Category Archives: Pyrite

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

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BRegs Blog admin 13th December 2014

Following the Minister’s warning to professionals on fees, he’s also sent a clear signal that those responsible for defective construction products will be pursued under the new building control regime… (Muscovite Mica). Minister Alan Kelly:

the people who ensured young families would be left in this manner must be followed to the end“.

See Minister Kelly’s comments here.

All Certifiers should take note. We wonder how could an Assigned Certifier possibly know the chemical composition of blocks? Even the Pyrite Panel said this would be impossible. It would seem that all Professionals’ insurance policies exclude pyrite, and are set to increase due to increased liability under BC(A)R SI.9.

Correspondence from a Professional Insurance provider to a contributor in December 2014 illustrate the problem (extracts to follow):

Dear BReg Blog,

I asked a Professional Indemnity Insurance provider the following questions. I would suggest you get your readers to do likewise:

  1. Is there any discount or loading for new certifier duties under BC(A)R SI.9?
  2. I was wondering what standard levels of cover do you provide for sole traders, do you cover pyrite?

This is the reply I received:

I believe most of the insurers apply a pyrite exclusion, sample wording below for your review;

“The Underwriters shall not be liable to indemnify any Insured or to make any payment under this Policy in respect of any Claim, Loss, liability or Defence Costs arising out of, caused by, resulting from, in consequence of, in connection with or in any way involving any of the following:

 22. PYRITE/CONTAMINATED INFILL

any presence or alleged presence of any products or material containing or alleged to contain any form of pyrite, iron sulphite or their derivatives or any contaminated infill material.”

In relation to the new assigned certifier role, I do not think any insurer is awarding discounts for the new role, if anything they are loading their rates for the additional responsibility/exposure taken on. Our main market is keeping their rates static which seems to compare favourably.

We wonder where this leaves consumers, given that Local Authorities still have not increased resources to police the construction materials sector. Certifiers are now responsible for certifying materials (Part D) but are not insured for pyrite in projects.

This may cause some uncomfortable questions by registered professionals, who have consistently been told by their representative bodies that Professional Insurance won’t increase. More worrying is if a certifier is found liable for signing off on pyrite and there is no insurance cover for the claim.

Sounds familiar.

Other posts of interest:

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent 

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

“The insurance will sort it out…”

What is PI Insurance? 

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

Are Design and Assigned Certifiers risking professional suicide with Pyrite and S.I.9?

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?

RTÉ News: Louth housing scheme to be demolished over pyrite

Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9

HomeBond ‘snub’ over pyrite ‘a matter of serious public concern’ – Committee

RIAI Elections | Follow Friday Shout Out !

Election

The BRegs Blog has always tried to stay above partisan politics within the various stakeholder organisations involved with SI.9 and focus solely on issues pertaining to the Building Control Regulations. Unfortunately this high moral stance collapses today when we give a big shout out for support for candidates in the forthcoming RIAI Council 2015 election. These candidates have contributed to posts on the BRegs Blog and been part of this debate and open-source resource for sharing information about SI.9.

mark_stephens Mark Stephens MRIAI

Our biggest shout out has to go to Mark Stephens who is a candidate for the RIAI Western Region. Mark is one of Ireland’s most prolific architectural bloggers and was shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland and Be2 Awards for ‘Best Use of Twitter in Construction’. He was instrumental in helping to get the BRegs Blog up and running. Over the last year he has helped with our I.T. issues as this blog brought two posts daily (one on Sundays) to our 1,500 subscribers. We know he would bring 21st century social media skills to the way that any organisation could communicate with its members. Mark Stephens has undertaken the role of Assigned Certifier and written positively on the BCMS; yet he favours independent inspectors. As an “early implementer” he is typical of the diversity of informed opinion that we have on this Blog. He recently authored a solution post “Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations“.

Other candidates seeking a seat who have contributed posts to the BRegs Blog include:

  • Eamon Hedderman FRIAI
  • Barry Kelly MRIAI
  • Mícheál de Siún MRIAI
  • Ciaran Ferrie MRIAI
  • Martin Murray MRIAI (Eastern Region)

 

The candidates seeking election are:

Architectural Technologist:

Liam Innes, Pat Kirwan

Eastern Region:

Martin Murray, James O’Donoghue

Western Region:

Deirdre Kelly, Mark Stephens, Richard Rice, Simon Wall

Ordinary Members:

David Browne, Michael Crowe, Mícheál de SiúnIsoilde Dillon, Martin Donnelly, Grainne Dunne, Ciaran Ferrie, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Grace, Ali Grehan, Eamon Hedderman, Martin Heffernan, Barry Kelly, Paul Keogh, Sean Mahon, Michael McGarry, Claire McManus, John Mitchell, Ralph Montague, Justin O’ Callaghan, John O’Mahony, Ciara Reddy, Grainne Shaffrey.

