New code could add €50k onto cost of self-builds

People planning to build their dream home are in for a nasty shock following the introduction of new building control regulations, which could add up to €50,000 extra on to the cost of a constructing a one-off dwelling.

From March 1, a new code of practice for inspecting and certifying buildings and works comes into force.

Additional documents will now be required for the construction of any new dwelling house, extension of a dwelling house more than 400sq ft, and works requiring a fire safety certificate.

In addition to the standard commencement notice, a building or site owner has to submit a certificate of compliance signed by the new assigned certifier and a notice of assignment of a registered builder, who is preferably registered with the Construction Industry Federation. The assigned certifier must be either a chartered engineer, a registered architect, or a chartered surveyor.

Clare councillor Richard Nagle predicts the new 2014 Building Control Regulations will effectively end the practice of direct labour, which will put the construction of new one-off houses beyond the reach of most successful planning applicants.

Describing the Department of the Environment regulations as “unfair” and “unreasonable”, Mr Nagle claims that they are being penalised for poor quality workmanship in large housing estates and developments such as Priory Hall in Dublin.

The Fianna Fáil councillor is calling on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to amend the new regulations to facilitate rural people who want to continue building on their own land.

Mr Nagle explains that in the past, a person building a standard one-off house could engage a local technician or draughtsman to draw up plans at a cost of about €2,500 compared to the assigned certifier, which may cost €20,000.

Estimating that between €20,000 and €30,000 could be saved by opting for the direct labour route, he noted local tradesman often did direct swaps with their colleagues or got assistance from family and friends during the construction process, which also netted huge savings.

He warned all these practices would not be permitted under the new laws resulting in huge additional costs for new homeowners.

He said that the poor workmanship, which took place in some large housing estates during the Celtic Tiger, era wasn’t applicable to one-off houses because most applicants who wanted a new permanent residence ensured it was properly built.

One of the most unfair aspects of the new regulations, he said, was the fact that successful planning applicants will have to get their plans certified by an assigned certifier, despite planning approval, unless they are in a position to start work now before March 1.

“Most people aren’t aware of the huge implications arising from these new unfair and unreasonable building regulations.

There has been little or no problems with the standard of construction of most one-off houses in rural areas. There is no factual basis for crucifying people who want to build a permanent family home on their own land or those who purchased a site for a permanent house.”


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