Building Control Regs for single dwelling houses and extensions – ‘Information Note’ unveiled
08 September 2015
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Paudie Coffey confirmed that the new regulations that will ease the application of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 9 of 2014) for single dwellings and for domestic extensions came into effect on September 1.
Ministers Coffey and Kelly announced in early August that following a review of S.I. No. 9 of 2014 after 12 months in operation, they had decided to make new amendment regulations that remove the mandatory requirement for statutory certificates of compliance in respect of a new dwelling on a single unit development or a domestic extension.
An owner, which includes self-builders, of such projects will be given the choice to opt out of statutory certification and may instead demonstrate by alternative means that they have met their general obligation to build in accordance with the minimum requirements of the building regulations.
‘Information Note’ for those opting out of statutory certification
An ‘Information Note’ for owners of new dwellings and extensions who opt out of statutory certification for building control purposes has been published on the department’s website to assist people in understanding and complying with building control requirements and is available here.
Minister Coffey said: “To ensure that building standards are maintained in respect of these types of builds in particular, arrangements for local authority inspections will be reviewed and improved.
“My department will now engage with the County and City Management Association to ensure inspection capability is developed and resourced over time and local authorities will now be submitting quarterly reports in relation to their building inspections to my department and these will be monitored closely – these actions will ensure progressive inspection improvement by local authorities in all sectors, i.e. single dwellings, multi-unit residential developments and commercial buildings.
“It should be noted that the new regulations which apply from today only relate to single unit development or a domestic extension. There is no change in respect of other types of developments,” he said.
Ensuring there are no more ‘Priory Halls’
In 2014 new, more stringent building regulations were implemented for all dwellings. The purpose of these new regulations is to ensure that we never have another Priory Hall or poorly built housing estates around the country again. The S.I.9 regulations will remain mandatory for all multi-unit developments in the country.
Local authority housing is now no longer exempted from the statutory certification process. The minister said: “I firmly believe that local authorities should be setting the standard when it comes to the construction of homes; and given the roll-out of the social housing strategy, we must ensure that we have well-built homes for families across Ireland.”
Minister Coffey concluded: “I believe that the regulations which come into effect today strike a balance. It is important that those who wish to self-build are permitted to do so in an economical and pragmatic way.”
The new statutory instrument is SI 365 of 2015
Separately, Engineers Ireland director general Caroline Spillane wrote to the minister on August 28 outlining the organisation’s concerns.
“Engineers Ireland remains strongly supportive and committed to the department’s goals of protecting consumers through the raising of standards, competence and professionalism in the construction sector,” Spillane wrote. “The statutory inspection regime required by S.I. No. 9 ensured the competence of all personnel involved in design, inspection and construction of building work.
‘Amendment may seriously compromise very significant advances made to date’
“It is the view of Engineers Ireland that the amendment as outlined may seriously compromise the very significant advances made to date and do not appear to align with the department’s goals to protect the consumer.
“It is also the view of Engineers Ireland that the newly proposed regulations will lead to the creation of a two-tier housing market, which will not support consistent implementation of standards throughout the industry. Investment in design, inspection and certification during construction leads to better quality and compliance with building standards.
“Therefore the overall fee associated with statutory certification should be looked upon in the context of the overall life cycle costs of a building and not just the ‘one-off’ costs of construction. There is no empirical data supporting the assertion that consumers are being quoted excessive fees.
‘Every construction project presents its own unique set of risks’
“In relation to the proposed sample preliminary inspection plan (PIP) it is important to highlight that every construction project presents its own unique set of risks and, therefore, any inspection plan must assess risk on a case-by-case basis. The PIP should not be a checklist, but rather a risk assessment based on professional judgment.
“Statutory certification places a significant level of professional responsibility and indemnity on the appointed professional, therefore the role should only be performed by those who have undergone a rigorous screening process of their academic and professional development. Whatever structure, a proposed educational course takes, it must be subject to a QQI assessment (or equivalent) and be equal to the academic and professional standard of a chartered engineer, chartered surveyor or registered architect.
“We would support the broadening of the pool of professionals allowed to take on the role of assigned certifier and design certifier, provided other industry professionals are capable of demonstrating their competence equivalency with the academic and professional standards of a chartered engineer through a rigorous and accredited assessment.
“Engineers Ireland is not opposed to the development of a new register for architectural technicians/technologists. However, if such a register is put in place, Engineers Ireland expects that a parallel statutory register be set up for engineers, and restricted functions be defined in legislation for engineers holding the professional titles of associate engineer and engineering technician.
Call for full review in September 2016
“In light of the above, and while we remain strongly opposed to this decision, we urgently request a meeting to discuss a ministerial commitment to a full review of this decision in September 2016 at the latest,” concluded Spillane.
Additionally, listen to Cormac Bradley, chartered engineer, discuss the issue on Newstalk on August 31, 2015. Bradley, a chartered engineer with RPS, represented Engineers Ireland on the working group which was formed to develop the S.I. No. 9 2014 – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the associated Code of Practice and the complementary Ancillary Certificates with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2015/09/08/new-building-control-regs-for-single-dwelling-houses-and-extensions-come-into-effect/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/apaudie11.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/apaudie11-300x300.jpgNewsbuilding regulations,Engineers Ireland,government