Misconceptions regarding Planning, Building Regulations/Control & Priory Court

I’ve done a similar post to this already but over the last week or so I’ve been listening to the Priory Court case on Joe Duffy’s Liveline ( http://www.twitter.com/talktojoe1850 ) and thought I’d elucidate on a few misconceptions:

1. Planning Permission gives the regulations, codes or details of how a building is constructed.

False:

It’s seems to be a very common misconception (in Ireland) that your planning permission covers all the details on how your building complies with the Building Regulations.

The Planning Acts have a minimum scale of drawings (excluding site locations & layouts) of 1:200 – what possible detail could be shown at this scale? There is also no requirement to show or include any form of construction on how the building is actually constructed; the planning requirements are only concerned with the external materials of a building in terms of material and colour.

The important item to understand is that the planning permission of your building are determined by the Planning Acts whereas whether your building complies with the Building Regulations is determined by the Building Control Acts – two completely different Acts with two completely different concerns.

2. The Building Regulations just aren’t good enough

False:

The Building Regulations are fine, in fact the Irish Regulations are some of the most stringent in Europe. The problem is with the entire concept of self-regulation (more below).

3. The Architects are to blame for signing off defective work

False (and True)

If this is what happened then yes, the architects are completely responsible (and liable) for certifying defective, non-compliant work.

It would however, be interesting to know if it was actually architects that were the inspecting professionals, I’ve heard the name “architect” bandied about on the Joe Duffy program willy-nilly and as we all know, every man and his dog could (and still does) call themselves an architect with barely any professional education, training or experience.

A small story: I was asked to add a few more houses to a small housing estate in County Mayo, I duly gave my price and was told it was way too expensive;I was then duly informed that the going rate for design, construction drawings, inspection and certification for each house was €500; how on earth can you seriously inspect work (which takes many,many visits) within this price, let alone include the design,planning and construction drawings! One of the callers to Liveline had it dead right “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

4. Self-Regulation is fine in Ireland

False:

Obviously heard much less nowadays but I’ve heard this from other architects and I’ve even heard a senior member of the RIAI laugh at the suggestion of Local Authorities performing Building Control inspections (as per the UK) and this type of effective Building Control will “never happen in my lifetime”. Well, hopefully the debacle that is the Priory Hall Development will start the ball rolling for implementing an effective Building Control system that includes for the checking of Building Regulation drawings prior to development and then the continuous inspections during the build. It is only when these two things happen that Building Standards will improve and finally and actually meet Building Regulations and not create a scenario where potentially hundreds of peoples lives are put in risk. Remember also that I suspect the Priory Hall Development is just the tip of the iceberg.

Comments as always welcome…

45 thoughts on “Misconceptions regarding Planning, Building Regulations/Control & Priory Court

  1. Succinct piece. And agreed throughout.

    I’d add a couple of points: first, the problems with Priory Hall are entirely to do with shoddy construction, from what I can see. An architect doesn’t vouch that the building has been built in accordance with the regulations, s/he vouches that it’s been designed in accordance with the regulations (and that it *seems* to have been built properly). The responsibility for building a building properly is a builder’s, and yet there’s no formal system of checks to ensure they do this.

    Second, for large developments, there is frequently no architect involvement at all on-site. The builder gets an outline design done, then goes solo.

    So self-certification – which has always been a ridiculous situation – leads to a situation where a builder just says “yep, it’s been built properly,” and that’s that. And then, apparently, this is a surprise.

    1. Fully agree & well put; probably the only inspection/supervision certificate was that to draw down the money from the bank; probably done by one of the builders in-house (and paid team) and obviously the bank hasn’t the resources to sue anyone.

  2. I recollect doing a snag list for some potential purchaser of a house back in 2003 or so. Door too narrow for wheelchair, usual poor workmanship, enough sloppiness to fill 10 pages of snagging. Purchaser duly delivered report to builder. I heard later around town that he threw it back at her ” Does he ( me!) want me to build the whole f**king thing again ?, Take it or leave it !!” She bought it. And that’s the funny story. In others, stairs where you’d hit your head, roofs not strapped down, no ventilation, blocked up sewage… all to be covered under “self regulation!”

