Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014
New Roles & Responsibilities
The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which come into effect on 1 March 2014, will bring significant change to the building control regime in Ireland. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government hope that the Regulations will play an important role in the pursuit of an improved culture of building control with an increased focus on care and safety in the construction industry. It will be interesting to see how the changes introduced by the Regulations take shape in the public and private sector and how stakeholders, ranging from building control authorities to owners, builders and design professionals, respond to the challenges ahead.
In recent years, Ireland has seen numerous high profile cases dealing with building control issues,ranging from defective materials, such as pyrite damage, to certification problems, to contractor insolvency issues. These cases highlighted the real need for a more robust building control regime and led to the making of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI No 80 of 2013). The 2013 Regulations were due to come into effect on 1 March 2014. However, following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, various concerns with the 2013 Regulations were identified, including in relation to the insurability of persons required to issue certificates under the Regulations. In response to these concerns, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI No 9 of 2014) were made, revoking in full the 2013 Regulations.
The 2014 Regulations come into effect on 1 March 2014 and are to be read in conjunction with existing legislation. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has confirmed (even though it is unclear from the 2014 Regulations) that the date of receipt of a valid Commencement Notice by the building control authority is the trigger for determining whether or not the new building control regime (as introduced by the 2014 Regulations) applies. Therefore, if a valid Commencement Notice is received on or after 1 March 2014, the new building control regime (asintroduced by the 2014 Regulations) will apply.
Building Control Management System
The 2014 Regulations introduce the electronic administration of building control matters through the Building Control Management System as the preferred means of building control administration.
Some timelines under the 2014 Regulations are more favourable where filings are done through the Building Control Management System. In addition, the building control authority can levy a charge for scanning and uploading hard copy notices and documents to the Building Control Management System.
Commencement Notice & 7 Day Notice
The form of Commencement Notice and 7 Day Notice has been revised and is now required to be signed by the owner of the works. Significant changes have been made to the documentation required to be submitted with a Commencement Notice and 7 Day Notice where the works comprise:
“(a) the design and construction of a new dwelling, (b) an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area no greater than 40 square metres, (c) works to which Part III applies.”
In such cases, the Commencement Notice and the 7 Day notice must now be accompanied by:
Outline Plans and Documentation – Plans and other documentation necessary to outline how the proposed works or building comply with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.
Certificate of Compliance (Design) – A certificate (in prescribed form) to be completed by a design professional, such as a chartered engineer or a registered architect, confirming that:
- it has been commissioned by the owner to design, in conjunction with others, the building or works;
- it is competent to carry out the design and to coordinate the design of others;
- the plans and other documents (detailed in the schedule to the Commencement Notice or 7 Day Notice) have been prepared by it and the other design professionals (exercisingreasonable skill, care and diligence) to demonstrate compliance with the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.
The design professional must also certify that the design for the building or works is in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations.
Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by Assigned Certifier) – A certificate (in prescribed form) to be signed by the Assigned Certifier undertaking to use reasonable skill, care and diligence to inspect the building or works and to coordinate the inspection work of others and further undertaking to certify, following the implementation of the inspection plan, compliance with the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.
An Assigned Certifier must be named on a a register maintained pursuant to Part 3 (Registration of Architects) or Part 5 (Registration of Building Surveyors) of the Building Control Act 2007 or Section 7 of The Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969.
Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by the Builder) – A certificate (in prescribed form) to be completed by the Builder confirming that it has been commissioned by the owner toundertake the works and that it (and any employee or other person engaged by it) is competent to do so.
The builder must also undertake:
- to construct the works in accordance with the plans and other documents detailed in the schedule to the Commencement Notice or 7 Day Notice and such other plans and documents relevant to compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations;
- to cooperate with the inspections carried out pursuant to the inspection plan; and
- to certify the works are in compliance with the requirements of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.
Certificate of Compliance on Completion
Before works or a building (to which the 2014 Regulations apply) can be opened, occupied or used, a validly completed Certificate of Compliance on Completion is required to be included on the statutory register maintained by the relevant building control authority. The Certificate of Compliance on Completion must be signed by the Builder and the Assigned Certifier and must be accompanied by:
(a) such plans and other documents which outline how the completed works or building: (i) differ from the plans and other documents submitted with the Commencement Notice or 7 Day Notice; and (ii) comply with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations; and
(b) the Inspection Plan as implemented by the Assigned Certifier.
The 2014 Regulations include separate timelines (mandatory and discretionary) within which the building control authority must respond in relation to the validity or invalidity of a Certificate of Compliance on Completion. There is a mechanism for the advance review of certain documents in connection with the Certificate of Compliance on Completion in order that the Certificate can beentered on the statutory register by a nominated date.
Responsibilities for Owners of Public & Private Sector Property
Owners will need to appoint the Designer, Builder and Assigned Certifier in accordance with the mandatory regime and notify the building control authority of any changes of ownership of the works or of the persons assigned as Builder or Assigned Certifier and to provide appropriate forms in respect of the new assignees. Failure to do this is an offence and could also delay or inhibit inclusion of details of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion on the statutory register.
Code of Practice for Inspecting & Certifying Buildings and Works
A Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works may be published by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government for the purposes of providing guidance with respect to inspecting and certifying works. Compliance with any such Code of Practice will, prima facie, be taken as compliance with the relevant requirements of the 2014 Regulations.
However, the use of another inspection framework or approach is not prohibited.
The information to be included on the statutory register maintained by the building control authority has been widened to take account of the new requirements introduced by the 2014 Regulations.
Drawings, Certificates of Compliance and various other particulars relevant to works or a building are required to be entered on the statutory register which may be accessed on the website or at the offices of the local authority.
Failure to comply with the 2014 Regulations is an offence which may result in the imposition of fines and/or imprisonment.
Insurances and Increased Costs
The increased responsibility and change in risk-profile for owners, builders and design professionals under the 2014 Regulations is likely to increase the cost of completing projects in both the public and private sector (whether in connection with insurance cover or otherwise). Owners, builders and design professionals will therefore need to confirm that their insurance cover captures their new obligations under the 2014 Regulations.