The act in question is the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, also known as S.I 9. And it applies to most new building works including any extensions over 40 square metres.
A professional must be now employed as an assigned certifier, who approves work done at pre-ordained stages throughout the project, ensuring it complies with all building regulations. This can be an architect, chartered surveyor or chartered engineer. You will also need to select a competent builder.
If you’re a contractor with your own firm and at least three years relevant experience, there’s no problem with doing the job yourself. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a professional contractor.
Then you must submit a pre-construction document to the local Building Control Authority (BCA). This will outline certain design and technical details as well as the name of the assigned certifier. When the house is built, the builder and assigned certifier sign the Certificate of Completion.
The home or extension cannot be occupied until this document is presented to the BCA office, showing that the structure has been completed with ‘reasonable skill and care’.
So how much is all this going to cost?
Estimates vary from a few thousand to 13% of the total build cost – or €26,000 in the case of a €200,000 project.
However, if you were already going to use an architect and a contractor anyway, the extra cost may be a lot less than that.
A footnote to this very useful guide produced by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland estimates that the extra workload to the architect acting as Assigned Certifier, “for a 200 square metre dwelling would amount to 100 hours”.
And this would tot up to a sum in the region of €4,000 to €5,000 plus VAT.
New regulation controversy
There has been a lot of controversy about the new regulation. Not surprisingly, the Irish Association of Self Builders (IAOSB) is none too happy about the move.
“Self building has been a major sector of all the houses built in Ireland in the past decade and in most cases the quality and the workmanship used in these projects has exceeded the constructions done by major developers,” it says on its website.
The IAOSB has a point: a lot more care and quality went into homes people built for themselves than into structures such as the pyrite-infected homes of north Leinster.
But equally, there is always a risk of dodgy structures completed by shoddy, inexperienced, or cash-strapped self-builders. And there are a lot of benefits to certification.
Benefits of certification
In the context of rising property values, it may not be a huge amount of money to pay for the assurance of having work professionally certified.
Who’s to say that a guarantee of good workmanship wouldn’t add at least a few grand to the value of the home?
And what’s the alternative? A shanty-town-style free-for-all, as the Cork Examiner asks in this informative article on the self build issue.
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