Voting closes at 11.59 pm on Tuesday 16th December 2014

Other posts of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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House builder Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October on a turnover of €62.63 million, or 27.13% net profit from March to October 2014. In this article in the Irish Times they warn that their profitability, and that of other speculative builders, will be impacted upon by state initiatives to deliver affordable housing. We note a more normal profit level in speculative development is 20%, a level required by most financial institutions to provide finance. This article comes on foot of a Davy report that suggested construction labour costs were 50% higher here than in Northern Ireland.

Link to article here. Extract:

________

Abbey concerned by level of state intervention in housing market

by Eoin Burke Kennedy on 5th December 2014 in the Irish Times.

House builder says moves by Irish and British governments will crowd out private capital. Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October.

House builder Abbey has warned that state intervention in the Irish and British housing markets has the potential to “crowd out” private investors.

In a trading update, the company noted with concern the announcement this week by the UK government that it intends to speculatively develop land for housing.

The proposal, unveiled as part of chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, is aimed at tackling Britain’s ongoing housing shortage.

“When set alongside similar activities by Government agencies in Ireland, this raises fundamental questions about the future environment for private development in both jurisdictions,” Abbey said.

“Publicly supported UK Housing Associations already speculatively develop houses for sale. This week’s announcement will serve to further crowd out at the margin the role of private capital in housebuilding,” it added.

In the budget, the Irish Government announced ambitious plans to spend €3.8 billion on building and refurbishing 35,000 social housing units over the next five years.

The Government and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) believe 25,000 new housing units need to be built every year to meet the current level of demand.

Abbey reported pre-tax profits of €16.99 million for the six months to the end of October, up from €7.65 million for the same period last year.

The builder said strong margins were a “notable feature” of the period and should be sustained into the next half year.

While forward sales were also encouraging, it said pressure on costs continued to be a feature of the market.

Its housebuilding division completed 225 sales in the six month-period – 205 in the UK, 15 in Ireland and five in the Czech Republic.

This resulted in a turnover of €62.63 million.

In Ireland, Abbey’s project in Rathfarnham is now 90 per cent sold and the company said it was turning its attention to its project in Lucan, which is scheduled to launch early next year.

Trading in the UK was good throughout the period, the company said.

In Prague sales completed in the period were disappointing, however, as last year a brighter second six months is in prospect, it said.

Overall further progress in all regions can be expected in the second half, it said, noting that during the period 405 plots were added to its land bank.

Abbey’s board announced a dividend of five cents per share, which together with the six cents approved at its AGM in October will make a total of 11 cents for the financial year.

Other posts of interest:

How developers are “adapting” to the new Building Control regulations 

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

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

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

Revoke SI.9 | IAOSB / Self-Builders’ Letter to TD’s

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

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

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

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

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

SI.9 – How Certain is the Certifier?| Eamonn Hedderman FRIAI

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The following opinion piece* was received from Eamonn Hedderman FRIAI, a principal in Holly Park Studio in Blackrock, Co. Dublin and a candidate in the RIAI Council 2015 election who is in no hurry to join the SI.9 race to the bottom!

Completion Certificates and the Assigned Certifier. How certain is the Certifier?

Since the introduction of the term Assigned Certifier under the Building Regulations I have been concerned at how easily those drafting the legislation have presumed a parity of qualification amongst those professionals approved to take on the role, namely:

(a) Architects that are on the register maintained by the RIAI under Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007; or

(b) Building Surveyors that are on the register maintained by the SCSI under Part 5 of the Building Control Act 2007; or

(c) Chartered Engineers on the register maintained by Engineers Ireland under section 7 of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969.

It is questionable whether all prospective Employers will appreciate the very real differences in the skill sets of those named professions above and more significantly whether the professionals in question will be objectively critical, in the present economic climate, when it comes to deciding whether they are competent to take on the role.