    1. Not surprising, what prompted me to blog was Liveline caller saying that the developer hadn’t built in accordance with the Planning Permission and that the door width was too narrow for wheel chair, complete misunderstanding of difference between planning and Part M Building Regs.

    2. We’ve been through this on a block of apartments whee a client was investing during the boom. A similar attitude was experienced. At the start of it, I agreed with my client that notwithstanding any arrangement he might enter into with the developer, if I found serious non-compliance issues I would be reporting them to the relevant authorities

      Naturally enough, I did find serious issues and i compiled a significant report. I tried to get the developer’s architect to address these issues over the course of several weeks. He failed to do so.

      Having investigated for more than two months after the date draft opinions were offered, when there were STILL outstanding items, I strongly advised my client not to by.

      I gave the Developers architect a final deadline to even confirm wirks would be undertaken to set matters right. He failed to comply and then I issued my Report to Building Control, Fire Prevention and the RIAI.

      My client sued the Developer for his deposit, it was settled on the steps of the court, including my fee, and that ended our involvement. I heard that later the Fire Officers descended on the place en masse for a considerable period.

      Saying “oh the builder threw it back at my client” is not, in my opinion, what you should have done or where your involvement should have ended. You should have issued a report to the local authority Building Control Officer and you should have set up your terms of reference with your client to allow you to do this.

  3. I think someone should establish the facts about the inspecting architect on Priory Hall, his terms of reference, what he certified and what snag lists were produced.

    I think it is disgraceful that matters can go so pear-shaped on a building where an architect certifies the work.

    It is quite clear that somebody dropped the ball and its the architects job to catch it.

    So why didn’t he do that? That is the question.

    ====================================

    On reason may be the systemic and continual erosion of the authority and standing of the architect, which is partly self inflicted.

    For far too long architects have hidden behind the weasel words of the RIAI / ILS Opinion of Compliance wording.

    This simply isn’t worth the paper its written on unless the architect has taken the time to set the standard and refuse to certify if its not met.

    Far too often the inspecting architect cannot bring himself to act impartially, because his financial situation is so dire he is dependent on the client for an invoice to pay his next monthly wage bill.

    So much for a race to the bottom on fees like the €500-a-house redesign referred to above.

    We have seen in recent years where this supine attitude has gotten architects, and where allowing hard-assed developers to abuse us has pushed architects.

    Architects need to step up to the mark and lay down the law to developers and builders alike, or architects will not serve the public well.

    1. Todays Irish Independent goes into detail on who the architect was and what is role was;

      * Visual inspection only on completion to certify (probably substantial) compliance with Building Regulations.

      Two obvious problems:

      1. It’s impossible to certify adequately under this premise; regular visits need to be made “at intervals s/he considers appropriate to the stage of construction to inspect the progress and quality of the work…”

      2. There’s no check on the checker; as discussed you need independent inspection (as in the UK) at key stages to ensure compliance with Building Regulations (especially regarding fire breaks) by a Building Control Officer (or similarly qualified professional)

      As reminded by several people; the compliance documents are effectively only for conveyancing purposes and are useless in actually proving compliance as we have found out at Priory Hall.

      Also, that €500 figure wasn’t a race to the bottom but a mid Celtic Tiger price !

      1. You don’t need independent inspection per se, although I’m not against it.

        You need the inspecting architect acting for the purchasers of the apartments to raise the matters arising with the competent authority.

        Opperman isn’t the first member of the institute to have difficulties like this.

        Tony Reddy & Associates had a similar situation with Shangan Hall apartments, also on a Prime Time investigation in Fire Safety in Dublin CIty – broadcast on May 22nd 2006

        If the inspecting architects had been doing THEIR jobs (assuming anyone retained an architect to inspect the apartments before purchasing) then these matters should have been referred to the Fire Officer.

        I have referred irregularities to both the Assistant City Fire Officer and the HSA – separate Projects.

        I support the principle and appropriate numbers and types of experienced and competent building professionals should be appointed to all jobs going to site – mandatorily!

      2. I cannot seem to find a reply tag on your latest response Mark so I’ll just note this here.

        The prime time programme pointed out that an “inner room” apparently a bedroom had been shown accessed “off the kitchen” in the Fire Safety Certificate Application drawings.

