Category Archives: Breg Forum

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

Complaint_Department___

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?

HomeBond | the solution to SI.9?

poverty_solutions

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

10,500 housing units completed in 2014

Bubble-Burst

It would appear from recent media comment that some industry sources are trying to hype up a “construction housing boom”. Figures for 2014 released from the Department of the Environment (DECLG) confirm that housing completions remain at depressed levels. There are many factors affecting housing supply but the figures clearly indicate that one of the unintended consequences of the new building regulations introduced in March 2014 is additional “red-tape” costs and legal uncertainty which is further inhibiting new housing starts.

The following is a summary of residential completions from the DECLG. It lists monthly completions since 1975, from January to October 2014 inclusive. Data for November and December 2014, traditionally a low for completions, is unavailable at time of writing.

Based on the table below one can assume there will be approximately 10,500 houses completed in 2014, similar to the 2011 recession level.

8,796 housing units (houses and apartments) were completed for first 10 months of 2014. Although this figure exceeds the total for the previous year (8,300 dwelling units), it should be recalled that 2013 was the lowest ever residential completion total since records began in 1975.

monthly house completions 1975-2014 (oct)

TABLE: Monthly House Completions 1975-2014 (Oct)

An initial analysis of information, available from the DECLG and other sources, suggest that NAMA and ‘ghost estate’ completions account for a significant amount of the increased supply in 2014. These are likely to be apartments already completed or part-completed and vacant for some time that only obtained ESB live connections this year (this is the criteria for the DECLG completion statistics).

The ESRI estimate 12,500 units will be required in 2015. Based on information available from the the BCMS Building Register, Commencements to December 2014 were still down 25% year on year directly following the implementation of the new Building Control system in March. The ESRI 2015 target may not be achieved with consequences for consumers, affordability of new housing and rental prices adding to the current housing crisis.

A review of the impact of the new building regulations is to take place shortly.

Download pdf here: monthly house completions 1975-2014 (oct)

Housing Completions

House Completions 1975-2014 

Other posts of interest:

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

Developer-Led projected Sales Price for a Typical House

So What is an Independent Building Inspector and How Can they add value?

Central Bank | More turbulence in housing market?

“House building costs are 17% more than 2003 despite recession” – Bruce Shaw

Soaring house prices and rising rents could damage economy | National Competitiveness Council

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.

Central Bank | More turbulence in housing market?

Mortgage+agreement+app

In this article in the Independent on 11th December 2014, author Mark Keenan discusses the possible negative effects of the latest government intervention in the housing market. Readers are aware, despite increases in rental and sale values, that current market conditions including increased costs associated with recent ‘red tape’ building regulation have restricted the supply of new homes. Proposed Central Bank credit limitations could impact further and push a lot of new residential developments out of the reach of new buyers. In an industry struggling to get started this latest development, added to the drag of recent government building regulations, could seriously affect the tentative construction recovery.

Link to full article here. Extract:

Half of new homes face axe over mortgage proposals

Joe Charles, of Caledonian Life, said the fall in mortgage protection policies being taken out by those in their 20s was down to them not taking out mortgages

AROUND 5,000 new homes worth more than €1.25bn and accounting for almost half of all planned output for next year face being scrapped.

The construction industry has expressed fears over the Central Bank’s new loan-to-value (LTV) and loan-to-income (LTI) requirements. Strict new mortgage lending measures will play havoc with building at both ends – first by eliminating a huge tranche of buyers and second, by causing banks and private financiers to withdraw promised capital and finance for big schemes.

One source added: “In most cases, those schemes which have gone ahead have only just got funding by the skin of their teeth.”

The source said that if the measures went ahead “almost all” multi-unit schemes currently being planned would be postponed or curtailed altogether. Multi-unit schemes are likely to make up around half of the 10,000 or so homes planned for next year.

The claims follow the lodging of a new report warning of the unexpected impacts of the new mortgage control measures. Compiled by Grant Thornton, and funded by the Construction Industry Federation, it has been submitted to the Central Bank this week.

It lists “cessation/non commencement of construction” as one of the “unintended consequences” of the new measures.

A spokesman for the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said: “In a lot of cases our members have said that they are planning to put residential projects on hold if these measures are introduced.”

First time buyers in Dublin will now have to save an average of €70,000 to buy a €350,000 home and most builders and their financiers believe this is too big an ask for young couples.

It has already been estimated that 40pc of the home loans paid out in 2014 would not have transacted at all under the Central Bank’s new rules.

The report estimates that saving for a deposit and paying rent for a home at the same time in Dublin means a couple will have to set by €2,575 per month.

“Across the construction sector there is likely to be a cessation in on-going construction programmes and a reduction in the numbers of commencements, as a consequence of the proposed policies.

“Such policies will both reduce the commercial viability of many projects and increase the likelihood that working capital support from institutions may not be available,” the report says.

Other effects include:

  • A knock-back to employment caused by the resulting loss of work to those directly involved in the sector as well as “knock-on” jobs like solicitors and surveyors.
  • The exclusion of “credit-worthy” candidates from home purchase on the basis that first time buyers tend to be in the early stage of their careers and the most likely to increase their incomes going forward.
  • An increase in unsecured and “risky” credit used to beat the mortgage cap – the report says it happened in Sweden when “hard LTV’s” were introduced.
  • Increasing rents, as forced-out buyers turn to letting in a market where supply is already restricted.
  • A negative impact on Foreign Direct Investment as rents increase. This will also lead to a further, increased demand for social housing.

