Category Archives: RIAI

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?

Additional Engineers’ fees for school projects | SI.9

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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:

What’s happening with the RIAI? | Village Magazine

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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).

BRegs Blog Note: The 2-page December ’14/ January ’15 feature referred to above is now available on the Village website- for full article click title Hackles RIAIsed. | Village

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

“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):

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(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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extract:

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Building Control Regulations – a fire safety perspective

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

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

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

Fire safety certificates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Registration of builders and building culture

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

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

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

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

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

Self-Certification versus independent certification

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

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

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

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

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

Primary research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Control System and improving fire safety performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Builders and building culture in Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Domestic dwelling houses

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

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

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

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

Disabled Access Certificates and Fire Safety Certificates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certification of Works and building control authorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions and recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References available on request

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

_______

Other posts of interest:

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

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

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

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

Pyrite: the spiraling cost of no Local Authority Inspections

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

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

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

SI.9 costs for a typical house

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

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

Half_price

The following email question to, and answer from the Building Control Management System (BCMS) was sent to us by a registered professional on the 11th December 2014.

The BCMS confirm that ” each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance”.

The BCMS clarification  suggests that completion of larger mixed-use projects and multi-unit residential schemes may be more onerous than was realised under the new regulations. Financing of larger projects frequently depends on early phases being complete and sold on, while later stages and some common areas, basements, roads and drainage may still be under construction. BReg Blog notes shown [ ]:

________

[Dear BCMS]

The Code of Practice says that phased completions are possible.

Does the BCMS Commencement Notice have to be done as ‘one per house’ so that there can be separate Completion Certs for each house?

Or

If it’s ‘one per estate’ for Commencement Notices (see RIAI advice) can you you then just submit separate Completion Certs for each house under the one Commencement Notice?  If so is the Register set up for this?

What is an ‘overall’ Completion Cert for the development (see RIAI advice) and what will this cover?

Is it the same for apartments?

RIAI advice says:

How will the Commencement Notice work for a Housing Estate of 100 Houses?

A.: One Commencement Notice to be issued, if all the houses are to be built together. If not then a number of Commencement Notices will have to be issued for each phase.

100 Completion Certificates will have to be issued; one for each house as completed, and then one for overall development/ external work.

localgov1localgov2

_________

Reply from BCMS, Date: 11 December 2014

Subject: Certificate of Compliance on Completion-Phased Completion Considerations

S. I. 9 of 2014 (9) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion may refer to works, buildings, including areas within a building, or developments, including phases thereof, and relevant details shall be clearly identified on the Certificate of Compliance on Completion itself, and subject to validation in line with the requirements at paragraphs (3) and (4), on the register.

Overview;

As a general rule the purpose of the Certificate of purpose of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion is to required for compliance with the;

  1. Administrative requirements as set out in the Building Control Regulations which is basically 3(a), (b)(i)  and the
  2. Design requirements 3(b)(ii) i.e. the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations before
  3. Works or buildings can be opened, occupied or used

Therefore it is recommended that any phasing of developments for the purpose of Certificate of Compliance on Completion Certificates should be carefully considered in the context of interdependency of the Parts A-M with each other and the other phases in the development.

For the purpose of best practice housing development and construction compliance each phase should be designed to stand alone and as such compliance with Part A-M should be addressed both individually and collectively.

In essence each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance i.e. Part B access for fire appliances, Part H treatment systems, Part M access and use, Part L, J there may be district heating etc. in general each phase must stand alone and should be assessed on its merits; best method is to audit the phase against the particular requirements of the Building Regulations, a consolidated summary is set out below for ease of reference

Reference is made to the requirements of the Building Control Regulations the relevant section which is set out below;

“Building Control Regulations 1997-2014-Part IIIC – Certificate of Compliance on Completion

20F (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be submitted to a building control authority and relevant particulars thereof shall be included on the Register maintained under Part IV before works or a building to which Part II or Part IIIA applies may be opened, occupied or used.

(2) The requirement for a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall apply to the following works and buildings –

(a) the design and construction of a new dwelling,

(b) an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 square meters,

(c) works to which Part III applies.

(3) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be –

in the form specified for that purpose in the Sixth Schedule, and

(b) accompanied by such plans, calculations, specifications and particulars as are necessary to outline how the works or building as completed –

(i) differs from the plans, calculations, specifications and particulars submitted for the purposes of Article 9(1)(b)(i) or Article 20A(2)(a)(ii) as appropriate (to be listed and included at the Annex to the Certificate of Compliance on Completion), and

(ii) complies with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, and

[Part A — Structure; Part B—Fire Safety; Part C—Site preparation and resistance to moisture; Part D—Materials and workmanship; Part E—Sound; Part F—Ventilation; Part G—Hygiene;

Part H—Drainage and waste water disposal; Part J—Heat producing appliances; Part K—Stairways, ladders, ramps and guards; Part L—Conservation of fuel and energy; Part M—Access for disabled people]

(c) accompanied by the Inspection Plan as implemented by the Assigned Certifier in accordance with the Code of Practice referred to under article 20G(1) or a suitable equivalent.

