Frequently Asked Questions


PLANNING

How long does the Local Authority take to decide on an application?

The council have eight weeks to make a decision once they receive a valid application. In that time they can request further information from the applicant which resets the clock. They have four weeks from the receipt of the further information to make their decision.

Do you need to make a planning application for your building works?

As a general rule the following are exempt from planning:

  • An extension to the rear of the house of not more than 40 square metres and is not higher than the house. The extension should not reduce the open space at the back of the house to less than 25 square metres and there are some height restrictions also.
  • Converting a garage attached to the rear or side of the house to domestic use so long as it has a floor area of less than 40 square metres. Some council’s consider the change from garage door to window exempt others don’t so it’s best to check with your local authority on this.
  • A new garage at the back or side of a house so long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed 25 square metres. There are some height restrictions here also.
  • A front porch so long as it does not exceed two square metres in area and is more than two metres from a public road or footpath.

If you are unsure whether your proposed works are exempt or not please do give us a call. We will review your proposals and explain your obligations and options

Can I appeal a decision?

An applicant can appeal the Local Authority’s decision or any condition imposed by them to An Bord Pleanála within 4 weeks of the decision to grant. If you are not the applicant you can make a 3rd party appeal against any decision issued by the Local Authority provided you made a submission on the application during the first five weeks of the planning process. A 3rd party appeal can be made by someone directly affected by an application, i.e. an adjoining neighbour, whether or not a submission was made in the 5 weeks.

If the application is granted, when can I begin building?

If no appeal is lodged the Local Authority will issue the final grant permission at the end of the four week period.
At that point a commencement notice must be completed and uploaded to the BCMS system online giving the Building Control Authority notice of your intention to begin. This must be done not less than 14 days and no more than 28 days before you start.

You can find a link to the BCMS system on our links page.

Note: If your planning grant is for a new house, or an extension over 40m², you must appoint a Design and Assigned Certifier under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations to inspect and certify the works. Or use the new “opt out facility”

See more information on the BC(A)R in the section below.

FIRE CERTIFICATE FAQs

When is a Fire Cert application required?

The following require a Fire Safety Certificate;

  • Works in connection with the design and construction of a new building, except for a one off house
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of; a day centre, a building containing a flat, hotel, hostel or guest building, an institutional building, a place of assembly or a shopping centre
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of a shop, office or industrial building where additional floor area is being provided within the existing building or where the building is being sub divided into a number of units for separate occupancy
  • Works in connection with the extension of a building by more than 25 square metres
  • Any building where a material change of use takes place.
How long does the Local Authority take to decide on an application?

The Chief Fire Officer advises the local authority if a Fire Safety Certificate should be granted (with or without conditions), refused or deemed invalid. This normally takes 2 months although this period can be extended by written agreement between the applicant and the local authority.

Do you need to apply for a Fire Certificate before you start building work?

It is an offence to do works that require a fire safety certificate until a Fire Safety Certificate has been granted. You cannot lodge your commencement notice to start works until you have received a Fire Safety Certificate. If speed is of the essence then you can lodge a seven day notice instead.

What’s a seven day notice?

A 7 Day Notice is required where a person intends to commence work on the construction of a building before grant of the relevant Fire Safety Certificate, where one is required. It cost more to make the application €5.80 / M² instead of €2.90 / M² and the application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration form witnessed by a commissioner for oaths.

I’ve already started building without a fire certificate, what do I do now?

Where works have been started or completed without a fire safety certificate or the submission of a 7 day notice then an application must be submitted for a Regularisation Certificate. This application costs €11.80 / M² and again the application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration form witnessed by a commissioner for oaths.

What to do next?

If you are unsure whether you need to make a Fire Certificate application or not please do not hesitate to give us a call. We will review your works, what your options are and talk you through the application process, with no obligation.

DISABILITY ACCESS CERTIFICATES FAQs

What is a DAC?

A DAC application is required to show compliance with the requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations for all new buildings, certain extensions and material alterations to buildings with the requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations. While dwellings must also comply with Part M an application to the building control authority is not required.

Do you need to apply for a Disability Access Certificate before you start building work?

A DAC may be applied for after the commencement notice is lodged, but in no case shall a building be opened, operated or occupied or permitted to do so until a DAC has been granted.

What works require a DAC?
  • All new buildings, including apartment blocks
  • Material alteration to a day care centre, apartment block, hotel, hostel, guest building, institutional building, place of assembly, shopping centre
  • Material alteration to a shop, office or industrial building where additional floor area is provided within existing building or building is being subdivided into a number of units for separate occupancy.
  • Extension to an existing building of greater that 25m2
What to do next?

If you are unsure whether you need to make a Disability Access Certificate application or not please do not hesitate to give us a call. We will review your works, what your options are and talk you through the application process, with no obligation.

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R)

What are the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations?

In March 2014 the Government introduced new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R) that set out new procedures for the control of building activity.

The regulations apply to most building works (including new houses, house extensions over 40m², and any building works which require a fire safety certificate) and may affect the cost of projects and their duration.

Since the 1st Sept 2015 Domestic clients have an option to “opt-out” of the BC(A)R but still have to prove they comply with the building regulations. For more information on this option click here

Who is the Building Owner?

The “Building Owner” is the person who has commissioned or paid for the works and who has legal entitlement to have such works carried out on their behalf.

What are the Building Owner’s New Obligations under BC(A)R?

Building owners will be required to appoint, for almost any building or works starting from March 2014 onward, a Design Certifier and an Assigned Certifier as well as a competent Builder.

The building owner’s obligations include:

• Give a written undertaking on a statutory form to the Building Control Authority to appoint a competent Design Team to design the new building in accordance the Building Regulations

• Give a written undertaking on a statutory form to the Building Control Authority to appoint a competent Builder to construct the new building in accordance the Building Regulations

• Give a written undertaking on a statutory form to the Building Control Authority to appoint a competent Assigned Certifier who will prepare an Inspection Plan, inspect and certify, with the Builder, that the new building, when complete, is built in accordance the Building Regulations

• Ensure that adequate resources are made available to design, construct, inspect and certify the building works

• Where the Assigned Certifier or Builder withdraws from the project, for whatever reason; promptly appoint a replacement Assigned Certifier or Builder and give notice to the Building Control Authority of the new assignment

• Maintain records

What is a Competent Person?

A competent person must possess sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken, taking account of the size, nature or complexity of the building or works.

What is a Design Certifier?

A Design Certifier is the person appointed by the Building Owner to design and coordinate the design by others. A Design Certifier must be a registered architect, chartered engineer or a registered building surveyor.

What is an Assigned Certifier?

An Assigned Certifier is the person appointed by the Building Owner to inspect and certify the building works and to coordinate the certification by others including the builder.

An Assigned Certifier must be a registered architect, a chartered engineer or a registered building surveyor.

Who can act as the Builder?

A person undertaking the role of the Builder must be competent to undertake that role.

The Government is committed to establishing a statutory Register of Builders, and a voluntary Register is already in place (https://ciri.ie/).

I am a Self-Builder, can I undertake the role of the Builder?

A person can self-build only if they are competent to undertake that role.

Competence is defined as a person who possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge of the project task.

What must happen before the new building can be occupied?

The building may not be occupied until the completion documents have been accepted by the building control authority and the project entered on the Register.

A Certificate of Compliance on Completion must be lodged on the BCMS (Building Control Management System), together with documents which show alterations from those originally lodged, and a completed Inspection Plan showing what inspections were undertaken.

In addition, it is expected that the Assigned Certifier will submit Ancillary Certificates on which they relied from specialist designers, subcontractors and the like.

What happens if I start a project on site without registering it on the BCMS?

If you start a project without registering it on BCMS you will have committed an offence. There is no provision in the Regulations to retrospectively submit a Commencement Notice.

You should consult your solicitor as this will affect your ability to sell or let your premises.

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