Building Control (BCAR)

Outline of new system
The new system implements a provision in the parent Act of 1990 (Sec 6 (2)) and now introduces a system of mandatory certificates of compliance at various stages in a construction process. The Building Owner will be required to appoint competent Designers; a competent Builder and a new entity known as the Assigned Certifier. There will be mandatory Certificates of Compliance (Design), lodgment with the Building Control Authority of plans, calculations, specifications and particulars to outline compliance, an inspection plan and, critically, a Certificate of Compliance on Completion signed by the Builder and the Assigned Certifier confirming compliance. There are statutory forms for these new certificates and therefore a standard wording which cannot be deviated from.

The Assigned Certifier and the Builder are central to the process and will co-ordinate Ancillary Certificates by all relevant parties. While the Builder is still responsible for supervision of the works, the Assigned Certifier is responsible for implementation of an inspection plan. This inspection plan will outline the nature, frequency and intensity of inspections, coordinating inputs from other project providers and ensuring that inspections and tests are carried out. There is inter-reliance by all involved in the project using a formal system of Ancillary Certificates.

The provisions will apply to new dwellings (houses and apartments), extensions to dwellings over 40m2 and works where a Fire Safety Certificate is required.

It is worth noting that there is an increased emphasis on the Building Owner making formal appointments in statutory forms set out in the regulations.

Persons signing the Certificate of Compliance (Design) for submission with the commencement notice and those appointed and signing off as Assigned Certifiers must be a person named on a register maintained pursuant to part 3 or 5 of the Building Control Act 2007 (i.e. Registered Architects or Registered Building Surveyors) or section 7 of the Institution Civil Engineers Ireland (Chartered Amendment) Act 1969.

At the completion of the building project, the building or works cannot opened, used or occupied until the Certificate of Compliance on Completion is validated by the Building Control Authority and placed on a register. This process will involve additional submissions to the Building Control Authority outlining any changes from the information submitted at commencement along with sign off by the Builder and Assigned certifier.

The Building Control Authority

The regulations do not apply any additional responsibility on Building Control Authorities to vet compliance of documentation or carry out inspections, but of course these provisions are already in legislation and can be used at the discretion of the Authority. There will however be an additional administrative burden. The main vehicle for discharge of this function will be the Building Control Management System which is an IT system hosted by the Local Government Management Agency.

The code of practice

The regulations reference a ‘Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Building or Works’. Compliance with this code will provide prima facie evidence of compliance with the regulations.

Is this new system a system of self-certification? Perhaps it’s easier to say what it is not. The system is not certification by the Building Control Authority. The Builder will be certifying his element of the works. The Assigned Certifier could be a member of the design team or a separate entity. What is clear is that this role is an additional role to that traditionally carried out by those issuing opinions of compliance under the previous system.. These design team inspection will allow the ancillary certification to be issued. The Assigned Certifier will also have to set out their inspection regime, which will ultimately lead to the completion certificate and entering the building on the register. This is required before the building is occupied, opened or used.

Will there be a cost implication for the client/ building owner? Yes. There will be additional resources required by design team members in inspection and sign off of their elements, both at design and construction stage. The Assigned Certifier and inspection regime will need to be resourced. The Builder will be required to resource his element in relation to supervision, provision of tests, certification, cooperation with inspection notification framework and provision of ancillary certification acceptable to the Assigned Certifier.

Will there be programme implications? Yes. While phased or ‘fast track’ projects are recognised there will still be a need for preparation of documentation for submission of a commencement notice. Similarly, submissions at the completion certificate stage will need to be factored in and an allowance made for Building Control Authority validation.

Will the requirements affect building contracts? Yes. Provisions will need to be built into contracts to ensure builders comply with their requirements under the regulations including cooperation with the Assigned Certifier and provision of acceptable ancillary certificates.

Who can sign the statutory certificates? It is a requirement that the Certificates of Compliance (Design) at commencement stage and part b of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion are only signed by registered Architects, Building Surveyors (part 3 or 5 of the Building Control Act 2007) or Chartered Engineers as section 7 of the Institution Civil Engineers Ireland (Chartered Amendment) Act 1969

Will submitted documentation be available to the public? The explanation note to the regulations states that the documentation held by Building Control Authority will be accessible to anyone who acquires an interest in the building.