Building Regulations

Building regulations

Building regulations apply to every building in Ireland.

Why choose Declan Noonan & Associates?
Declan Noonan & Associates have years of experience in all aspects of the construction industry from designing houses to providing engineering services; from surveying to percolation tests; from project managing to building. We are skilled in the practical workings of Building Regulations. Work with us to ensure that you are fully compliant with Building Regulations at all stages of your build. Our services are tailor made to your needs and priced accordingly. Contact us to discuss your case further.

What are Building Regulations?
The primary purpose of the Building Regulations is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of people in and around buildings. In general, the Building Regulations apply to the construction of new buildings and to extensions and material alterations to existing buildings and to certain changes of use of existing buildings. These Regulations apply to all types of construction. Building Regulations are set out by the government to ensure that every build in Ireland is to a minimum standard that has to be complied to. Standards are set out to protect work environments and the quality of goods.

The responsibility of compliance of Building Regulation rests with the designers, contractors and home owners. The Building Control Authority have the power to check and inspect any building and it’s documentation and if not in order they also have the power to prosecute with a possibility of penalties including fines and imprisonment

New building control legislation was introduced following high profile cases in Ireland dealing with building control issues ranging from defective materials, such as pyrite damage, to certification problems, together with complications such as contractor insolvency issues. These cases have highlighted the need for a more robust building control regime in Ireland. The new legislation will be an important element in the pursuit of an improved culture of building control. There are various aspects which will have a direct impact on professionals, such as engineers, architects and relevant members of the professional design team, together with owners, builders and building control authorities. The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (the “Regulations”) are to be read in conjunction with existing legislation, and bring significant changes to the building control regime in Ireland.

While the primary responsibility for compliance with the building regulations rests with designers, builders and building owners, building control authorities have powers to inspect design documentation and buildings as well as powers of enforcement and prosecution where breaches of the regulations occur. There are heavy penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for breaches of the regulations. In addition, you may find that when it comes to selling your property, you will have difficulties if you cannot satisfy the purchasers’ solicitor that the requirements of the regulations have been met.

Therefore, it is essential to engage the services of the professionals, to ensure that your build is fully compliant. Put our skills, expertise and experience to work for you and make sure you get value for money. Contact Declan Noonan & Associates for more information.

Changes to Building Control Regulations 

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (the “Regulations”) are to be read in conjunction with existing legislation, and will bring significant changes to the building control regime in Ireland.

New Features

The Regulations provides for:

1.     New commencement notice requirements

2.     Three new certificates of compliance

3.     New roles for assigned certifiers

4.     New penalties

5.     New forms for appointment (“notices of assignment”) of assigned certifiers

New commencement notice requirements

A new form of commencement notice is to be submitted by the owner to its local building control authority noting project particulars and builder/designer details, together with the following documents:

  • Plans and documentation to show how the proposed works or building complies with the requirements of the Regulations;
  • A certificate of compliance (design);
  • A notice of assignment of an assigned certifier who will inspect and certify the works;
  • A notice of assignment in respect of a builder who will carry out the works;
  • A certificate of compliance signed by the assigned certifier undertaking to carry out their roles in accordance with the requirements of the Regulations;
  • A certificate of compliance signed by the builder undertaking to carry out their roles in accordance with the requirements of the Regulations.

Certificates of compliance (design): What’s new?
The Regulations highlight the role of architects, engineers, building surveyors and builders vis-a-vis the certificates of compliance as part of the overall building control regulatory regime.

A certificate of compliance (design) will now need to be completed by a professional designer such as a chartered engineer or a registered architect acknowledging that they have been commissioned by the owner to design, in conjunction with others, the works noted and to certify such design. They are to confirm that they will be competent to carry out the design and to co-ordinate the design of others in compliance with the Regulations.

The Regulations impose a duty of skill and care that the design has been prepared exercising reasonable skill, care and diligence.

Assigned certifiers
An assigned certifier (a professional such as a chartered engineer, building surveyor or registered architect), will be appointed by the owner from a register, using the statutory form of appointment in the Regulations called a notice of assignment of an assigned certifier. The assigned certifier will inspect and certify the works.

The assigned certifier signs the certificate of compliance agreeing to carry out their inspection activities in accordance with the Regulations. They will inspect and certify the building works at key stages during construction and, in practice, the assigned certifier will be monitoring the works.

Certificate of compliance on completion
On completion of the project, the assigned certifier and the builder will each certify on different parts of the certificate of compliance that a finished building complies with the requirements of the Regulations

These mandatory certificates of compliance are intended by the Irish legislature to be “clear, unambiguous statements on statutory forms stating that each of the key parties to a project certifies that the works comply with the building regulations and they accept legal responsibility for their work”.

Register of building control activities
Building control authorities will be required to enter on a statutory register of building control activities, details of certificates of compliance on completion and certifier details.

The certificates of compliance must be included on the register before works or buildings to which these Regulations apply can be opened, occupied or used.

The documentation will be accessible for inspection at the offices of the building control authority.

Building authority roles
It is intended that building control authorities will concentrate on applying a risk-based approach to inspection and compliance checking, having regard to the information that must now be lodged prior to commencement of building works, along with their evolving experience of industry activity within their functional area.  The Minister for the Environment,Community and Local Government has noted the intention that local authorities are working towards a unified system of building control including electronic administration of these building control documents.

Responsibilities for owners of public and private sector property
Owners should be made aware that they will need to appoint the designer, builder and assigned certifier in accordance with the mandatory regime.

In addition, owners will need to be made aware of their obligation to notify the building control authority of any changes of ownership of the works or of the persons assigned as builder or as assigned certifier and to provide appropriate forms in respect of the new assignees.

