Irish Association Of Self Builders
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The following is a copy of the letter from Irish Association of Self Builders that was sent to the Minister for Environment, Community and local government, Mr Phil Hogan T.D on 30th of January 2014 in response to the reply from the Minister on 29th of January 2014 regarding Building Control (Amendment) S.I.9 2014
Dear Minister Hogan,
Re: Building Control (Amendment) S.I 9 2014 - Reference Number 3932/14 and 4147/14
I am writing to you regarding the above amendment which will be coming to effect on 1st of March 2014 and following representation that was kindly made by Mr Thomas P. Broughan T.D and Ms. Olivia Mitchell T.D on behalf of Irish Association of Self Builders to you on 28th of January 2014, I would be grateful to you and your department if you could clear a few points for us that were made in your reply to the questions No. 544 and 554.
1) The new Building Control Amendment Regulations which come into operation on 1 March 2014 will greatly strengthen the arrangements currently in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.
On behalf of the self builders I would like to thank you for more control of building activity and requiring accountability in relation to compliance and Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, inspection and other validation and registration certificates. I am sure and confident that you and your department have done the research and have set up a great system that is well capable of dealing with these new regulations and the extra work involved to achieve all that you have mentioned above and I would also like to thank you again for doing this for our protection. After all, in a letter that was sent to Robin Mandal , President of RIAI on the 16th of January 2014 you have confirmed that “Having conferred widely with key stakeholders in recent weeks, I have decided that the new regulations will come into operation on 1 March 2014.” (S.I. 9 Doc.1). However, we were under the impression that under Building Control (Amendment) S.I 9 2014, Architects were one of the main key stakeholders as they are one of the groups that have been selected to be the design certifiers and it comes as a great concern that according to the letter from Mr Robin Mandal (S.I 9 Doc.2) to you dated 15th of January 2014, he is raising a number of issues that are of concern to the RIAI which could cause delays, cost increases and potential disputes. According to Mr Mandal, as of the date of the letter, the code of practice for inspections has not been finalised, the electronic systems for lodgement of commencement Notices and Design Certificates have not been tested or rolled out; the construction contract forms – whether for private or for publicly funded works – have not enough information to have been amended to take account of the necessary changes; and the finalised versions of the design and completion certificates are not available, for reference in contracts now being entered into, and to allow their reasonableness and insurability to be formally verified. He continues with “ To proceed in the absence of these crucial elements runs the increasing risk of unforeseen delay in construction projects, embroiling new contracts in claims for additional payment, and increased costs for building owners, for commissioning bodies and house purchasers, and ultimately for the tax payer.”
2) Neither the Building Control Act or any regulations thereunder, including the new Building Control Regulations , place any restrictions on whom an owner may assign as a builder once the owner is satisfied that the builder is competent to undertake the works involved.
I have full confidence in local sub-contractors that I have known for years and I am satisfied that they are competent to undertake the works involved and as there are no restrictions under the new Building Control regulations I would like to support my local community to use these sub-contractors to build the house for me. Your response would be greatly appreciated.
3) An owner who intends to self-build will assume responsibility for ensuring that building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of the second schedule to the building regulations. They must undertake to do everything necessary to achieve this and to ensure they are in a position to certify the building or works on completion thereby taking legal responsibility as builder.
Therefore as long as I accept responsibility and ensure that the building or work concerned comply with the requirements of the second schedule to the building regulation and do everything necessary to achieve this and sign the certification on completion and take legal responsibility as a builder I can go ahead and self build? Am I correct on this? If I am, in Building Control (Amendment S.I. 9) 2014, under certification section to be signed by the builder can you please remove (to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only) as I am not a principle or Director of a building company. Your response would be greatly appreciated.
4)The new regulations also require an owner to assign a competent, registered professional to certify the design prior to commencement and to inspect the works during construction so that the assigned certifier is in a position, in conjunction with the owner-builder, to sign a certificate of compliance on completion.
We welcome this part as no one should design a property without a professionals help.You have confirmed that the owner-builder and assign certifier will have to sign a certificate of compliance on completion. So as of part 3, a self builder can nominate themselves as the builder as long as they take legal responsibility for the build. Your response would be greatly appreciated.
Minister Hogan, I am a simple man and I have already self built my home for my family and the new Building Regulation would not make any difference to me as we have no intention of moving. However, this new amendment will make a big difference to all other people who wish to give their family a roof over their heads called home. As I am sure you know, the whole country is suffering financially from the result of the mess made by successive government and to the average self builder who are already struggling with their finances and hope to be able to get on the property ladder, this amendment will have big repercussions .
According to a recent survey done out of all the houses built last year, 60% of them were done by self builders. Based on that figure, in 2014 there should be around 5000 homes being done by the self builders. I would like to point out that while this amendment will give extra protection to people of Ireland, it will reduce the number of houses being built due to higher costs involved. The average cost of a property being in Ireland is currently at €180000 and it has been worked out that the professional certifiers will have to increase their fees by around €5000 to cover the extra work and time that this new regulation will require. On discussion with building contractors, they have informed us that a property built through them will have an extra cost of at least 10% compared to the route of sub-contracting. This is the minimum that will be charged by them and this figure could be a lot higher due to extra responsibility and insurances that are required under S.I. 9 2014. Based on the low figure of 10%, that would mean an extra €18,000 on the average home. Therefore, the total extra cost for an average house built by the self build route would be €23,000.
On daily basis we get emails from people who are very worried about the effect that this would have on them and their families. There has not been any clear details released by your department to let people know how this amendment will effect them. Local authorities are clueless as what is going to happen from 1st of March 2014 and they are not advising people. Under S.I 80, there was the mention of Building Contractors being registered with C.I.F but this has been taken out on S.I 9. Under S.I 80, a self builder could nominate themselves as the builder until 1st of March 2015 but again no mention of this in S.I 9. There is the question of the builders certification form being signed by the Principle or Director of a Building Company, surely this could mean that anyone that deals with building work could do this, a builders merchant, a tile company or electrical contractor, etc. Surely, this does not make sense.
I think the risk is that self-build projects on which a “competent” contractor is not appointed and does not sign the completion certificate, could be deemed to be non-compliant and the Local Authority could refuse to put it on the register, in which case it should not be occupied. However, because of the absence of staff in the Local Authorities, it is unlikely that there will be any more enforcement under the new regulations than there is now and self-builders may well get through the whole process without any action by the Local Authority.
The long term risk for the self-build home owners is that if they wish to sell or re-mortgage their house at some time in the future and it has not been certified properly, it will not be on the register in the Local Authority as being compliant, which in turn will make it difficult if not impossible to sell or mortgage. There is no provision within the Building Control Act to rectify the position if that were to occur.
We assume as a mandatory register of builders is to become established by March 2015 any possible transition period allowing self-building will cease from this date onwards in any event.
My final point to you regarding Building Control S.I 9 2014 would be that we welcome the new regulation but not as it is. We do understand that you and your department are trying to make sure that the days of cowboy builders and shoddy homes are a thing of the past by bringing in the new regulations. But I would like to remind you that it was not the self builders that caused pyrite problems and dangerous breaches of fire regulations in the past. By introducing this amendment on 1st of March 2014 as it is, you will be punishing the self builders for something that was not their fault and if things are not changed on the form, the only people that would benefit would be the building contractors and the developers, again.
I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding this very important matter.
Irish Association of Self Builders