Other posts of interest:

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

The Future for Architectural Technologists – CIAT or RIAI ? | Pat Kirwan

Pat K

The following opinion piece was sent into Blog on 16th December 2014 by Pat Kirwan Dip. Arch. Tech, BREEAM AP, CPHD, RIAI (Arch Tech). Pat is running in RIAI elections.

The Future for Architectural Technologists – CIAT or RIAI ?

There has been lots of debate in the recent past about where the future of the Architectural Technologist belongs – CIAT or within the RIAI. The recent building control amendments certainty accelerated the debate with what appears to be just one camp setting out their stall, those that believe that our future belongs in CIAT. Where you may ask are those RIAI Arch Tech members that believe otherwise? I joined the RIAI as an Arch Tech member in 2006, the same year that the National Competitions Authority issued a report on competitions in professional services.

The report defines the roles of Architectural Technicians (Architectural technicians support architectural technologists, architects, engineers, surveyors and other professionals within the construction industry. They specialise in the application of technology to architecture, building design and construction) and Architectural Technologists (Architectural technologists have similar skills to those of architectural technicians but also have specialist skills enabling them to negotiate the construction process and manage the process from conception through to completion).

Also in 2006 (Big Year!), the RIAI Council agreed to clearly set out the requirements for practice as an architectural technician in Ireland.

Up until that point we were Technicians not Technologists.

It took a further 3 years to develop the “Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence for Practice as an Architectural Technologist”. This document states that “The RIAI regards the professional Architectural Technologist as a technical designer, skilled in the application and integration of construction technologies in the building design process”.

So back in 2009, we were professional technologists skilled in the application and integration of construction technologies in the building design process. Surely this was progress from the role of Technician noting the earlier definition?

What happened to progressing the role of the technologist within the RIAI between the years 2009 and 2013? Yes the very dark days of 2009 to 2013. Media headlines from 2010 told us that 60% of the architectural profession were made redundant since 2008. How many architectural technologists remained employed in Ireland during these years, of these the primary concern was to remain employed as opposed to progressing the role of the technologist ?. The same media outlets informed us in 2013 that green shoots were beginning to appear in our fragile economy, we were now hit with the famous amended building control regulations. Again the profession was thrown into disarray. This year saw turmoil at RIAI council level with very little achieved, certainly not for the Architectural Technologist.

Skip forward to 2015 “A year For Change” as stated by the RIAI President in his recent address to members. I believe that we can make progress as technologists within the RIAI and achieve recognition under the BCAR legislation. In order to achieve this we have to address the issues of Standard of Knowledge, Skill and Competence, and benchmark the educational qualifications and professional experience of both technologists and architects. This will allow a common professional standard for assigned certifiers and equally ancillary certifiers.

The RIAI have recently agreed to the development of a common standard with Quality Qualifications Ireland for Architectural Technology in line with the National Qualifications Framework (As have CIAT). Indeed, Minister Kelly confirmed last week that he would sponsor legislation to place the regulation of disciplines such as architectural technology on a statutory footing once an agreed framework for a common standard has been put in place by industry stakeholders. As back in 2009, this surly is good news and puts the onus on the RIAI to agree such a standard.  We, the architectural technology members now have the opportunity to instigate the change required to put architectural technology on a statutory footing and with a council that is willing to work together, this in my view can be achieved.

As the old adage goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, let us acknowledge the contribution of the RIAI to Architectural Technology and appreciate the very difficult years for our profession that followed and finally, look to the future where with collaboration and professionalism, we can further enhance the role of the technologist.

To answer the question posed in this posts heading, I believe that the future of Architectural Technology is firmly within the RIAI.

Other posts of interest:

Should the Architectural Technology Profession stay within the RIAI?

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

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Dáil TD’s want to Revoke SI.9 (4 of 4)

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Architectural Technologist – Platitudes, Head Nodding and BC(A)R SI.9.

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

Audio Clip: Dáil Debate 27th May- Architectural Technologists & SI.9 

Should the Architectural Technology Profession stay within the RIAI? | Liam Innes

Architectural_program-page-graphics-700x275_3

The following comment was sent to the BRegs Blog by Liam Innes and it has been formatted into a post. Liam Innes is one of two candidates on the ballot to be the Architectural Technologist member of the RIAI Council 2015.

