Lively discussion on Building Control Ammendment
May 16, 2012 at 5:00 PM
There was a capacity attendance at this briefing yesterday in the beautiful conference room at the Custom House by the Department of Environment Communities and Local Government. This event was organised by the IGBC with EASCA as part of their Green Building Users monthly gathering.
Aidan O’Connor principle Advisor Architecture/ Building Standards (download presentation here) and Martin Vaughan Assistant Principle Officer of the Department of Environment(download presentation here) made two presentations.
This was followed by an intensive but very civilised discussion given the strength of feeling on some aspects of the proposed amendment. Particularly Architects felt that there was an unfair burden of responsibility been imposed on both them, and their professional indemnity. Some clear points did come out the discussion.
The wording of the proposed certification was a real source of contention. This required the certifier usually the architect take full responsibility for compliance. This is no longer an opinion on compliance but a statement of compliance. It was suggested that it was impossible to give a definitive statement of compliance with technical guidance as these were open to interpretation and there were alternative paths to compliance. The lack of a proper building control system that could validate a particular interpretation as in the UK meant that these should only remain as opinions
There is no definition of the word ‘inspection’ Care needs to be taken that this is not confused with supervision. Architects do not supervise. This is specifically the role for the contractor who is on site every day and is the only person who can confirm that the actual construction complies.
The department admitted that there had been no consultation to date with professional indemnity providers. A number of attendees made the point that it was not possible to get professional indemnity against breach of statutory duty. In any case by making onerous requirements on insurance, many of the insurers were likely to leave the market thus increasing costs for all.
The department admitted that there had been no consultation to date with professional indemnity providers. A number of attendees made the point that it was not possible to get professional indemnity against breach of statutory duty. It was suggest that by making more onerous requirements on insurance, many of the insurers were likely to leave the market thus increasing costs for all.
If a professional person is not supervising construction then how can they certify the final product? Wording specifically puts all responsibility onto the certifier, and does not include contractor etc. The need for each discipline to sign off on their particular expertise or involvement in a project was suggested as been necessary.
The Code of practice- appears to be key to the implementation of the amendment. This has not yet been prepared. This would define what inspection meant, ie the stages of inspection, number of visits, the level of detail of inspection etc.
Some suggested the need a ‘centre of excellence’ where professionals can get a definitive interpretation of TGD compliance etc. Building inspection staff located in the various offices around the country are isolated from each other and do not benefit from peer learning and are therefore at different levels of competence. It was suggested that it would make sense for the department of Environment to take back the role, and centralise building control and second staff to the Local authorities. Alternatively this could be done by an independent institution or centre of excellence.
There was no real precedent for the system proposed in Ireland and it was suggested that the ammendment was an Irish solution to an Irish problem driven by the lack of finance rather than putting in place the best system. This appears to be the most worrying aspect of the proposal. There are costs in having a stronger building enforcement system and someone has to pay these. The proposal can be seen as a way of avoiding the issue, but many of those present believed that these costs are been imposed unfairly on the professions rather than putting the costs where they should lie ie with the beneficiary. The beneficiary of better control is the consumer and there appears to be a political unwillingness to face up to this.