Failure to do this, as well as being an offence in itself, could delay or inhibit inclusion of details of the final certificate on the statutory register.

Professionals such as chartered engineers and registered architects certifying under the Regulations and owners in respect of their property insurances will need to see that they are adequately covered in light of new obligations under the Regulations. The Minister has recognised the challenges of the new regime and is undertaking a review of construction project related insurance before the Regulations commence.

Stakeholders, including insurers and professional bodies have also raised concerns as to the availability of professional indemnity insurances for the new regime. They have suggested that further consultation will be required to develop and agree these issues.

If anyone signs one of the statutory certificates under the Regulations which subsequently prove to be non-compliant, they can be held liable for the consequences.  It is the intention behind the Regulations that greater onus will now be placed on professionals to provide owners/end-users with a more comprehensive service and failure to do so will incur the risk of exposure to liability.

Failure to comply with the Regulations will also lead to fines and/or imprisonment.

Practical issues
Concerns are also raised on practical issues, such as the issue of certification and where one professional is fixed with the responsibility for certifying and the relationship with other design professional team members comes into play.

There will be a Code of Practice providing information on defined standards of inspection and certifying building works in order to foster compliance in the sector.

Compliance with the Regulations is likely to potentially increase the cost of completing projects in both the public and private sector (which has been acknowledged by the Irish legislature). More importantly, it is also likely to have implications, including those of a cost nature, in obtaining and maintaining insurance cover once implemented.

The Regulations were published following a period of stakeholder consultation and their increased focus on care and safety in the construction industry and the desire to strengthen the building control system can be seen as a positive.

However, professional industry bodies have indicated concerns that the certification process will impose challenging responsibilities on and potential additional liabilities for designer certifiers. Further development on the professional indemnity insurance implications and bedding down of the new requirements also needs to occur.

It will be interesting to see how these new issues in the building control regime in Ireland will take shape in the public and private sector and how stakeholders ranging from building control authorities to owners, builders and designers will respond to the challenges ahead.

Building Standards – Past Legislation

Click here to view: Building Control Act 1990
Building Control Act 2007

The Building Control Act 2007 passed both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed by the President on 21 April 2007. Please find the link to the text of the passed Act in the Publications box on the right.

The building control system is centered on the parent Act, the Building Control Act, 1990, which falls into 3 principal categories.

  • Provides for the making Building Regulations -deals with issues such as building standards, workmanship, conservation of fuel and energy and access for people with disabilities.
  • Provides for making of Building Control Regulations – Commencement Notices, Fire Safety Certificates and Fees- Administration by Building Control Authorities.
  • Gives powers of enforcement and inspection.

The Act, which comprises 7 Parts and 73 Sections, was signed by the President on 21 April, 2007.

In summary, The Act provides for the following.

1. Strengthening of Enforcement Powers of Local Building Control Authorities,

  • The Act amends the Building Control Act 1990 by introducing revised procedures for issue of Fire Safety Certificate by local Building Control Authority. It also introduces a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) to be issued by local Building Control Authorities for new Non-Domestic Buildings and Apartments.
  • The Act widens the right of building control authorities to seek an Order from the High Court or the Circuit Court to stop work on certain buildings. It introduces the option for authorities to bring summary prosecutions for all building code offences in the District Court and it also increases the maximum penalties for breaches of the national Building Regulations.

2. Registration of titles of certain Building Professions.

  • The Act provides for registration of the titles of “Architect”, “Quantity Surveyor” and “ Building Surveyor”. The registration scheme will be administered by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors.

3. Legal Transposition of relevant parts of EU Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC of September 2005).

  • The Act takes account of the adopted  EU Directive 2005/36/EC of 7 September 2005 on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications.

Click here to view Building Control Act 2007

Building Control Regulations 1997 – 2013
This applies to new buildings, extensions, material alterations and changes of use of buildings. Their purpose is to promote observance of the Regulations by supplementing the basic powers of inspection and enforcement given to Building Control Authorities by different sections of the Building Control Act, 1990.

The Building Control Regulations do so in 2 ways

  • By requiring commencement notice of works (change of use) to be lodged with a fee, and
  • Requiring a Fire Safety Certificate for most buildings, with the exception of houses and individual apartments.  The construction of an apartment block is subject to the requirement – to ensure safety of persons in the building. They also detail exemptions to the regulations -not to the technical requirements of the Building Regulations.

A Statutory Instrument (S.I.) is a form of delegated or secondary legislation. These are amendments to the Building Control Act.

Building Regulations 1997 – 2013
The primary purpose of the Building Regulations is to provide for the health, safety and welfare of people in and around buildings.  In general, the Building Regulations 1997 – 2002 apply to the construction of new buildings and to extensions and material alterations to existing buildings and to certain changes of use of existing buildings.  These Regulations apply to all types of construction.

The Building Regulations are couched in broad functional requirements, or general statements of intent of the relevant regulation.  For instance, the Regulations governing Access and Use of a building in Part M is stated as:”Adequate provision shall be made to enable people with disabilities to safely and independently access and use a building”. Technical Guidance Documents A to M give guidance on how to comply with the Regulations.  The 1991 Regulations first came into force on 1 July 1992 and were superseded by the 1997 Regulations with effect from 1 July, 1998.  They apply to new buildings, extensions and material alterations to buildings.

Certain parts of the regulations (listed A to M) apply to material change of use of a building.  The second schedule lists the various parts (A to M) and the regulations within each part. The third schedule lists the types of buildings that are exempted from the Building Regulations.

Contact Declan Noonan & Associates to ensure that your building project complies with all the relevant building regulations.