The report describes the proposed Central Bank measures as “a blunt tool” usually employed to deal with an overheating market, whereas most of Ireland’s market (outside of Dublin) is clearly not overheating.

It is critical of some of the factors which currently cause Ireland to have some of the highest-priced housing in Europe – most notably it criticises the high cost of local authority levies and taxations to home construction.

Finally, it asserts that measures outlined for Budget 2015 are “unlikely to address the fundamental issues that are hampering supply.”

Other posts of interest:

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

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

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

Catherine Murphy TD | Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

Want to live in Dublin? | Only the wealthy need apply!

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

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

“House building costs are 17% more than 2003 despite recession” – Bruce Shaw

Ch.3_—_Ireland

Ireland, Knowledge Centre – Bruce Shaw

Professionals frequently refer to the Bruce Shaw Annual Review for information on costs, trends and the construction industry generally. In this post we look at activity in the house building sector and where savings could be targeted to make housing more affordable. Here’s  link to the full document: Bruce Shaw Knowledge Centre

This year’s edition of the Bruce Shaw Annual Review is no different providing a wealth of interesting and accurate information on a multitude of aspects of the construction industry. It is not the only one of its type but source information frequently is Central statistics Office data so is quite reliable.

We noted there has been a lot of media attention at a predicted “construction boom” with an output of €11Bn forecast for 2015. When one removes the €600m associated with water meter installation, this figure reduces to €10.4Bn. A 15% increase on 2014 projected level of €9Bn is good news; however we are coming from a historic low point in construction activity.

€10Bn is the same as the 2010 level of construction output and well below the level needed to achieve a sustainable level of construction activity in the medium term- see Forfas Report (p10):

forfas report page 10.pdf [Converted]

(Pdf of Forfas Report: Ireland’s Construction Sector: Outlook and Strategic Plan to 2015: forfas)

Construction output is half a normal sustainable level and this indicates that there may be further market distortions due to supply and demand issues in some sectors and locations etc. To give this more modest forecast some background here is a graph with recent years construction output noted:

Value of Construction Output €m 2004 – 2014

construction output

We also note construction costs for housing remain stubbornly high. In the following graph we see that house-building costs are over 17% higher than in 2003, despite the recession. The graph illustrates that house-builders appear have kept costs high, preferring to delay activity to build demand and maintain profit margins rather than reduce costs. We note a recent Davy Research report that suggested Irish construction costs were 50% higher than in Northern Ireland. Economist Ronan Lyons has been calling for a full audit of the cost of building a home for some time- this would have many benefits because state investment in social housing would go further and new homes would become more affordable. (Link to Ronan Lyons commentary here).

House Construction Cost Index

houe cost index

In this series of tables showing house completions, we see that only 11%, 922 of the total of 8,301 dwellings completed in 2013 were apartments, suggesting that individual commissioned or self-built houses comprised a very high proportion of dwellings completed that year. Self-builders may well comprise over 50% of all houses completed in any one year.

Annual House Completions 2003 – 2013

house completions

Annual House Completions by Type 2003 – 2013

completions by type

Finally of interest to Government will be house building costs. Note the specific exclusions which generally add approximately +12.5% and additional costs of SI.9, estimated at between €20,000- €40,000 for a typical 4 bed house.

The Bruce Shaw figures exclude VAT, professional fees, SI.9 costs, developer’s profit and site costs. When the extra SI.9 cost of €21k ex vat, developers profit of 20% and other costs along with VAT of 13.5% is added to the build cost, the sales price of a typical 3-4 bed 125 SqM house is over €290,000 excluding site purchase costs. This excludes the cost impact of recently introduced social and affordable (Part V) levy of 10%.

 

house build costs.pdf [Converted]*Breg Blog note: for additional SI.9 costs for a typical house see SI.9 costs for a typical house | BRegs Blog

Other posts of interest:

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

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

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

Soaring house prices and rising rents could damage economy | National Competitiveness Council

COVER.pdf [Converted]

In this article in the Independent from December 3rd 2014  “Soaring house prices and rising rents could damage economy“, author John Mulligan discusses the 2014 National Competitiveness Council (NCC) Annual Report. The report suggests that soaring house prices and rising rents could damage Ireland’s competitiveness. Link to NCC: National Competitiveness Council. About the NCC from their website:

The National Competitiveness Council was established by Government in 1997. It reports to the Taoiseach on key competitiveness issues facing the Irish economy and offers recommendations on policy actions required to enhance Ireland’s competitive position. The NCC was established by the Government in May 1997 as part of the Partnership 2000 Agreement. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation provides the Council with research and secretariat support.

In previous posts we noted the spike and fall-off of commencements due to the introduction of BC(A)R SI.9, with industry estimates that the new regulations may cost the consumer, taxpayer and industry €5Bn by 2020. Uncertainty and significantly increased costs due to new building regulations is continuing to be a major drag on the feasibility of many new residential developments.

The reluctance of Ireland to embrace accepted international best practice to establish a system of independent inspections and regulation for our construction sector continues to impact on our international competitiveness.

Link to 2014 NCC Annual Report: Ireland’s Competitiveness Challenge 2014

Extract from article:

________

Soaring house prices and rising rents could damage economy

Soaring house prices and rising rents could damage Ireland’s competitiveness as workers seek higher wages in a desperate rush to get on the property ladder, a leading government think-tank has warned.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) has also strongly urged the Government to take measures to prevent the return of another damaging property bubble.