I have long held the view that to do justice to the role of Assigned Certifier, with its inherent liabilities, the incumbent will have to become a full time site professional and will have to limit such services to one project at a time.  Such an onerous task will require adequate remuneration and yet there is significant evidence of professionals agreeing to take on the role for fees that could not possible cover out-of-pocket expenses, let alone provide even a minimum wage.

God be with the days when Architects could confidently advise Clients of the advisability of employing the services of a Clerks of Work or Site Architects and, that the Architect’s opinion was sufficiently respected to ensure that funding for such services was made available.

At what stage did we accept that budget cuts could dispense with these important site supervisory roles?

Why did we add that service to our standard service, regardless of what the appointment documents might suggest?

Is it not as a direct consequence of the OVER SERVICING of our clients that the ‘powers-that-be’ expect that we will Kowtow and take on new responsibilities and greater liabilities without question?

If we do accept the role of Assigned Certifier how will funding of the ongoing Professional Indemnity Insurance be managed when the certifier decides to retire?

One of the principal warnings issued to Members by the RIAI over the past year has been that if Architects fail to take on the role of assigned Certifier, there are other professional more than willing do so.

Well, let them at it.

I was recently appointed to monitor the construction of a large domestic extension adjoining my clients property.  Planning permission had been acquired in 2014 but there was no Architect involved on the project and the Assigned Certifier was not a Registered Architect.

When first introduced to the Assigned Certifier I asked if they felt comfortable in their competence to take on such an onerous role, and was assured that there were absolutely no concerns.

Perhaps such comfort is borne out of an ignorance of the pressures, traditionally taken on by the Architectural Profession, of taking full responsibility for the coordination and management of construction projects.

What was disturbing about the whole affair was that during the course of the construction I had to highlight a number of boundary and detail issue which were not in compliance with Building Regulations, leaving me to wonder if such oversights were common throughout the project.

I wonder how valid the Assigned Certifier’s Completion Certificate will be. Will anyone be able to rely on it?

Would I, as an Architect representing a prospective buyer for the property, be able to comment on the advisability of accepting that such a certificate was evidence of Compliance.

And, what documents will the legal profession be seeking as evidence of compliance in future conveyancing?

Do we as a profession know?

Does the RIAI, SCSI or EI know?

Does the Law Society know?

Eamon Hedderman FRIAI

* The BRegs Blog Team are happy to consider similar submissions for possible publication.

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing 

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

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

ALERT | SI.9 Christmas Completion Countdown

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

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

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

5 Tips for Completion Certs

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

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

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

 

SI.9 – Problems with BCMS Inspection Plans | Barry Kelly MRIAI

B Kelly

The following opinion piece* was received from Barry Kelly MRIAI, a principal in Carew Kelly Architects – a small practice based in Dublin 2 – and a candidate in the RIAI Council 2015 election. Like many similar practices he finds the imposition of SI.9 to be a massive burden with a huge impact in terms of liability, cost and time. BReg Blog notes shown [ ].

Problems with Inspection Plans

On 27th November 2014 Engineers Ireland published an article by the BCMS. This was in relation to a sample Inspection Plan that lists seven stage inspections for compliance for a project [Link to article:]. In the article author Mairéad Phelan, project manager of the Building Control Management System notes:

Preliminary and completed inspection plans: It important that the number and type of inspections to be carried out relate to the complexity of the project, the relevant building-compliance issues and the milestones in the project. An example of inspection stages with the relevant building regulatory compliance issues is below. It is compliance with Part A-M with which the BCAs (Building Control Authorities) are concerned.

IMG_3834

I question whether ‘7 stage inspections’ are adequate (even for a house build) and comparisons need to be drawn to a Building Surveyors ’33 Stage inspection’ [post hereand the RIAI Inspection Framework which is considerably more complex.

One colleague points out that “While every assigned certifier is free to set the number of times they call to a site, they are required to be comprehensive both in the planning and preparation of a project, the level of and number of inspections, and in compiling all documentation including ancillary certificates from consultants who will be inevitably involved. While a bank, for mortgage applications may require as little as 5 or 6 inspections, SI.9 requires diligent Assigned Certifiers to carry out many more. If they are not carrying out the additional inspections or working with consultants then they have failed in their duties”.

In particular, I question the following anomalies and omissions from the BCMS  ‘7 Stage Inspection Plan’:

Part E (Sound) is inspected at wall plate level this is before roof/ windows/ closing in of the main envelope, so how can a sound test be completed when the building envelope is not completed?

