Can you explain the new building control amendments around assigned certifiers?

October 2013

Question

I am building a house. We have our design, project manager, contractors and budget in place. However, I am confused by the new building control amendments around assigned certifiers due next year. My house won’t be completed until next May — can you explain which process of certification I will be expected to have complied with at that stage?

Answer

This is a timely question as a significant change in the building control system is about to occur in Ireland.

Traditionally, the sign-off of compliance with building regulations was driven by the need for title documents for conveyance of property rather than any statutory requirements. In many cases, this occurred with a single inspection when the property was completed and everything covered up. The obvious limitations of this system have been evidenced in recent high-profile building failures.

The Building Control Regulations 2013 will change all this and require that the building owner appoints competent designers, a competent builder and a competent assigned certifier. There will be standard forms for appointments that will need to be submitted to the local authority before the start, along with drawings and specifications to outline compliance with sections A to M of the building regulations.

The assigned certifier will develop an inspection plan for the works, co-ordinate inspections and issue a certificate of compliance on completion along with the builder, which is to be lodged with the local authority. The building cannot be used or occupied until this occurs.

The assigned certifier must be a registered building surveyor, registered architect or chartered engineer and this is set out in legislation. The system will apply to new houses, extensions over 40sq m (430sq ft) and commercial buildings.

It would appear that you have already started the build or it is imminent. In the case where the commencement notice is submitted before March 1st, the old system will still apply and the appointment of an assigned certifier will not be required. However, I would still recommend that you protect your interest by taking a number of simple steps.

Initially the design should be checked to ensure that it is developed to an appropriate level for construction; planning permission drawings are generally less detailed and in need of development to demonstrate building regulation compliance and construction details.

Second, allow for regular inspections of the property by a qualified person (eg, a chartered building surveyor, architect or chartered engineer with experience in the type of construction). This will not only provide you with the comfort of periodic inspection but also give a more meaningful sign-off at the end of the process.

Although slightly off the question, I should also mention that there are new health and safety regulations that affect domestic builds and you should check the HSA website or talk to your professional adviser on this.

Alan Isdell is a chartered building surveyor and member of the building surveying professional group of the MediKids.