How has the framework of domestic construction been affected in terms of quality due to the Building Regulations since 2014?
The idea is to highlight the improved areas of change since 2014 in relation to the Building Control Amendment Regulations. Focussing on areas in a domestic construction setting bringing about building quality improvements and also mentioning the relevant parties involved with the changes. Summing up changes, implications and assessing how the changes affected building aquality. Whilst looking at the newly appointed roles and their duties and the relevant steps involved from design through to completion.
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Building control regulations are set to provide the means to better ensure safety of people in the built environment, both in and around buildings. Focussing on building regulation laws that commenced in 1990. They govern the development of rules and regulations of construction. They are legal requirements to designs and constructions of new buildings. Applying to extensions, change of materials and changes of use of existing buildings. Regulations until 2015 provide for procedural, administrative and control issues to ensure adequate implementation and compliance. On March 1, 2014, new laws relating to commencement and certification of construction work came into effect (BCAR 2014). The new laws appoint a contractor to carry out the works according to building regulations, as well as designation of an Assigned certifier to inspect work and ensure conformity. Other new requirements brought about are the submission of additional documents with a notice of commencement at the beginning and the introduction of a certificate of compliance at the end. They provide for means and ways to better ensure requirements with construction projects and developments are followed out correctly to suitable standards of building and maintenance in Ireland. They regulate several stages throughout the building process being “Commencement Notices, 7 Day Notices, Fire Safety Certificates, Revised Fire Safety Certificates and Regularisation Certificates, Disability Access Certificates and Revised Disability Access Certificates, Maintenance Registers, Fees and Statutory registration of building control.” (Irishstatutebook.ie. (2019)
Identifying modifications at the design stage and ensuring project work is in compliant with regulations, from the notice of commencement to completion. The Notice of Commencement is form given to the Building Control Authority stating that a person intends to carry out work or a material changes of use. The Building Regulations apply for all construction projects requiring a building permit and erection of buildings. “Significant changes in material, extensions, and significant changes in usage of materials, as well as projects involving similar changes to building materials will require a Notice of Commencement.” (Irishstatutebook.ie. (2019) The notice of commencement is not necessary where works like material changes in use, do not require a building permit, or fire safety certificate, except where work relates to the material alteration. For work relating to the 2014 regulations you will not be able to submit a certificate of compliance upon completion and your building will not be registered in the public registry, which will affect the ability of the owners to rent or sell the building that is if they can’t prove that the legal requirements for ownership have been met. Also, if the work does not begin within 28 days of the commencement notification being filed, a building owner must submit a new Commencement notice before beginning work. Using SI 9 of 2014 as a guideline commencement notice for work must also include an online assessment of the methods to be used to comply with the regulations, as well as a certificate of compliance (design), an assignment notice to inspect and certify work under an assigned certifier, an overall undertaking by the assigned certifier, contractors assignment undertaking, contractors engagement, general layout design for construction control - plans, sections and elevations; A schedule of design documents being developed or to be prepared later, The preliminary inspection plan, Any other document by the designated certifier. Additional requirements apply only to dwellings and their construction, and expansions over 40 meters squared and work for which a fire safety certificate is necessary.
Traditionally, enforcement was based on self-assessment by contractors and others alike who gave out opinions on compliance. It is clear that this approach has its shortcomings. Resulting in poor quality works, as of the history of pyrite damage and serious issues concerning fire safety within Ireland, an example being the Priory Hall incident. As per requirements contractors need to certify projects and ensuring they meet specifications and requirements using auxiliary certificates and details in accordance with the certificate of compliance. The Certificate of Compliance of Completion is delivered to the Building Control Authority by the Assigned Certifier who ensures that the inspection plan is consistent with the practice, certifying that proper construction methods and work are carried out and that care has been taken.
As regulations become more up-to-date with construction issues and ways to improve regulations to accommodate them, have these changes really affected compliance? They concern every step of the construction process, from the design to the end of the works, and thus allows better acknowledgement with respect to the regulations of the construction. The Assigned certifier coordinates and looks over inspections and certifications when the building is completed this has significantly increased the focus on quality and construction compliance. Previously, designers gave advice on compliance. The amendments now require strict confirmation of the conformity of the work and each designer to provide secondary Ancillary certificates attesting that they are identical at the completion of the work.
Who is actually responsible to comply with BCAR? The owner of the building (client), the designer of the work and the contractor who builds the work are legally responsible for complying with the building regulations.