‘First fix’ services are inspected at CompletionClearly this is not proper sequencing on site, particularly when electrical services do not fall within the building regulations.

Part M (Access) is inspected at foundations level and completion only note in article “The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are: 9. Steps to entrances (Part M), but access issues are relevant throughout the build.

Part G (Hygiene) this is completely omitted from inspection plan.

Part J (Heat Producing Appliances) the inspection does not happen until the roof is on.

Part L ( Fuel & Energy)  is inspected when the building is at Ground Floor Level (again out of sequence).

It is hard to see how there can be a level playing pitch for consultants competing for work when there is no agreed standard in relation to inspections. More worryingly, as one colleague noted “when I land in court will the other side argue that I cut corners if I did not record an inspection every week?”

*BRegs Blog Admin. Team will consider similar submissions for publication.

Other posts of interest:

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

BCMS Alert | Last day for Christmas Completion!

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

When is an extension not extensions? | The 40M2 question…

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

BCMS | Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Award

SI.9 “Fully designed, or equal approved?” | Mícheál de Siún MRIAI

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The following opinion piece* was received from Mícheál de Siún MRIAI, a Director of DE SIÚN SCULLION ARCHITECTS and an election candidate for the RIAI Council 2015.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (S.I. 9 of 2014) compounds the contradiction at the heart of public procurement: Fully designed, or equal approved?

It is a commonly held misconception that the introduction of the ‘new’ forms of Public Works Contracts restricted architects in their choice of products and precluded the use of a trade names followed by; ‘or equal approved’. In fact this is quite a long way from the truth. The restriction on the use of trade names when specifying products in public procurement arises from the EU Procurement directive 2004/18/EC (transposed into Irish Law in 2006). That this happened around the same time as the introduction of the Public Works Contracts is simply coincidence. Moreover, the suite of Public Works Contracts is conceived to provide certainty to a contracting authority, and ultimately to the exchequer.

The EU procurement directive is conceived to ensure free and fair competition in the supply of goods and services to government agencies: and these two concepts, enshrined in a single process, frequently result in a fundamental conflict of intent. After all, what could be more uncertain than a specifier describing a specific product in a way that does not preclude, nay invites, alternatives. The certainty strived for in the Public Works Contracts, and the liberal competitive principle enshrined in the EU procurement directive are pulling in two different directions.

Indeed the existence of the procurement directive flies in the face of any possibility that output specifications prepared for public projects and issued to bidding contractors would be ‘fully designed’ (a term that does not appear anywhere in the Public Works Contract forms or guidance notes). Like it or not, the very act of choosing a product, and discounting others, based on a technical specification, is an act of design.

Bear in mind that a contractor is required to undertake this selection process during the tender process, when the job is being priced. Even afterwards, in the ad-hoc world of product submittals, post contract signing, a specifier will not assume responsibility for procurement decisions made by a contractor; a specifier will only retain responsibility for his or her initial specification – one that by (EU) legislation cannot be complete (in that the products that will actually be used cannot be identified).

Enter BC(A)R, SI. 9 of 2014. Who is the designer?

Architects and Employer Representatives do not use the word ‘approved’ when reviewing contractors’ product submissions – because under the contract the sole responsibility for ensuring the selected product conforms with the performance specification lies with the contractor – and anyway, the products are not ‘or equal approved’. But the Design Certifier is not operating under a contract. His or her responsibility arises in legislation.

In its attempt to carve out a simple distinction between ‘designer’ and ‘builder’, the legislation has missed this subtle contradiction in public procurement. The EU directive invites competition, alternatives & innovation in the provision of goods and services; even in the simplest examples this entails decisions – effectively design decisions. In medium to large scale projects, these decisions will run to literally hundreds of product submittals, with a direct financial incentive for the builder to get the cheapest ‘compliant’ product over the line.

So who decides what is compliant?

  1. Must the Contractor now issue a plethora of ancillary design certificates for every procurement decision made where products are chosen by him (backed up by PII)?, or;
  2. Does the Certificate of Compliance (undertaking by Builder) mean that an architect will no longer need to deal with requests for ‘approval’ of products or technical submittals?, or;
  3. Does the Design Certifier assume responsibility for product selection (by the Contractor) that they are excluded from making under EU legislation?

Like in so many other aspects of SI. 9 of 2014, the jury is out.