In its annual report published today, the NCC said the rapid growth in house prices and residential rents, particularly in Dublin, “represents a potentially destabilising development”.

It said the increases could lead to “adverse knock-on consequences in terms of prices and wage expectations across the entire economy”.

The stark warning comes amid spiralling home price increases in the capital due to a lack of available housing supply.

The Central Statistics Office said last week that house prices in the capital had risen by 24pc in the past year, while across the country they were 16.3pc higher.

A national survey from property website Daft.ie showed that rents in Dublin jumped 17pc over the past year, while in Cork they rose 8pc, and in Galway by 7pc.

“Such rapid growth in property costs, allied to issues around security of tenure, can be expected to have significant adverse knock-on effects on wages and inflation,” said the NCC, whose chairman is Dr Don Thornhill.

Jack O’Connor, the leader of trade union Siptu, said recently that he expected far more pay increase demands to be served on employers next year than were made this year.

He warned it could lead to an “explosion” of claims.

“While economic recovery remains fragile and Ireland is a long way from a return to the undesirable construction boom of the mid-2000s, we must take action now to ensure that the conditions which facilitated the property bubble are not allowed to re-emerge,” cautioned the NCC.

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan has proposed a mortgage cap that could also squeeze many first-time buyers completely out of the housing market.

But the NCC said the Government should not try to intervene in the property market with a “quick-fix” solution to boost the housing supply.

It said that experience showed it took about 18 months or more to respond to increased demand.

“Strong demand for housing already exists in Dublin and some other urban areas and demand is likely to grow over time,” it added.

In the past number of months, planning applications have been lodged by developers for major housing developments in the capital, some of them for hundreds of homes.

But Dr Thornhill said Ireland could look to the broader economic future with a “greater sense of optimism”.

However, the NCC report also said that increases in personal taxation since the start of the recession had “eroded competitiveness and incentives to work”.

“The council is concerned that hard-won competitiveness gains made since 2008 are in danger of being eroded as the economy returns to growth,” added Dr Thornhill.

Other posts of interest:

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

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

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing?

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

Catherine Murphy TD | Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”

CSO- Dwelling units approved down 16.6% in one year

Want to live in Dublin? | Only the wealthy need apply!

Bregs Blog Christmas Appeal

charity

By BRegs Blog 19th December 2014 

Bregs Blog Christmas Appeal

We invite our readers to make a donation to homeless charities, see links below.

Given the high profile homelessness have gotten in the media recently we list a number of homelessness agencies and charities you might think to donate to today. A lot of organisations are heading in for their Christmas lunches- perhaps spare a moment to think of those less fortunate and donate to some of the great organisations listed below. Let us all not loose sight of the people and families that hide behind the numbers.

We wish you all a happy Christmas. Blog will be open during the holidays

 “It must not be forgotten, we are in the middle of a housing crisis,we encourage measures that make housing more affordable”

– Niamh Randall, Head of a Policy & spokesperson for Simon Communities

“I took this job because I wanted to deal with housing.I’m passionate about giving people a roof over their head”

-Minister Alan Kelly

Here are a list of other agencies and charities active in the provision of services for Homelessness:

Donate at: 

Simon Communities http://www.simon.ie/MobileSplash.aspx

Threshold : http://www.threshold.ie/donate/

Focus Ireland: https://www.focusireland.ie/

Peter McVerry Trust: http://www.pmvtrust.ie/

Capuchin Day Centre: click here

SVP: http://www.svp.ie/Home.aspx

Extract from Simon website:

The Simon Communities of Ireland today launched their Annual Report for 2013 and the charity reported a substantial increase of 41% in the number of people seeking help from their services since 2011. The Simon Communities services are stretched to the limit supporting more than 6,000 people who are experiencing homelessness across the country every single day. Simon is calling on the Government to ensure that their plans for tackling the homelessness crisis are countrywide and offer long term solutions. For more information please log on to www.simon.ie.

For full Report click here 

Extracts off report:

Key statistics from the annual report include:

  • 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions over the year.
  • Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts.
  • 1,830 people availed of daytime support, advice, information and referral services.
  • 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
  • 1,828 people accessed specialist treatment and support services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.

Highlights from the Annual Report 2013 include:

  • The Simon Communities worked with 6,122 people across the country in 2013; this represents a 17% increase on 2012 and a 41% increase on 2011
  • Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts
  • 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions.
  • 1,830 people availed of Simon Communities Daytime Support, Advice, Information and Referral services
  • 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
  • 1,828 people accessed Specialist Treatment and Support Services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.
  • 305 people accessed Education, Training and Employment Services provided directly by the Simon Communities.
  • 2,500 volunteers supported the work of the Simon Communities in 2013 working across a range of services from soup runs to working in emergency accommodation, and assisting with events and fundraising activities.

Other posts of interest:

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

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

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

Village magazine| What’s happening with housing policy in 2014?

Catherine Murphy TD | Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ireland – What’s Next?| TV 3 Series on Ireland’s Housing Crisis

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Dr Rory Hearne | + 168,000 empty houses in the country

Room for improvement on social housing policy

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

 

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

Fire-620x350

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

In this well-researched article in the Engineer’s Journal on 9th December 2014, author Tim O’Connor concludes that, although the changes to the Building Control System constitute an improvement, the bar has been set too low. Extract:

“There are issues surrounding the adequacy of the inspection and certification arrangement under the revised Building Control System. The opinion of experienced professionals points towards adopting a system similar to the arrangement that is in place in England and Wales. Under this arrangement, the building owner has the choice of having building works inspected and certified by an officer from the building control authority or by a third party ‘approved inspector’. Adopting the ‘approved inspector’ model in Ireland would most likely result in a more transparent system, with better outcomes, independent of any commercial relationship between the Building Owner and the person certifying the works.