I read with interest Joe Byrnes’ article and first of all let me say that it is regrettable that both Joe and Darren Bergin, the AT representative on Council, felt they had no option but to resign their positions within the RIAI. I can understand their reasons and Joe’s exasperation is there for all to see in the written word. Having worked with both over the last year as a member of the ATC I have seen at first hand their dedication and passion for the cause.

Going forward however, and many may think me naive, I feel that there still exists an opportunity to achieve recognition for the Architectural Technologist as a co professional with the competencies to carry out the duties of Design / Assigned Certifier as laid down in the BC(A)R legislation and for this to be promoted as part of any review of SI 9. This is only part of the story however. We also need to advance the overall standing of the Technologist within the RIAI and provide a platform for more inclusive engagement with the Institute.

My continuing optimism and involvement in the process, is based on the potential review of SI.9, and the possible submission that the RIAI Steering Group may make to any such review. The role of the Technologist must be part of this submission with recognition, and promotion of, their role as a registered professional within the legislative framework of a revised SI. 9.

While the Department of the Environment seem to have accepted the principle of the establishment of a Statutory Register for Technologists, continued pressure is required to effectively get this over the line with work required in the QQI in relation to standards in the AT field and the formulation of accession routes to a register.

The question has been asked;’ Why would technologists seek to undertake a role which is viewed by many as an uninsurable risk’. It is a legitimate question and I would think that there are many technologists currently in salaried employment who feel no need to become involved in the process. There are Technologists, however, whether by choice or as a fall out from the recession, who are running small mostly one man practices.The introduction of BC(A)R and the omission of the Technologist from the first tier of the framework has presented a serious problem for those Technologists who have been offering a full service in line with their professional competencies and who now have to explain to their clients why the service they offered on 28th February 2014 is now compromised by the implementation of BC(A)R on the 1st March 2014 yet their competencies remain unchanged. In many cases it is a basic as this.

There is a principle at stake here for many Technologists. It is one where they would like to be in a position to have the opportunity to decide, as many Architects are doing, whether they should provide the Design / Assigned Certifier service with all its associated risks. With most clients expecting a continuation of the full service the only realistic option currently available to Technologists is to join another professional institute and go down the Building Surveyor route which many are doing. This is not to denigrate the other professional bodies but many would say that the Architectural Technology Profession in Ireland should sit within the body of the RIAI but with their own identity and now is the time to settle this once and for all.

RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

CIAT + Architectural Technologists | Michael Quirke

Dáil | Architectural Technologist update

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today!

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

Dáil: response on Architectural Technologist Register in 7 days

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

Dáil TD’s want to Revoke SI.9 (4 of 4)

Architectural Technologists + Architects | Parity of Esteem?

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Thoughts on a Register for Architectural Technologists

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

Architectural Technologist – Platitudes, Head Nodding and BC(A)R SI.9.

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

Audio Clip: Dáil Debate 27th May- Architectural Technologists & SI.9 

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

hand-9-nine

Stop! – SI.Nine is 9 months old

The 9th monthly Building Register was published by the Building Control Management System (BCMS) on 4th December 2014 at 8.08 a.m. The Building Register records all of the validated Commencement Notices or ‘proposed building starts’ received by the 34 Building Control Authorities throughout Ireland.

The Building Register now records a figure of 4,294 as the total number of validated Commencement Notices received over the past nine months (39 weeks) since the introduction of the BCMS on 1st March 2014.

Of these 874 (20%) are Commencement Notices without accompanying SI.9 documentation (aka Short Form) and 260 (6%) are seven-day notices (Fire Safety Certificates). These percentages remain consistent since the six month results published in October.

Since the introduction of the BCMS, the average number of commencement notices being lodged is 110 per week. However in 2013 the average number lodged per week was 143 (7,456 in total).

Currently commencement notices are running 25% below 2013 levels which was an historic low point in construction industry output. These figures are borne out by the latest information from the CSO which records that Building and Construction output only grew by 0.1% in the third quarter 2014.

Link to Building Register: 

Other posts of interest:

A ‘perfect storm’ for housing? 

Karl Whelan: “…raft of cost-increasing building regs are at least partly responsible”

FAO Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht- commencement figures

Commencement Notices | 6 months after S.I. 9 

Construction Recovery- watch this space

‘Recovery’ is Still Worse than the 1980s Crisis

CSO: (Q1 2014) planning permissions for dwellings -30% drop

Minister Hogan rejects Irish Times Article

Irish Times: Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started