Government allows itself exemption from new building rules

Ruairí Quinn sought deferral on basis rules could delay construction of 25 to 30 schools

The Government has given itself a derogation from the new Building Regulations that came into effect on March 1st, with the aim of facilitating education and healthcare projects already in the pipeline.

A notice published in Iris Oifigúil said the regulations had been amended to provide for "alternative but equivalent" means of complying with the requirements to assign an architect, engineer or builder to certify that the works are in compliance.

“The alternative means of compliance applies to a limited range of public and privately-owned buildings classified as first, second or third-level places of education, hospitals or primary care centres,” according to the official notice.

The exemption would apply to buildings in these categories for which planning permission was obtained before March 1st, where contract documents have been signed before November 1st and a valid commencement notice has been lodged by March 1st next.


John Graby, director of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), said they were "evaluating what it means" and looking at the implications. But it seemed it would operate on a case-by-case basis and for a relatively limited period.

It is understood Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn had sought a 12-month deferral of the new regulations on the basis that their implementation from March 1st could delay construction of 25 to 30 schools already being planned.

RIAI president Robin Mandal had also written to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and other Ministers suggesting the implementation date should be deferred until it was clear that local authorities were geared up for the regulations.

Last Friday, the Government’s Contracts Committee also issued revised procurement guidelines, saying those commissioning new buildings would have to reach agreement with architects and engineers on their new duties under the regulations.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor