I wrote this post in 2011, it’s now updated for 2014 #SI9 and updated again for 2016

I wrote this post in 2011, it’s now updated for 2014 & S.I. No.9…

What exactly is the difference between planning drawings and construction drawings suitable for Building Regulation compliance and submission with BCMS

Planning Drawings

The following are the key dimensional and material concerns regarding planning drawings:

You need to show overall dimensions ONLY in both plan and section; you don’t really need to give sizes of windows, doors etc…as the proportions once the overall dimensions are set can be seen from the elevations.

Regarding construction and materials; nothing regarding construction needs to be shown; the planners are only interested in the type of material and colour of the external surfaces such as walls and roofs.

Construction Drawings:

The construction drawings need to show a lot more information (and I mean a lot compared to what is commonly done by ‘draughtsmen’ etc). Every dimension in both plan and section of every single wall, opening, etc needs to be shown. Every aspect of the Building Regulations needs to be shown; the following is a list (not exhaustive) of common omissions:

Part A: Structure: Structural information is normally completely non existent.

Part B: Fire; Areas that need to be fire protected are not detailed sufficiently in terms of materials and fire door ratings

Part K: Stairs etc I don’t think I’ve seen many drawings with calculation checks over risers/Goings etc…- in fact I don’t think I see any information regarding how stairs are compliant. Stairs on site are even worse; climbable guarding with openings greater than 100mm #FAIL

Part L: I’ve written a lot about non compliant insulation and air tightness standards; statistically 2/3 of BER ratings on new houses fail Part L.

Part M: Disabled Access: Toilets cubicle frequently wrong size, level thresholds missing…

I had a single visit by a Building Control Officer on a job pre-SI9 (on a job I wasn’t actually doing the construction drawings on) and I haven’t seen one since.

As I said this list isn’t exhaustive and I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg with the problems I see on a daily basis.

There are two questions therefore:

How does anything get built? Irish builders are a resourceful bunch. Left unattended they are excellent a making up dimensions, details and construction methods- sometimes correctly but oftentimes badly.

How therefore, has this situation developed?

Well in answer to the second question, the problem is the lack of understanding that the the planning and building control functions and requirements are separate. I frequently hear people say “my drawings are completely passed for construction” when what they mean is that the drawings have been given Planning Permission. As described above you need a LOT more information to build successfully from and as a proof that what you have drawn is firstly correct and then secondly that it has been constructed correctly. The drawing below shows just one of the dozen or so drawings that we created for a house extension.

So the norm is that the drawings submitted for planning have the pathetic amount of construction information to make them ‘look’ like construction drawings whereas the have too much information for plannng and too little for construction.

Incidentally I’ve recently been working on some UK Building Control drawings and we’re looking at 50+ drawings, schedules, details etc…What we need to do is to look at the sums to see why this is so:


Let’s take a typical draughtsman price of a few thousand euro for a one-off house that includes the planning and construction information:

Cost of land survey and percolation test: say €1200

That leaves €800 for the design, planning application and construction drawings. If you take the RIAI guidelines in the domestic agreement between Architect and Client and split the above fee into thirds you get a measly €266 per stage! How on earth can you get a considered design and a detailed set of construction drawings at this level ? The answer is you can’t unless you get a bog-standard design out of a book, drawings that contain too much detail for planning and too little detail to build from; which is the current situation when buying architectural services at his level.

The above paragraphs were deleted in a post update from 2014.

I’ve been hearing the figure of €2000 for the Certified Designer and Assigned Certifier services being bandied about; (figures from post 2014 update.) The figure I’ve currently heard (edited as of December 2016) are €1000 for the Assigned Certifier Services.. Read THIS POST first on how many times an architect should visit a project (the same principles apply for the Assigned Certifier); 5 visits is a race to the bottom on the absolute minimum of ‘What can we get away with’ In my experience (taking into account the ability of Irish builders) you’d be looking at a minimum of 12 visits for a 2 storey house [Editor’s Note(Dec 2016): We’re currently half way through house and we’ve already at 20+ visits]

But the actual number of visits depends on the project, undertaking a risk analysis and ensuring that you’re on the site at the right time.

Working on the fees described above continues the poor standards that have become ingrained in the Irish construction workforce and it’s time for all professionals to stand firm, not race to the bottom and charge what is an appropriate rate for the work that they should be doing.


SI9 now requires that you get an authorised professional (of which architects are one) to submit drawings for Building Control and inspect/certify the works. Therefore if you are looking for a registered architect that can work with you to provide a well considered and thoughtful design, negotiate with the planning authorities on your behalf, provide exceptional construction and tender information with submission for Building Control and finally to inspect and certify construction at the correct (and frequent) times (under SI9 of 2014) through to completion then please CONTACT ME!

3 thoughts on “I wrote this post in 2011, it’s now updated for 2014 #SI9 and updated again for 2016

  1. Hello Mark,
    Music to my ears. You sound like someone I need but unfortunately I’m in Kent. I’ve been let down by my architect, my builder and Building Control on my double story home extension. Built to eaves level and now demolished – lots of problems but basically the walls weren’t plumb! None of the problems were picked up by BC. It was only after the contractor walked off site because he didn’t like me querying his work and I asked an independent Building Surveyor to look at it that the extent of his incompetence came to light. As part of this process it’s become clear that the drawings are incorrect, what’s drawn can’t actually be built and there’s nowhere near enough detail for construction. So I’m back to the drawing board to a certain extent. I’ve notice almost everyone talks about drawings for BC approval. I think that’s the wrong emphasis. They need to be drawings that if followed will result in a sound, safe, dry etc home. If they are then of course they’ll get BC approval. If they’re not unfortunately they may also get BC approval. Builders are unregulated, they probably only know what they’ve been taught by another unregulated builder. They don’t know what they don’t know. The other problem is that clients don’t know either. My builder didn’t look at any drawings so that’s clearly a bigger issue! But if I had had better drawings I would have been able to insist on a higher quality from the beginning. The only person who can bridge this gap is the professional. Either we have to professionalise building or architects need to produce good quality construction drawings.

    1. Hi Helen

      Many thanks for comment; sorry for troubles – what also helps is having an architect on board from beginning to end to keep an eye on the builder & making sure everything is done right



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.