The building control regulations are a complex set of rules governing how we build in Ireland. CIF Director for Housing Hubert Fitzpatrick answers some of the most common questions about the regulations.

  1. What are the Building Control Regulations?

The Building Control Regulations apply to new buildings, extensions, material alterations and changes of use of buildings. They promote observance of the Building Regulations by supplementing powers of inspection and enforcement given to Building Control Authorities. The Building Control Regulations regulate:

  1. Commencement Notices and 7 Day Notices
  2. Fire Safety Certificates, Revised Fire Safety Certificates and Regularisation Certificates
  3. Disability Access Certificates and Revised Disability Access Certificates
  4. Maintenance of Registers
  5. Fees
  6. Statutory registration of building control activity

Failure to submit a Commencement Notice is an offence and will have serious consequences which cannot be regularised at a later date. Owners may have difficulties in selling their property if they cannot prove that the statutory requirements relevant to the property have been met.

  1. What is a Commencement Notice?

A Commencement Notice is a notification to a Building Control Authority that a person intends to carry out either works or a Material Change of Use to which the Building Regulations apply. The notice must be given to the authority not more than 28 days and not less than 14 days before the commencement of works or the change of use. Once validated by the building control authority, works must commence on site within the 28 day period.

  1. Do all developments require a Commencement Notice?

Commencement Notices are required for the following:

  1. The erection of a building
  2. A material alteration of a building
  3. An extension to a building
  4. A material change of use of a building
  5. Works in connection with the material alteration (excluding minor works) of a shop, office or industrial building where a Fire Safety Certificate is not required

A Commencement Notice is not required for:

  1. Works or a change of use which requires neither planning permission, nor a Fire Safety Certificate
  1. What happened on March 1st 2014?

On the 1st March 2014, new regulations (S.I. 9 of 2014) relating to the commencement and certification of construction works came into effect. For certain building works, the new regulations require that certificates of compliance and other documents must be submitted with the Commencement Notice. The additional requirements also include:

  1. The nomination of a competent ‘Assigned Certifier’ to inspect and certify the works
  2. The assignment of a competent builder to carry out the works
  3. The submission of Certificates of Compliance on completion
  1. Do the additional requirements apply to all Commencement Notices?

No. The additional requirements only apply to the following works:

  1. Construction of a dwelling house
  2. Extension of a dwelling house by more than 40 square meters
  3. Works which require a Fire Safety Certificate
  1. What additional documents must an Owner submit with the Commencement Notice?

Any Commencement Notice submitted after the 1st March 2014, which come within the scope of S.I. 9 of 2014 must fill out an online assessment of the proposed approach to compliance with the Building Regulations and be accompanied by the following:

  1. Certificate of Compliance (Design)
  2. Notice of Assignment of Person to Inspect and Certify Works (Assigned Certifier)
  3. Undertaking by Assigned Certifier
  4. Notice of Assignment of Builder
  5. Undertaking by builder
  6. General arrangement drawings for building control purposes – plans, sections and elevations
  7. A schedule of design documents currently prepared or to be prepared at a later date
  8. The preliminary inspection plan
  9. Any other documents deemed appropriate by the Assigned Certifier
  1. What happens if work is not started within thestatutory notice period of the Commencement Notice?

If the works do not start within 28 days of the date of lodgement of the Commencement Notice, a new Commencement Notice must be submitted prior to the commencement of any works taking place.

  1. What happens if a Commencement Notice is not submitted?

Failure to submit a Commencement Notice when required is an offence. If works commence or a change of use takes place in the absence of a Commencement Notice, there is no provision to retrospectively submit a Commencement Notice.  For works subject to S.I. 9 of 2014, it will not be possible to submit a Certificate of Compliance on Completion, and the building will not be recorded on the public register. This will affect the owner’s ability to use, occupy or sell the building as it is an offence to use or occupy a new building where a Certificate of Compliance on Completion has not been registered by the Building Control Authority.

  1. Who can act as an Assigned Certifier?

An Assigned Certifier must be:

  1. An Architect named on a register maintained pursuant to Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007, or
  2. A Surveyor named on a register maintained pursuant to Part 5 of the Building Control Act 2007, or
  3. An Engineer named on a register maintained pursuant to Section 7 of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969
  1. How can an owner appoint a competent builder?

A competent person may generally be regarded as a person who possesses sufficient training, experience, and knowledge to enable them to undertake the project tasks they are required to perform having regard to the nature of the project and its scale and complexity.
Competence can be verified, for instance, by reference to involvement on previous similar projects. One way of choosing a competent builder is to select a builder included on the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI). Further details may be found on www.ciri.ie

  1. Who is responsible for compliance with the Building Control Regulations?

The owner of the building, the designer who designs the works, and the builder who carries out the works are responsible, under law, for compliance with Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations.

  1. Can a Commencement Notice be submitted online?

Yes, a new national Building Control Management System (BCMS) is now in place.  Plans, specifications, particulars, and the preliminary inspection plan can be uploaded to the BCMS. In addition, the online assessment of the proposed approach to compliance with the Building Regulations is also done through the BCMS.  The BCMS will allow building owners nominate an Assigned Certifier, and a Builder for the development works. The BCMS will also allow the Owner, Assigned Certifier, and the Builder to fill out the required Notices and Certificates online. Each party must be registered with the BCMS to fill in or sign their respective parts.
13. What is the Fee for a Commencement Notice?
The fee for a Commencement Notice is €30, or where the Commencement Notice relates to multiple buildings, €30 in respect of each building.  Additional charges will be imposed by the Building Control Authority for commencement notices which are not submitted online via the Building Control Management System.

  1. What is a 7 Day Notice?

A 7 day notice is similar to a Commencement Notice and may be used for works, which require a Fire Safety Certificate, when the works need to start before the Certificate is granted. It must be accompanied by a valid Fire Safety Certificate application and a Statutory Declaration. After the 1st March 2014, the additional requirements which apply to Commencement Notices will also apply to 7 Day Notices. The fee for a 7-Day Notice is €250 or €5.80 per square metre of applicable floor area (whichever is the greater).

  1. What is a Certificate of Compliance on Completion?

For work coming within the scope of S.I. 9 of 2014, a Certificate of Compliance on Completion must be lodged with the Building Control Authority and placed on the public register before the building may be opened, occupied or used. The Certificate must be signed by the Assigned Certifier and the Builder. It certifies that the building or works have been carried out in accordance with the Building Regulations.

  1. What happens if the Builder or Assigned Certifier changes during the construction works?

The owner of the building must notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days of such changes and must submit new Notices of Assignment and undertakings. Failure to do so is an offence.

  1. What happens if ownership of the building, development or works changes during construction?

Under the new Regulations, the new owner of the building must notify the Building Control Authority within 14 days, in writing. Failure to do so is an offence.

  1. What Ancillary Certificates are required by the Building Control Authority?

No additional Ancillary Certificates are strictly required for submission to the Building Control Authority on completion of the works. However, the Assigned Certifier and the Builder may require Ancillary Assigned Certifiers and Ancillary sub-contractors to sign Ancillary Certificates in respect of the specific works undertaken by them. These Ancillary certificates should follow the Practice Note agreed between the professional bodies (RIAI, ACEI, Engineers Ireland and SCSI) and the industry (CIF) in December 2014. Reference to these ancillary certificates can then be included in the Annex to the statutory Certificate of Compliance on Completion to be submitted to the Building Control Authority on completion of the project. The Building Control authority may seek copies of these Ancillary Certificates prior to registration of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion.

  1. Certificates for Other Design Work:
  • When design work is undertaken by a party appointed by the Contractor/ Builder, and that party does not subsequently undertake the related construction work, then that party should sign one of the Certificates prepared by the Professional Bodies.
  • When design work is undertaken by a sub-contractor who subsequently undertakes the related construction work, the CIF Ancillary Certificates CIF 01 or CIF 02 certificates shall be completed by the relevant sub- contractor.
  1. Materials and Workmanship:

Technical Guidance Document D relates to materials and workmanship. Materials used on site must comply with the Construction Products Regulations and be fit for purpose. In this respect, Assigned Certifiers may seek Declaration of Performances (DOPs) from builders/ sub-contractors for the relevant materials used on the project. These DOPs should have been received from the supplier of the material when being ordered/ delivered to the construction site. Builders are advised that they should seek Declarations of Performances for products and materials purchased to ensure that products and materials purchased are fit for purpose.

  1. Opt Out Facility:

Under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2015, the owner of works involving the construction of a single dwelling, on a single unit development, or of a domestic extension, has the facility to opt out of the requirement to obtain statutory certificates of compliance signed by a registered construction professional. An owner availing of this facility must, when submitting Commencement Notice, sign and submit the new form of “Declaration of the Intention to Opt out of Statutory Certification”. Prior to deciding on whether or not to avail of the opt-out option, the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government recommends that a homeowner should consult their solicitor. Owners must fully understand their personal liability in relation to the project and their duty of care to others who may be affected by their actions at a later date. The homeowner, who avails of the opt-out option, is no longer required to provide the following compliance documentation:

  • The preliminary Inspection Plan;
  • A Certificate of Compliance (Design);
  • Notice of assignment of Person to Inspect and Certify Works;
  • A Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking By Assigned Certifier);
  • A Certificate of Compliance ( Undertaking By Builder); and
  • A Certificate of Compliance on Completion, and accompanying documents.

Notwithstanding an owner’s decision to ‘Opt-Out’ of his obligations to appoint construction professionals, he is still legally obliged to comply with the building regulations and has duty of care to future users of the building. Availing of the ‘Opt-Out’ provisions could affect future saleability of buildings and insurance related issues.
Members can contact the Federation for further advices in relation to operation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
Note: This guidance provides general advice. It is not a legal interpretation of Building Control Regulations and should not be considered as such. Further guidance can be sought by contacting your technical advisor or your local Building Control Authority.