…There is a possible alternative to independent certification. Under the current provisions, building control authorities are not required to perform technical assessments of compliance with building regulation at commencement or at completion stage. If a technical assessment of compliance were to be conducted by the building control authority, at commencement and completion stages for all projects, this would constitute a second level check to capture the vast majority of non-compliances. In order to implement such a system, however, there are a number of obstacles that would need to be overcome”.

Link to full article here: Building Control Regulations – a fire safety perspective

Extract:

____________

Building Control Regulations – a fire safety perspective

Prior to the introduction of the Building Control Act 1990, building control legislation, from a national perspective, did not exist in Ireland. While the introduction of the 1990 Act introduced a level of regulation to the construction industry, reform of the system, from the perspectives of design, administration, inspection and certification of works, has been long overdue. The amendments to the 1990 Act, introduced by the Building Control Act 2007, did not sufficiently address the issues associated with the design, administration, inspection and certification of construction projects.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government promulgated the Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations in 2012. Subsequent consultation with construction industry stakeholders including Engineers Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation of Ireland (CIF), Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland contributed towards the publication of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (Heneghan and Byrne 2014).

A number of issues with the 2013 Regulations prompted a number of amendments and the 2013 Regulations were revoked when the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (BCAR 2014) were written into law.

Fire safety certificates

The Building Control Authority (BCA) is responsible for examining fire safety certificate (FSC) applications, from a technical perspective, to ensure that the design is in compliance with Part B (Fire Safety) of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. If the BCA is satisfied that the design is compliant, it issues a FSC to the applicant.

The FSC certifies that only the design is compliant. There is no system in place for the BCA to issue certification of the constructed building being compliant. The only method of certifying technical compliance is the Certificate of Compliance on Completion, issued by the assigned certifier.

Building owners are usually driven by project cost. According to RIAI (2012), certain building owners and clients seek to ignore their responsibilities under the Building Regulations in order to save money. This could have the effect of building owners attempting to compel assigned certifiers into certifying a building that may not be fully compliant.

In order to display compliance with Part B, RIAI (2012) recommended a schedule of compliance documents that should be required for building handover at practical completion stage. Despite recommendations from RIAI to include these documents, BCAR 2014 does not require any certification, at completion stage, particular to fire safety compliance.

In fact, the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Works 2014 (CoP) remains quite silent on issues relation to compliance with Part B during the construction phase of a project. The only reference to compliance with Part B is a recommendation that the assigned certifier should make provision for inspection of work relating to fire safety.

Applications for disability access certificates (DACs) and FSCs are often compiled and submitted at the same time, by the same professional. The DAC and the FSC applications are interdependent, to an extent, but there are two distinct application processes. There are a number of building design considerations, such as corridor and doorway widths, where a particular design may be in compliance with Part B but not compliant with Part M (Disabled Access).

Perhaps a combined application process for DACs and FSCs would reduce the potential for such anomalies. This proposal was put forward by the RIAI and Engineers Ireland during the consultation phase of the draft regulations.

During the period 2001-2011, approximately 29% of all fires attended to by fire services in Ireland occurred in dwellings. A FSC is required for the majority of buildings in Ireland; however, single domestic dwellings are excluded from this requirement. RIAI, during the Draft Building Control Regulations consultation phase, recommended that FSCs should be required for single domestic dwelling houses on the basis that this is where many of the serious risks to life occur.

The National Consumer Agency and Grant Thornton (2008) recommended that the situation of domestic dwelling houses being excluded from the requirement for a FSC should be reviewed. Despite these recommendations, BCAR 2014 did not add this requirement. A key consideration in to include such a requirement may have been in order to avoid adding additional costs to the construction of new dwellings.

Registration of builders and building culture

“There is a need for a change of culture in the construction industry so that the key stakeholders are committed to achieving quality construction; the Regulations need to reflect and develop this change of culture” (RIAI 2012, p. 13). A particular development that brought building construction issues to a head in Ireland was the Priory Hall apartment development in Dublin in 2011. This development uncovered a plethora of breaches of Building Regulations, including very serious fire safety non-compliance issues, which could not be adequately addressed after the apartments were completed and occupied (Walsh 2011).

Walsh goes on to describe how shoddy construction practices and non-compliances became the norm because small-scale house builders suddenly became developers of apartment complexes without the appropriate experience and competence.

The Priory Hall development attracted significant national media coverage, as a large number of families were required to leave their homes because of the extent of the non-compliance. The issues highlighted by Priory Hall could be considered to be one of the main triggers to reforming building control in Ireland in order to improve compliance with building regulations. There are many who contend that the type of poor building practices that took place at Priory Hall were the norm rather than the exception.

According to the CoP (2014), the building owner should assign a competent builder to construct and supervise the works. However, there are no specific guidelines to determine whether or not the Builder is competent. The CoP (2014, p. 6) states that builders “included on the Construction Industry Register Ireland or equivalent may be regarded as competent for projects consistent with their registration profile”. However, registration is voluntary as there is no statutory requirement for the Builder to be registered and the building owner is entitled to appoint any builder that he/she deems competent.

