Architectural & BIM Technology

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Architectural & BIM Technology

Executive summary

The following document is based on the development of St John’s college Waterford city. A brief introduction will introduce the reader to the works being carried out in the development itself. A background on the history of the college building is carried out and from here the main legal issues that will arise in such a project will be outlined and three of these issues will be examined in more detail. These issues will be planning with respect to conservation & protected structures, health & safety and contractual disputes. At the end of the report a reflective learning piece will be written to show what the author has learned during this process.


The following report is based on the development that will take place at St John’s college Waterford city. The report will firstly identify the main legal issues that could arise in such a development and secondly critically evaluate these legal issues. Not all of the main legal areas will be looked into but all these areas will be listed in the section below. From this section three legal issues will be chosen and analysed in greater depth from an architect & architectural technician’s point of view. The development that is taking place is financed by the respond housing association. The main contractors for the works to be carried out are Mythen construction. The development will include the following, a full restoral of the college building which will include 21 self-contained apartments along with a day centre for elderly people. An additional 36 new build one bedroom apartments will be constructed on site parallel to the folly road.[1]

Main legal issues

  • Planning with respect to conservation & protected structures
  • Boundaries & easements
  • On site contracts
  • Contractual disputes
  • Health & safety
  • Tendering issues
  • Duty of care

The three issues that will be analysed in greater depth will be planning with respect to conservation & protected structures, health & safety and contractual disputes.

St John’s college background

St John’s College site is located at john’s hill, Richardson folly, Waterford city (fig.3). According to the national inventory of architectural heritage the building was constructed between the years 1865-1875. The college was originally designed by architect George Goldie[2]. The design of the building can be loosely termed the gothic revival style (fig. 4). The building is listed as protected structures (reg. no. 22830069)[3] while the entrance along johns hill (fig.5) is also listed as a protected structure (reg. no. 22830075)[4]. A full description of both these protected structures can be found on the national inventory of architectural heritage website. The original use of the building was a theological college and this was the case up until 1990’s when the building was closed due to a decline in vocation[5]. The building has been left unoccupied now for a number of years. In 2007 the respond housing association in partnership with local governments, communities and the department of environment purchased the college building and a portion of the surrounding land with the intention of housing for the elderly scheme[6].

Planning permission for protected structures

In order for the development to gain planning permission the developer will have to design plans that are in accordance with the Waterford city council development plan 2013 and the planning and development act 2000. This is due to the college building being listed as a protected structure (reg. no. 22830069). Before any planning permission can be received a full architectural heritage impact assessment and an expert consultant study must be carried out by a conservation specialist that records the architectural significant of the college and recommendations for conservation.

The main elements of works to the protected structures will be the repair and refurbishment of the college building. Prior to the commencement of any works or repairs and refurbishments a written specification of works and a works method statement should be submitted to the Waterford city council for agreement in relation to the protected structure. All works carried out in relation to the protected structure should be carried out in accordance with the best practice conservation methodologies; the heritage councils published advice on principles of good practice in management of architectural heritage, these are as follows[7]:

  • Avoidance of unnecessary works.
  • Repair rather than replacement of deteriorated or damaged features.
  • Minimal intervention.
  • Reversibility.
  • Use architects and engineers trained in building conservation.

In the planning and development act 2000 protected structures are covered under part IV section 58 which states the following:

“Each owner and each occupier shall, to the extent consistent with the rights and obligations arising out of their respective interests in a protected structure or a proposed protected structure, ensure that the structure, or any element of it which contributes to its special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest, is not endangered”.[8]

With these stipulations being addressed and adhered to planning permission will have a greater chance of being approved by the Waterford county council.

Health and safety

The works carried out for this building will have to comply with the safety, health and welfare at works regulations 2013. These regulations give guidance on the proper procedures that must be in place before and during construction.

Firstly the client must appoint a project supervisor for both the design process and the construction stage. The client can be self-appointed if competent to undertake the duties involved. These persons must be appointed before or at the design process stage and the commencement of the construction stage. The client should also be reasonable satisfied that the persons allocated will have the resources to enable that person to perform the duties posed under these regulation before the commencement of works.[9]

Health and safety plan

This plan gives the contractors bidding for the job and those working on site the safety issues specific to the project. The plan can be divided into two sections: the pre-tender plan and the final plan.

The pre-tender plan should be orgainsed by the project supervisor that will be appointed to the project. This plan should be prepared as soon as possible when the project is conceived and submitted as part of the tender documentation. This plan should also set out all of the significant safety risks associated with the project, therefore allowing the contractor to develop health and safety procedures and systems for the project. The Pre-tender plan should contain the following:

  • Information such as the completion date, site information, conditions and current use etc.
  • Foreseeable health and safety risks in the design.
  • The construction methods recommended by the designer.
  • Any additional information the planning supervisor believes the contractors should be made aware of to endure the safety of workers.

