Category Archives: Irish Building Control

Additional Engineers’ fees for school projects | SI.9

Additional-fees-rent-apartment-scam

12th January 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Schools to suffer as Minister ignores Essential Works Scheme:

Is SI.9 necessary for Public Sector projects:

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects:

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

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

Summer Works 2014 Budget:

Lobbying in the Construction Industry – Part 1

CorkCityAerialView_large

8th January 2014

In Tuesday’s Irish Examiner Rory Hearne suggests the housing market should serve the interests of all not just the few (Link to article). He also writes:

“We need a national debate about who really benefits from the current housing and property market based around home ownership, and spiraling house prices and rents.

The big beneficiaries remain the banks, developers, estate agents, solicitors, landlords, and increasingly, international capital and vulture fund investors who are buying up huge swathes of Irish residential property (often from and with Nama).

They all have a vested interest in a rising property market.

There has been widespread concern and criticism of some of the same vested interests being involved in the negotiations for the new building regulations, SI.9, introduced in March 2014. Seen as a paper exercise and ‘a political solution’, SI.9 creates a complicated ‘red-tape’ exercise in hands-off private regulation which is resulting in massive costs to consumer and industry. SI.9 was introduced by the former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan,  with little public or professional back-ups being in place, and no consumer input.

Following on from a public consultation in 2012 only a small circle of key stakeholders were invited to participate in the formation of SI.9.

The organisations invited to participate were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Most of these bodies now have statutory roles and operate self-policing registers. The CIF register, CIRI, is due to be put on a statutory footing in March 2015.

Critically no consumer groups were involved.

Many consumers share this view and many perceive that the government has conveyed vested interest groups with a monopoly on various statutory roles within the construction process. This is most visible in the self-build sector, where owner/ builders legally are unable to build their own houses without the involvement of a contractor, preferably a Construction Industry Federation/CIRI registered one. This has resulted in significant cost increases, particularly for housing (see links below). The industry has observed a significant fall-off in new self-built homes being undertaken this year.

With Local Authorities already chronically under-resourced, with no additional training or staff allocated to operating the new system, problems such as rogue or cowboy builder/ developers and serious materials issues such as pyrite are set to remain with us for some time.

All these representative bodies are now set for a windfall in income as a result. In order to operate as a registered professional under the new SI9 one must be on a register, and a hefty registration fee must be paid annually to these representative/policing organisations. With 60,000 operatives involved in various roles in the construction sector annual registration fees represent a bonanza for these key stakeholder bodies.

A significant reason for all these organisations to be supportive of SI.9, even though most agree that the regulations bring little or no additional consumer protections to owners.

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Government Reports + Professional Opinion Ignored in SI.9 | look back 5

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9 

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

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 | BRegsForum

What’s happening with the RIAI? | Village Magazine

Village Cover

What’s happening with the RIAI? | Village Magazine

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has published a link on its website to the December 2014-January 2015 edition of Village Magazine containing a scathing critique of the organisation, one of the main stakeholder groups involved in negotiations on SI.9. In a no-hold barred two-page spread, the Village Editor Michael Smith, depicts a professional organisation in crisis with a series of allegations being made in relation to the CEO, President and members of Council of the RIAI.

These allegations include concerns regarding:

  • The additional regulatory and insurance implications of SI.9 on “economically traumatised” professional design firms seemingly ignored by the RIAI Executive;
  • The lack of transparency and accountability with the CEO “lobbying the Government behind the scenes”
  • The CEO involved with “too many, sometimes conflicting powers”
  • The potential conflict of interest for the CEO through the crossover engagements between his son’s website consultancy firm and other stakeholder organisations involved with SI.9.

The above allegations are refuted by the RIAI President, Robin Mandal in the article. The matters raised by the onerous imposition of SI.9 would appear “to be a side issue in the debate over propriety” at the RIAI. However the above items raise a legitimate concern for the professionals being represented by this body and whether those tasked with renegotiating SI.9 have their eye on the ball when there appear to be so many other fires to be put out. The RIAI President, writing in its official journal last month, said that he looked “forward with relish to 2015, the year of change” without actually identifying what specific changes he envisaged. It would appear, if the allegations in Village Magazine are correct, that a top-down change is urgently required at the RIAI.