Engineers Ireland, during the Draft Building Control Regulations consultation phase, recommended that registration of builders must be implemented to strengthen the Building Control System in order to provide the quality outcome from a building that the end user is entitled to expect. RIAI made similar recommendations elaborating that registration of builders is successfully in place in New Zealand, Australia and a number of European countries.

Self-Certification versus independent certification

Verification that buildings are constructed in compliance with building regulations, in the developed world, is generally achieved through either independent certification or by self-certification. Self-certification is the process whereby, typically, a builder, an engineer or an architect, employed by the building owner, inspects and certifies the works. Independent certification is whereby government officials, or government-approved persons, inspect and certify the works.

In the case of independent certification, the persons responsible for certifying that the works satisfy relevant legislation have not carried out the building work themselves; they are independent from those who carry out the actual building work. Where government approved or registered inspectors inspect and certify the works, this is referred to as third party verification (Consortium of European Building Control 2010).

The Building Control Authority is not obliged to carry out a technical assessment of compliance for documents submitted at commenced or completion stage. Isdell (2013) outlines that this issue, combined with the low inspection targets of 12-15%, results in a serious weakness in the revised Building Control System.

Private sector self-certifiers may become subject to potential conflicts of interest (Hodge and Coghill 2007). An additional layer of supervision or oversight may be required to monitor the private sector self-certification actors (Van Der Heijden 2008) as there is no certainty that those responsible for certification cannot be pressured or coerced by their employers to act delinquently (Nor 2008).

In England and Wales, the building owner has a choice of having the works inspected and certified by the Building Control Authority or by an independent ‘approved inspector’. The approved inspector is an independent professional who is engaged by the building owner, but paid by the Building Control Authority.

Primary research

In an attempt to research the topic further, in as unbiased a manner as possible, the researcher interviewed professionals who, in their occupations, act as stakeholders in the building control process from different perspectives. The first group of stakeholders represented building owners or clients that would be engaging the services of professionals to construct and certify buildings or works. The second group represented the private sector professionals that would inspect and certify the works. The final group of stakeholders interviewed represented the public sector Building Control Officers responsible for the administration of the Building Control System and the enforcement of the Building Control Regulations 1997-2014.

▪ Respondent 1 is a marine services executive with Bord Iascaigh Mhara. His primary degree is in mechanical engineering and he has completed a postgraduate diploma in fire safety practice (buildings and other structures). He is responsible for the management of Bord Iascaigh Mhara facilities including ice plants and a variety of other building types.

▪ Respondent 2 is an architect and has been the principal of a highly commended and award-winning firm of architects, in Dublin, for the past 18 years. His primary degree is in architecture and he has completed a postgraduate diploma in fire safety practice (buildings and other structures). The respondent’s firm has a wealth of expertise and experience in the fields of residential, retail, commercial, leisure and mixed-use architecture, urban design, conservation and sustainability.

▪ Respondent 3 is a chartered engineer and has completed a master’s degree in technology (safety, health and ergonomics). He spent 22 years as an engineer officer in the Defence Forces, four years as a fire and safety officer in the Southern Health Board, two years as assistant chief fire officer (prevention) in Cork County Council and two years as assistant chief fire officer (prevention) in Cork City Council. For the past 10 years, he has been working in private practice as fire safety consulting engineer.

▪ Respondent 4 is a civil engineer and has also completed a master’s in engineering science as well as a postgraduate diploma in fire safety practice (buildings and other structures). He spent 10 years as an engineer officer in the Defence Forces and 10 years as a housing inspector in the Department of the Environment. For the past two years, he has been working as a district inspector for the Office of Public Works.

▪ Respondent 5 has been working for the past six years as a fire officer (prevention) in a building control authority in Munster. His background is in manufacturing and his primary degree is in science.

▪ Respondent 6 is a civil engineer and has completed a master’s in emergency management. she worked for a number of years in private practice in London and subsequently worked as a fire officer (prevention) in a building control authority in Munster. For the past 12 years, she has been working as assistant chief fire officer (prevention) in another building control authority in Munster.

▪ Respondent 7 is qualified as a building surveyor. He worked for five years in an architectural design practice and has been working as assistant chief fire officer (prevention) in a building control authority in Leinster for the past six years. He is a part-time lecturer in the area of building regulations and building control regulations.

▪ Respondent 8 is a self-employed chartered engineer who has been running a successful engineering consultancy in Limerick for the past eight years. He previously worked for seven years as an engineer officer in the Defence Forces.

▪ Respondent 9 is an associate director with the Cork branch of an international firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services. He is a chartered engineer (civil/structural) and has been working at this firm for over 16 years.

Building Control System and improving fire safety performance

All respondents interviewed agreed that the revised Building Control System, in its current form, should have the effect of improving the construction of buildings when compared with the system that was in place prior to 1 March 2014. However, all respondents had issues with some aspects of the system and felt that improvements could be made.

Respondents 7 and 8 highlighted that a lot of stakeholders are expressing concern about difficulties in meeting particular requirements of the building regulations under the revised system. “The building regulations were always there; it’s only the enforcement of them that has changed and people are panicking about them now. If people are worried now, what standard of work were they undertaking 12 months ago? (Respondent 8).

Five of the nine respondents indicated that there has not yet been sufficient experience of the revised system to determine how much of an effect it has on the fire safety performance of buildings. Respondent 3 states that the system is not yet mature enough and a lot of the issues have not yet been encountered.

