Building Control Procedure
The Building Control Act came into force on 1st June 1992. Each City and County Council is building control authority for its area. Formerly Town Councils, which were the former Urban District Councils were building control authorities for their areas until absorption into the County Councils. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government may require one or more building control authorities to perform their functions jointly.
There are two distinct aspects of the code. One aspect creates substantive obligations to comply with the substantive Building Regulations (reflected in statutory instruments from time to time referred to as the “building regulations”). The other aspect creates specific compliance procedural obligations on various parties (reflected in statutory instruments from time to time referred to as the “building control regulations”).
The Building Control Regulations create a number of distinct procedural and substantive obligations.
The building control regulations made under the Building Control Act, set out the procedure for administration and enforcement of the legislation. The Act provides for a wider range of possibilities than those put into effect, originally and to a lesser extent, following the 2014 reforms of the building control regulations.
The 2014 reforms do not provide for certificates of compliance being submitted for approval by the building control authority Instead, they require the developer and designer to certify prospective design stage approval and to further certify compliance on completion.
Regulations may prescribe the plans, documents and information to be submitted with certificates of compliance, applications for fire safety certificates, 7 day notices, 7 day notice statutory declarations, revised fire safety certificates, regularization certificates, disability access certificates, building energy rating certificates, revised disability access certificates and applications for certificates of approval.
They may provide for incorporation in one document of any application, notice, certificate or other documents under the Building Control Act and any application, notice or other document provided for or in relation to planning permission.
Regulations may prescribe the time within which such certificates, applications and notices are to be submitted; the designation of the persons or the classes of persons by whom certificates of compliance may be given, and the classes of buildings or works in respect of which such certificates may be given; the granting by a building control authority of fire safety certificates and certificates of approval with or without conditions, or the refusal of such certificates.
Regulations may require a building control authority, whenever it refuses a fire safety certificate or a certificate of approval, to notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for such refusal. They may provide for the registration of certificates of compliance, and of such information, as may be prescribed in relation to applications for fire safety certificates, fire safety certificates, applications for certificates of approval and certificates of approval and the making available of such information to such persons as may be prescribed.
Regulations may prescribe the records to be kept, and the information to be provided to the Minister, by a building control authority, the charging of exemption from fees, the carrying out of inspections and tests and the testing of samples taken and any other matter that the Minister considers appropriate.
Regulations may require the giving of notice to building control authorities of the erection of such buildings, or classes of buildings, or the carrying out of such works, or classes of works, as may be specified.
Where a certificate of compliance or commencement notice has been submitted to the local authority, it is not under a duty to ensure that the building is completed free from defects. This provision is designed to immunise the local authority form civil liability for building failures, as had happened in the UK and Ireland, under expansive principles of civil liability.
Where, within a period of two months beginning on the date of an application for a fire safety certificate, 7 day notice, revised fire safety certificate, regularization certificate, disability access certificate, revised disability access certificate or a certificate of approval, or within such extended period as may at any time be agreed in writing the building control authority does not notify the applicant of the decision on the application, a decision by the building control authority to grant the relevant certificate, shall be regarded as having been made on the last day of the period or such extended period, as the case may be.
Where an application for a dispensation from or relaxation of any requirement of building regulations is made, or where an appeal has been made against a decision on such application, the building control authority may defer the making of a decision in relation to the granting or, as the case may be, the refusal of a certificate etc., in respect of the building concerned for a period not exceeding two months after the decision on the application or, as the case may be, the appeal, has been made.
An appeal may be made by an applicant who is dissatisfied with a decision of the building control authority in relation to a safety certificate, certificate of approval, a relaxation order or dispensation order.
Fire Safety Certificates
The building control regulation required fires safety certificates, in respect of fire issues under the building regulations but did not require more general certificates, as the legislation allowed
The fire safety certificate certifies that a building, if constructed in accordance with the plans, documents and information submitted, would, in the opinion of the building control authority, comply with Part B of the building regulations, relating to fire safety issues.
2007 legislation provided for the seven days’ notice procedure. A person who intends to commence work on the construction of a building or an extension of or a material alteration to a building, may give not less than seven days’ notice of that person’s intention to carry out those works, accompanied by a valid application for a fire safety certificate, a statutory declaration made by that person stating that the application for the relevant fire safety certificate has been completed in all respects and complies with the relevant provisions of the building control
Works that have been commenced before the grant of such certificate must comply with the building regulations. The applicant must, within such period as may be specified by the building control authority, carry out any modification of such works that is required by or under the fire safety certificate, including any condition attached to it, when it is granted by the building control authority.
Where an application for a fire safety certificate in respect of the construction of a building or an extension of or a material alteration to a building has been submitted before planning permission has been granted, then if required by the subsequent grant of such planning permission, a further application to a building control authority for a fire safety certificate is required for the purpose of ensuring that the revised design arising from the grant of planning permission (including any condition attached to it) complies with the provisions of building regulations relating to fire safety,
Where work has been commenced or completed in respect of the construction of a building or an extension of or a material alteration to a building, and no application has been made for a fire safety certificate that is required application may be made to the building control authority for a regularization certificate. The application shall be accompanied by drawings of the relevant works (as they have been constructed) and a statutory declaration from the applicant stating that such works comply with the provisions of the building regulations relating to fire safety.
Disabled Access Cert
Regulations require the submission to a building control authority of an application for a certificate of compliance with respect to requirements under the building regulations for provision of access to a building for persons with disabilities (a ‘disability access certificate’). The building control authority may grant such certificate if in its opinion the design of the building or the extension of or material alteration to the building in respect of which the submission is made would comply (subject to any relevant dispensation or relaxation already granted) with the relevant requirements of the building regulations.
The building control authority may inspect a building in respect of which an application has been submitted for a regularisation certificate. It may grant a regularization certificate specifying that in its opinion the works, as constructed in accordance with plans, documents and information submitted with the application for the certificate, comply with the provisions of building regulations relating to fire safety (subject if applicable, to compliance (within the period of 4 months) with any conditions attached
An application may be made to a building control authority for a ‘revised fire safety certificate or for a revised disability access certificate if significant revision is made to the design or works of a building or an extension of or a material alteration to a building in respect of which a fire safety certificate or a disability access certificate has been granted by a building control authority.
A new building, or an existing building in respect of which an extension or a material alteration has been made, shall not be opened, operated or occupied or permitted to be opened, operated or occupied unless a fire safety certificate or disability access certificate (or, as the case may require, a revised certificate of either kind) or a regularization certificate required by regulations under the Act has been granted by the building control authority in relation to the building, or ) if an appeal is made to it, pending the determination by An Bord Pleanála of an appeal relating to a refusal to grant any of a certificates or revised certificates or the attachment of conditions to any of them.
Certificates of Compliance (Power to require)
Provisions may be made requiring certificates of compliance with building regulations to be submitted for particular types of work in advance of commencement, for the provision of fire safety certificates which certify compliance with fire safety aspects of works on the basis of the proposals/design submitted and for commencement notices.
Regulations may permit the exclusion from all, or any of, the provisions regarding the submission of certificates of compliance or applications for fire safety certificates or applications for certificates of approval, of such persons, bodies or buildings, or classes thereof as may be specified in the regulations.
Where a certificate of compliance, is submitted to a building control authority, the building control authority shall not be under a duty to any person to—
- ensure that the building or works to which the certificate or notice relates
- will, either during the course of the work or when completed, comply with the requirements of building regulations or be free from any defect,
- ensure that the certificate complies with the requirements of the Act or of regulations or
- verify that the facts stated in the certificate are true and accurate.