From here the main contractor will be appointed and will become there responsibility to develop the plan further into its final form. The client must then ensure that this final plan is developed to a high level to permit construction works to begin. The final plan should contain the following:

  • The health and safety management rules and procedures developed for the site.
  • The safety management structure developed for the project.
  • Any issues the contractor may raise in risk assessment prepared in accordance with the safety, health and welfare at works regulations 2013.
  • Rules for monitoring compliance with the plan.

Health and safety file

The planning supervisor has the responsibility of preparing a health and safety file for all structures that comprise the construction project. This file should contain the information on the structure design, construction and how the building will be used by the occupants. The following should be in the completed health and safety file:

  • Details of the construction method and materials.
  • A record of drawings and plans used throughout the period of construction.
  • Details on the location and nature of utilities and services.
  • Details of equipment and maintenance facilities.
  • Any information from the health and safety plan that would be relevant for future projects.

This file is to be made available for inspection by any person e.g. sub-contractors who may need it to comply with their statutory duties or to any person acquiring an interest in the premises by the client.

Contractual disputes

On large construction projects contractual disputes can often arise, this has become more common place over the last number of years due to the economic down turn. Construction project participants are not willing or able to compromise and use cash to smooth over rough spots hence disputes arise and ultimately must be resolved in the legal system. For the purpose of this report two areas of contractual disputes will be examined in depth, scope of works and construction defects.

Scope of works

A scope of works is defined by the construction contract between the owner/client and the contractor. All contractors involved in a construction project have a scope of works, the sub-contractors scope of works are contractually defined but different from the main contractors. The scope of works set out by the owner should be very explicitly defined due to contractors not being contractually obliged to perform works that are beyond the contractual scope of works. According to the RIAI Standard Form of Contract:

“For the consideration hereinafter mentioned the Contractor will upon and subject to the Conditions annexed hereto execute and complete the Works shown upon the Contract Drawings and/or described in the Specification, Bills of Quantities and Conditions all of which together with this agreement are hereinafter referred to as the „Contract Documents‟[10].

In the event where the owner issues a change of order to the original scope of work, this may be considered a breach of contract and can allow the contractors to stop works until both parties reach an agreement regarding the change or extra works that fall beyond the original contractual scope of works.

In the case of plans and specifications, disputes can arise between the owner, contractors and design professionals when they interpret documents differently, especially when the description of works in plans and specifications are unclear or ambiguous. The owner has the implied warranty that the plans and specifications are correct, accurate and buildable.[11]

Construction defects

Construction defects can arise at two times, the first being during the construction process while the second being a good deal of time after the construction is finished, this is known as latent defects.

Over the course of the construction period the owner may identify extra works in the case of defects that is either not in the original scope of works or not in conformance with the plans and specifications. A dispute arises when the contractors do not agree with the owner’s assertion of the defective construction. The contractors generally allow the owner to order the replacement or repair of the defective work. The contractors will then have a claim against the owner at the end of the project in the event that the contractors had conformed to the plans and specifications they received. The probability of this happening during the construction works at St John’s College is very prevalent as the building is very old and has not been occupied for some time and some defects may not be apparent during the first inspections of the building. In this case it is the author’s opinion that a clause should be stipulated in the contract with the main contractor that a certain amount of money should be held in retention as a safeguard against any defects that may arise during the construction process.

A latent defect can be defined as construction defects that are not readily apparent or discoverable during an inspection of the completed works. A construction contract should include a latent defects clause so the owner of the property has a certain amount of time to highlight a construction defect. In the event when the time frame in this latent clause expires the owner may still make the contractor accountable for the construction defects. This can be when the contractor is in breach of contract or in a case of duty of care under negligence law.[12]

Reflective learning



John Scriven, etel (1999). a contractual guide to major construction projects . London: Sweet & Maxwell.

John Uff (1996). Construction law. 6th ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell.

Susan Fink (1997). Health and safety law for the construction industry. London: Thomas Telford.


1870 – St. John’s College, Waterford. Available: Last accessed 13/03/2015.

Amelia Sorohan. Latent defects: key issues (2012). Available: Last accessed 15/03/2015.

Architectural heritage protection (2011). Available: Last accessed 10/03/2015.

Construction Contract Terminology (2010). Available: Last accessed 15/03/2015.

First Social Housing Scheme Funded with Private Borrowing from AIB. Available: Last accessed 11/03/2015.

Marilyn Klinger. (2009). Confronting Construction Conflicts. Available: Last accessed 13/03/2015.

Main Record - County Waterford. Available:®no=22830075. Last accessed 10/03/2015.

Managing health and safety in construction (2007). Available: Last accessed 15/03/2015.

Protected structures. (2011). Available: Last accessed 10/03/2015.

Public Works Contract for building works (2014). Available: Last accessed 10/03/2015.

Safety, health and welfare at work (construction) regulations 2013. (2013). Available: Last accessed 13/03/2015.

Saint John's College, Richardson's Folly, Waterford, County Waterford. Available:®no=22830069. Last accessed 11/03/2015.

St Johns College, Waterford. Available: Last accessed 11/03/2015.








[7] Heritage Protection Guidelines (2011).pdf