Category Archives: BC(A)R

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

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

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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:

Extract:

“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.

Notes:

*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:

Building Regulations Amendments: 20 Feb 2014: Seanad debates (KildareStreet.com)

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”

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

Self-builder’s Letter to ISME & SFA: BC(A)R SI.9

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’

Framework for Building Control Authorities | June 2016

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01 September 2016

The Framework for Building Control Authorities Version 1.1 was launched in June 2016 (see link here).  This new Framework replaces Version 1.0  published in June 2014 (see link here).  

The 77 page document (up from 64 pages)  is the ‘manual’ produced by the City and County Managers Association (CCMA) for Building Control Authorities in applying Building Control Regulations and as such is essential reading for anyone involved in construction.  The most significant new sections are about Building Control appeals to An Bord Pleanala, phased completion and opt-out provisions.  The most interesting part of the new Framework document in on page 12:

“Chester Bowles concluded from his experience with the U.S. Office of Price Administration during World War II that 20 per cent of all firms would comply unconditionally with any government rule, five per cent would attempt to evade it and the remaining 75 per cent are also likely to comply, but only if the enforcement threat to the dishonest five per cent is credible. Source: improving regulatory compliance: strategies and practical applications in OECD countries, John Braithwaithe, 1993

The BRegs Blog have reported on a wide variation of interpretations and applications of BC(A)R SI.9 since implementation in March 2014, and as such this attempt to standardise approaches is welcome (albeit over 2 years following implementation of BCAR).  The BRegs Blog is not aware of any guidance from relevant stakeholders on this document.  Many commentators and industry experts are critical of the lack of enforcement by Local Authority Building Control since our current privatised system of “self-regulation” was introduced in 1992.  Extract from Framework document:

“Building Control apply generally to new buildings and to existing buildings which undergo an extension, a material alteration or a material change of use… The purpose of the Framework is to provide guidance for Building Control Authorities (BCAs) with respect to undertaking their functions under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 and the Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2015.

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The ‘Enforcement Pyramid’ (source: Framework for BCAs,  June 2016 p5)

Standardisation and co-ordination nationally of the statutory building control processes, including those listed hereunder, i.e. Notices, Applications, Certificates of Compliances and

Building Control Register

  • Processing and validation of Commencement Notices (CNs);
  • Processing and validation of 7 Day Notices;
  • Inspections and assessments during construction;
  • Processing and validation of Certificates of Compliance on Completion (CCC);
  • Processing, validation and adjudicating on applications for Relaxation of and/or Dispensation from particular requirements of the building regulations.
  • Processing, validating, assessing and granting/refusing Fire Safety Certificate (FSCs) applications-including regularisation and revised fire safety certificate applications; and
  • Processing, validating, assessing and granting/refusing Disability Access Certificate (DACs) applications-including revised disability access certificate applications.
  • Maintenance of the Statutory Building Control Register.
  • Processing of Appeals under to the Board under section 7(1)(a) or 7(1)(b) of the Act”

Download PDF here: Framework for BCAs Version 1.1 June 2016p77.pdf [Converted]p77.pdf [Converted]

BCMS Steering Committee Members (source: Framework for BCAs,  June 2016)

Other posts of Interest:

Framework for Building Control Authorities – Version 1: July 2014

Firetrap Homes | “Fingal CoCo ‘head in the sand’ approach to building control”

Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness Report recommends Building Control Changes

“Building control regulations not fit for purpose” | Sunday Business Post

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

What do Building Control Regulations cost for a typical apartment?

Q + A: Local Authorities and Building Control Regulations | Eoin O’Cofaigh

An ounce of oversight or a pound of legal fees? | Building Control in Ireland 2015

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

One year on: Reflections on the Building Control Amendment Regulations (SI.9 of 2014) | Michael Collins FRIAI

Minister Kelly approves 200 staff: will any go to building control?

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

SI.9 | The Right to self-build is O.K. – if you live in the U.K.

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 06 February 2015

When SI.9 was introduced last year it sounded a death knell for the centuries old tradition of affordable self-building in Ireland. It is hard to fathom why the Department of the Environment would do this in the middle of a housing and financial crisis. In marked contrast our nearest neighbours in the U.K. are doing the exact opposite. Across the Irish Sea they are rolling out comprehensive incentives and supports to get ordinary people building their own houses. See link here:

Extract:

New ‘Right to Build’ areas at forefront of helping aspiring self-builders

The ‘Right to Build’ is the latest in a range of measures designed to help those looking to build their own home in the U.K. Eleven areas will benefit from the latest U.K. government-backed opportunity to help aspiring custom or self-builders get their projects off the ground. These 11 chosen areas will establish and maintain a register of prospective custom and self-builders in the area and begin to identify shovel-ready sites for those on the register – becoming the first to offer local people the right to design and build their own home often at a lower cost than buying an existing property.

U.K. Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“We’re determined to help anyone who aspires to own their own home – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like our Help to Buy, or to build. This is one of a range of measures we’re taking to help aspiring homeowners, but also to get Britain building – and thanks to our efforts, house building levels are at their highest since 2007 and rising. Aspiring custom or self-builders will be able to register their interest with the council, who will then be required to offer suitable serviced plots for them that are for sale at market value. But it will open up the opportunity to self-build beyond those with “grand designs” so even more people can realise their self-build ambitions.”

In Ireland if you are a building contractor and a Director of your own firm with at least three years relevant experience, there is no problem with building for yourself. Otherwise, you will have to hire a professional contractor from the soon to be mandatory Construction Industry Federation’s (CIF) own register. The additional cost to employ a CIF registered builder makes house building projects unaffordable for most people. Industry estimates put the additional cost to a typical self-builder at 22%, or over €40,000 on a €180,000 house.

It would appear that SI.9 is causing huge numbers of self-build house projects to be abandoned due to these increased costs, and is a drag on increased housing supply. Minister for State, Paudie Coffey T.D. indicated last month that the unforeseen consequences of SI.9 on self-build is something he has asked his Department to examine.

Other posts of Interest:

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

The € 500 million + cost of S.I.9 in 2014 | Residential Sector

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update

The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9? 

The self build world has been thrown into disarray

Self Builder petition- BC(A)R SI.9

Law Society response to self-builders

Self building, self-regulation & the consumer

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

Additional Engineers’ fees for school projects | SI.9

Additional-fees-rent-apartment-scam

12th January 2015

Most professionals involved in Public Sector projects feel that the additional red tape of SI.9 that mirrors duties and documentation that were already required is unnecessary and a waste of public finances. Most contributors to this Blog have confirmed that applying the same methodology for the speculative residential sector (where full-service appointments are not the norm) to public sector procurement makes no sense.

Early in 2014 the RIAI met the Department of Education to progress the basis for additional fees for architects undertaking the roles of Assigned and Design Certifier on school projects (based on additional time required under BC(A)R SI.9). See previous post “Time needed for School Certifier“). Not only architects but other design team members, structural and services engineers, are also seeking an uplift in fees for less onerous ancillary certification roles. From industry sources we table approximate increased fees for school projects from engineers and summarise as follows:

  • Ancillary Certifiers (structural engineers) +/- 0.8%
  • Ancillary Certifiers (services engineers)    +/- 0.8%
  • Assigned/Design Certifiers (architects)     +/- 1.0 %
  • Additional fees for BC(A)R for schools      +/- 2.6%*

On a €3m value school project this translates into approximately €25,000 additional fees for EACH Ancillary Certifier (structural and services) while the more onerous role of Assigned Certifier /Design Certifier can expect a fee in the region of €35,000. We have heard of total consultants’ fees up to €100,000 on larger school projects for additional SI.9 duties. These fee levels may vary from project to project, and fees may be a larger percentage for smaller projects. Additional costs associated with SI.9 may be twice this figure when contractors and specification issues are factored in.

The following is a typical scope of services as noted by an engineer for duties associated with the Ancillary Certifier role. Interestingly we have not seen an architect’s scope of service or fee for the same role where the architect is only prepared to act as an Ancillary Certifier. Under SI.9 the statutory duties of Design Certifier may be undertaken by any designer on the project and the Assigned Certifier role by any competent registered professional.

ANCILLARY CERTIFIER ROLE (ENGINEER) ADDITIONAL DUTIES UNDER SI.9:

  • At Commencement stage :-In accordance with the Code of Practice (7.1.1 ) agree Preliminary Inspection plan with Design and Assigned Certifier. Agree final Inspection Plan with Assigned Certifier.
  • Provide General Arrangement drawings (structural and services) Design Reports, and any additional structural (or services) drawings and documentation for Commencement stage, including documents demonstrating compliance with Technical Guidance Documents, and any supporting documentation  particular to the engineer’s role
  • Identify all civil/ structural and M&E Specialists with design function and agree Ancillary Certificate requirements.
  • At site stage : In accordance with the Assigned Certifier’s agreed Inspection Plan carry out specific works inspections. Attend all agreed and scheduled inspections/ interim inspections and co-ordinate with the Assigned Certifier. Compile and keep records of all meeting minutes, correspondences, site inspections, site reports , contractor proposals/sketches, record observations, instructions for remedial works, contractor corrective action reports, issue any clarifications necessary, and re- inspect any remedial works as required. Maintain telephone records.
  • As required under SI 9, 2014 maintain file copies of all structural calculations. Retain site specific investigation / test reports.
  • Coordinate the production of as-built drawings for validation submission to Building Control Authority and BCMS at the completion stage of the project.
  • At Project Handover Stage / Works completion:- Provide required ancillary certification for validation submission to Building Control Authority and BCMS  at the completion stage of the project. Compile other ancillary certificates and issue to Assigned Certifier.
  • Issue a record of all compliance reports and assemble all ancillary structural and civil specialists and M&E specialists Ancillary design certificates.( Sd Sc and Si as agreed with Stakeholder bodies) to the Assigned Certifier.

The decision to adopt Statutory roles or not and any negotiation on fees and services is a matter for individuals as there is no collective bargaining.

*fee percentages normally increase for smaller projects. These consultants fees exclude additional costs for insurance, certification, professional indemnity exposure caused by the significantly greater risk as to liability, currently untested. We believe the additional costs for the work associated with contractor, sub-contractor and supplier costs, specification and inspection oversight will at between 3- 5% onto these costs. Total additional cost for SI.9 for school projects av. +7%.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Schools to suffer as Minister ignores Essential Works Scheme:

Is SI.9 necessary for Public Sector projects:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects:

60 new schools delayed due to SI.9 | Independent.ie

Examiner – € 35.5 m unspent as Building Control Regulations delay school projects:

Summer Works 2014 Budget: