The new 2014 Building Regulations came into operation on 1 March 2014. The Regulations apply to any development where a Commencement Notice is filed after 1 March 2014.

The Regulations apply to:

  1. the design and construction of a new dwelling;
  2. any extension to a dwelling involving a floor area of more than 40 square metres; and 
  3. works where a fire safety certificate is involved (ie virtually any type of commercial building).

Compliance with the provisions of the 2014 Regulations will be of great importance for building owners, purchasers and prospective tenants as the Regulations prohibit the opening, occupation or use of a building until a “Certificate of Compliance on Completion” has been filed and registered by the Building Control Authority. No longer will an architect simply certify to the employer that the works have been designed and constructed in substantial compliance with Building Regulations.

The principal changes introduced by the new Regulations include:

  1. There is a new form of Commencement Notice which must be filed electronically, accompanied by plans, drawings and calculations. A Certificate of Compliance (Design) must be filed to confirm that the documentation lodged complies with the Building Regulations. 
  2. A certificate must also be filed whereby: (a) the building owner appoints a builder; (b) the designer certifies the design; and (c) the builder undertakes to build in accordance with the Building Regulations. 
  3. A notice must be signed by the building owner nominating the person who is going to inspect the work and certify compliance on completion (who must be an architect, a chartered engineer or a building surveyor). An Inspection Plan must be filed setting out the program of inspections to monitor key aspects of the construction. 
  4. There is a significant provision where the building owner states that he is satisfied having regard to the Code of Practice for inspecting and certifying buildings and works that the assigned person is “competent” to inspect the building or works and to certify the works for compliance with the Building Regulations. 
  5. The architect or engineer must undertake to use reasonable skill, care and diligence to inspect the building or works and, following the implementation of the Inspection Plan, to certify on completion compliance with the Building Regulations. 
  6. The building owner must also give notice of the builder he has appointed, which includes a statement that the owner is satisfied that the builder is “competent” to undertake the works. 
  7. The builder must confirm that he is competent and will ensure that any persons employed or engaged by him will be competent, and undertake to construct the building or works in accordance with the plans, calculations, specifications etc listed in the Commencement Notice. 
  8. It would appear that the intention of the Department is that only registered builders will in future be able to undertake building works and it seems reasonable to assume that only persons with some know-how in relation to building technology and/or actual experience as a builder will be permitted to register as builders. The CIF is compiling a register at the moment which will operate on a voluntary basis with the intention that the Department will put it on a statutory footing in 2015. 
  9. When a building is completed, a two-part Certificate of Compliance on Completion must be completed – Part A by the Builder and Part B by the architect/engineer/surveyor. This certificate must be submitted to the Building Control Authority which is obliged to keep a register of such certificates. The Building Control Authority has 21 days to query the Certificate, failing which it must register it.

Planning

Opinions on Compliance with Planning Permission remain unaffected and will continue to be required in relation to planning matters.

Likely Results?

It may no longer be possible for spec builders or persons building their home by direct labour to build without an architect, engineer or building surveyor designing the structure, monitoring it and certifying compliance on completion. This should result in better buildings, albeit at an extra cost.

It seems inevitable that this might be the end of the road for self-building homes with direct labour. A building owner has to certify that the builder is competent, and provide details including the builders CIF registration number. Until such a Register is in place, it seems that an owner could nominate himself as the builder, provided that he is prepared to say that he competent to undertake the work. It is unlikely that most of the people who self-build would be able to correctly say that they were competent to undertake the works. The main contribution they might be providing would be a lot of hard labour rather than expertise in building technology and building regulations. Architects, engineers and surveyors might be less inclined to undertake the task of certifying compliance in cases where the builder has little or no experience. Doing so will clearly increase the risk and exposure for the architect, engineer or surveyor.