Day 3 of Self Builders Week;draw-downs & banks – this one is for architects

So it’s day 3 of Self-Builders blogging week (remember I made it up and it’s just a week of self-building blog posts).

This one is directed at architects and would love to hear your experiences.

Just to clarify that I’ve been a self-builder (a difficult one at that) and now I’m on the other side of the fence as an architect. This blog post is concerned with the certification and draw-downs required to finance a self-build project.

Now the architect’s job (as far as I understood) is to inspect and certify the work that is completed in accordance with the planning permission and building regulations (as far as the bank is concerned). With a main contractor this is straightforward and that when the work is done, the architect pops along, checks everything and then certifies accordingly (with two certificates normally; one for the client to pay the contractor and the other to draw-down the money from the bank).

The current problem in Ireland is that building suppliers and sub-contractors are giving little or no credit; payment for the materials is at the time of order and the sub-contractors need their money pretty much in advance or immediately. How therefore does the self-builder pay for the materials without the money in advance of building? And how does the self-builder pay everyone without the money from the bank and without the architect’s certificate for the draw-down.

The answer is very difficultly. It’s a Catch-22 situation:

You can’t get the materials without the money and

You can’t get the money without the certificate

This puts the architect in a very difficult situation and currently the only way around this to keep the project moving is for the architect to be certifying work in advance of completion – not a great scenario and a dangerous situation for the architect to be placed in.

What makes this situation worse is that the banks are compliant in this; local bank managers are encouraging architects to keep projects moving as they are effectively separate from the banking decisions made in Dublin.

If you’re an architect I’d love to hear what you think, and whether you have experienced the same…

5 thoughts on “Day 3 of Self Builders Week;draw-downs & banks – this one is for architects

  1. Yes I am in the situation as well with a few clients. It’s not to bad if they have a bit of savings before they start. But if they have no savings it is near impossible to keep the build going. The banks I find also like to hold things up.
    Like on a 4th Payment cert they wanted another copy of my indemity insurance even though they got a new one with the 3rd Cert not too long ago.
    A delay of two weeks.
    Also I find some clients ignor my detailing (like avoiding coldbridging). Self builders often go with the ‘we allways done it this way’ trades men.

    1. One solution is to change completely the wording on the bank certificate. I do this anyway as a matter of course but I think the wording has to significantly change especially now with requests to verify that the project is in compliance with the Bill of Quantities which has nothing to do with me!

      More to follow on cold bridge & insulation detailing wrt self building…

  2. I’m not an Architect, I’m a Technologist and run my own (small) practice, but here’s my two penneth…. 🙂

    Certifying works in advance is clearly a bad position to be in. Technically it’s fraudulant and therefore you’re risking your PI and your status with ARB/RIBA/CIAT, not to mention everything else….

    However, like you rightly say, unless you’re prepared to put yourself in that position, the project will come to a standstill, and, outrageously, local managers are actively encouraging the practice!

    The solution has to come from the banks, if they want the projects moving, which they clearly do, then they have to be the ones to take some of the risk, it’s plain rude to keep forcing Architects and the like into a position whereby it could be game over if it all goes wrong….

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