builder cowboy

**Note – Building Regulations have changed since 1st September 2015. See updated version by clicking here.

The building control (amendment) legislation in ROI has brought in more controls on house building and home improving… here’s an update on the situation and more information on the new role of ‘assigned certifier

The new ROI regulations specifically apply to new buildings, extensions of more than 40 sqm and buildings which require a Fire Safety Certificate.

Who will have to be involved
As the owner you will have to appoint a ‘design certifier’, an ‘assigned certifier’ and a builder. Each are responsible for the notices, certificates, plans and documentation that are to be lodged with the Building Control Authority and this is intended to ensure that the project is designed and built in accordance with the building regulations.

The design certifier should, according to the Code of Practice (see info), be on the architects’ statutory register administered by the RIAI, a chartered engineer (C.Eng.) on the Engineers Ireland register, or a building surveyor on the statutory register administered by the SCSI. (Note that quantity surveyors generally aren’t involved in the design stage apart from providing costings.) Architectural technologists registered with CIAT are currently negotiating to be included in this list; a voluntary register was established in August 2014 with a view to making it statutory.

The assigned certifier must be on one of the above registers but does not necessarily have to be part of the design team. The assigned certifier is the one responsible for overseeing compliance with the regulations including getting compliance certificates from all specialists contributing to the project, monitoring the construction in accordance with the inspection plan and most importantly, certifying that the project has been completed in accordance with the building regulations.

The owner of the site and/or property will have to pay the consultancy fees associated with the hiring of the design certifier and assigned certifier.

The builder must claim competence to be a builder; the CIF has a voluntary register in place which is expected to become statutory in 2015, at which stage it will be mandatory to hire a builder from this list. For the time being, the property owner can appoint him/herself as the builder. The register is called CIRI and currently lists 250 construction companies and sole traders; proof of competence, tax clearance certificates as well as details of insurance are basic requirements for inclusion. According to the CIF, it is expected that there will be more than 2,000 entries listed on CIRI by the end of 2015 including sub-trades such as painters, electricians, etc.

Forms and certificates
There is a new type of commencement notice which must be filed online. This includes certain statutory forms, (embedded in the legislation and which cannot be changed), one by the building owner appointing the builder and the assigned certifier, one by the design certifier attesting that the design complies with the building regulations and one by the builder undertaking to build in accordance with the building regulations. The statutory forms require all parties to confirm that they, and the people they are appointing, are competent.

Also included in the commencement notice is a schedule setting out the programme of inspections which the assigned certifier will carry out for the purposes of monitoring key aspects of the construction. There is no formal template for inspection plans as these will depend on the nature of the project; the inspection plan should be put together by the assigned certifier in conjunction with the builder.

Plans, specifications and calculations (including a schedule of those that have yet to be drafted), a design certificate and a form of undertaking from both the builder and assigned certifier also have to be submitted. The completion certificate stating the house conforms to the building regulations is the last statutory document and must be signed by the builder and assigned certifier when the project has been completed.

If design changes are made during the construction phase, the new drawings, specifications and/or calculations must be submitted to the Building Control Authority to be retained with the original data. If the builder initiates the changes, these will need to be independently certified by the design certifier or assigned certifier before submission.

‘Ancillary Certificates’ (standardised certificates jointly put together by the representative bodies RIAI/EI/ACEI/SCSI) will be signed at the design stage and at the completion stage by the design certifier, assigned certifier and any other competent person required to certify a particular part of the project, e.g. a structural engineer if steel was used to hold up an open span or a mechanical engineer if there is a complex ventilation system. It is the assigned certifier’s responsibility to gather all necessary certificates and file them online. Ancillary certificates are not statutory documents, but will certainly become the norm certifying the various stages of the build as all of the professional bodies have agreed to their wording.

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Abbreviations and websites

Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, Building Control Regulations 2014 published February 2014
Law Society of Ireland Practice Note published April 2014: Update on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014
RIAI: Royal Institute of Architects Ireland
ACEI: Association of Consulting Engineers Ireland
Engineers Ireland:
SCSI: Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland
CIAT: Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
CIF: Construction Industry Federation
CIRI: Construction Industry Register Ireland