*The BRegs Blog Admin. Team will consider any similar SI.9-related submissions for publication.

Other posts of interest:

Design Certifier – Can we leave it to the builder to sort out?

Problems with role of Design Certifier: BC(A)R SI

Design Certifier | RIAI advise separate appointment

Public Sector projects – is SI9 necessary?

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

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

SI.9 and PII Alert | Practice makes perfect or does it?

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

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The following article appeared in Engineers Journal on 25th November 2014. It shows a typical inspection plan and notes the 12 most common mistakes made by users of the Building Control Management System (BCMS). Completion stage issues may not be fully visible at this point due to the low level of completions to date. Progress under the new system is noted:

“At the date of writing and post 1 March 2014, the BCMS registered:

  • 68,629 documents uploaded;
  • 4,135 valid commencement/7 Day (CN) notices;
  • 614 invalid CNs;
  • 1,435 CNs in progress i.e. at various stages before submission to BCMS;
  • 204 valid Certificates of Compliance on Completion.”

For link to article “Building Control Management System – how it works in practice” click here. Extract:

___________

Nine months on since its implementation, Mairéad Phelan offers an update on the Building Control Management System and advises on how to avoid common pitfalls in the submission process

25th November 2014 | Engineers Journal

Author: Mairéad Phelan BE, CEng, FIEI, MBA, project manager of the Building Control Management System

Prior to 1 March 2014 – in spite of the fact that compliance within the building industry was/is basically self-regulation or ‘light touch’ with limited independent inspection – the experience of the local authority (LA) sector was that many ‘builders’, ‘developers’ and ‘designers’ had no technical training, legal and/or professional advice regarding the science of construction. The outcome of this was some of the worst examples of building construction, which ignored the Building Regulations and, in some cases, endangered occupants of these buildings.

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Opinions on compliance with Building Regulations were churned out for a fee, with compliance assured by an ‘opinion’ certifying the works. It has been the experience of building control authorities (BCAs) that a large proportion of buildings were constructed using only the planning permission drawings, with no reference to building regulations and with drainage systems being constructed by anyone who happened to own a JCB. In many of these cases, where things have gone wrong, it has been the local authority/taxpayer that funded the resolution, despite Building Regulations mandating that all building must be ‘fit for purpose’.

BCAs have found it extremely difficult and costly to prove not ‘fit for purpose’ in a ‘building control’ (BC) enforcement case and get costs reimbursed. An effective Regulatory Compliance System for BC within the 31 local authorities as a shared-service initiative was initiated by the County and City Managers Association (CCMA) as a collective response to these challenges and the introduction of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) i.e. S.I. 9 and S.I. 105 of 2014.

Building Control Management System overview

S.I. 9 of 2014 (signed into law on 17 January 2014 for implementation on 1 March 2014) states that the “Building Control Management System [BCMS] means the information technology-based system hosted by the Local Government Management Agency and developed to facilitate the electronic administration of building control matters by building control authorities [is] the preferred means of building control administration”.

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The BCMS is a collective response by the CCMA/Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to provide oversight of building commencements in Ireland. It is project managed by Fingal County Council and centrally hosted; this online information technology-based Building Control Administration System enables electronic administration and building regulatory oversight of construction by the 31 building control authorities.

The implementation of BCAR provides the industry with a new opportunity to ‘build’ for the future with the introduction of mandatory certification by professionals, BCMS online assessment of projects, inspection plans and supporting documentation. Collaboration with the users was the key to successful system design.

The main focus of the project is:

  • To provide for the health and safety of people in or about buildings,
  • To ensure access for all,
  • To conserve fuel and energy,
  • To ensure sound, well-built homes, amenities and commercial buildings and
  • To provide electronically a public register of what is being built, by whom and where.

For practitioners and professionals in the building industry, the BCMS provides an online repository for lodgement of statutory documents to the LA, thus providing a quicker assessment and validation process. The BCMS has the ability to notify its 6,000 users of issues regarding the building industry – for example, if a fraudulent or defective product was placed on the market, the BCMS can notify all on the system and issue a warning regarding same i.e. can get the information to the relevant people in real time.

For managers and planners, the level and type of construction activity in a county can be gleaned in real time along with materials used, contractor, designer information etc. For building control officers, they have real-time information on enforcement issues in other counties so that a builder can be prevented from replicating breaches of Building Regulations across county boundaries.

