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Overview of Building Control Changes 2013- 2015

We offer Assigned Certifier Services under the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. Please see our “Services” section for a breakdown of our BC(A)R service. This page gives background information on the introduction of these regulations:

  1. History of Weak Building Control in Ireland
  2. Why has the law changed?
  3. Affect on Legal Liabilities
  4. Affect on Construction Prices
  5. Media Myths and Misconceptions about BC(A)R

Since March 2014, a large proportion of new construction projects are subject to additional certification and inspection regulations under SI-09 2014. We have implemented new systems to meet the demands of the new Building Control regime so that we may continue to meet all your architecture needs.

History of Weak Building Control in Ireland

Until 1990, all cities and counties in Ireland had their own unique sets of rules for how to build; they were called “By Laws”. People wishing to build had to create a design and secure approval from an official in the Local Authority, who would check the design and make amendments as necessary. This system was changed because it was inconsistent, it created a need for a large number of skilled staff in each Local Authority, and because it made the Irish State liable for the design and inspection of buildings.In 1990, a comprehensive set of national building standards was introduced. Under the new system “self certification” meant that architects, engineers and other insured professionals inspected, certified and assumed liability for the compliance of new buildings. From 1990 until 2014, the Irish State had effectively no practical role in building safety or the enforcement of it’s Building Regulations. All such responsibility was ceded to the private sector and ultimately to individual home owners to check the build- quality of their homes at the time of purchase.

Why Has the Law Changed?

In the past, a small minority of unscrupulous architects, engineers and others (often posing as qualified professionals) issued certificates of compliance for buildings which were not properly inspected during construction. Many such buildings have no obvious defects, but many others turned out like Priory Hall. This abuse led to widespread losses by home owners.In this context, large and complex buildings were certified on a simple “yes or no” basis by any insured professional who was prepared to take the risk of accepting liability for the work. There were no detailed public records after planning stage, and there was effectively no meaningful policing of private sector building work by any government department, body or agency. Many of the unscrupulous builders and certifiers traded as limited liability companies, or held no assets, so lawyers had no information upon which to base legal cases, and no hope of securing damages even if they were successful in the courts.This was a ludicrous situation however, the 2014 regulations are considered to be reactionary, ill-conceived and equally flawed by many commentators.

Affect on Legal Liabilities

The Building Control system now seeks to record who is responsible for design, inspection and certification of every part of the building, and every requirement of the Building Regulations. These roles are recorded so that it will be cheaper and easier to take legal action against people who negligently certify bad building work.The most common criticisms of the new system are that the Irish State still has no role in checking the quality of the design, and that damage caused by hidden construction problems (latent defects) cannot be insured in Ireland. “Self Certification” continues.It is now easier to identify and assign blame to a negligent individual within the design and certification process and this helps force the criminally negligent element out of our profession. However there is still scope for abuse, and the State still accepts no liability.Consumer protection against building defects is ultimately the province of the insurance companies who insure the “Assigned Certifier” and Builder. So while the Building Control Amendment Regulations impose new costs and delays, they offer no new protections to consumers. Just more red tape.

Affect on Price

The new Building Control System requires all projects within the scope of the Regulations to have a high standard of record keeping and accountability for design, inspection and certification during construction. This record keeping and administrative work is a new cost imposed by SI09 2014.This means that small projects that would previously have been inspected six or seven times by one architect during construction, must now be inspected and certified by numerous different people. There are no significant government charges, but the overall administrative workload is higher.

Media Myths and Misconceptions about BC(A)R

  1. There are no “new Building Regulations”. These regulations control the process of certifying the work, not the actual standard of building work which is required.
  2. The regulations will increase “the cost of building”. This statement is really only true for builders who consistently build sub- standard work. The cost of administering the process will increase, but core construction costs will only increase for people who previously intended to build below the standard set out in the Building Regulators.
  3. Self building is no longer possible- this is true to an extent but there is still a lot of scope to negotiate with your builder, many forms of building agreement are still possible, and self builders can still do a lot of work themselves within the certification framework. Finished houses must be of merchantable quality therefore they must be built by competent people. A competent builder must sign the Statutory Certificate of Compliance and other forms.
  4. The regs are designed to benefit architects and builders- the construction industry is deeply divided on this issue. The BC(A)R regulations have created major delays, caused financial losses and forced architects and builders to invest heavily in new systems and training.

In conclusion, most reputable architects and builders would probably say that the new Building Control system offers little new protection to consumers but imposes a considerable cost. The old certification system would have worked if:

  1. Certification power had been limited to registered and insured professionals
  2. The professional bodies had ruthlessly expelled members who certified work they had not inspected during construction and
  3. The Irish State had enforced the system which already existed.

 

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