        The programmes stated that the Fire Safety certificate had removed that room by condition, yet the room had been built and certified by the inspecting architect.

        If all that is correct, the architect has huge questions to answer. To put it bluntly, there is no way he could have missed this room!

        Here is the link to the programme

        http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/1018/media-3084774.html

        The section describing this “Inner Room” begins at 4.38

        Robin Knox, Fire and Building Regulations Consultant was certainly able to form an opinion of the development’s Non-Compliant Status without extensive opening up works, so the myth that visual inspection was inadequate is a nonsense.

        It is perfectly adequate for a competent architect acting with integrity, but I don’t know what you call an architect who apparently cannot “see” a bedroom! The irony is that from the plans I saw, it would seem that only a little tweaking would have allowed this arangement to be made compliant.

        1. Forgot about the inner room, you’re right the architect should have spotted this and would be negligent in signing off on compliance cert when it was visible.

          Don’t forget that it may be the case that the contractor deliberately built the inner room AFTER the architect certified compliance.

          1. Mark Stephens posted

            “Forgot about the inner room, you’re right the architect should have spotted this and would be negligent in signing off on compliance cert when it was visible.”

            – No, I won’t be foregeting the inner room Mark – it is likely to become the limit test of what can and cannot be covered by the term “visual inspection only

            Mark Stephens posted

            “Don’t forget that it may be the case that the contractor deliberately built the inner room AFTER the architect certified compliance.”

            – I started by saying we need to know the exact details of the architects appointment and services provided, but I find this kind of comment is of the “clutching at straws” variety. There are three alternative scenarios.

            1. The bays housing the rooms were not built which meant the building was unfinished (!) and not ready for inspection never mind certification.

            2. The bays were built but were not enclosed. – they would have left an enormous balcony area adjoining the kitchen, that was not on the planning drawings. This would not have been exempted development.

            3. The rooms were built. They were stacked one on top of the other. Their omission would have materially altered the elevation and required a re-planning consequent on the Fire Cert Condition. This was easy to check.

            – Perhaps there is some other credible way the rooms were not built that the architect might have missed, assuming he was involved in obtaining the planning permission and fire safety certificate or had checked those documents with the built work as he was supposed to. I cannot fathom it.

  4. Back in 1991 when the first official Building Regs were brought into law, the Government made a simple calculation that it simply couldn’t/wouldn’t afford to set up a system other than self-certification.

    After that, it’s all down to what terms of reference the certifier has.

    Anticipating outright refusal by people to certify anything they hadn’t completely overseen ( for which no-one would be prepared to pay – it would require permanent onsite presence) the present Opinions on Compliance, with the required caveats were developed in conjunction with the Law Society.

    Legally, the onus is on the designer to design within the Regs and show proof of same if challenged, and on the builder to build within the Regs, and confirm same.

    Not to be disrespectful, but keeping up with the evolving Regs for a designer is difficult enough, and how anyone ever expected the Irish Builder,and everyone on his site, to have done so is a fine piece of optimism on the part of the political class of the time.

    So now we have an utterly predictable mess –

    But has anyone noticed in the above how no liability attaches to the local authority or agency of State ? By accident or design ?

    PS Any time I visually inspected and noticed gaping breaches of Regs, they’d be brought to the purchaser’s attention. Only once was a sale not proceeded with. Luckily, as the sewage system in that estate backed up under pressure… …a similar shit-storm is brewing over this Priory Hall thing.

    And after all the failures of self-regulation etc., the Government now gives out grants to self-regulating “approved” builders to carry out insulation works to houses, without any thought to what damage this causes if done incorrectly….

  5. hi mark,

    listened to a lot of the joe duffy stuff too
    i’m an architect myself – not probably a very good one – but entitled to my opinion nevertheless and i just feel (and have been saying for a number of years to my friends and colleagues) that the RIAI have realy let us their members, the public and the wider industry down with their visual inspection only certs which are simply not worth the paper they are written on. people assume got the cert all is fine but it just facillitates the conveyancing with banks and builders happy to turna blind eye to the potential pitfalls of this form of certification and the public simply ignorant of them. The RIAI are not ignoirant though and have grievously abdicated responsibility to force all and sundry to address the matter of dreadful construction standards being able to slip through the net. Now the consequences are hitting home in priory hall and no doubt in many other locations. The RIAI should in my opinion have never invented this cert in the first place but should later have instructed its members to refuse to issue them. Some solidarity amongst members would have been necessary for once but those bloody certs serve neither our nor the publics wider interest. We are usually necessary for obtaining planning for a development or estate but are kept off site when construction takes place especially by the bad builder developers who wont shell for us and don’t want us there either but we’re happy to go back in for a few handy bob signing these visual inspection only certs after. The RIAI have been so complicit in this it is just shameful. It becomes a cert which essentially relies on the builders appended word that he built it all correctly. I bet if purchasers had know that they’d have got the heeby jeebies a bit and we just let them at the mercy of the exploitative likes of coalport. Either we as architects should be much more involved in a job on site or we should simply stay out of it entirely…this half house solution for a few handy bob has just facillitated an apalling situation where the public is a sitting duck…the RIAI ought be ashamed.

    sorry bit ranty

    david mcgeown

    1. Hi David

      Absolutely!!!

      I think the cert was foisted on the RIAI by the Law Society? Either way, the RIAI should never had agreed to it.

      Thank god I never got involved with apartments (I did one developer house that was a disaster, never again!), as well as doing it’s members a dissservice the RIAI has also damaged the profession (IMHO), the first people on TV where the Chartered Society of Surveyors who will want to pitch (with my crystal ball) that they are the body to undertake any inspection role. Architects will come out of this very badly as complicit with the banks and developers.

      Again, well said

      Mark

      1. I have no uncritical loyalty to he RIAI – I am not yet registered and have faced off against several of their Members over the years – but I don’t think this is an informed discussion in relation to the cert wording.

        Architects are not the policemen of the building industry, but they do have principles to stick to when challenged.

        No, they don’t have to go around spying on errant MRIAI’s or Contractors, but when an obvious lack of compliance in the building work is allied to an equally obvious attempt at mis-certification, then the RIAI and the Building Control Authority and the Fire Officers should be copied with your findings and asked to act.

        I don’t agree that this is a deficiency in the certification. On the contrary, imagine the liability architects would be carrying around on their backs of the threatened horrible vista over Priory Hall is reflected throughout the apartments in Dublin City alone?

        Would you want to be forced to sign a Certificate that states absolute compliance over matters you couldn’t see, and over matters you couldn’t comment on even when you cannot see them? How can you tell if the correct grade of insulation was installed, even when you are looking straight at it and the depth is correct? You cannot – you rely on what’s written on the packaging or the delivery docket.

        What is important therefore is that architects issued their Opinions with integrity, and rely on a full set fo subsidiary certificates from all the building professionals, Main Controllable, Sub-Contractors and Specialist Suppliers etc on the project to be included in their Schedule A Assurances.

        A correctly used RIAI standard Certificate wording, backed up by site Record Photographs, minutes of meeting and administrative correspondence should be sufficient to offer a reasonable assurance that the work is carried out correctly.

        And where questions are raised legitimately – open up! If you’ve done your job properly, there is nothing to fear!

        But we are talking here about a project where the architect is appointed to site, not one where he wades in at the end to offer a “visual inspection only” certificate.

        There is a word of a difference in the authority you can claim with a “paddy-last” certificate and one issued by the architect who took the building to site!

  6. I agree that the regular cert works fine generally but having the other ‘visual inspection only’ one offers the opt out to bad builders and developers to just have architects come in after a job is built and say – yes it all appears to look fine, here’s your cert fo the bank, now you can complete the transaction. Problem is that this form of cert simply isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, as the priory hall owners can tell us only too well. And this option will be used precisely by the very people who need to be inspected during the course of works being built.
    I think the debate from our perspective should revolve around what the RIAI ought to propose with regard to cleaning up this form of ‘self-certification’ as Joe Duffy’s show kept referrring to it. As Mark says other such as the Chartered Society of Surveyors will be diving in to try to claim the work. Grand fair enough I don’t mind who does it really, this isn’t a case of architects wanting a greater share of the pie in work terms for themselves. Much more importantly for me is that the public deserve a proper working system with clearer responsibilities and accompanying liabilities accorded to the roles of the various parties involved in getting something built. Maybe that simply means always using the other cert where the architect is appointed through construction stage to completion, and it becomes compulsory for an architect to be retained for these stages. Or maybe local authorities can get serious about inspecting like they do in england and we don’t have to be there. Whatever the solution might be somebody should be looking over the builders shoulder on site.
    As of now everbody is washing their hands in the priory hall case and pinning it on coalport but they only acted badly because the system let them. Or at least let them get far enough dowm the road to sell all the apartments to the unsuspecting public. The local authority, the RIAI and the banks all were happy to have this form of certification which was just a ticking time bomb where the only people who will really suffer are the unsuspecting purchasers in developments such as priory hall.
    The RIAI though needs to get proactive regardless and start to offer solutions and not be seen as part of, or at least party to, this certification problem – which in my opinion they clearly have been.

  7. Nothing stopping an architect issuing a Paddy Last Certificate covering his ass by insisting that the Builder and all other sub-contractors and suppliers offer their schedule A assurances confirming that the building has been “built” in compliance.

    However even with this and the “visual inspection only” disclaimer, I fail to see how an entire room could have been missed from the inspection!

      1. Saying that perhaps the room hadn’t been built yet seems to ignore the interaction of the planning permission and fire safety certificate.

        If the room was omitted, a new planning permission was needed.

        If not, it contravened the Fire Cert.

        These are two separate but complementary bodies of law which must be in accord for the scheme to be compliant.

  8. Hi Mark
    I trained as an Architect over 30 years ago and have worked extensively both in the UK and Ireland. The UK system works very well and I believe the only reason there is not a similar system here is a cost cutting exercise by the Irish Government. I am not currently registered or practising as an Architect but am considering doing so again .I find your comments and those of David very interesting. What do you think of Minister Phil Hogan’s OPINION in the Irish Times yesterday? These are extracts from his statement.——

    ‘I will introduce .mandatory certificates confirming compliance by designers and builders with the statutory requirements of the Building regulations These mandatory certificates will mean what they say and will be signed by professionals who understand and accept their responsibilities and the liability that goes with the results of failing to meet those responsibilities’

    He also states—

    ‘In the last couple of weeks,the RIAI has painted a convenient picture of a light touch regulatory system in which the Architect has limited involvement and is even prevented by some contractors from playing a meaningful role at construction stage. This is not the case ‘

    In the first paragraph extract above,he seems to imply that the current Opinions provided by an Architect do not mean what they say.
    In the second he appears to be rejecting the RIAI viewpoint. Architects are indeed frequently limited by Developers/ contractors and also by non Developer Clients in playing a meaningful role at construction stage. Again this is usually where a Developer or other Client. is cutting costs and is willing to pay an Architect for a very limited amount of site inspections.

    The RIAI needs to give direction to its members and take a clear stance with the Minister on these issues .

    1. Many thanks,

      Great quote, “…This is not the case…”, unfortunately it is the case ! The certificates used where innspection was visual only on completion were as far as I’m concerned foisted on architects (admitedly through the RIAI) soley for the conveyancing process and have nothing (as far as I’m concerned) to do with building standards.

      The problem (as far as I’m concerned) is when the client, developer and builder are the same person with the architect paid by this trinity; what’s needed is completely independent inspection (backed up by regular architect inspections/certificates) as per the UK system.

      Also, more needs to be done by the RIAI to inform its members.

      1. No Mark,

        What is needed is the architect to be willing to walk away from his client if he tries to intimidate him into fraudulently misrepresenting the compliance of the property in sale by saying he won’t get paid. Compromise once and all is lost. Priory Hall is not the first example of incorrect certification by a Member of the Institute.

        I have faced down the biggest developers in Dublin just to get completions done on minor matters and to a man they have respected me for it, yet I see more and more evidence coming out now that RIAI members have been involved in certifying buildings that should NOT HAVE BEEN CERTIFIED!

  9. Central problem for me is anyone at all can call themselves a builder, make their own planning application, build it and then ask an architect along to do a visual inspection cert – which relies on builders appended word saying that he built all the bits i couldn’t see correctly – it’s mad. The RIAI went along with it and no-one else was interested in saying hang on a second here. It is a system practically designed to be abused by unscrupulous build it sell it cut and run merchants – and so so sadly for our country ireland has enough of them in all walks of life. But I am an architect and i want the RIAI to do their part better…much better! Be leaders please as your profession demands and not the developers lap dogs they have been.
    I am not impressed with Hogans article generally but I can see why he would dismiss the RIAI’s wasn’t us guv approach. AND i was astonished to read his assertion that priory hall had the ‘proper’ cert where architect inspected during construction….if this is true the architects are sunk end of. However i heard later whilst discussing this of a fellow architect who worked in a very large practice specialising in estates shall we say who often did the planning and no more yet signed the ‘proper-i-was-on-site-inspecting-the-works’ certs.
    Now i was simply gobsmacked…i must be so naieve…and i still can’t believe fellow architects would knowingly deliberately behave in this way…but in all other walks we have seen so many incompetent, greedy or simply bad apples emerging so why should we be any different? It again only make me think of the RIAI’s role in this and I find myself sighing and remembering who made president not so may years ago and it all becomes a little clearer.
    This one will run though and really we need some solutions in this matter and there are a few differnent ways to go about it but I’m not so sure Minister Hogan will get it right.

    1. Given the seriousness of the situation facing the profession and the fact this this is not new ground, I think it is as well that we all face known facts.

      This is the Priory Hall Report

      http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2011/1018/media-3084774.html

      Before Priory Hall there there was Shangan Hall.

      Shangan Hall Apartments was certified by Anthony Reddy & Associates in 2005.

      The building was commissioned by Dublin City Council

      Broadcast on: 22 May 2006
      Prime Time
      Presented by Rita O’Reilly

      http://www.rte.ie/news/av/2006/0522/primetime.html#page=62

      The Section on Shangan Hall starts at timestamp 38:50 – it finshes at 48:28 and I draw your attention to the section commencing at 44:14

      This link requires Realplayer

      http://europe.real.com/realplayer/

      OR

      Media Player Classic with the necessary codec.

      http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/media-player-features.html

      Tony Reddy’s comment was

      “I wasn’t personally involved in the design.”

      Tony Reddy was President of the RIAI in 2005.

      Tony Reddy is a current fellow of the RIAI.

      I have met Tony on several occasions, one of the nicest men you could meet, and his office in Dublin has done some interesting design work.

      Yet we see him mired in controversy in this Prime Time Report.

      What message do Shangan Hall and Priory Hall send to the public and the Minister?

      Here are Phil Hogan’s comments as previously reported

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1021/1224306217140.html

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/1027/1224306562565.html

      Here is a view on his comments.

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/1025/1224306445826.html

      I agree that the current regulatory situation can be improved, but this does justify architects who may have issued Opinions at variance with the facts.

  10. @ David McGeown

    The central problem is not that builder/developers can ask that of architects, but that the architect would agree to certify on that basis. Architects should have set the standard. Its appears that in come cases they may have taken the money instead of ensuring that the building the were certifying was compliant.

    Even with the “visual disclaimer” fig leaf, Priory Hall does not appear to have been compliant, solely because of the “inner room” condition. Now people are blaming the system. Its like a guy running a red light because there wasn’t a truck in the middle of the junction to stop him.

    Too many people blaming others for their own shortcomings or “light regulation”. The buck stops with the Architect!

  11. Hi Michael,

    I think i made my abhorrence of architects certifying opinions at variance with the facts quite plain. It can never ever be excused. I don’t think I have sought in my comments to blame others for the shortcomings of people who should have acted more professionally. I have questioned the RIAI’s role though in accepting the visual inspection cert which I believe is open to abuse. The kind of abuse whereby architects in priory hall could – inner room question notwithstanding – have in all probability issued these certs as proabbly all appeared visually to be fine…..but yet the building in reality is a fire hazard. Nobody – other than the builder / developer of course – does anything wrong but still the purchaser is left sucking on a lemon. It is just a form of cert with no proper form of ‘checks and balances’ and that is where i think the ‘system’ is wrong. From the point of view of joe public i think they would be shocked to learn that builders can build without anyone looking over their shoulder and still get a cert at the end – one that really means nothing though – and i would be pretty dissappointed in the architectural professions role in facilitating this. In practice its a handy few bob at the end of a job and some consolation money having missed out on the opportunity and fees that go with seeing a job through on site. The matter of architects misrepresenting themselves in opinions is a different matter in my opinion.
    Anyway….

  12. Hi David,

    I think we are both saying the same thing. 🙂

    Back in the ‘Nineties when I started certifying and the RIAI new form of words came out I initially resisted the inclusion of Main Contractors and Sub-Contractors certs in my Schedule A appendices on a matter of principle.

    I felt it was my job to certify the design was compliant according to visual inspection or limited inspection on site.

    It was the contractor and sub-contractors job to certify the built works.

    I felt that by including their cert in mine I was taking on responsibility for the built works that simply wasn’t justified by the money we were making out of it.

    After all, they got the lion’s share of the profit for the built work – many, many multiples of our fees – so they should carry the can.

    I was of the opinion that two separate booklets of certification should be issued, with the contractors certification being independently verified by Building Control.

    Nobody wanted to listen – most Building Control people weren’t interested in stepping out of their offices unless it was to go to a career-enhancing seminar or course – and so I made the best of it in the following way –

    ALL the contractors, sub-contractors and specialist suppliers had to offer their certificates for the built work before I would begin the final inspection.

    These certificates would be included in my Schedule A assurances AFTER the design team and/or specialist designers (e.g. Fire Safety Consultants) assurances.

    My file was backed up with site minutes, faxes and photographs from the appointed technical person in the office looking after the work PLUS my own site visits.

    The “visual inspection system” worked well, used in that way.

    However if the implications of the Coalport Saga hold true it has been totally abused in the decade since the end of the ‘Nineties. That suggests that in our most productive period of building in Ireland, the most egregious errors may have crept in through lax standards set by architects and no inspections by Building Control Officers.

    However one local authority where credit is due on Building Standards (whatever about other issues on which I may be at loggerheads with them) is Meath Co Co. John Sweeney is the BCO there and runs a tight and efficient ship, with an amazing 100% inspections achieved in one year (2003)!

    http://www.nda.ie/cntmgmtnew.nsf/0/D7B9326DE8BF2CBA802570CF00348A4C/$File/07_part_m.htm

    This is how it should be done, too.

    Both examples above show how compliant building standards could be set and achieved using available methods and staffing – no additional laws or new certs needed.

    Now let’s see if the RIAI and Phil Hogan can recognize this fact and not make a dog’s dinner of imposing new legislation and Opinions that may be unnecessary.After all,

  13. And in today’s Indo we see the rolling train wreck that is Priory Hall continues to gather momentum.
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/more-issues-emerge-at-controversial-development-2921357.html

    My previous posts should leave no reader in any doubt that I believe the certifying architect must bear some responsibility when defects are discovered in a building which he has certified.
    However in this case unless he was retained permanently on site the architect would not be in a position to “catch” even a percentage of the faults hinted at in the above report.

  14. There is a way of delivering effective building control without imposing a burden on the public sector and it has been operating in England and Wales for almost 15 years. Private Sector Approved Inspectors form a collaborative part of the design and construction teams deliver high levels of compliance and remove barriers to innovative design and construction.

  15. we built our house in ’06 we employed an architect to draw up plans submit planning & then paid to oversee the build at each stage now we have noticed that the roof has started to move pushing out facia & soffit etc can we sue the architect as they signed off on the work?

    1. Without knowing more it would be difficult to comment, couple of questions: did you employ a structural engineer? Was the architect registered with the RIAI ( http://www.riai.ie ), did your architect carry Professional Indemnity Insurance. Have you tried to engage with the architect to ascertain the problem? Was the house done with Homebond insurance? Best person to speak to would be a solicitor.

      Best of luck – Mark

  16. “Misconceptions regarding Planning, Building Regulations/Control & Priory
    Court « Mark Stephens Architects” honestly makes myself
    think a tiny bit further. I really appreciated each and every particular
    part of this blog post. Thanks -Geraldine

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