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Latest Response from DECLG and Reply from IAOSB
Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I 9 of 2014

25th of February 2014

Dear Mr McCloud,


I have been asked by Mr. Phil Hogan, TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to reply to your email of 21 February and related correspondences received by the Minister’s Office and the Department in recent weeks, in relation to the status of self-builders under S.I. No. 9 of 2014.


At the outset, I wish to emphasise that from the Minister’s and the Department’s perspective your association can rely fully on information given by the Minister in reply to Parliamentary Questions (PQs) on this issue.


There have been several PQs in relation to self-building since 28 January 2014 to the current date. In response to all such question the clear and unequivocal response has been that SI No. 9 of 2014 does not terminate or prevent an owner from building their own home.


This can be taken as the Department’s policy position on the matter. In devising and developing SI No. 9 of 2014 at no stage has there been any policy imperative to prevent self-building.


The Department shares your concern about the misinformation in the public domain about the question of self-build but it cannot be held responsible or accountable for the opinions or communications of others.


As regards the legal consequences of S.I. 9 of 2014, it is important that to understand in the first instance that the legal obligations on owners, designers and builders to design and contract in accordance with the building regulations arise under the Building Control Act 1990. The Department’s view would be that regulations made under the Act of 1990 cannot undermine or undercut the statutory obligations set out under the Act itself and cannot introduce new obligations that are not provided for in the Act. On this basis, the Department’s view would be that SI No. 9 of 2014 does not create new legal obligations on owners, designers or builders so much as put in place certain procedural arrangements by which each of these parties can demonstrate that they have fulfilled their statutory obligations.


As you may also be aware, the Government is committed to bringing in statutory registration of builders and contractors by 2015 – a voluntary register is currently being introduced by the Construction Industry Federation, working in conjunction with the Department and industry stakeholders, as a first step in this process. This Government priority of statutory registration of contractors and builders can be achieved in a manner that accommodates and supports self-build arrangements. The Department will be happy to liaise further with your association in this regard.


If a meeting to discuss your concerns would be of assistance to your association, the Department will be happy to facilitate you at an early date.


I trust this clarifies the Department’s position for you.


Yours sincerely,


Martin Vaughan

Assistant Principal

Architecture/Building Standards


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Dear Mr Vaughan,


I would like to firstly take this opportunity to thank you for your reply on behalf of the Minister Hogan regarding S.I. No.9 of 2014.


As an association we are grateful that we can rely fully on the information given by the Minister in reply to Parliamentary Questions (PQ) since 28th of January 2014 as far as the effect of S.I. No.9 of 2014 on Self Builders building their own homes.


I do understand that neither the Minister or the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government are responsible for what has been discussed in the public domain and therefore would like you to clarify some points below which include the answer that was given by Minister Hogan on 5th of February 2014 following a question asked by Mr Thomas P Broughan T.D.


“Question No. 544 of 28 January 2014, if persons who self-build their homes will be required to take on full responsibility for ensuring that the properties concerned are in compliance with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (SI No 9 of 2014)..” the Minister replied; “ Local building control authorities have powers to inspect and enforce compliance and where concerns exist in relation to a particular building, the authority may serve an enforcement notice on both the owner and the builder. In a self-build situation the owner and the builder will be one and the same.” and “In practice, even in a self-build situation, the owner-builder may contract out certain construction tasks. Under the new Regulations the owner-builder will also be required to engage competent registered professionals to undertake the design and to perform the role of the Assigned Certifier who will prepare an inspection plan, ensure this plan is implemented by himself and others and, in conjunction with the self-builder, sign the Certificate of Compliance on Completion.”


We understand from the reply above that has been given by the Minister, a Self Builder can nominate themselves as the Builder and sign the completion certificate. Which would be a great news for us but so that you can make it clear for a simple person like myself, can you please let me know how the following works? S.I.9 of 2014 was signed into law on 15th of January 2014 by Minister Hogan, which makes it a legal document. Looking at this document (attached for your attention), under Article 9, “UNDERTAKING BY BUILDER FORM OF CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE”. In this document you can see: Signature: ———------———— Date: ———————— (to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only). Now according to the Minister’s reply above the owner and the builder will be one and the same”. Therefore, can you please tell me, how a building owner can sign a legal document (That is the law and will be seen by any court in the country as the law) as the builder confirming the Certificate of Compliance when they are not a Principle or Director of a Building Company?


I would also like to point out Article 20 F, Certificate of Compliance on Completion, which again is asking for the builder to sign the certificate and once again; (to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only). Surely Mr Vaughan, you and Minister Hogan are not asking the descent, hard working and honest people of Ireland to break the law and sign a legal document which would imply that they are a Principle or Director of a Building Company, when they are not. Are you?


Please, with all due respect, do not reply with another one of those politically correct statement about the reason for this amendment and how beneficial this would be to the country. All we as self builders want to know is, can we go ahead and do a self build house for our family by using the old traditional direct labour route? If we can as it is being confirmed by the Minister and the government publications, what is the purpose of the sentence “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a building company only”. If this sentence does not apply to self builders, why is there not the words “/ building owner” instead of “only”?


Just to get a little bit more technical, I notice that you personally presented this amendment to the Engineers Ireland on 17th of January 2014 (Attached for your attention). In this document under the Final Cert- Builder, you mentioned “Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works”. Under the Code of Practice (Attached for your attention), “Builder” means a competent builder appointed, for purposes of the Building Control Regulations, by the building owner, to build and supervise the works; “Competent Person”: a person is deemed to be a competent person where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size and/or complexity of the building or works, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken. Can you please tell me who decides that a person working on the house has the sufficient training, experience and knowledge to do the job. Can the building owner go ahead and employ anyone that they are confident in to do the job properly, as it has been done before S.I 9 of 2014 or S.I 80 of 2013?


And finally, I would greatly appreciate it if you could clarify how on the following article from Irish Independent on 26th of February 2014, Minister Hogan’s comment "wild exaggerations made in relation to the increased costs of building a home which will arise, saying the likely impact on homeowners would be between €1,000 and €3,000 per unit.” That is very interesting that should you go ahead and build under S.I. 9 of 2014, the extra cost for the design certifier, inspection certifier and profits taken by a Building Contractor (If one is used) and other administration fees would only be an extra €1000 to €3000. Would the Minister be kind enough to give us details of how this figure was worked out? http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/new-rules-to-prevent-repeat-of-botched-buildings-30041874.html


I would like to thank you for getting back to me and look forward to hearing from you soon.


Kind regards,


Shane McCloud
Irish Association of Self Builders
www.iaosb.com


Building control (Amendment) Regulation S.I 9 of 2014
Presentation to Engineers Ireland
Code of Practice