Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal
Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal

Building Regulations — Know Your Obligations!

Mary Liz Mahony, Associate, Construction & Engineering, Arthur Cox

The New Certificates — The Regulations introduce three new types of mandatory certificates, in prescribed form, as follows – (a) Certificate of Compliance (Design) (the “Design Certificate”); (b) Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by Assigned Certifier)/Certificate of Compliance (Undertaking by Builder) (together, the “Undertakings”); and (c) Certificate of Compliance on Completion (the “Completion Certificate”).

While each of these certificates are pivotal to successfully complying with the Regulations, there is much more to these certificates than initially meets the eye. An understanding of the Regulations is necessary for all parties involved in the construction project (from start to finish) as even if a party does not intend adding their name to these “main” certificates, all parties will have a role in ensuring that the certificates can be signed, and that the works can be opened, occupied and used at the end of a project, without delay. Here are some additional hints to appoint best home builder. Well website here can guide you more about for buying a granny flat.

The New Roles

The Design Certifier/Ancillary Certifiers (Design) — Prior to the works commencing, the design of the works must be certified as complying with Building Regulations by the execution of the Design Certificate by the “Design Certifier” who must be a chartered engineer, registered architect or building surveyor. In general, it would be expected that the lead designer would take this role. The Design Certificate essentially confirms that the design is in accordance with Building Regulations. For the purposes of providing this certificate, the certificate expressly states that the Design Certifier is relying on “ancillary certificates”.

The reference to “ancillary certificates” is notable, and reflects the fact that, owing to the different design disciplines that may have input into the overall design of a building, one building designer could not stand over the entire design without relying on others. While details in respect of the role of the ancillary certifier are absent from the main body of the Regulations, further guidance is contained in the Code of Practice published by the Department of the Environment which complements the Regulations.

The Code of Practice states that a designer should, where required, provide an ancillary certificate to the Design Certifier. This could encompass any person (or company) involved in even a small aspect of design work. Recognising this fact, the Code of Practice states that while an Ancillary Certifer must be “competent”, it could include many roles such as designers of piling, mechanical/electrical work, soil and waste pipework and designers of precast concrete elements.

The Assigned Certifier — The building owner must also appoint an Assigned Certifier who must also be a chartered engineer, registered architect or building surveyor. It will be the responsibility of the Assigned Certifier to monitor and inspect the works  for compliance with Building Regulations and the Assigned Certifier will formally undertake to execute Part B of the Completion Certificate to say that this has been done.

The role of Assigned Certifier is significant and the Assigned Certifier is involved in the project from the very beginning. For example, the Assigned Certifier will need to prepare a preliminary inspection plan for submission with the Commencement Notice. Part B of the Completion Certificate requires confirmation that the inspection plan has been undertaken “by the under-signed having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, and by others nominated therein, as appropriate, on the basis that all have  exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence in certifying their work in the ancillary certificates scheduled”.

Again, there is a clear reference to reliance on ancillary certificates and many parties involved in the works (including for example, subcontractors, testers and installers) may be called upon by the Assigned Certifier to play a role in monitoring and inspecting elements of the works, and providing an ancillary certificate to that effect.

The Builder  — The builder will also be required to provide an undertaking, submitted with the Commencement Notice, identifying the works which he has been commissioned to undertake and confirming his own competence and those employed and engaged by him, to undertake such works. Further, the builder must also undertake to cooperate with the inspections set out in the inspection plan prepared by the Assigned Certifier.

At the end of the project, the builder must also execute Part A of the Completion Certificate certifying that, having exercised reasonable skill, care and diligence, the works as completed have been constructed in accordance with the design documents submitted and reliant on this, the works are in compliance with Building Regulations. Many builders prefer to make plan for getting complete idea of project or construction. You should check this page for knowing the benefits of granny flat floor plans. You can navigate here to know why people prefer granny flats.

In executing his part of the Completion Certificate – and depending on the project – the builder is unlikely to be able to stand over all aspects of the construction process and the Code of Practice sets out examples of ancillary certifiers who might be appointed by the builder. For example, a builder is likely to require certificates from parties such as subcontractors, installers, testers, suppliers and manufacturers.

Completion — The Regulations state that works or buildings cannot be “opened, occupied or used” until the relevant particulars of the Completion Certificate are entered on the statutory register to be kept by the Building Control Authority. As such, parties will need to be aware from the outset what will be required of them during the works so there is no delay in handing over certificates and submitting the Completion Certificate. It is likely that there will be strict contractual provisions dealing with this to minimise the risk of significant delays.

Insurance Implications — Providing any form of certificate – whether it is the Design Certificate or an ancillary certificate standing over a very small element of the design – will undoubtedly have knock-on effects on the requirements to have professional indemnity insurance. Parties should speak to their insurance advisors before issuing any form of certificate, all parts must have a Contractor Cover. While the Design Certificate and the Completion Certificate are in prescribed form and cannot be amended, it is not clear what an ancillary certificate might contain. However, it is to be expected that anyone signing a “main” certificate will require that the ancillary certificates sitting beneath them will be on “back-to-back” terms.

Conclusion — The entire purpose of the Regulations is to ensure that future buildings comply with Building Regulations. Those intending to act as certifiers (including ancillary certifiers) or builders must consider how these roles need to be carried out to ensure a smooth design and construction process that is flexible enough to adapt to changes during the life of a project, but one that follows the Code of Practice and allows the Completion Certificate to be signed in confidence.

Regardless of the role taken, parties need to ensure that they understand the obligations arising out of the Regulations. Above all, a party should never sign any form of certificate that they cannot stand over. ■

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