Over half of the respondents identified that ensuring compliance with the FSC during the construction phase, and the subsequent Certificate of Compliance on Completion, represents a very positive outcome of the revised Building Control System. “The key component of the 2014 regulations is the Certificate of Compliance on Completion. For the first time this is a statutory requirement. This is the first time we have closed out the loop on FSCs, DACs and construction.

“The document must be on the register before the building can open or operate. We should see an improvement of compliance with FSCs. In my experience in the past, after many FSCs were granted, they were binned and they weren’t implemented. They must be implemented now because the full statutory requirements must be met for the Certificate of Compliance on Completion to go on the register” (Respondent 7).

Respondent 7, in his experience as a building control officer, claims that since the revised system was introduced, improvements can already be seen in terms of design and comprehension of building regulations. He goes on to propose that the design approval process for all parts of the regulations should improve compliance, as was achieved with the introduction of DACs 2010.

Builders and building culture in Ireland

Of the nine respondents, seven felt that mandatory registration of builders would result in better building construction. One respondent was undecided and the final respondent felt that mandatory registration would not lead to improvements. Respondent 2 discussed that the system that existed in the past, where anyone can set themselves up as a builder, leads to bad practice and is unfair on those who are correctly set up from the perspectives of health and safety, competence, pension contributions for employees and tax clearance.

Four of the respondents highlighted that it would be very unfair if the CIF was to have a monopoly on registration of builders. Respondents 3 and 6 argue that a list of suitable registration bodies should be identified so that there is a choice for builders. All respondents put forward the view that any system of registration should be based on competency. However, no consolidated view could be reached in relation to measuring such competence.

In the view of Respondent 8, there is no suitable body in Ireland, at present, which is in a position to decide whether or not a builder is competent. There are no guidelines on how competence can be measured or displayed and this must be addressed. Respondent 9 claims that qualifications alone should not be used to determine the competence of builders. This would discriminate against experienced builders who are capable of demonstrating their experience and competence. A significant amount of further research is required to propose a system of determining competence of Builders for the purposes of the revised Building Control System.

Respondent 2 claims that the biggest investment an average Irish citizen makes in his/her lifetime is the purchase of a house. He argues that it is unacceptable that someone, who is not properly educated and has no previous experience, can build a house off the plans, and the client will end up paying for the defects if and when they come to light.

Respondent 3 maintains that we should learn from the experience of the system in place in England and Wales and ensure Builders register with credible accreditation bodies; these Builders must then perform in accordance with that body’s rules and regulations. Respondent 9 suggests that if there is a chance of getting away with sub-standard work, or finding a loophole, there will be builders out there willing to take advantage of this.

Respondent 2 contends that, before the introduction of the revised Building Control System, there had been a culture of cutting corners and there was little if any requirement for proper certification. Although he argues that the new Regulations will be problematic in their implementation, he suggests they will lead to a significant improvement in terms of the culture of compliance and the necessity to comply.

Respondent 9, on the other hand, believes that although the Builder having responsibility for signing the Certificate of Compliance on Completion is a positive step, there are a number of existing Builders that would sign anything. He suggests that independent, random inspection of work by builder accreditation bodies would discourage bad practice among builders. A system of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ would compel builders to adhere to better standards.

Domestic dwelling houses

The majority of respondents did not feel that the requirement for a FSC would improve fire safety in dwelling houses. Three of the respondents contended that the addition of the FSC requirement would simply constitute another unnecessary, bureaucratic hurdle and cost that would ultimately be borne by the homeowner. Four of the nine respondents felt that the revised Building Control System, currently in place, would sufficiently address the issues that arose in the past because the necessary controls are now in place from the design, inspection and certification perspectives. It was highlighted that on-site inspection of fire safety provisions, during the construction phase, is essential.

Four of the respondents outlined that the most prominent fire safety risks associated with domestic dwelling houses are with the older building stock and that introduction of FSCs would do nothing to address this. Respondent 2 suggests that the fire detection and alarm system is the ‘big ticket’ fire safety provision in a domestic setting and that fatalities due to fires, in buildings where people are sleeping, can often be attributed to not having a properly functioning fire detection and alarm system. Respondent 6 emphasises that Building Regulations do not insist on a maintenance scheme for a Fire Detection and Alarm System.

In order to attempt to address some of the issues highlighted, Respondent 3 proposes that a retrofitting initiative, supported by a financial incentive, should be introduced to improve the fire-safety performance of existing dwelling houses. Such retrofitting could involve, for instance, the installation of modern fire detection and alarm systems in existing dwellings.

It was proposed that the requirements of Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety (TGD-B), in relation to single domestic dwelling houses, should be addressed by way of a stand-alone document outlining best practice. This arrangement is currently in place for TGD-L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy – Dwellings). Such a document would increase the level of education of practitioners because currently, even the simplest of concepts are not fully understood. The requirement to display compliance with the stand-alone TGD-B, at commencement stage, would result in a significant improvement in the design of dwellings, from a fire safety perspective.

Disabled Access Certificates and Fire Safety Certificates

For many years, there has been a statutory requirement to apply for a FSC prior to the commencement of construction of a building (other than dwelling houses). The requirement for a DAC came into effect on 1 January 2010 for new buildings (other than dwellings houses) which commence on or after that date.

Respondent 1 believes that the applications for DACs and FSCs should be kept separate because they are two distinct areas and each requirement should be met independently. This view was supported by two of the other respondents, who argued that one requirement could get submerged in the other and that due consideration may not be then given to fire safety or disabled access.

