New building control regulations were signed by the Minister for the Environment on 15th January, 2014 and come into operation on 1st March, 2014.
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has been pressing to have the building regulations updated in a manner which would seek to ensure that another Priory Hall debacle could not happen in future.
The new 2014 regulations will apply to any development in respect of which a commencement notice is issued after 1st March, 2014. When issuing a commencement notice, seven sets of documents must be filed with the building control authority which must demonstrate how the building will comply with the building regulations and how this will be arranged. One will be a certificate of compliance (in a form set out in the regulations) confirming that the design is in compliance with the regulations. The filing will be done electronically.
These changes will have a profound effect on the building industry and, while the problems the Department is seeking to prevent mainly relate to apartments, the new regulations apply to all buildings other than extensions below 40 square meters.
From a conveyancing perspective it looks like it will no longer be possible to build a house, housing estate or apartment block without an architect and engineer being involved in monitoring the construction – because of the documentation required. This will have obvious cost implications, but should ensure a better standard of construction.
The new regulations provide that a building cannot be occupied or used until the final certificates of compliance (in the forms set out in the regulations) are filed with and registered by the building control authority.
Any person commencing a development before 1st March, 2014 should have factored in the requirements of the new regulations, in case they do not get a valid commencement notice served before the end of February 2014.