OK, the last blog post on Planning Compliance certs…

The promised conclusion of the Blog Post on The Problem With Planning Compliance Certificates explains the role of the Planning Compliance certificate and when it’s required.

In order for your solicitor to discharge his responsibilities regarding the deeds and mortgage to your property with the bank; they will require the Certificate of Compliance with Planning Permission. Interestingly the Certificate of Compliance with Building Regulations doesn’t seem to be a legal requirement in this aspect (anyone know?). So, on the completion of the build, the solicitor will request the above cert from the architect.

Now, if everything is built EXACTLY as the planning permission then everything is hunky-dory but living in the (Wild) West of Ireland, people are notorious for making ever so small changes to the drawings; in any case the design can evolve when the details are thrashed out and the design inevitably evolves somewhat.

Now referring back to the previous post; the RIAI Form 4 does allow for such minor deviations but the problem is that as I said previously it’s only an opinion and another architect’s/engineer’s opinion my differ. So what can you do?

I let the client know (in writing) that any changes made to the approved design may require a retention planning permission at a later date.

As Louise commented on the last post you can obtain a Section 5 Declaration from the Council on the deviations:

Under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000-2002 any person, on payment of the prescribed fee, may request in writing from the planning authority a declaration as to what in any particular case is or is not exempted development within the meaning of the Act.

Now everything is fine if the deviations are minor but what if they’re pretty big. The words an architect hates hearing (when doing Compliance Certificates for existing houses designed and built by others) are “We built it exactly as the drawings”. I had one example of a 1970’s house where the sale was dependent on the Certificate of Compliance; the house was nothing like the drawings – result a Retention Planning Permission was sought (and thank god) obtained.

A final observation regarding the architects role in this respect (and one which I didn’t realise until recently) is that the Compliance goes way beyond just the design and construction of the dwelling; the solicitor will require receipts for the payments to the Council regarding development fees and deposits for road works etc… These are normally included as a Condition of the Planning Permission so logically the architect as well as the solicitor should be checking that they are paid. There is a section in the Certificate for aspects the Architect is unable to check but the solicitor doesn’t want to receive a cert with this filled in !

OK, so the client builds nothing like your drawings, you’ve warned him/her of the non-compliance, the house is completed and the solicitor is now needing the Cert. What should the architect do? Stand Firm, refuse to certify and suggest a Retention Planning Permission at the clients expense.

The world is a different place to what it was just a few years ago – the days of ‘Ah she’ll be alright’ has gone.

Would love to hear a few Planning disaster stories, comments welcome…

4 thoughts on “OK, the last blog post on Planning Compliance certs…

  1. Mark,
    The Building Control Amendment Regulations 2012 will address mandatory certification at design and completion stages by registered professionals. This will deal with the legal problem of compliance with Building Regulations. The RIAI have also asked for certification by Building Contractors – on the basis that the architect cant stand on the site every minute of every day to monitor whats going on. If this becomes a legal requirement it could change the culture of construction in the country…..
    Regards David

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