Respondent 6 outlines that there are particular situations where a DAC may be required but a FSC may not and that such a situation may make a consolidated approach difficult. Respondent 7, a building control officer, contends that both applications should be kept separate so that the technical requirements are at the foremost priority for each individual area. He was of the opinion that if they were merged, there would be no priority or precedence for one over another.

However, he goes on to state, “You cannot build the same building in two different ways so consideration should be given for both documents to match.” He explains that making DACs and FSCs consistent with each other is only possible where fire safety and building control are covered by a single organisation. The building control authority and the fire authority operate as one in some but not all local authorities. Almost half of the respondents interviewed emphasised their frustration with the issues associated with the disconnect that exists between the fire authority and the building control authority in some local authorities.

Four of the nine respondents emphasised that many of the issues surrounding DACs and FSCs can be attributed to conflicts between the Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs). A building design may be in compliance with Part B but may not be in compliance with Part M. A FSC may be then granted for such a building. For example, the minimum allowable doorway width under Part B is 750mm but the minimum allowable width under Part M is 800mm.

Many of the requirements of Part K (stairways, ladders, ramps and guards) are also relevant to the DAC and FSC; four of the respondents argue that Parts B, K and M should be assessed together. Respondent 2 goes so far as to argue that full approval with all parts (A-M) of the Building Regulations should be required as is the situation in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Certification of Works and building control authorities

The issue, of the appropriateness of the assigned certifier being employed by the building owner to inspect and certify buildings or works, has been a central theme in discussions and submissions relating to BCAR 2014 and the associated revised Building Control System. Respondents were divided in their views relating to this matter.

Four of the nine respondents felt that mandatory registration of the assigned certifier, with a professional body, is a sufficient control measure to ensure that he/she will act independently. Respondent 9 feels that because of the way the certificates are worded, it’s pretty onerous on the assigned certifier to carry out his/her duties correctly. He contends that, irrespective of money, it’s not in the assigned certifier’s interest to sign his/her practice or professional standing away.

Four of the respondents feel that the current system, where the assigned certifier is employed by the building owner, is inappropriate. each of these respondents believes that an independent, third-party system, based on the model used in the England and Wales, should be implemented in Ireland. Although Respondent 2 agrees that the revised Building Control System should lead to an improved culture of compliance, he suggests that the approved inspector system, used in England and Wales, would make the Irish system more objective.
In England and Wales, the building owner pays a fee to the building control authority, in proportion with the scale of the development, and the approved inspector is then paid by the building control authority. He suggests that such a system would end up in better outcomes, and ultimately in better, safer buildings.

Under the revised Building Control System, the building control authority is responsible for validation and registration of documentation both at commencement and at completion stages of construction projects. However, the building control authority is not required to perform any technical assessments at any stage. Eight of the nine respondents felt that it should be compulsory for the building control authority to perform technical assessments.

Respondent 2 proposes that a technical assessment of compliance would introduce an element of negotiation with a fellow peer on the building control authority side; this would facilitate coming to an agreed basis of compliance. He maintains that this is a much better system than assigned certifiers working in isolation, uploading information onto an electronic platform where there is only a limited chance that the building control authority will assess the drawings and documents for compliance.

Respondent 3 implies that not all designs submitted will be fully compliant and a third party assessment would constitute a double check to capture most examples of non-compliance. Although the vast majority of respondents agree that the building control authority should conduct technical assessments, six of the nine respondents emphasised that the building control authorities do not have sufficient resources to conduct such assessments.

CoP (2014) outlines that building control authorities are required to carry out a level of inspection equivalent to 12% to 15% of new buildings for which valid commencement notices have been received. All respondents agreed that this is far too low a target. The majority of the respondents proposed that the building control authority should inspect all buildings during the course of their construction. Respondent 8 contends that if the likelihood of the building control authority inspecting the building is low, shortcuts will be taken.

Conclusions and recommendations

Overall, the research findings suggest that the introduction of BCAR 2014 constitutes a significant improvement on the Building Control System that existed in the past. The overall sentiment, among the research participants, is that the changes to the Building Control System will have the effect of improving building construction, and consequently improving the fire safety performance of buildings. However, the Irish construction industry has not yet had sufficient experience of the revised Building Control System to quantify the extent to which the regulations will impact on the fire safety performance of our buildings. There are particular areas where significant gains have been identified. However, areas have also been identified where further improvements are required.

The research concludes that the mandatory requirement for the Certificate of Compliance on Completion finally addresses the issues associated with constructing a building in accordance with a Building Regulations-compliant design, approved by the building control authority. Heretofore, the FSC was merely certification that the design of a building was in compliance with Part B of the Building Regulations.

Under the revised Building Control System, a statutory certificate is kept on file, signed by the assigned certifier and builder, confirming that the building or works have been constructed in compliance with the Building Regulations and with the FSC. This will undoubtedly have the effect of instilling added confidence in the fire safety performance of new buildings in the future.

The current voluntary system of registration of builders is a noteworthy weakness of the revised Building Control System. In order to address this weakness, a number of reputable, credible accreditation bodies should be identified as being acceptable for builders to register with. It is essential that competence assessment be central to any proposed system of registration. A method to measure competence will need to be agreed for such a system to work. Simply paying a subscription to be a ‘member of the club’ is not an acceptable solution.

