Impact of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014

March 3, 2014

Introduction

The Building Control Act 1990 introduced building regulations.  This was followed by a statutory instrument, the Building Control Regulations in 1997.  The object of the 1990 Act and the 1997 Regulations and subsequent amendments was to achieve minimum standards in building practice in relation to design and construction methods.  Historically, the policing of the process has relied on a self-assessment model involving builders and professionals who provided opinions on compliance.

A new model is about to be introduced which seeks to redress failings in the old system.   The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 9 of 2014 ) (“the Regulations”) come into effect on the 1 March 2014.  The Regulations are being introduced  following high profile cases in Ireland dealing with building control failures as evidenced by pyrite damage and the Priory Hall Development. The Regulations represents one of the most significant changes to the Building Control Code since the introduction of the Building Act in 1990.  The Regulations impact on all stages of the building process from initial design to completion.

The Regulations apply to the following:-

  1. Design and construction of new dwellings,
  2. An extension to a dwelling greater than 40 square meters,
  3. Works to which Part III of the Building Regulations apply i.e. works where a fire safety certificate is required.

Pre-Construction

From the 1 March 2014, a commencement notice can either be filed electronically on the building control management system or completed on the prescribed form and lodged by post and must include:

  1. Such plans, calculations, specifications and particulars as are necessary to outline how proposed works or building will comply with the Regulations.
  2. A Certificate of Compliance (Design). An Architect or Engineer is required to certify that the design is in compliance with the Regulations.
  3. A Notice of Assignment from the owner of the building confirming the name of the person who will inspect and certify compliance of the works with the Regulations (“the Assigned Certifier”).
  4. An Undertaking by the Assigned Certifier to inspect the works and to certify compliance with the Regulations.
  5. A Notice of Assignment of the Builder from the owner of the building. The owner to confirm that the owner is satisfied that the builder is competent to undertake the works.
  6. An undertaking from the Builder that he is competent to carry out the works in compliance with the Regulations. 

Post Construction

Once the building is constructed, a Certificate of Compliance on Completion (“the Certificate”) must be submitted to the Building Control Authority by either the Builder or the Assigned Certifier and must be in the prescribed form.

The Builder certifies under the Certificate that he has exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence and that the building has been constructed in accordance with the plans, calculations, specifications, ancillary certificates and particulars as certified under the Certificate of Compliance (Design) which was submitted with the Commencement Notice.

The Assigned Certifier also confirms that the inspection plan drawn up pursuant to the code of practice for inspecting, certifying buildings and works has been followed and that he has exercised reasonable care and diligence.

In order to aid industry professionals in complying with the Regulations, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government may from time to time publish guidelines.

The Regulations suggest a timeline of up to 21 days for the determination of the validity or invalidity by a Building Control Authority of the Certificate submitted.  It is at the discretion of the Building Control Authority to adhere to these timelines.

Where the Building Control Authority considers the Certificate as valid, the Building Control Authority is required to enter all particulars on the register and notify the builder.

The Register

The Building Control Authority is obliged to keep a register which includes the name and address of the applicant, the commencement notice, details of the builder assigned to carry out the works, the Certificate etc. All documents entered on the register will be available for inspection on the website of the local authority or at its  offices.   

Notifications

If the Assigned Certifier or the Assigned Builder are changed or replaced during construction, the building owner must notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days and submit a Notice of Assignment and forms of undertaking completed by the newly appointed Assigned Certifier and/or Builder.

If a building is sold prior to completion of the works, the new owner must notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days of the change in ownership.

Failure to notify the Building Control Authority is an offence and will delay or inhibit inclusion of the details of the final Certificate on the statutory register. Failure to comply with the Regulations is an offence and may result in fines and / or imprisonment.

Conclusion

The thrust of the Regulations is to raise accountability and provide greater visibility by:  

  • ensuring that owners of new buildings notify the Building Control Authority of the details of the person who will be inspecting and certifying the works and the details of the builder carrying out the works.
  • ensuring that owners notify the Building Control Authority of any change in the Builder and / or the Assigned Certifier within a 14 day period of appointment.
  • increasing obligations on professionals by moving to a certification process.
  • ensuring that mandatory inspections are carried out by the Assigned Certifier throughout the construction process.
  • establishing a validation process within the Building Control Authority,
  • the creation of a register by local authorities with full access by the public and identifying those responsible for compliance with the Regulations.

It is to be hoped that the higher level of responsibility for professionals and builders coupled with the public register will ensure better standards in construction works into the future.  

However the fact that the Regulations do not apply to extensions under 40 square meters to a dwelling means that such property owners are not afforded the protection of the Regulations.

For further information on this issue contact Julisa Flanagan, Associate or a member of  the Commercial Property team.  

Commercial Property Team

thomasbreenjulisa

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Thomas O’Malley, Partner    Breen Purcell, Partner      Julisa Flanagan, Associate

Remember that this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Case law is fact specific and readers should understand that similar outcomes cannot be assumed. Specific advice should always be taken in given situations.

Subscribe to our Legal Updates

Fieldfisher only collects your personal data for the purposes of your subscription to receive our Legal Updates. To read more please see our privacy policy. We will not use your personal data for any further purpose without your specific consent.

I would like Fieldfisher to email me a copy of their Newsletter

  • * indicates required

Website by Open