At the date of writing and post 1 March 2014, the BCMS registered:

  • 68,629 documents uploaded;
  • 4,135 valid commencement/7 Day (CN) notices;
  • 614 invalid CNs;
  • 1,435 CNs in progress i.e. at various stages before submission to BCMS;
  • 204 valid Certificates of Compliance on Completion.

The chart illustrates the valid and invalid web and counter submissions registered on the BCMS to date. These BCMS submissions to the 31 BCAs are constantly reviewed by a BCMS oversight group and it is noted that the quality of the submissions have greatly improved since 1 March.

BCMS nine months on: submission issues & common mistakes

Roles and duties: It is important that all the stakeholders (owners, builders, designers and assigned certifiers) involved are clear on their roles and familiarise themselves with the requirements of the Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations. In the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works are set out the roles and duties of owners, builders and designers who are responsible for compliance with the Building Regulations, along with the roles and duties of assigned certifiers who are responsible for liaising with the BCAs, preparing and implementing inspection plans and collation of compliance/ancillary documents/certification for Certificate of Compliance on Completion.

The roles and duties of the BCAs, who administer the BCAR process and may take enforcement, are also set out in in this Code of Practice and the CCMA Framework for Building Control Authorities.

It is important that all project stakeholders register with the BCMS and the designer, builder and assigned certifier must be nominated for their role by the owner and must accept their role. To register and subsequently login to the BCMS, each stakeholder must have their individual email address, which is the unique identifier and a password.

Statutory forms: It is important to complete each section carefully, download each form when fully completed, have the specified stakeholder sign the form and then upload to the BCMS. Fully complete, the mandatory online assessment will inform the BCA risk-based inspection programme. CNs and CCCs must be accompanied by certain specified mandatory documents along with a schedule/table of compliance documentation which include plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars.

It is important to pay attention to completing Q. 6 of CN and Annex to the CCC for compliance purposes. Compliance plans should relate to compliance with Building Regulations and not specified ‘for planning purposes only’.

The CN mandatory accompanying documentation is set out in the table below:

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Preliminary and completed inspection plans: It important that the number and type of inspections to be carried out relate to the complexity of the project, the relevant building-compliance issues and the milestones in the project. An example of inspection stages with the relevant building regulatory compliance issues is below. It is compliance with Part A-M with which the BCAs are concerned.

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The most commonly observed compliance issues observed by BCAs are:

  1. Underfloor fill-panel fixings, pyrite (Part A, C, D);
  2. Moisture ingress-radon, DPC (Part C;
  3. Fire resistance-eaves, party walls, ducting (Part B);
  4. Condensation and mould growth (Part F);
  5. Frozen pipes, attic tank, stopcocks (Part G);
  6. Septic tanks overload, flooding (Part H);
  7. Flues, location, size, burners (Part J);
  8. Balcony detailing, stair rails – wrong height, glass (Part K);
  9. Steps to entrances (Part M);
  10. BER calculations do not exist, stud fixings, cavities clear of mortar (Part L);
  11. Timber frame-fixings, vapour control, cavity barriers, fire stopping;
  12. Sound transmission, flooring detail, insulation (Part E, L).

Regard to these common building defects and other individual particular issues when completing the preliminary inspection plan is recommended. To ensure smart use of resources, inspections by BCAs are either random or risk based having regard to: the use of the building; the type of construction; the level of experience of the design team and the builder and; past experience regarding compliance by the stakeholders involved in the project. To ensure a fair and transparent LA inspection regime, Phase II of the BCMS development will enable an automatic random and risk-based inspection data-interrogation system; the data being mined from the online assessment and the generation of a ‘Building Control Standard Inspection Form’.

Certificate of Compliance on Completion

The Certificate of Compliance on Completion (CCC) must be signed by the builder (Section A) and the assigned certifier (Section B) and it is important to complete the CCC Annex. The Annex should detail the “Table of Plans, Calculations, Specifications, Ancillary Certificates and Particulars used for the purpose of construction and demonstrating compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations and showing, in particular how the completed building or works differ from the design submitted to the Building Control Authority prior to construction”. Details of relevant plans may be listed and attached to the CCC.

It is only necessary to upload the Statutory CCC Form, the inspection plan as implemented and the annex/table/schedule of compliance/ancillary certificates and documents which demonstrate how compliance with Regulations was achieved. Of importance here is the documentation of details or changes in design/construction which differ from those details listed in the CN Q6 Schedule. These documents/ancillary certificates listed in this annex/table should be available for upload if requested by the BCA.