The work description of the assigned certifiers should serve as a point of contact and actively coordinate design, inspections and certify the construction project from the preliminary design stage to the end. It shows required construction rules have been taken into account at design stage and that they have been applied in the building of the final works. The assigned certifier is vital to the project team and coordinates throughout the design team, the contractor and also the client with regard to compliance and certification whilst promoting construction rules and regulations.
As from March 1st, 2014they must now be a licensed professional who is included on a statutory register maintained either by “the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland, Engineers Ireland)” selected by the client to be either a certified architect, Chartered Building Surveyor or a Chartered Engineer with the relevant experience and skills relating to similar construction projects. the "Code of Practice for the Inspection and Certification of Buildings and Works 2016" (Housing.gov.ie (2019) In the event of a change of the assigned certifier or builder during construction, the owner must inform the building control authority within 14 days and hence submit a new notice of assignment and undertakings.
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The 2014 Regulations brought about the appointment of the “Assigned Certifier” who oversees inspection plans and inspects and certifies compliance with the Building Control Regulations both during construction and again on completion. However this was frowned upon by a large portion of the population as it lead to an increase in professional fees etc. and it meant more certification and more steps to go about before a project could finalise. It had a bad effect to one off construction projects.
In the 2015 Regulations it stated that “construction of new single dwellings and domestic extensions will not be subject to the mandatory certification requirements of the 2014 Regulations” as property owners could decide between either certifying and inspecting the works as per the 2014 regulations or they could opt out of the 2014 requirements when filing for the commencement notice. Single dwellings owners, on single unit developments, or domestic extensions may opt out of the requirements for statutory certification. Compliance with building regulations however must still be achieved and construction control procedures still apply. An owner who wishes to use this service must sign a "Declaration of Intent to opt out of Legal Certification" form.
If you choose not to participate, you are essentially not required to file for legal commitments and design certificates, the contractor and the assigned certifier, or file for inspection plans. You also do not need to have a building design certifier approve the building or have a certifier inspect and supervise the work. In addition, you will not be able to qualify for a Certificate of Compliance upon completion and so the opt out approach is a method that needs to be well thought out and executed as it could mean for future problems down the line. Owners are not however exempted from the building regulations, as distinct from the opt out in the building control regulations, one still needs to consider vulnerabilities. An opt-out may lead to a potential reduction in value or future sales resistance or even exposure in the event of significant non-compliance that is not picked up before completion.
The Assigned certifier performs all the necessary inspections during the works. After the design phase (design certifier). The Building Control Authority controls the process using set standards and certificates which need to be met and filed to obtain what is called statutory certification. BCAR requires compliance with building regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction. Additionally, there will also be a need a design certificate, the appointment of a reliable contractor. For construction as well as submission of certificates of compliance on completion. For work that falls within the guidelines of S.I. 9 of 2014, a Certificate of Compliance at Completion is a document filed by the Building Control Authority and registered in the public register before the building opens or is used. The certificate must be signed by the Assigned Certifier and the contractor to certify that the construction was in accordance with the plans presented while respecting the requirements of the building regulations.
The purpose of the Regulations is to raise accountability and provide visibility to better ensure the obligations on professionals by moving through a certification process. Establishing validation within the Building Control Authority. The higher level of responsibility for professionals and builders coupled with the public ensures better standards for future works. However, based on professional and personal opinion the regulations do also pose as an inconvenience temporarily as opposition to change is only a natural human instinct, individuals will slowly grow and adjust to the changes over time and realise such changes are only for the betterment of themselves and their buildings in the bigger picture of things.
- Independent.ie. (2019). 'Priory Hall was only the tip of the iceberg - Ireland has got serious fire safety problems' - Independent.ie. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/priory-hall-was-only-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-ireland-has-got-serious-fire-safety-problems-35828195.html [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].
- Irishstatutebook.ie. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2014/si/9/made/en/pdf [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].
- Housing.gov.ie. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/2016-10-21_code_of_practice_for_inspecting_and_certifying_buildings_and_works_final_version.pdf [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].
- BRegsForum (2019). BCAR SI.9 | Who can be a Certifier? | Building Regulations Forum. [online] Bregsforum.com. Available at: http://www.bregsforum.com/2015/05/28/bcar-si-9-who-can-be-a-certifier/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].
- Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. (2019). Building Regulations. [online] Available at: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/building-standards/building-regulations/building-regulations [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].
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