New Building Control Regulations and Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations.

Anyone doing construction work, whether it is an extension or a new build must bear in mind the new responsibilities potentially imposed on them, the home owners, under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013.

These Regulations apply to construction work that you pay to get done on your home. They may also apply to work that you do yourself. The new Regulations came into effect on the 1st of March 2014 and have enormous practical implications for home owners.

The Regulations have been introduced under the guise of Health and Safety Regulations and may very well be of practical benefit in that respect. However, they have expanded greatly the obligations of home owners and increased the costs associated with such works. All works commenced after the 1st of August 2013 must be compliant with the new Health and Safety and Welfare at work Regulations. The new Building Control Regulations came into effect on the 1st of March 2014.

In respect of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regualtions according to the Health and Safety Authority the regulations mean that you have to appoint competent people to carry out construction work and ‘for riskier and or longer jobs you must appoint competent Project Supervisors to oversee and co-ordinate safety’.

The guidelines from the Health and Safety Authority give examples of construction work covered by the Regulations. They include:

• Building a new house or an extension, porch or garage.
• Converting your attic.
• Refitting your kitchen.
• Re-slating your roof.
• Fitting solar panels or a sky light.
• Rewiring your house.

It is reassuring that the HSA have advised that mowing the lawn and planting trees are not construction work!

By law you now have to

1. Determine the competency of people doing paid construction work for you.
2. Appoint Project Supervisors (if required).
3. Keep the safety file for the work as appropriate, and
4. Let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or more that 500 person days (Person days means the number of days the works takes multiplied by the number of people doing the work).’

The homeowner is now responsible for insuring that the Contractors are competent. They are obliged to appoint a Project Supervisor at construction stage (i.e. a compliant Builder). The HSA have produced a competency checklist to help you assess the Contractors competency.

The homeowner is also going to have to incur the increased costs associated with appointing a Project Supervisor. A Project Supervisor will be required if there is more than one Contractor involved in the job or if there is a particular risk associated with the work or it is likely to go on for a period of more than 30 days.

One area where the new Regulations will be of particular significance relates to people building a house by direct labour. The Safety, Health and Welfare Regulations now require that a Project Supervisor design process oversees the co-ordination of the various designers and Contractors. Also the Project Supervisor must make sure that there is co-operation between them so that the works can be carried out safely. You can, if you like, appoint yourself as the Project Supervisor if you have the necessary knowledge and competency. Obviously if you do not you may be assuming additional personal liability for the works that are taking place on site. The appointment of the project supervisor must be in writing.

If you need to appoint a Project Supervisor then a safety file must also be prepared and maintained. The new Building Control Regulations require the owner to appoint an Assigned Certifier and Design Certifier.

From a conveyancing perspective compliance with Planning Permission and Building Regulations was a matter directly between the client and his Architect/Engineer. If you were selling your house or refinancing you would need a Certificate of Compliance with Planning Permission and the Building Regulations. The Certificates were often furnished on a retrospective basis.

The new Regulations do not facilitate the furnishing of any retrospective certificates. They will apply to any work where the Commencement Notice given to the Building Control Authority for the works is after the 1st of March 2014. Significant documentation needs to be prepared and furnished to the Authority with the Commencement Notice together with the details of the certifying Engineer.

Furthermore, on completion of the works, the Builder and the person assigned to certify compliance (i.e. the certifying Engineer) must now provide a Certificate of Compliance to the Building Control Authority. Previously such Certificates of Compliance would only ever have been given to the homeowner who would pass them on to a prospective purchaser or a Bank.

It remains to be seen the full effects of the new Regulations. They are being introduced for Health and Safety purposes. Whether or not they are effective in reducing accidents can be determined on a comparative basis in time. However, one thing that is certain is that the new Regulations will significantly increase the costs associated with construction works.

One further consequence of the Regulations will be the imposing of additional legal liabilities on homeowners. Homeowners would need to be mindful of whether or not they have adequate insurance in place when it is that they are carrying out works on their property.