Building Control Regulations

The ‘Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014’ S.I. No. 9 of 2014 came into effect on 1st March 2014. The effects of this are wide reaching in that the responsibilities of parties to any development have become highly defined and legally binding.

The onus on clients or building owners to appoint competent and qualified persons as certifiers includes both designers and contractors. This applies to any building for which planning permission or material alterations to commercial buildings are concerned. Material alterations include any changes that have an impact on planning regulations or building regulations. All previous Building Control Regulations apply in this regard together with the currently implemented amendments. The ‘Planning and Development Act 2000’ Number 30 of 2000 together with any accessibility regulations may also apply. Accessibility regulations relate to any public or commercial building to which the public have access, where in any new development or alterations to existing building a ‘Disability Access Certificate (DAC) may be required under regulations that came into effect on 1st January 2010. A ‘Fire Safety Certificate’ may also be required where alterations are carried out or proposed to be carried out.

The purpose of these improved regulations is to bring more control on the building industry arising out of concerns with standards over the past ten or so years. Developments such as ‘Priory Hall’ have been cited in the development of these amended regulations. The onus has however been placed on building owners and managers to implement these measures. Local Authorities are required to evaluate and keep on record details that demonstrate the buildings when designed will comply and when completed have complied. These are in the form of prescribed forms which will be attached to detailed design documentation, specifications and calculations. In the event that a development appears to fail to comply with these regulations it will be possible with relation to these documents and certificates to establish the breach. Failure to comply may be considered an offence.

The manner in which standards will be improved will be to ensure that the designers are suitably qualified and capable of certifying both the designs and the works. These qualified certifiers will rely on other consultants in certifying the design. In addition to these they will also rely on suitably experienced contractors, though as yet there is no legal definition of building contractors. There is a requirement that design certifiers be suitably qualified and registered. There is no legal requirement that building contractors be suitable qualified nor is there a legally defined register. This is being addressed and is likely to become required in the coming year or so, we are informed. On this basis and with foresight it is wise to seek that any contractors carrying out works be registered with the CIF through their CIRI registration body.

Works that are subject to planning regulations include material alterations to existing commercial buildings, alterations to domestic buildings that require planning permission are defined in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. Any alterations to protected structures or to elements within the cartilage of a protected structure may also be subject to this act. In certain conservation areas, additional measures are imposed by local authorities. These often relate to archaeological requirements where ground works are proposed.

In order to facilitate better development and therefore improved conditions in the built environment the requirements of these acts have become the responsibility of anyone proposing development of any kind.

Additional to the above regulations, the ‘Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, No. 10 of 2005’ and in particular the ‘Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012, S.I. No. 481 of 2012’ should be addressed fully. This relates to all parties but initially to the responsibility of owners and building managers who are considering have works carried out.

The complexity of legislation relating to property is such that advice should be sought of suitable qualified and experienced professionals prior to initiating any development. Project management includes all of the above together with the complexity and variation in services required to have any project correctly implemented. The building industry has become a highly detailed and skilled industry where knowledge of the wide range of services and skills is needed by managers in order to facilitate the transition from concept to completion.

The above is not an exhaustive list of the requirements needed but is a base outlining the needs for expertise or for the requirement to appoint expertise when carrying our development.

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