Monday 14 October 2019

Architect's clinic

Ultimate responsibility for compliance with the regulations lies with you, the owner. Stock photo
Ultimate responsibility for compliance with the regulations lies with you, the owner. Stock photo

Claire McManus

Q We have been given some family land to build our new home and would like to employ an architect for the design. We've heard that there are new Building Control Regulations but that it might be possible to opt out of these. What are the implications?

A Having your home designed by a registered architect is a great opportunity to have the accommodation and space that your family requires and allows you to plan for future needs. In 2014, new Building Control Regulations were introduced in response to building failures in the past - and this is currently a hot topic. It is possible to 'opt out', however there are implications to doing so, and these should be considered carefully before you decide to do so.

What is Statutory Instrument 9 (S.I.9) of 2014?

Statutory Instrument 9 (S.I.9) of 2014 aims to provide clear lines of responsibility, with a competent professional having overall responsibility for the design of a building and the same, or another, competent professional having overall responsibility for the inspection of the construction of the building. The builder remains responsible for the construction and supervision of the building works.

Under the regulations, an architect, engineer or building surveyor certifies that the building design complies with the building regulations (design certifier) and, along with the builder, that the building is constructed in compliance with the building regulations (assigned certifier).

Building projects are complex processes, requiring input from a broad range of people with varying skillsets. Both design and assigned certifiers collect ancillary certificates from others involved in the process - ie, other professionals such as engineers; suppliers such as quarries; tradespeople such as electricians, etc. On a typical project, the number of ancillary certs may run into the hundreds.

The regulations apply to house extensions greater than 40sqm and most other building projects.

What are the implications of the S.I.365 Opt Out?

Statutory Instrument 365 (S.I.365) was introduced in September 2015 allowing house extensions greater than 40sqm and one-off-houses to "opt out" of the regulations. While the owner can opt out under S.I.365, there are implications to doing so, and these should be considered carefully first.

Since the implementation of S.I.9, all new buildings are entered onto a Statutory Register. Should you opt out, your house will be excluded from this register. We don't know what the implications of this will be in the future. Houses that have statutory certification may be considered more valuable than those without. Insurers may consider them lower risk and provide more competitive insurance rates.

Other factors may keep your project within the S.I.9 system. For example, if you require a mortgage to build your house, S.I.9 may be required as a condition of funding.

Ultimate responsibility for compliance with the regulations lies with you, the owner, and you are obliged to appoint competent people to design, inspect and construct, and to resource the project adequately.

Appointing a registered architect is the best place to start and s/he will be able to advise you further.

And finally, the risk of building failure can never be eliminated, so latent defects insurance (LDI) should be considered for all building projects.

 

If you are considering building a home or making changes to your home, work with a registered architect; check riai.ie, the registration body for architects in Ireland.

Claire McManus is an owner and director of JFOC Architects and RIAI Spokeswoman on Housing.

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