€1k extra in red tape costs for home extension

An interesting article was published in The Irish Examiner this week regarding the introduction of the new health and safety regulations in The Irish Construction sector. The key difficulty for architects will be the assumption by many clients that this service should almost be provided as standard without any additional cost and thus be absorbed in the original fees. At a time when architect fees are already being squeezed the introduction of  an additional service and trying to explain that additional cost places a difficult burden on everyone involved. Obviously we welcome the changes and would love to have seen them many years sooner than now when one must acknowledge how beneficial a tighter health and safety regime would have been during the past decade & more. As with any new regulations we expect it will take some time for the general public to be fully aware of this change and hopefully more articles like the one below will help raise awareness about it.

€1k extra in red tape costs for home extensionImage

New safety regulations will increase the cost of building a new home or even improving your existing property by at least €1,000, a safety expert has warned.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at work (Construction) Regulations 2013 which came into effect on Aug 1 legally requires a homeowner to:

* Appoint a suitably qualified person to carry out construction work;

* Appoint project supervisors;

* Keep a safety file;

* Inform the Health and Safety Authority if the work is going to take longer than 30 days.

The Government has been forced to bring in the measures because construction regulations introduced in 2006 did not comply with the EU directive on construction safety.

Examples of the construction projects that would be subject to the regulations would include:

* Building a new house, extension, porch or garage;

* Converting an attic or refitting the kitchen;

* Re-slating a roof, fitting sky panels or a skylight;

* Rewiring the house.

A survey by Health and Safety Services found the regulations could add at least €1,000 to the cost of a project if the law is followed properly — no matter how big or small the job.

HSS managing director Kieran Linehan said the cost of the rules were exceptionally high. He predicted that, in order to allow clients to meet the additional requirements at a lesser cost, engineers and architects may seek to upskill to take on the health and safety roles.

Mr Linehan said under the new regulations the homeowner must:

* Ensure they appoint a project supervisor (usually their builder);

* Ensure that person is competent in construction safety matters;

* Ensure a safety plan and risk assessment is produced, as well as informing the HSA of their site, on a specific form.

“Prior to the construction work, the homeowner must appoint a competent person to the role of project supervisor design process, which is usually their architect or engineer,” said Mr Linehan.

“This places additional responsibilities on whoever assumes this responsibility and they will be forced to charge for their input time.”

He said any homeowner who does not comply with the regulations potentially exposes themselves to prosecution by the HSA.

However, he welcomed attempts to improve safety standards pointing out that the past three years have seen 11 fatalities on domestic house building projects.

“The HSA has produced guidance documentation for homeowners and builders, which will assist with implementing these regulations, which certainly appear onerous and costly to the already cash-strapped new home builder or home owner looking at carrying out improvement works.”

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, August 20, 2013


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