With only 15 days to go Minister Hogan's Department of the Environment have released the 'Code of Practice' setting out what is required for inspection and certification of most construction projects in the State after March 1st.
Industry Institutes (namely RIAI, ACEI, SCSI, CIF) haven't been able to formulate clear guidance for their members in the absence of this document, and members of those bodies haven't been able to ascertain what exactly they will need to do. Therefore they have difficulty in advising clients (be they Govt. departments or private clients) and proposing fees.
Now they all have 15 days to rush madly at trying to deliver whatever level of clarity the COP brings. However is there sufficient clarity even now?
- Looking at the list of what must form part of an electronic upload it seems there is little specific detail: a large house extension, a school and a hospital will necessarily have different upload reqs.
- The reference to insurances is vague and again leaves all up to the client: ' Owners, and homeowners in particular, who commission works should generally satisfy themselves as to the adequacy of the insurances held by contractors or professionals they may wish to consider engaging'. How can a homeowner know what they should insist on?
- Beyond the COP (a) there are still NO sample certificates (including lists of required items), (b) NO electronic upload system is available to view or road test, (c) NO register of builders (though CIF may pull one a voluntary one out of the bag yet) and (d) NO latent defects insurance. This system simply isn't ready.
In general once a govt. department has finished its part in providing laws, regulations and guidance, it can and should take months for a building institute to formulate policy, provide briefing notes to members, provide awareness raising workshops etc, etc. But this has been impossible. The RIAI for instance has been sending a roadshow around Ireland without most of the info it needs to actually clearly advise its members. Members are crying out for guidance: what's going on, what do we do!?
Even disregarding the unfairness of the legislation and the strong advice by senior counsels NOT to sign certificates under this legislation, the lateness of information is a disaster. Bear in mind construction professionals could be jailed for not complying with this system for any work done after March 1st and it is likely there will be large hikes in PI insurance.