The two main problems that self builders are facing following the commencement of S.I 9 on 1st of March 2014
Following the commencement of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 and the feedback that we are getting, it seems that there are mainly two points that are still a big concern for the self builders.
The first one is still the illegal sentence on the certificates which requires the self builders to sign a legal document and declare themselves to be a principal or director of a building company when they are not. Even though the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan has mentioned in the media and through other correspondence that it would be perfectly ok for them to sign the certificate. Most self builders are understandably reluctant to declare something about themselves they know to be untrue. There is a lack of trust in the Minister and his Department for the way they have handled this whole mess.
On a visit to the offices of local Building Control today 5th of March 2014, I was informed by the County Engineer that they know that the sentence is wrong and they know that if you sign the document you are breaking the law. However, it should be ok as no one would pursue you for it. I asked him, would you sign a legal document as a fireman even though you are not one? His answer was no. So, he was asked that if I write the comments regarding the things that he mentioned would he sign it and stamp it? After hesitating a bit he said yes.
Therefore, if you wish to go ahead at the moment with your build and take a chance on the legal question, please write the following and ask the local Building Control to sign and stamp it for you so that you have something to cover you in case they changed their mind in the future.
Dear Local Authority
I intend to self build my house through Direct Labour route and I would appreciate it if you could clarify the following for me as far as the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I 9.
1) Can I Self Build using Direct Labour including myself?
2) Can I nominate myself as the builder for the purpose of the certifications?
3) At commencement stage can you provide written undertaking that my builder's completion certificate where I sign as builder will not be rejected?
4) In the certificate for Undertaking by the Builder, Form Of Certificate Of Compliance and the Certificate Of Compliance On Completion where it is indicated “to be signed by a Principal or Director of a Building Company only”, can you please confirm I not be breaking the law if I sign it as I am not a principal or director of a company?
Thank you for your help and co-operation.
To be signed or stamped by the representative of the Local Authority .
The second problem is that there are a lot of concerns regarding the refusal of the professionals ( Architects,Engineers and Building Surveyors) to be the certifiers should the build go ahead as a self build using Direct Labour. We already know that there has been objections to Amendment S.I.9 by some of the representative bodies for the above professionals as they can see a lot of problems with the set out of this regulation.
In a recent report on Six One News, Mr Robin Mandal, President of RIAI asked for clarification of the document for the self builders as far as the sentencing mentioned above and on his letter dated 16th of January to Minister Hogan, he requested a deferment of the Regulation as there were great concern for delays, cost increases and potential disputes. However, Minister Hogan rejected these concerns and commenced as planned.
The professionals who have to certify your build are concerned regarding the legal clarification of the document S.I 9 and in many cases are refusing to accept the role of the certifier until the government gives them the confidence that certifying a self build done according to the regulations is safe.
Message to the Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government
Minister Hogan, we are still waiting for clarification on the points raised on our previous correspondence to your department. It is now over seven days since we had a letter from your Assistant Principle, Mr Martin Vaughan telling us that he will get back to us quickly on those issues which can all be explained. Nothing yet.
Building Control (Amendment) Regulation S.I.9 of 2014 needs to be revised or replaced. As it stands, it is not to the benefit of Self Builders, the professionals and even the local Building Control Departments.
You constantly try to defend the Amendment S.I 9 by referring it back to Priory Hall and the Pyrite problems. With all due respect Minister, Priory Hall was built by a developer called Tom McFeely, not a self builder. And Pyrite is a chemical reaction that happens in rocks which had been used for filling under floors. This problem again was caused by Quarries, Builders and Developers who could not be bothered to do the appropriate tests, not the self builders. So Minister, you are punishing the wrong people. Where is the fairness in that?
The construction industry in Ireland has suffered severely during the recession and on top of the financial crisis that families have had to go through for the past five years, this Amendment (S.I.9) does nothing except for making the situation a lot worse for them.
Self Builders have been talking to you for the past few months regarding the effect this Amendment (S.I.9) would have on their situation and as a representative of the people you should listen to them before it is too late for some to ever be able to provide a home for their family.
And finally, I was informed by my Local Planning and Local Building Control Department that everything regarding this amendment is online. Even submitting all the required certificates has to be done online. I have been fortunate enough in my life to be in a position to learn how to use a computer but I do come across people all the time who do not even understand the meaning of the word Internet. My Building Control Department could not give me anything in writing as far as the information on this Amendment . I do not think that your Departments are as ready as you think they are and maybe Mr Robin Mandal was correct when he said in his letter to Minister Bruton that delays, confusion and frustration may be expected.
Shane McCloud Irish Association of Self Builders 5th of March 2014