The 2000-word article referred to above is available online on the RIAI website in the “RIAI in the News section”- Link: here. (Jpeg is attached below). Village Magazine is also available from most newsagents (€3.95).

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Other posts of interest:

John Graby – RIAI, CEO | “Phil Hogan did not bulldoze through SI.9′

RIAI Complainee investigates IAOSB Complaint

Radio Clips: RIAI and CIF differ on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)

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

RTÉ Radio- CIF: professionals to Guarantee under BC(A)R SI.9

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9

Alarming Legal opinion: BC(A)R SI.9

Should the Architectural Technology Profession stay within the RIAI?

The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne

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

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

ivan-yates

 Ivan Yates

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

He also writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Developer-Led projected Sales Price for a Typical House

gchomeplansIn a previous post “House building costs are 17% more than 2003 despite recession” it was suggested that when VAT, SI.9 costs and developer’s profit is added, the sales price of a typical 125 sq.m. house is currently in the region of €300,000 excluding the site purchase costs.

Typical site values for houses in the country would suggest we are well over €350,000 when the site cost is taken into account. As the average sales price for a typical house is in the region of €250,000, this would suggest that it is still cheaper to buy than to develop.

Here is a breakdown of these figures. In an earlier post we noted an architect’s assessment of additional SI.9 costs for a typical house (see below). The following calculation was confirmed by a development finance specialist and a builder-developer as being an accurate assessment of the cost of a speculative house in a larger scheme. We note the developer suggested cost savings may be made on the administration of the new building regulations by availing of the pilot HomeBond scheme.

Here is the breakdown received:

Developer-Led projected Sales Price for a Typical House

Base build cost= €1271 x 125 = €159,000

plus 13% for professional fees (+€20.7k)*= €180,000

plus SI.9 Professional + specification Costs (+€21k)*= €201,000

plus legal, marketing, sales and other costs of 5% (+€10k)= €211,000

plus developer’s net sales profit of 20% (+€42.2k)= €253,000

plus vat @ 13.5% on sales (+€34.2k)= €287,000

plus planning levies (+€10k)= €297,000 Projected sales price

(The above cost calculation excludes site purchase costs.)

Notes:

  • Bruce Shaw cost range for new build €1000- 1250 per sq.m. (av. €1125) excluding VAT. It recommends adding in  13% for additional development costs= €1271 per sq.m. Exceptional or once-off site development or infrastructure costs may be higher.
  • For the purposes of this calculation we will assume a typical 3-4 bed house size is 125 sq.m.
  • Once-off individual sites will be higher in urban areas like Dublin, Galway or Cork.
  • The costs exclude upgrades due to increased performance (Part L etc) required to reach net carbon zero targets, and other changes to regulations.
  • The costs exclude 10% social and affordable costs [Part V] recently introduced. This will likely result in higher site costs and consequent higher sales prices.
  • The following calculation excludes site costs. Assume average site prices of between €40,000 up to €80,000 per house for larger sites excluding VAT. Profit normally would be factored onto sales price so following calculation is at lower end of estimated costs.

This cost, along with other factors such as availability of finance, may well be determining the pace of residential supply currently.

The average house sales price nationally is around €250,000. The above calculation suggests that it is still cheaper to buy than build notwithstanding recent increases, and will remain so until sales prices increase significantly (or the cost of building is lowered).

One can see that the additional cost of the new regulatory red-tape bureaucracy is €21,000 when VAT is added  (consultants fees plus specification costs). Developer’s profit is at €48,000 when vat added on to consumer. The cost in the base-build use a main contractor is in the region of €21,000 incl. VAT. So the additional costs  to a self-builder in buying a speculative built house when vat, SI.9 costs and developer’s profit is added, is in the region of €90,000. An additional 30% cost increase.

If the government adopted incentives, like in the UK co-housing initiative, to stimulate the self-build sector and reduced regulatory costs with the introduction of a low-cost independent inspector system similar to the UK, the cost of once-off housing could be significantly reduced.

*Breg Blog note: for additional SI.9 costs for a typical house see below

 Other posts of interest:

*SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

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

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

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?

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…