith wrote:

“Former education minister Ruairi Quinn told school authorities that a 200-pupil facility built during the boom needed only “minor” repairs, a year before it was declared a severe fire safety hazard” 

Back in 2012, then Minister Quinn in reply ( Link:) to Terence Flanagan TD said that:

Officials in my Department have no role or statutory authority to undertake “fire safety checks” or sign off on “fire stopping” in new school buildings”

“Issues of health and safety are a matter for the school Board of Management (BOM). If the BOM is aware of potential health and safety risk associated with “fire stopping”, then they should contact the consultant who issued the certificate of compliance”

Following serious concerns raised in Rush & Lusk Educate Together School €800,000 had to be spent in emergency fire-safety works to upgrade the six year old building. Once the problems at a Rush & Lusk Educate Together School were identified this raised concerns about others schools when it emerged that 26 schools had been built by the same contractor under the RAPID delivery (design-build) Department of Education contracts.

These builders are still tendering and winning bids for new Department of Education Schools. A Department of Education spokesperson said (Link:) this is “in accordance with EU procurement regulations” which means the firm is “not precluded from tendering for building projects”.

There seems to have been a marked change in Department of Education policy under the current Minister Jan O’Sullivan. The safety of school children is a serious concern and it is not enough to advise inexperienced School Principals and Boards of Management to pursue builders and professionals through the courts. Minister O’Sullivan confirmed this week (Link:) to Jonathan O’Brien TD that:

“The Department is currently arranging fire safety assessments of five other schools constructed in 2008 to determine if there are any issues of concern. Without preempting the outcome of those assessments, I can assure the Deputy that funding will be available to deal with any fire safety issues which might arise”

Ironically, the government is learning at first hand that their own advice to buyers of defective apartments (that it is the owner who is primarily liable for defects) applies equally to themselves. Minister O’Sullivan is clearly well briefed on the problems on defective buildings and the defects in Irish law having previously had responsibility for ghost estates which she called “a very potent example of the destructive dalliance the previous Government had with the property market”

Other posts of interest:

Carrickmines Fire Fatalities

Ministerial Review into Fire Safety is “…a joke” | Irish Examiner

Is Limerick Hotel fire a 3rd “Lucky Escape”?

Further questions over Newbridge fire-trap houses that have ‘no resale value’

Complaint Procedures for BC(A)R SI.9? Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI.ie)

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30 April 2015

Minister Alan Kelly has noted that the new building regulations have robust complaints procedures for each discipline involved, guaranteeing consumer protection that if a registered member was found to be in breach of their duties then robust disciplinary procedures would result.

Under SI.9 each key stakeholder handles complaints against their own members- Chartered Surveyors police their own SCSI register, architects police the RIAI register etc. Industry commentators consider this to be a clear conflict of interest. Others have suggested that the bar for sanctions and disqualification has been set very high deliberately, that removal from a register may be a remote possibility for members only in the event of gross misconduct.

The reality is despite numerous recent high-profile building failures there have been no sanctions against architects or surveyors for complaints in the past 6 years.

We will examine some dispute procedures in various registers in upcoming posts. In this one we will look at the Builder’s register, CIRI.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) operate CIRI, the new register for builders written into BC(A)R SI.9. CIRI is currently voluntary but is due to come in on a statutory footing in 2015. The CIF section dealing with complaints under the new CIRI construction register,  is here. We quote directly from the section on complaints about contractors [emphasis in bold by BRegs Blog].

Extract:

“Before making a complaint to the CIRB, the following actions are advised:

You should put your concerns in writing … You should check the terms of contract… You should raise your concerns with your appointed Designer and Assigned Certifier and ascertain if this can bring about a resolution to concerns raised…If you do not receive a satisfactory response to the concerns raised…you may contact the CIF for general advice.”

“What can the CIRI do?

…Under the provisions of the Construction Industry Register Ireland, the CIRI will offer an independent Mediation Service aimed at resolving problems and disputes between registered members and their clients…

The CIRI is not in a position to intervene in any contractual dispute between a registered member and a client or to give specific advice or assistance on any technical issue.”

