Skills-shortage and assigned certification - the devil is in the detail

With Ireland’s renewed focus on delivery of new housing, the country’s leading assigned certification practice, i3PT Certification is urging designers and other certifiers to exercise due diligence in order to avoid replicating past errors. 

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“The ramp up in construction across most sectors is great news for the Irish construction and property industries, but we need to be cognisant of the context in which we find ourselves,” said i3PT CEO Eoin Leonard. “We have a major increase in demand coinciding with an acute skills-shortage in this country. We are also building very different houses and apartments to those which were built during the last boom. There are new technologies and modern methods of construction in play, which present certifiers with new risks. The current building regulations place an onus on designers and builders to exercise demonstrable due diligence,” he said.

Archie O’Donnell heads up the environmental arm of i3PT and he urges industry stakeholders to pay more attention to design review and on-site testing, rather than focusing on mere paperwork.

“Inspection plans are an excellent tool to focus all stakeholders on their role as ancillary certifiers. There are few systems in the world which have focused designers and builders on compliance in the way that BCAR does – not withstanding its flaws,” said O’Donnell, adding that that the devil is in the detail. “For instance, that’s why on every project we undertake as assigned certifier i3PT conducts thermal-modelling exercises (among other measures) to assess the risk of interstitial condensation, mould and indoor air quality issues.”

Once projects are on-site i3PT advocate the use of what they refer to as a benchmarking system, where the builder must submit technical details, shop drawings and prototypes which are agreed in advance by the design team and assigned certifier.

“Without meaningful interventions from assigned and ancillary certifiers, inspection plans are mere ‘paper-tigers’, unlikely to mitigate risk,” said O’Donnell.

Meanwhile Eoin Leonard believes that assigned certifiers must take ownership and engage more with the design process. “There is an opportunity for the industry to get it right this time. Many will blame legislation for potential failures, but that would be something of a cop-out.

Professionals must take a direct stake in compliance and we can do that by setting a higher standard from procurement stages, right through to handover.” 

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