It has been determined that the fire safety risks associated with the existing stock of domestic dwellings is a cause for concern. In accordance with the proposal put forward by Respondent 3, consideration should be given to introducing an incentive scheme for dwelling owners to upgrade fire safety provisions in their private dwellings.

There are issues surrounding the adequacy of the inspection and certification arrangement under the revised Building Control System. The opinion of experienced professionals points towards adopting a system similar to the arrangement that is in place in England and Wales. Under this arrangement, the building owner has the choice of having building works inspected and certified by an officer from the building control authority or by a third party ‘approved inspector’. Adopting the ‘approved inspector’ model in Ireland would most likely result in a more transparent system, with better outcomes, independent of any commercial relationship between the Building Owner and the person certifying the works.

There is a possible alternative to independent certification. Under the current provisions, building control authorities are not required to perform technical assessments of compliance with building regulation at commencement or at completion stage. If a technical assessment of compliance were to be conducted by the building control authority, at commencement and completion stages for all projects, this would constitute a second level check to capture the vast majority of non-compliances. In order to implement such a system, however, there are a number of obstacles that would need to be overcome.

In order to address the conflict issues associated with the current parallel arrangement of applying for FSCs and DACs, the TGD-B, TGD-K and TGD-M should be reviewed and harmonised with a view to addressing conflicts that currently exist in their requirements. Furthermore, the disconnect between the building control authority and fire authority, that exists in some local authorities, must be tackled. The recommendations outlined above demonstrate that, although the changes to the Building Control System constitute an improvement, the changes should have stretched much further.

This sentiment has been supported by much criticism of the revised system, from all sides, since its introduction. In a letter that Eoin O Cofaigh, former RIAI president, wroteto The Irish Times on 16 March 2014, he describes BCAR 2014 as “a huge missed opportunity, from a Government who knew the proper solution and who ignored it”.

The research has indicated that, in the past, there has been a culture of cutting corners in the Irish construction industry, which has led to many unacceptable outcomes, of which Priory Hall is a sobering example. Bringing about a change in such a deep-seated culture must be managed with care and such change can only be brought about by sincere buy-in from all major stakeholders. It is up to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, the building control authorities and the professional regulatory bodies to demonstrate leadership and manage the change effectively without promoting resistance among actors involved.

The introduction of BCAR 2014 constitutes a significant improvement on the poorly maintained Building Control System that existed in Ireland for many years. After a reasonable trial period of the revised Building Control System, the structure and management of the Building Control System, and associated legislation, should be revisited once more, with a view to implementing some of the recommendations proposed in this paper.

However, until such time as a review is appropriate, the stakeholders should embrace the revised Building Control System and exploit its positive aspects in an attempt to improve building construction and promote an improved culture of compliance to provide better, safer buildings for all.

References available on request

Tim O’Connor is a chartered engineer with 14 years’ experience in engineering/construction. 

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Other posts of interest:

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

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

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

The Engineers Journal: how BC(A)R SI.9 works in practice

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

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

SI.9 to Cost €168m in 2014 | Non-Residential Sector

SI.9 costs for a typical house

More dog wardens than building inspectors in Ireland- Self Builders to be made extinct 

Help the BCMS Christmas appeal | Certificate of Completion Crisis!

DOC

David O’Connor, SRO – appealing for guidance

Just when we thought the housing crisis could not get any worse a major problem has emerged. The Building Control Management System (BCMS) must now overcome a glitch in the new Building Control Regulations that otherwise may stop people moving into new apartment and housing developments or indeed any multi-unit or phased commercial development.

A certificate of completion is necessary before any qualifying building may be legally occupied. It would appear that the reason for the delayed online availability of Certificate of Completion lodgments is that nobody at the BCMS knows how to deal with a certificate of completion for a multi-unit development because no allowance was made for them in the regulations. A call for assistance was issued today by David O’ Connor, the Senior Responsible Officer.

Link to BCMS paper seeking submissions:

Download pdf: BCMS Multi-unit completion Dec 2014

 Since the introduction of SI.9 and the launch of the BCMS it has not been possible to lodge a certificate of completion online and a hard copy paper submission was required. Initially it was thought that this was due to an I.T. phasing issue and a promise was given it would be resolved by last September.

Almost 10 months after the implementation of the new building control system and a full four years after the process was instigated, this call has been put out for suggestions on how to operate the new system for apartment buildings and other ‘multiple unit’ developments. It should not be forgotten that SI.9 was specifically introduced as a response to problems with multi-unit developments like the Priory Hall apartment scheme.

At a time of urgent housing need it is incredible that yet another raft of legal and administrative problems are creating unnecessary roadblocks, cost and delay in the delivery of housing. What is even more remarkable is that during more than two years of intensive development with stakeholders with years of technical support from the professional representative bodies nobody anticipated this.

It is not known how many housing or apartment developments, completed this year, may have been affected by this confusion or their future status if further amendments are introduced. The BRegs Blog have been raising this issue for months (see links below) and only yesterday published a post on where there were major anomalies on this issue.

Submissions are invited by the BCMS to info@lgerpmo.ie

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 “each phase should be designed to stand alone” | BCMS

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

SI.9 completion stage and the BCMS | Clouds are gathering!

5 Tips for Completion Certs

Press: RIAI fearful Local Authorities will start “finding something to invalidate as a method of workload control”

Build in 8 hours, wait 3 weeks for a Completion Cert!

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 

Are Local Authorities ready? Industry concern for completion stage: BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014