Under new building regulations introduced last March, an Assigned Certifier has no rights to instruct any builders or even to enter the building site. It is difficult to see how any professional occupying this role could be in a position to resolve any disputes. The only action that an Assigned Certifier can take is threaten to withhold a Completion Cert. In many cases the Assigned Certifier is an employee or directly contracted consultant, a builder-developer could just fire the Assigned Certifier and hire someone else to sign off. Not great for the consumer.

Remarkably there is no recourse to any advisory service, complaints body or ombudsman in the new system. A building regulation dispute could become a stand-off between the builder and certifier. We wonder if the regulators, registered professionals and builders, will provide any new consumer protection?

Other posts of interest:

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

Iaosb letter to Minister Kelly – Revoke or Revise S.I.9

RIAI Past Presidents Paper #1 | The Building Regulations and Consumer protection

S.I.9 – Where are we now? 27 October 2014

UK + Ireland | take a quick trip to Holyhead with Breg Blog…

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

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020

5 Posts every builder must read- BC(A)R SI.9

Opinion: Are builders + developers off the hook with BCAR?

Press article: Government promotes developers over self-builders?

What Building Control could learn from the NCT | Orla Hegarty MRIAI

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27 April 2015

What Building Control could learn from the NCT  | Orla Hegarty MRIAI

Ireland had a problem with safety standards in cars. There were too many older cars, they weren’t being maintained properly. Rural roads and bad weather compounded the problems and “something had to be done“.

In 2000 the National Car Test (NCT) was established and now all cars more than 4 years old are tested every year. I recently visited a test centre: in less than 25 minutes and for the cost of €55. I was back on the road. The testing centre ran like clockwork because the mechanics are trained, the equipment is calibrated and the testing standardised. It works and it’s very efficient. They can fully test a car for €55 without making a loss. All centres work to the same system and the roads are safer as a result.

If the NCT was run on the BCAR (Building Control Amendment Regulations) model, testing would be carried out in every filling station in the country- all of them would have to train staff and buy in equipment. They would have to continually upgrade machinery and keep it operational, devise their own computer record system, bring in an emissions expert, keep oil samples, file forms and issue reports. It wouldn’t cost €55.

Problems might arise when different garages worked to different standards- word would get around about who would turn a blind eye to bald tyres, who didn’t even check the brakes. Inevitably the cheapest garages would attract a lot of business. Despite good intentions there would still be many dangerous vehicles on the roads.

The powers that be might also find it very difficult to keep track of thousands of operators. It might prove impossible to police the system effectively or to tackle the cowboy operators.  Perhaps the diligent operators would be priced out of the market in a race to the bottom.

Some garages might find it impossible to keep up: a staff member who is selling cars, ordering parts and meeting customers might find it very hard to stay on top of a raft of ever changing technical requirements, and also manage the administration, testing and reporting.

Having invested heavily in the new system some operators might then have to stop offering the service altogether, their customers might find they can get a cheaper inspection from a specialist garage who has dedicated staff and equipment.

Customers might see the benefits of dedicated centers of excellence where specially trained staff could do the job better and faster. These specialist operators wouldn’t be distracted by other tasks, they could work more efficiently and develop greater expertise.

Every local garage would have to raise their game to meet the standards of the specialist inspectors, improving safety right across the country. The Local Authorities could readily police the system by spot check audits on the inspectors. In time, as their systems improved and the volume of business grew, inspection specialists might be able to offer a good service for as little as €55. Just like the NCT.

Perhaps BCAR has something to learn from this? Dedicated specialist staff and standardised systems, monitored by the local authorities are more cost-effective, easier to quality control and ultimately, everyone is safer.

The above opinion piece was received from Orla Hegarty B.Arch. MRIAI RIBA who is Course Director for the Professional Diploma (Architecture) at the School of Architecture, UCD.

Other posts of interest:

Stardust Remembered | Building Control is about protecting life, not property (Part 1)

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Thoughts on a way forward #bregs #OrlaHegarty

RIAI News Alert | Summary of 5 Senior Counsel opinions on BC(A)R S.I.9

RIAI Past Presidents Paper #2 | The Building Regulations and Certifiers’ Liability

Minister signals changes with Certifier fees of €3,500 | BC(A)R SI.9

SI. 9 and Insurance | Better Latent than never?

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25 February 2015

SI.9 and Insurance | Better Latent than Never?

One of the key criticisms of SI. 9 is that it affords no better protection to the consumer who may encounter a difficulty with a building defect. Building owners still have no recourse other than to pursue the builder and Assigned Certifier responsible through the Courts with no guarantee of success, which is both costly and time-consuming.

Fixing the problem relies on proving negligence by the builder and Assigned Certifier: the builder may have recourse to a structural guarantee or the Assigned Certifier may have a Professional Indemnity insurance policy but the home-buyer has no rights to make a direct claim on them. A better system that operates in other countries (often mandatory with a mortgage policy) is a Latent Defects Insurance policy for the direct benefit of the buyer.

1. Latent Defects Insurance:

Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) is a form of insurance taken out for new-build premises to provide cover for the owner in the event of an inherent defect in the design, workmanship or materials becoming apparent after completion – usually for ten years. It offers a fairly straightforward and affordable direct means of redress for the building owner and it would be commonplace for new construction in many EU states. It was a Red Line issue for the professional stakeholder groups negotiating SI. 9 with the Department of the Environment but it was not made mandatory when SI. 9 legislation was introduced.

To date it appears that there is very little interest in the insurance market either nationally or within the EU at present to provide such insurance to the Irish construction sector.

2. Professional Indemnity Insurance for Employees:

A further insurance problem has arisen with SI. 9 in the event that an employee, who acted as an Assigned Certifier , leaves their employment or where the company that employed them goes bankrupt or winds-down. Where an Assigned Certifier employee finds themselves, for whatever reason, not covered by their employer’s Professional Indemnity policy they will be held personally liable for any loss or damage incurred for buildings where they acted as certifier. The term for this is “employee’s liability overhang” and for this reason most certifiers will be principals or owners of companies, not employees.

It appears that the professional bodies are examining an insurance product for their members who are employees and act as Assigned Certifiers in such cases. However such a scheme comes with many concerns:

  • Once you had a policy you would have to maintain the cover until run-off after retirement;
  • If the PI insurance was linked to  professional membership Assigned Certifiers would also be obliged to maintain their membership of the professional organisation until run-off after retirement;
  • The system would be funded by a levy on membership which is likely to be challenged by those members who do not wish to take on the roles of Design or Assigned Certifier
  • As the system is based on cover for employees it is likely to be challenged by those members who are sole traders
  • Such insurance policies would have to be held by the professional groups involved and this would expose them to enormous risk in the event of substantial claims.

Latent Defects Insurance could prove attractive to the professional organisations as potential revenue streams but there must be wider concerns that would suggest it is inappropriate and potentially reckless for membership organisations to involve themselves in commercial activities such as latent defects insurance.

Other posts of interest:

PII Insurance increase under SI.9 with no cover for pyrite? 

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

“The insurance will sort it out…” 

What is Latent Defects Insurance and how much does it cost? 

What is PI Insurance?

8 Questions for Professional Insurer

HomeBond | the solution to SI.9?

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The following opinion piece was received from a registered professional on 26th January 2015.

There has been a lot of comment recently on the new building regulations adding hugely to the costs of building a home. Some suggest SI.9 has added over 20% extra to the cost of house building. Certainly, when the cost of using a main contractor is factored in for a self-builder the costs are indeed considerable. Others have suggested that we should embrace additional cost if the system will deliver better building. Only time will tell whether the current reinforced system of self-certification will yield consumer benefit. However, a low-cost certification system currently being developed for the speculative sector may have applications to the self-build and one-off houses. This is currently 46% of housing output according to recent DECLG figures. Any impediment to self-building needs an urgent solution.

HomeBond Pilot Certification scheme

There has been some interest in the pilot scheme announced recently by HomeBond to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ full building certification service. The main points of the scheme are as follows:

Homebond Certification + LDI scheme:

  1. Includes foundation design at cost €250
  2. Includes Assigned Certification costs
  3. Includes Structural Defects Insurance*

This is currently being piloted on small multi-unit developments. Certificates for Building Control sign-off are provided by HomeBond’s own employees. I am not aware of details of their Professional Insurances held at this point so am unable to comment. While some commentators have concentrated on possible exclusions, I do not have details of the scheme and what is covered or excluded at present.

However there are interesting aspects to this scheme.

