Fire and Building Control

Building Control

Introduction to Building Control

The building control system applies to the design and construction of new buildings, extensions and material alterations to, and certain changes in the use of, existing buildings.

The information contained here is intended to provide practical guidance and is not a definitive legal interpretation of building control law.

It is a legal requirement that buildings must be designed and built in accordance with the Building Regulations. Under current legislation, the building control authority has discretionary powers.

These include the following:-

  • The right to inspect works to which the Building Regulations apply
  • The right to request information relating to works to which Building Regulations apply
  • Power of enforcement in relation to non-compliance with the Building Regulations.
  • Power to prosecute for non-compliance, either by summary or High Court proceedings.

It should be noted that the power of inspection granted to building control authorities under the legislation is discretionary and does not impose an obligation to inspect. The primary responsibility for compliance with regulations rests with the designers, builders and building owners.

Building Control System

The legislative framework of the building control system comprises three parts:-

1. The Building Control Act

There are three main provisions within this Act:-

a) It provides for the making of building regulations dealing with issues such as building standards, workmanship, fire safety conservation of fuel and energy and access for those with disabilities.

b) It provides for the making of building control regulations, which involve commencement notices, fire safety certificates, disability access certificates and fees, and includes administration by the building control authorities.

c) It gives powers of enforcement and inspection to the building control authorities.

2.  Building Regulations

The Building Regulations set out the technical requirements for the design and construction of building works. They are written in broad, functional terms rather than performance or prescriptive terms. Requirement B1, for example, states that 'A building shall be so designed and constructed that there are adequate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety.' As the requirements are quite general, there is more specific guidance available on what is considered adequate. This guidance is provided in Technical Guidance Documents A to M.

3.  Building Control Regulations

These regulations are procedural and administrative. Their purpose is to promote observance of the Regulations by supplementing the basic powers of inspection and enforcement given to the building control authorities by different sections of the Building Control Act.

They do this by requiring the submission of the following:-

  • Applications for Fire Safety Certificate/Revised Fire Safety Certificate/Regularisation Certificate
  • Applications for Disability Access Certificate/Revised Disability Access Certificate
  • Commencement Notices/7 Day Notices
  • Certificates of Compliance on Completion

For further information on the above please refer to the ‘Commencement Notices’ and Building Control Applications’ sections on this website.

Code of Practice for Persons Inspecting and Certifying Building Works has been published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance with respect to inspecting and certifying works or a building for compliance with the Building Regulations.

Common issues in dwelling houses noted by building control officers during inspections are listed in the following link: 

Common Compliance Issues Identified During Building Control Inspections of Dwellings

Building Energy Rating (BER)

A Building Energy Rating (BER) is an indication of the energy performance of a building. Before a building is occupied for the first time the person who commissions its construction must obtain a BER certificate and an advisory report produced by a registered BER assessor. A register of BER assessors is available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) website: National Register of BER Assessors. There are exemptions for certain building categories e.g. protected structures and temporary buildings.

A BER certificate must be provided to prospective buyers or tenants when a property is offered for sale or rent. BER details must also be included on advertisements when a property is offered for sale or rent. Guidance for property owners is available here: SEAI Website (BER Information). Guidance for property advertisers is available here: SEAI Website (BER Advertising)

The Building Control Authority have powers of enforcement under the EU (Energy Performance of Building) Regulations 2012. The SEAI are responsible for the day to day administration of the BER system and also have powers of enforcement under the regulations in respect of their functions.