The Building Control Amendment Regulation (SI. 9 of 2014) was signed into law on the 15th January, 2014 and comes into effect on 1st March 2014, and will apply to all new building projects or extensions greater than 40 square metres on which work is due to commence after that date.
The regulations will have a significant effect on developers, professionals and homeowners who undertake a self-build or upgrading works after the 1st March, 2014.
The regulations will have a significant effect on developers, professionals and homeowners who undertake a self-build or upgrading works after the 1st March, 2014. There are exemptions from the new Building Control Regulations for extensions of less than 40 square metres. However, these works must still comply with current regulations. The purpose of the new regulations is to pinpoint the responsibility and liability of parties should a building defect or health and safety and welfare issue occur. Final certificates under the new regulations are signed by both the Assigned Certifier and the Competent Builder prior to occupation of the building.
For self-builders or homeowners, it is essential to familiarise oneself with the new building regulations prior to undertaking any works. Under the new building regulations, the owner has statutory responsibilities to appoint in writing the following; "Assigned Designer", an "Assigned Certifier" and a "Competent Builder". If a change occurs within the appointed team during the lifetime of the project, the owner or Assigned Certifier must inform the Building Control Authority of this change, and this notification must be in writing.
Under the new regulations all Assigned Designers and Assigned Certifiers must be registered (chartered) professionals i.e. Registered Architects. (Click here for more information on RIAI Registered Architects). Up until now, non-registered and unqualified practitioners could design and certify building projects and non-registered builders could construct buildings. With reference to the new regulations, the first step for self-builders is to make themselves aware of who exactly is responsible for what. Below is an outline of the key professionals who are required to undertake any project in excess of 40 square metres:
They are appointed by the client and are responsible for designing the building in accordance with Building Regulations. They issue a Certificate of Compliance (Design) at Commencement Notice Stage. Depending on the complexity of the project, there can be a number of Assigned Designers responsible for the Design such as Registered Architects or Chartered Engineers. The Assigned Designers are responsible for the co-ordination and compiling of the detailed construction plans, calculations, specifications and documents that demonstrate compliance with current Building Regulations. All documentation must be electronically lodged by the Assigned Designer with the Local Authority prior to commencing works on site to which the certificate relates.
They are responsible for inspecting and co-ordinating the inspection by the relevant skilled professionals or contractors. The Assigned Certifier prepares a Site Inspection Plan, and notifies and records the inspection process as well as collecting Ancillary Certificates from skilled professionals or contractors. They are appointed by the client in writing and they issue a letter of undertaking to the Building Control Authority. When the project is complete they issue a Certificate of Compliance and must submit revised plans and specifications to the Building Control Authority should any changes have taken place to the original documentation submitted with the commencement notice.
They are defined by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) as a director of a company who has a track record of experience with similar projects and is tax compliant. The client must appoint a competent builder from the outset who must sign a Completion Certificate on completion of the project. they must also ensure the coordination and provision of all test certificates and confirmations to the satisfaction of the Assigned Certifier or other designated inspectors or certifiers providing Ancillary Certificates. The CIF is currently compiling a voluntary register of builders and a mandatory registration of builders will not be in place until 2015.
While there will undoubtedly be an increased cost for compliance, the cost of compliance can be balanced against the fact that purchasers or owners of a property will know that the buildings have been designed and built by qualified and competent professionals. When certified and complete, the building will be put on a National Building Register, so that any future purchasers can view details and specifications of the buildings constructed. The new system may appear overwhelming for some owners and prospective self builders. The regulations go a long way towards protecting purchasers of large developments but they place onerous obligations on people building their own homes or extending their property. The new regulations have extensive procedures and penalties for non compliance that can only be a positive thing. Change is always difficult, but the purpose of this change is to create more protection for the consumer which is an honourable and sensible objective.