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Dan Keane: What you need to know about the Commencement Notice and Building Control Management System

As most people are aware the commencement notice process changed in 2013 to a new online system.  Previous to this a commencement notice was quite a simple affair where a 2 page A4 document and a cheque of €30 was sent to Laois County Council and two weeks later you could go to site and start the construction process.

However, with the changes with the changes in 2013 great confusion has come into the commencement process.  In September 2014 the then Minister Alan Kelly changed the commencement notice for one off domestic buildings and extensions. We will deal with a commercial commencement first and then have a look at the domestic.

With a commercial application that would be a multi house development or an extension to a shop or any form of commercial building an assigned certifier has to be assigned to the project.  An assigned certifier is a chartered engineer, a registered architect or a building surveyor.

With this comes great responsibility on the assigned certifier.  The assigned certifier has to submit construction drawings, details of all certification that is going to be done on the building and thereafter all elements that go into the building has to be scanned through to the Local Authority and submitted online.

On completion of the building full certification has to be provided by the assigned certifier as constructed drawings for same submitted to the Local Authority.  This has put a large expense onto commercial projects including housing development and this is part of the reason why developers are slow to get going in relation to house development again as the cost of this is quite significant.

In relation to a domestic build the applicant has the choice of going down the road of assigned certifier or going into the opt out assigned certifier route. If you go with the opt out route you still have to lodge construction drawings or detailed drawings onto the building control system at commencement stages.

Your commencement notice has to be digitally uploaded and you have to accept the roles of building owner and builder and certifier. So, you are taking control of three aspects of the building.  Your dwelling house still has to comply with the building regulations. Opting out of assigned certifier route does not exempt you from the building regulations.

Your banks will insist for mortgage purposes that you have supervision of the dwelling house during construction. This will entail a minimum of six visits by an architect or building engineer.  Generally, the way we work is that the engineer will sign off on structure that the BER Assessor will sign off on Part L of the building regulations and so on and so forth.

The building regulations are broken down into technical guidance documents from technical guidance document TGD Part A right through to P.  The technical Guidance documents are a minimum requirement to comply with the building regulations in Ireland.  All aspects of the technical guidance documents should be taken into account during the construction phase.

With the opt out form you still have to comply with the Health and Safety Regulations as all building sites have to be registered with the H & S Authority.

The sign off on a building is a complicated process.  Certificates are required from plumbers, electricians, concrete manufacturers all to be handed to you in a booklet that can be handed to you at the end of your build.  Your heating system, insulation, your damp proof coursing should also be included within this document.

This process is onerous and the cost of same is reflective of the amount of work that has to be done by the supervising engineer or architect.

People often get shocked when they see the cost of this however, supervision and quality control is paramount in satisfactory completion of any build and to skimp on these aspects will lead to higher heating costs and running costs of the building in the future.

SEE ALSO – Dan Keane: Supervision and quality control when building will save you in the long term

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Daniel Keane is an Architectural Technologist based in Portlaoise. Having worked in a number of Architects offices throughout Ireland, in 2005 he open his own practice in Portlaoise. The practice specialises in individual residential design and retrofits, with over 300 bespoke ‘one off’ house designs to date. The goal of the practice is to provide the highest standard of architectural services, both in terms of design and quality of execution on site.