Any BCA requests, warning or enforcement notices issued during the construction should be resolved and this noted in this annex. For phased or multi-unit developments it is important that the CCC details how the phase, the subject of the CCC, complies with the Building Regulations as a stand-alone development i.e. compliance should not be dependent on any phases not yet constructed.

The exercise of reasonable skill, care and diligence has been discussed by many since the implementation of S.I. 9 of 2014. It has been the experience of BCAs that where competent professionals, who exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, were/are involved in building projects from design to completion, enforcement issues are an absolute rarity. Almost all BCA enforcement issues have been as a result of the non-existence of the competent professional and non-existence or inadequate design details in the building project.

Summary

S.I. 9 and S.I. 105 of 2014 was a Government response to the building boom from 2002-2007. The main aims are to reform and strengthen the building control system in Ireland through the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance and the lodgment of compliance documents at both commencement and completion stages. The LGMA-implemented BCMS enables more efficient pooling of building control staff and resources, along with the implementation of standardised approaches and common protocols, i.e. consistency with better support and further development of the building control function nationwide.

The health and safety of people in or about buildings and compliance with the Building Regulations is paramount. Owners, builders, designers, assigned certifiers and building control officers collaborate throughout the BCMS registration, CN and CCC validation process to ensure safe, compliant buildings. The Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, along with the Framework for Building Control Authorities, provides stakeholders with guidance and promotes consistency in the BC process. Since the implementation of the BCMS, CN and CCC submission compliance quality has greatly improved as has knowledge of building control by stakeholders.

If stakeholders complete the CN documentation in full while having regard to the common building control regulation and building regulation mistakes, compliance/CCC is easier to achieve i.e. time spent in getting the CN process correct is worthwhile to eliminate or mitigate the risk of defects at completion stage, which are expensive and difficult to correct. CN compliance documentation will also inform the CCC process and it is important to note a CCC is expected to cover full compliance in the case of phased and multi-units developments.

Part of a BCA’s role is to promote good practice in building control, along with its administration and enforcement role. Stakeholders are advised to liaise with their BCAs in relation to regulation issues. BCMS issues can be emailed to info@localgov.ie.

Mairéad Phelan BE, CEng, FIEI, MBA is project manager of the Building Control Management System. Prior to this, she was senior engineer in Fingal County Council’s Built Environment, Road Safety and Transportation Departments. The bulk of her experience is in project management of large building construction and civil engineering projects. She worked as an area/town council engineer in Carlow County Council, along with performing the role of conservation officer. Her early career was spent working with Nicholas O Dwyer Consulting Engineers on major water and drainage schemes. Phelan holds Diploma in Highway & Geotechnical Engineering, a Diploma in Project Management and a Diploma in Law.

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

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The comment below was received from Michael Quirke MCIAT regarding a previous post “RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews“. The BReg Blog Team considered that it merited wider reading.

I do not know any Chartered Architectural Technologist who does not hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII). It is certainly not possible to be a full member of CIAT without PII. I do not know how one could be expected to be taken seriously in private practice without adequate PII cover. Adequate should include the correct detailed disclosure of all relevant information on the proposal form. Have all those engaged in “Assigned Certifier” roles informed their insurers of the changes to work practices since filling in their last proposal form? If not then you are playing with fire.

Are Architectural Technologists happy to take on the role of Design and Assigned Certifier?

Firstly they are not legally permitted to do so at present as we are excluded under BC(A)R. Besides that I would not generally be enthusiastic to do so. Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time reading the legislation and comments about it should now be well aware of the massive, onerous liabilities they are taking on in acting in the Assigned Certifier role.

Having worked for a number of architectural, engineering and property management companies over many years that involvied thousands of site inspections before BC(A)R where one was worn to a thread arguing with builders about poor workmanship, I shudder to think of what I would be facing if I acted as an Assigned Certifier in the future i.e. if permitted under amended or new legislation to do so.

