Category Archives: Building Control Ireland

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?

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

self-build10 January 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Other posts of interest:

Self build: How to make your dream home come true

What is Cohousing? | Homebuilding & Renovating

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

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

In this post from March 11th 2014, we explored the undue complexities that SI9 brings to many legacy projects of the celtic tiger years. Local Authorities may find out pretty soon that public housing/ghost estate projects may encounter similar problems to those that generated the SI.105 deferral for hospitals and schools. As the hoarding is up and works start on Priory Hall we wonder how remedial works that come under BC(A)R SI.9 will be completed.

BC(A)R SI.9 may add considerable costs to planned social housing completion of vacant units.

Original post below:

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Ghost estates and public housing: BC(A)R SI.9

The recent deferral SI.105 introduced on 7th march for schools and healthcare buildings appears as a result of issues relating to additional costs, unavailability of professionals as certifiers, time delays due to industry readiness and no revised form of building contract (both private and public sector versions) that incorporates new Building Control (Amendment) Regulation SI.9 of 2014. One would suspect recent robust submissions by the architect’s representative body (RIAI) to Minister Ruairi Quinn, himself an architect and well briefed on the technical complexities of the new regulation, were a factor in getting to grips with the issues earlier than others.BC(A)R SI.9 affects social housing, capital spend by Defence, Social Welfare (employment exchanges in old-fashioned words), Arts/Heritage (Arts Centres but not work to National Monuments), and OPW (State offices but not Garda stations). SI.9 and SI.105 suggests two main issues:1. The State looking out for its own interests: GCCC Form for public contracts but ignoring the fact that the private sector forms and clients are equally affected (self-builders, SME’s and other private non-residential)2. Helping only half of the State spenders (admittedly the larger half) but completely overlooking Govt agencies who have not made representations (other departments that are unaware of implications of SI.9 on annual budgets).

For other departments that may not be as well briefed the same issues may well apply. Here is a link to a recent statement by Minister Jan O’Sullivan on 10th March 2014 regarding public housing:

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/News/MainBody,36875,en.htm

Government spend on public housing  from 2010 to 2012 dropped from €969m to €384m. At an average government spend of €675m per annum (source: Forfas report table 2.12 p 16 below), and assuming 3/4 qualifies under BC(A)R SI.9 this would suggest an annual extra cost (based on official industry estimates) of SI9 to be in region of €40m (8%). This figure is for the design and assigned certifier roles only, and excludes additional costs for ancillary certifiers, increased insurance costs and defensive specifications. The latter could be as much as an additional 5% extra on top of the construction cost of a project. This could bring the additional cost figure to over €70m, a huge impact on the department’s annual budget.

Notwithstanding direct costs, the implementation problems associated with hospitals and schools may apply to public housing and indeed completion of ghost estates. Due to vague wording of the Code of Practice it would appear that personal liability for certifier roles may require individual employees to take out individual professional indemnity insurance separate to companies that they work on behalf of (possibly including employees of local authorities). This early criticism of the Code of Practice appears to remain in the final version. This may result in delays for local authority projects where certifier roles are assumed in-house, as well as outsourced projects.

Many part-completed residential projects require multiple commencement notices. Current and future remaining phases will come under the remit of SI.9 as a result. Extended planning permissions may require material alterations to comply with current revised technical guidance documents (Part L for example). As a result they may require commencement notices and trigger compliance with SI.9.

This is an issue that affects completion of ghost or incomplete housing estates. Professionals and local authorities tasked with completion of these could discover  the legally “loose and vague” language of S.I9 may incur liability for previous stages completed (e.g. drainage or structural infrastructure). Currently there is inadequate provision for exclusions on the certificates issued under SI.9. Future legal actions may well determine these certificates are guarantees for entire developments, even though certifiers may only have been part-involved for works to finish out projects.

Given the technical complexity of SI.9 and the vague liability boundaries in the Code of Practice, Local Authorities may find out pretty soon that public housing/ghost estate projects may encounter similar problems to those that generated the SI.105 deferral for hospitals and schools.

How long will it be before BC(A)R No. 3 of 2014 appears? Deferral for ghost-estates and public housing?

Link to Forfas report:

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

We have discussed the UK system of independent building control inspections by Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors many times on BRegs Blog. Widely praised, internationally the UK ranks an impressive 17th out of 189 countries in the “dealing with construction permits” section of the World Bank “doing business rankings. In contrast Ireland has slid further back to 128th position since the introduction of SI.9. In this Guest post we publish an interview with a UK Approved Inspector. This is the system we could have at no cost to the taxpayer or industry- it’s self-financing.

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

Building Regulations approval is required on almost every building project, including those that are permitted development under the planning system, and even for internal alterations to your home or office.

In this blog we talk to Approved Inspector Geoff Wilkinson* and ask him about the Approved Inspector system which is the alternative way to get Approval instead of using the Local Authority Building Inspector.

(Geoff is Managing Director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants and writes the Building Regulation column every month in Architects Journal)

SO WHAT DOES AN APPROVED INSPECTOR DO?

The service itself is essentially the same as the councils – the Approved Inspector will check and approve the plans, and then come out and inspect the works being carried out at various stages. I should point out though that the Approved Inspector system is a complete alternative to the Council service, the Approved Inspector is the actual decision maker, not a subcontractor for the council.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

The Government in the 1980’s recognised that the Building Control System was broken and causing great problems to developers as there was no choice in service provision. If your Local Council was short staffed you had no choice but to wait for your application to be processed. Worse still if the Local Authority Union went on strike your building site shut down while you waited to have your work inspected and approved. As a result they decided to introduce competition into the market as a way to improve standards. Successive Governments have recognised the role that Approved Inspectors have played in fixing the problems of the 1980s.

SO CAN ANYONE BECOME AN APPROVED INSPECTOR?

In short no – not everyone can become an Approved Inspector. Licenses are only issued by the Construction Industry Council and applicants have to prove that they are qualified and experienced to the necessary level before they can practice. This typically means that they hold RICS or equivalent qualifications, have 5 years post qualification experience, have complaints procedures and insurance in place in case anything went wrong, undertake continuous training of staff, and sign up to performance standards. The licenses are reviewed every 5 years there are sanctions that can be taken against Approved Inspectors that fail to perform. Interestingly there are no such requirements for Council Building Inspectors and the Government are now encouraging councils to apply to become Approved Inspectors.

HOW DOES THE SERVICE DIFFER?

The difference is generally in approach as after all both services essentially offer the same thing – a statutory check that building regulations are being followed. Approved Inspectors are commercially aware (they are businesses themselves after all), so understand that the important thing to a client is that works are completed on time and on budget. As a result they look to find ways to help you comply and offer advice early in the process to avoid the need to correct defective work. We don’t justify our fee by trying to find faults!

That may sound like we try to cut corners, but let me explain more. Since the 1980′s the building regulations have been cast in a functional form rather than being prescriptive In plain English this means that there are many different ways that you can show compliance, not just by following the Approved Documents . Approved Inspectors are more flexible in interpretation of the regulations as they are aware of these alternative routes. Also there is no political interference in the decision making process. Unfortunately many Local Authority Building control departments sit beneath Town Planners and in some cases they look to Gold Plate the minimum requirements in order to meet party political aspirations. The Government are trying to stop this completely by bringing all of the technical requirements out of the control of planners and into the Building Control system (see the Housing Review)

Lastly I should point out that Approved Inspectors have a duty to turn down work if they do not have the resources and experience to cope. The reverse is true of the Council service, who cannot refuse to accept a valid application. Councils are permitted 5-8 weeks in order to process an application and during busy periods Local Authority staff can be overstretched to breaking point to meet these targets. In some cases they end up rejecting applications in order to meet those deadlines , whereas there are no such deadlines using Approved Inspectors. As a result turnaround times are typically 5-10 days, instead of 5-8 weeks.

SO WHO ARE THESE APPROVED INSPECTORS?

Approved Inspectors can vary from large corporate practices of around 100 surveyors covering the whole of the country to small local businesses employing just 1 or 2 staff. Some specialise in particular sectors, such as housing, offices, or retail, whilst others work across all sectors. For the most part Approved Inspectors attract the very best ex Local Authority staff who want to concentrate on delivering high quality services and are fed up with the bureaucracy of Local Government. They don’t just work 9am – 5pm and are on hand to give advice from the earliest stage – often pre-planning to ensure that your design wont be rejected

SOUNDS GREAT, BUT ITS NOT BEEN TRIED AND TESTED HAS IT?

Actually it has been – Approved Inspectors were first introduced in the 1980′s and there are now around 60 or so licenses in place, a full list can be seen on the Construction Industry Website.

WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD ABOUT THIS BEFORE THEN?

For many years Approved Inspectors only operated in the commercial sector as the first licenses excluded housing. As a result most of the big commercial developments and many government departments used Approved inspectors whilst small residential developers didn’t. The Government recognised this issue and changed the rules to enable Approved Inspectors to operate on a level playing field and as a result most will now take on smaller projects too.

BUT IT MUST BE MORE EXPENSIVE THEN?

Not necessarily, Approved Inspectors are able to operate without the costs of Local Authority services, operating from small local offices rather than grand civic centres. As a result fees are generally competitive, often within 10% of the Council fee and sometimes even cheaper. More importantly though Building Control fees are typically no more than 1-2% of the cost of a project £600 – £1000 on a typical £30K – £50K extension, and the right choice of Approved Inspector can save significantly more than that in delay and correcting defective works.

BRegs Blog would like to thank the author Geoff Wilkinson for permission to reproduce his article here. The post first appeared on selbydesign.co.uk in November 2014- for original click here.

Other posts of interest:

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

Collins & O Cofaigh- A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations 

World Bank Report 2015 | UK v Ireland the real cost of “Dealing with construction permits”

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

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

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

Commencement Notices – Update | 22 October 2014

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Residential construction down in 2014 Q1+ Q2: (CSO statistics)

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

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

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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

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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:

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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!

Politicians asking questions about BC(A)R SI.9 | Summary

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By BRegs Blog on 18th December 2014

Politicians asking questions about BC(A)R SI.9 | Summary

In the wake of Minister Alan Kelly’s statement that he intends to amend BC(A)R SI.9, in the following summary we list a selection of issues various politicians have tabled concerning the new building regulations.

Senator David Norris discussed the array of unintended consequences and lack of consumer protection during a Seanad Deabate on SI.105- see Senators ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (2 of 4).

Senator Michelle Mulheirn asked questions concerning pyrite in blockwork in the home county of the Taoiseach in Mayo- see Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo.

Stephen Donnelly TD in the Dáil asked why we have no independent inspections in the new system- Dáil: Why not an independent inspection system?.

Kevin Humphreys TD asked a number of departments and Ministers responsible if costs associated with SI.9 on capital expenditure been examined- see The Cost Impact of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014).

Barry Cowen TD raised the considerable cost to house-building form the new regulations- Minister urges draughtsmen to register for BC(A)R SI.9.

Eoghan Murphy TD came back to the lack of consumer protections under the new system- TD’s suggest independent local authority inspectorate: BC(A)R SI.9.

Senator Cait Keane as part of an Oireachtas committee warned of the problems of a self-certification- Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations.

Claire Daly TD continued to champion the cause of owners with pyrite affected homes- Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014.

Senator Paschal Mooney was responsible for tabling a Seanad Debate on the unintended ban on self-building which still is relevant today- Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate.

Mick Wallace TD who knows the construction industry better than anyone in Leinster  House warned that..

“… the major problem is that all along, the Construction Industry Federation and not the State appears to determine what is happening…The Minister’s system of assigned certifiers will crack up within the next couple of years” 

See post: Dáil debates: Mick Wallace and Minister Hogan- Pyrite

Other Posts of interest:

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 

Senators ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (2 of 4)

Revoke S.I.9 – Fine Gael internal report to Phil Hogan in 2013 (3 of 4)

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

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

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9 

Help the BCMS Christmas appeal | Certificate of Completion Crisis!

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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

A new look for the BRegs Blog

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A new look for the BRegs Blog

The eagle-eyed and faithful reader will have noticed a few changes to the BRegs Blog website over the last few days. We have been having a bit of a clear out for Christmas in order to prepare for 2015. The changes are designed to make the website more accessible, feature-rich and easier to use.

These changes include:

  • A switch from the free hosting from WordPress.com to the self-hosted WordPress.org variety. This allows us more flexibility in presenting data and greater depth in features and content.
  • A simpler and more professional domain name. The new domain is www.bregsforum.com A lot easier to remember than the WordPress.com version
  • A simpler and more professional email address. The new email address is admin@bregsforum.com

All of the content, links, images and statistics from the previous site are still there and fully accessible; all existing URL’s will also divert to the new address. The added benefit for the Blog is that all the effort in search engine optimisation and ensuring that the BRegs Forum his high on Google searches is not lost.

Subscriptions

If you already have an email subscription to BRegs Blog you will continue to receive email notifications of new posts as before.  However WordPress.com followers will only see new posts in the Reader. WordPress.com followers will not receive email updates until subscribed to receive those on bregsforum.com (an email subscription widget is on the right hand side). This applies only to around 50 subscribers- everyone else remain unaffected.

The website is therefore undergoing a small period of re-organisation. If you do spot something missing, incorrect or have any suggestions, or would like us to add a feature then please contact us below:

http://www.bregsforum.com/contact/

Thanks to those who have already given feedback.

Regards,

BRegs Blog Admin. Team