Many developers of speculative housing are not necessarily competent builders. They buy a site, engage professionals, borrow money and hire sub-contractors, in much the same way as self-builders, but on a larger scale. Developers would suggest that this was a cost driven model, driving down costs for consumers etc.

The HomeBond scheme is of interest to the self-build sector as it provides a low-cost version of privatised Building Control. Indeed some consider this is precisely what former Minister Hogan had in mind when he (and his Department) issued guidance on costs of the new system of between €1000 and €3000 per housing unit.

Some argue that this is a better model to an all-in professional service where the same person provides certification duties as well as architectural, planning, engineering and design services. The HomeBond separate appointment could provide peer review with the added benefit of a defects insurance at a  modest cost.

Could this scheme could provide a solution to SI.9 problems at the moment?

If the HomeBond scheme was adapted to cover once-off houses and had an additional option for design certifier services, this may be a practical solution to some unintended problems for self building and architectural technologists present:

  • Certifier Costs would be reduced: anecdotally representatives for self-builders have reported increased professional costs ranging from €6k- €30k for assigned certifier duties. An extended version of HomeBond would significantly reduce this cost.
  • Certifier availability: current advice from the Law Society to the IAOSB indicates an unwillingness of certifiers – architects in particular – to undertake self-build projects, . Availability of HomeBond for once-off owner constructed houses would significantly improve this situation. Some suggest the restrictive nature of registers of competent persons has had the effect of reducing the pool of available certifiers, and increasing costs.
  • Contractors: if the HomeBond scheme was geared towards inexperienced owner/ builders, owners would not have to use CIF registered (CIRI) builders for projects. This would reduce the bulk of SI.9 additional costs that are currently acting as a deterrent to self-builders.

Of course details of duties, cover, exclusions, professional insurances held by in-house HomeBond certifiers would need to be looked at. It is surprising that all of the mandatory sub-certification such as waste water and energy compliance can be done at this cost. However if pilot schemes are underway on BCMS validated projects at present, one can only assume all these details have been worked out to the satisfaction of the current Minister, Department and the BCMS.

An added bonus for ‘one-stop-shop’ design and assigned certification being provided separately by HomeBond would be that suitably qualified professionals currently excluded by stakeholder registers, such as Architectural Technologists, could still operate in all other areas of procurement as before, minimising impacts of SI.9 to their liveleihoods. A HomeBond solution (or something similar) could solve a number of problems.

One must assume if this scheme is appropriate for owner-developers of multiple units, it should also be suitable for owner/developers of once-off houses.

* Note: this may be more limited than Latent Defects Insurance. The Homebond policy is taken out by builder and may offer limited benefits to purchasers, see more from Beauchamp Solicitors here:.

Other posts of interest:

Homebond | Assigned Certifier + defects liability policy for €2,000?

The Latest Homebond House Building Manual: A Critique | Joseph Little Architects

Why did Phil Hogan think SI.9 would cost less than €3000 ?

Quick history of pyrite- press articles

What is Latent Defects Insurance and how much does it cost?

SI.9 costs for a typical house 

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections 

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

SI9 Schedule of duties for Certifiers

“30 % of self-builds in 2014 have been postponed or abandoned” | IAOSB

self-build10 January 2014

The Irish Association of Self-builders (IAOSB) conducted a survey of its members in 2014 and found that one third of self-build projects including one-off houses and extensions had either been abandoned or postponed. This figure could represent almost a quarter of the total for house building in Ireland. We reproduce below an interview Shane McCloud, of the IAOSB,  gave recently on this issue outlining some of the reasons for this collapse in self-build housing figures.

 1) What is your own background, are you a self builder, where are you from and when did you set up the Irish Association of Self Builders website?

I have built three houses here as a self builder on direct labour and project management route. Before that, I was a Civil Engineer graduated in USA and have previous experience in this field in the UK. Irish Association of Self Builder was officially launched on 1st of January 2004 and has constantly been ranked number one with all major search engines for “Building a house in Ireland” or similar phrases. Iaosb.com was never started as a business and the aim has always been to help and assist new self builders to understand the whole process from start to finish. The whole operation of the website is run by a team of volunteer self builders who have gone through the experience themselves and want to help others going through the process now.

2)  Did you get any response from Minister Alan Kelly following your letter calling for changes to the building regulations?

We have written to Minister Alan Kelly twice and have received no replies. Recent comments from Minister Alan Kelly mentioned amending SI9 to reduce impacts on self builders. The RIAI at an EGM on 4th November mentioned that they had been tasked with “sorting out” the self-builders. R.I.A.I President said at his meeting with Alan Kelly in early September he was asked for help in resolving the self-build problems under the regulations. We don’t know if the RIAI have proposed technical solutions to the minister in the last 3 months. The RIAI president raised this issue on SixOne in February when Phil Hogan was the Minister and nothing was ever done about it.

 3)  Can you provide details of the survey you did, which found that  1/3 of all self-builds this year have either been postponed or abandoned and could have led to up to 1,000 houses not being built? Was it an online survey?

Out of a representative sample canvassed  we had 40% replies. Based on membership profiles, we believe 30 % of self-builders in 2014 have been postponed or abandoned. The breakdown of respondents were as follows:

  • 1/3 at the upper end were able to assume 22%+ increased costs. These are at the upper cost end of the spectrum.
  • 1/3 in the middle band were still able to undertake projects but were reducing their scope to accommodate increased costs. For many this means reducing size, specification etc.
  • The bulk of respondents who have indefinitely postponed or abandoned self-builds (last 1/3) are at the lower cost end. Many here were hoping to build cheaper than speculative built housing. Normally savings to self-build at this end are around 30% on the sales price of similar standard spec- built housing. Quite a few self-builders are either on housing lists or in rental accommodation at this level.

We believe Bank lending has become much tighter this year , borrowing extra for more  ‘consultancy fees’ is very difficult.

We believe out of 8,300 completed housing units in 2013 around 1,300 were developer built housing units (CSO source). This means that 85% of the new homes built in Ireland in the last few years were ‘custom build’ or ‘self build’??

4) Is the problem right across the country, or is it more prevalent in rural areas?

Our membership is diverse and most individual self-builds are rural. However a significant proportion of members undertake significant extensions and alterations managing projects themselves. Direct labour is not limited to house building. Lots of small businesses in retail, hospitality, tourism and services sector do work through direct labour.

 5) Has the association had a meeting with the Department of the Environment on this issue and what was the outcome?

We have had no meeting with DECLG on this issue . We found out that Minister Hogan stated in a Seanad debate that he consulted with the IAOSB but this is incorrect (Link to Seanad speech). We have also noted the transcript of this debate has been altered to remove this factually incorrect statement. Senator Paschal Mooney has requested more information on this. Self Builders would welcome a meeting to propose solutions.

6) Have you been contacted by people complaining about the fees they are being quoted for having their self-build signed off under the new building regulations, and can you give any examples?

Yes many members have contacted us. One you could talk to is Amanda Gallagher. An RIAI architect (with a quantity surveyor) self-has completed a detailed breakdown of additional costs for SI.9 due to increased professional fees and increased costs to use a main contractor registered for a typical 1,350 4 bed detached house in suburban Dublin- see link here [SI9 costs for a typical dwelling]

The problem is that the regulations are very demanding- it’s understandable that someone won’t risk their own livelihood- if the regulations were clearer the cost would drop. The following is an extract from a member asking for help this morning:

“ To put into perspective I have received three quotations of €4,500, €12,000 and €32,000 all exc VAT for work. This has scared me immensely. I am open to admitting I know nothing about construction but I have two builders both of whom I trust having witnessed them build homes for my friends and family over the past 15 years. Either will do a great job for me with my families best interests at heart. I cannot engage either of them until I have a certifier picked who will need to re-draw my plans to meet their needs and start this process but how can I tell which is the right one to go with especially when each are saying ‘we are all learning about this process and trying to get our heads around it’. Am I really to pay up to €40,000 for something that my neighbour who started work in February (one month before the new regulation launched) is not having to do at all?”

The quotations are based on the work being done by a Building Contractor.

7) I’ve seen the statistic that 60 per cent of houses are self-builds- is this an old statistic because it seems very high?

It varies between 40- 60%. This excludes extensions many of which are self-built. Based on CSO figures for 2013, 8300 dwelling units (including apartments) were built in the year. Approximately 3,000 were once-off houses. Only 1,300 units were registered with house-building guarantee schemes (speculative WITH HOMEBOND) so the bulk of dwellings built were either commissioned or built by individuals rather than house building companies.

Private individuals and businesses with no experience commission buildings and extensions all the time- that’s normal in every country, it doesn’t mean shoddy work. Cowboys are more likely in speculative building where cutting corners can bring big profits,

A quick look at sites like link2plans (we think they may overestimate the number slightly) and the BCMS website (Department site where new commencements are recorder) to verify the extent.

In the UK self-building is very big, and the UK recently have launched a co-housing initiative, to supply low-cost sites to self-builders and decided that there’ll be no development levies for self-build. UK government see self-building this as a big part of solution to the housing crisis- sustainable well built homes, no cost or risk to tax payer.

8) Are the new building regulations having any impact on extensions (from the building regs forum, it seems that extensions under 40sqm are not affected)?

Apparently the Department have recently come back to recommend that many extensions previously under 40sqm that were considered exempt are no longer. The advice is very confusing and we believe the RIAI have written to the department to clarify. It is remarkable that professional architects currently are uncertain and in the dark as to whether extensions under 40Sqm are exempt or not. The BRegs Blog has written extensively on this. In the meantime many small extensions aren’t viable as the cost for inspections is more than the build.

If you need links to any of the statics or sites/ topics listed I can provide them for you.

As you can see from the attached Department of the Environment information there is little to suggest a  housing boom.

Bruce Shaw Annual Review for information on costs, trends and the construction industry:

http://www.bruceshaw.com/knowledgecentre/chapters/ireland

All our information are gathered by a self-build research team and if you have any further technical queries please do not hesitate to let us know and our team will endeavour to answer all your questions.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Other posts of interest:

Self build: How to make your dream home come true

What is Cohousing? | Homebuilding & Renovating

Ivan Yates | Vulture capitalists won’t build the 25,000 houses we need!

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 Ivan Yates

Writing in the first edition of the Independent newspaper for 2015, Ivan Yates clearly spelled out that he believes Ireland needs “real developers” to sort out the housing crisis and that it is naïve of the Government and others to believe that the problem will be sorted by the short-term thinking of vulture capitalists. He adds that if you are depending on the international vulture capitalists who invested €35bn in 2014 in Irish property to provide finance for new construction activity, you’re sadly mistaken as “these ‘bottom feeders’ aren’t interested in long-term Irish development or its society; they’re after a fast buck and a quick exit”.

He also writes:

“In Ireland, once we’ve articulated a problem, declared it a crisis, called a summit and announced the government package, we think it is resolved. It’s implementation where we repeatedly fall down.”

“Governments are great at big pronouncements: 110,000 homes will be in place by 2020; Nama will build 22,000 homes over the next five years; Nama will convert the Docklands into Canary Wharf. The reality is less exciting. In 2013, beyond Dublin City Council, how many new houses were completed on average by each council? Three!”

“Costs of building a new house are greater than existing ones, even if the site is for free. It’s a no-brainer therefore that there will be zero construction requirements in these areas, as no profit margins are attainable.”

Yates makes some valid points in the Independent article but he is proposing the ‘spec-build’ business model that has failed spectacularly in the past without addressing the core problems. A developer’s business is about driving building costs (and quality) as low as possible and controlling supply to sell into the market as high as possible.  Neither problem has been fixed…………yet.

You can read the full article here: (Link:)

Look forward to SI.9 review in January 2015 | Minister Paudie Coffey

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Minister Paudie Coffey pictured. December 24th 2014.

The BRegs Blog Admin Team are optimistic that both Ministers at the DECLG have been listening. Minister Kelly and now Minister Coffey have signaled an industry-wide review of the new building regulations for early in the new year. We hope that the key stakeholders are prepared and will make informed representations concerning the unintended consequences on consumers as well as impacts on their respective members in their submissions. A comprehensive review of SI.9 that includes some of the consumer groups overlooked in the drafting of the original legislation would indeed be a super Christmas and New Year present for consumers and professionals alike who are subject to numerous unintended consequences at present.

“Early in the New Year, the Department will commence its review of the first year of operation of the regulations in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The impact, particularly in relation to cost, of the regulations on one-off housing will be a key element of this review which will inform future regulation in this critical area.”

Minister Paudie Coffey in answer to Barry Cowen TD last Thusday 18th December 2014 in the Dáil. Link to Dáil exchange here.

The initiative to improve building standards in Ireland was welcomed by all sides. There is general  agreement that almost 25 years of Building Control and self-certification has not been a success- there are many reasons for this but the political will to make improvements is to be applauded.

After 10 months of the new system, all sides acknowledge that changes need to be made. There is an urgency about dealing with this because construction is a driver of the economy- we need houses and schools, more importantly we need jobs.

The challenge for 2015 is to deliver a robust system that doesn’t compromise on standards with the resources available. Let’s all look forward and not loosing this opportunity to change the current regulations and create a proper system that delivers real consumer protection.

We look forward to presenting contributors’ workable and practical solutions to the current problems of SI.9 in the new year.

We will resume normal transmissions after a short break on the 5th January 2015Best wishes for the new year from all here in the BRegs Blog Admin team. 

Extract of Dáil exchange:

___________

Written answers

Thursday, 18 December 2014

What are written answers?

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Amendments – Written answers 19th December 2014

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

541. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the new proposed changes to building regulations for one off houses introduced in March 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49090/14]

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

542. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the cost benefit analysis of the building regulations undertaken prior to them being introduced in March 2014; if a cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken for the proposed changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49091/14]

Paudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 541 and 542 together.

The amendment s to the Building Control Regulations introduced through S.I. No. 9 of 2014 have greatly strengthened the arrangements in place for the control of building activity by requiring accountability for compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. I am satisfied that this key reform of the regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade and will lead to improved quality within the construction sector.

The main concern of families intending to build their own homes remains the question of cost. A number of cases have been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects. While the new regulations support improved competence and professionalism and while I believe it is worthwhile for homeowners to have the home they invest in checked and inspected, I do not believe that they should be faced with inflated charges or excessive inspection services.

An extensive public consultation process was undertaken in 2012 to inform the development of the new regulations. Comprehensive consultation documents were published including Strengthening the Building Control System – A Document to inform public consultation on Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012which sets out the context in which the new regulations will operate and their impact with particular relevance to cost on building owners and industry stakeholders.

In summary terms, the consultation document identified the key cost impact of the new regulations on owners as being the requirement to assign a competent registered professional to inspect and certify the works. While costs are ultimately determined by market forces, it was considered that this particular requirement would add approximately €3,000 to the overall building cost of a dwelling.

While compliant design and construction was a statutory obligation under the Building Control Act 1990, this obligation may not always have been honoured to the full extent in an under-regulated market. On this basis, it was recognised that the revised regulations may result in additional design, inspection, ancillary certification and, possibly, insurance costs which must ultimately be borne by the building owner. In return for such additional investment owners would be assured of an enhanced quality of design and construction of the building project concerned. It was also noted that the statutory inspection and certification process would reduce the incidence of defective works and the resultant associated costs of carrying out remedial works would reduce accordingly.

In response to the concerns about the prices being quoted to consumers, my Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and the construction professional bodies, is preparing additional guidance on an appropriate inspection plan for a typical one-off dwelling. Such guidance will be helpful in better informing the market in relation to offering realistic and appropriately priced professional services for such work.

Early in the New Year, the Department will commence its review of the first year of operation of the regulations in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The impact, particularly in relation to cost, of the regulations on one-off housing will be a key element of this review which will inform future regulation in this critical area.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Review.. “early in the new year” | Minster Alan Kelly

Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Is the UK ‘approved inspector’ model a more transparent system, with better outcomes? | The Engineers Journal

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Developer makes 27% profit in 6 months: warns against state housing.

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

Top Dozen Posts | 2014

2015
Happy New Year to all of the BRegs Blog readers. This may be a time of reflection and one way to do this may be to have a look back over the Top Dozen posts for the past year, the BRegs Blog’s first year, in terms of the highest viewing figures registered.
The most viewed post was written by a Self-Builder followed closely by a Building Surveyor contributor. Two of the top six posts were written by Architectural Technologists.
We look forward to receiving your contributions in 2015 and thanks for the support.