I am absolutely astounded that so many architects are taking on the role of Assigned Certifier. To do one’s job correctly as an Assigned Certifier will involve a huge number of hours on site; it is a real worry. Take as an example: a 45 sq.m. extension to a private dwelling with two additional radiators linked to the existing heating system. Is it reasonable for the architect to specify, inspect and certify the piping, radiators, thermostats on the radiators, insulation, the point of connection to the existing system, pressure test and test run before it is covered up? Could the Assigned Certifier then be held liable if a subsequent leak in the new pipe work causes serious damage? Was the Ancillary Certificate furnished by the plumber or did you insist the client engage an M&E consultant, even though it was a small project? It seems it will not matter either way, as under BC(A)R the Assigned Certifier is the best target for the client going to court? Is that the case or are you not sure? Well you simply cannot be sure because unlike the plumbing system, BCAR certificates have not been pressure tested yet. There is no precedent.

I suspect that any small architectural practice insisting the client engages an M&E consultant for a very small extension will not be very popular. Damned if you do and damned if you do not! Certifying the lot will be, as has been said “a highly dangerous undertaking”.

Does the Minister really want to discuss the liability issue? The State will not take the hit under current legislation but somebody will – just be sure it is not YOU!

Michael Quirke, Chartered Architectural Technologist MCIAT

Other posts of interest:

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

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

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

Architectural Technologists and BC(A)R SI.9: CIAT

Phil Hogan | SI.9…”will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 sq.m.”

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Former Minister Phil Hogan: SI.9 …”will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 sq.m. “

Our research team have dug up a few early quotations on the 40 sq.m. provision in BC(A)R SI.9 from former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan. Contrary to more recent confusion on the subject, Hogan was quite clear that the 40 sq.m. exemption from the provisions of SI.9 was for a single extension over 40 sq.m. (430.4 sq.ft.). Perhaps the stakeholders and Department officials who have been struggling with this issue for almost two months should give the Agriculture Commissioner in Brussels a call to see if he can clarify matters for them. Emphasis in bold by BRegs Blog.

First up in April 2014 (see link: Building Control 10 Apr 2014: Seanad debates)

“In respect of self-certification, people involved in self building have been consulted all along. The organisation that allegedly represents them certainly did not make any particularly strong submission to suggest that these regulations should not be introduced in the interests of the consumer. I would have thought that whoever is building a house, which is the largest investment in a person’s life, will want the highest level of professionalism in order to sign off on these matters. Direct labour will continue the way it always have. A person does not need a registered contractor. Contrary to what Senators might have been told, it just applies to new builds and does not apply to extensions under 400 square feet or refurbishment.”

Previously in October 2013 (see link: Building Regulations Compliance: 6 Nov 2013)

“In the case of an existing home, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 will only apply to works involving the addition of an extension which is greater than 40 square metres, or to works to an apartment which would require an application for a Fire Safety Certificate. nor works or works of a repair and maintenance nature do not come within the scope of these regulations.”

Other posts of interest:

± 40 sq.m. | “Exemption should avoid controls on minor development”

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

When is an extension not extensions? | The 40M2 question…

40 SqM SI.9 exemption update | 18 November 2014

Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

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Top 10 for week ending December 7th 2014

  • The continued exclusion of Architectural Technologists from the register of professionals under BC(A)R SI.9 was a very popular topic, with 2 opinion pieces from former Architectural Technologist members of the representative body for architects (RIAI) occupying the top 3 positions.
  • Also of interest was Minister Kelly’s Dáil statement where he expressed concern at the level of some of the professional charges for SI.9 Certifier roles.
  • Mark Stephens posted a thought provoking 10-point plan to fix BC(A)R SI.9 problems. We would be interested in hearing other solutions form readers.
  • Continuing professional insurance problems and unintended consequences for those contemplating the new certifier roles were discussed in our PII alert.
  • Issues surrounding the evolving completion under SI.9 were discussed- the Building Control Management System noted they would not be requiring ancillary certificates on completion, adding to concerns that Assigned and Design Certifiers have become singularly responsible under the new regulations.
  • Completion certificate compliactions for multi-unit residential projects were highlighted also.
  • An opinion piece by Vivian Cummins posed the question “who is accountable for having  produced this legislation with its many faults?”
  • The big news was the statement by Minister Alan Kelly that he intended to amend the regulations with respect to once-off housing and extensions.

Enjoy!

  1. The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne
  2. Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’
  3. RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews
  4. Ten Point Plan for Building Control Regulations | Mark Stephens MRIAI
  5. SI.9 and PII Alert | Practice makes perfect or does it?
  6. BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!
  7. Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing
  8. Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D.
  9. SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?
  10. ‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly