Summary Statement on Regulatory Impact of the New Building Regulations
(SI No. 9 of 2014)
The new Building Control Amendment Regulations 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.
The new regulations are necessary following the widespread instances of failure by owners, designers and builders to comply with their statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990 to design and construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations.
An extensive public consultation process was undertaken in 2012 to inform the development of the revised building control regulations which will come into effect on 1 March 2014. Comprehensive consultation documents were published including Strengthening the Building Control System - A Document to inform public consultation on Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012 which sets out the context in which the reforms – which are now signed into law in the form of S.I. No. 9 of 2014 which supersedes S.I. No. 80 of 2013 - will operate and the regulatory impact of these for building owners and industry stakeholders. This document remains available on my Department’s website.
In summary terms, it can be said that the arrangements being put in place for the control of building activity may result in additional design, inspection, certification and, possibly, insurance costs which must ultimately be borne by the building owner/contracting authority. Such additional costs would be justified by the enhanced quality and standard of design and construction of the building project concerned in light of several notable instances of non-compliant buildings which failed to meet minimum building standards. It is anticipated that the statutory inspection process will reduce the incidences of defective works on site and the resultant associated costs of carrying out remedial works will reduce accordingly.
Owners/developers will now be required to assign a competent person to inspect and certify the works. For buildings where this would not previously have been the case, industry sources suggest this requirement could add say between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs although in reality this actual cost will be decided by market forces.
The Government is acutely aware of the employment and competition consequences that may result from regulation in the construction sector. Overall the new regulations will have a positive effect on employment in the sector. The regulations will serve to ensure the involvement of competent registered professionals in the design, inspection and certification of buildings generally and competent builders in the execution and certification of works. In this way owners, designers and builders will meet and account for their statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990 which recent experience has shown to have been widely flouted. The cost of this which must be borne by the responsible parties will be justified by safer, compliant buildings in keeping with the legitimate expectations of consumers.
There have been wild exaggerations in circulation of the increased costs that the regulations will impose on the self-build home sector. There has been no change in the technical performance standards which a newly finished home must meet. Any person who intended meeting their statutory obligations to design and build in accordance with the Building Regulations will face the additional design and certification costs already referred to but any additional building costs will be negligible.
The construction industry in Ireland and the residential sector in particular includes an unusually high number of SMEs. A large proportion of the work of such firms would involve repair, renewal and renovation work or extensions to existing dwellings. Such works would not come within the scope of the proposed Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. In addition such firms would operate as sub-contractors on larger projects. In such cases the impact and the administrative burden of the proposed regulations would fall on the principal contractor. The impact of the proposed regulations on SMEs has thus been kept to a minimum.
Architecture/ Building Standards
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government