Key Post Self-Build FAQ Part 1

onq

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This FAQ was compiled by a former user ONQ who can be contacted at www.oneillquigley.eu

The Process of Building a House


A house is the end result of a process the extent of which is usually underestimated.
It starts with the selection of the site, after which things get interesting.
This guide is a work in progress, ongoing, being expanded day by day.
People watching it develop are invited to contribute and comment.
Posts or PM's pointing out errors are particularly welcome.
The intention is to make this the best guide available.
The date of this issue is 2010.10.20.


Preamble and Disclaimer

This is intended as a resource for self-builders in this forum which Brendan Burgess began in response to all the self-builder queries arising in other forums i.e. in the Homes and Gardens forum.
Each self builder approaches their project in their own way, with different existing and soon-to-be-acquired skillsets, hands-on experience, construction knowledge and management abilities.
Thus this is not intended as a definitive summary of all the issues affecting self-builders - new issues arise and new solutions are brought forward, i.e. the ongoing TGB Part L revisions.

This is general and not expert advice on any subject noted below - I strongly recommend that professional advice be taken that is specific to each project.
This is intended as an introduction to the main issues to consider when building a house, to better inform and prepare self-builders for the task ahead.
This is based on my experience of residential development and the work that persons standing in for one or all of the following might need to do.

  • Design Professionals
  • Planning Professionals
  • Technicians
  • Project Managers
  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Project Supervisors (Health and Safety)
  • Main Contractors
  • Sub-Contractors
  • Site Operatives
  • Tradesmen
  • Suppliers
These individuals all have their place in the house building process, and the self-builder's agenda is to reduce costs.
There is a point at which the trade-off becomes uneconomical.
Self Builders must decide when that point has been reached by considering

  • how best to obtain planning permission
  • how best to ensure statutory compliance
  • what tasks they might be able to attempt today
  • what tasks they might attempt with some training
This will Post will develop in instalments over the next couple of days.
I've divided the post into main headings, sub-headings and comments for ease of reference.
Contributions and constructive criticism are invited.


1.0 Site
Choosing a Site
Site selection demands the greatest care because everything else flows from this - literally. Right from the start you can run into problems, usually caused by budget considerations. There is often a trade off to be found - if you want to buy a piece of land "at the right price" it often has one or more difficulties in the real world, which can include any and all of the following; -

a) Historical​

  • archaeological
  • prior use
  • waste
  • pollution
  • contamination
  • existing services
  • incompatible adjoining uses
b) Geographical​

  • access
  • drainage
  • water supply
  • poor ground
  • unstable ground
  • high water table
  • underground watercourse
  • prevailing wind
  • microclimate
  • orientation
c) Legal​

  • title
  • boundaries
  • rights of way
  • tenants
  • warning letters, notices or enforcement action.
d) Planning​

  • Zoning
  • Planning
  • Services
  • Protected Trees or Woodlands
  • Special Area of Conservation (Env)
  • Conservation Area (Planning)
  • Protected Structure or View status
  • Proposed New Road Route or Road Widening
  • Compulsory Purchase Order
Some of these issues can be seen at first glance, some may be hidden, some may even be concealed.
Talk to the professionals working in the area who know something about the issues that affect the site.​

  • Area Planning Officer
  • Council Engineers [Roads and Drainage]
  • Local Architect
  • Local Engineer
  • Local Solicitor
  • Local Estate Agent

There is no hard and fast rule as to who knows all the answers about a particular piece of land.
However, it would be an unusual landowner who would tell you about all the problems that affect the site he is trying to sell.

a) Historical

Works on, over and under the ground can leave remains/ruins for later builders to deal with.
The discovery of an historical ruin under layers of ivy or the base of walls just below the sod can scupper the best laid plans
People have lived in Ireland for thousands of years and the discovery of human remains or burial ground on the site is not uncommon.

A major issue arising in the past few years is the effect of prior and existing uses on sites intended for houses.
These can included both permitted and unauthorised uses, both of which can leave hidden hazards or nuisances waiting for the unwary to discover.
A Health and Safety investigation should be undertaken to establish the existence and location of all services on site, ie gas mains, power cables, etc. http://www.hsa.ie

Sites having former industrial uses or lying beside such can be contaminated by fuel residues and old petrol station sites may hide underground tanks filled with concrete [or not] and fuel spills.
Old abattoirs, food processing plants and restaurants can be on land where vegetable or animal parts and products are improperly disposed of leading to immediate and ongoing health risks.

Many parts of the country have experienced dumping and local knowledge can the best tool to use if you're thinking of buying a piece of land.
Sites which have formerly be used for quarrying sand, gravel or stone can often become receptacles of illegally deposited waste.
So also can agricultural lands, as exposed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Dumping in County Wicklow.
In the immortal words of Wicklow County Manager Eddie Sheehy in: http://www.gov.ie/committees-29/c-en...05-J/Page2.htm

"In relation to the county council's involvement, I did confirm at the county council meeting last year, and I can repeat it, that over the years it has been the practice for council staff in the normal course of their activities in connection with road maintenance, minor road improvements and other sundry works, to deposit mainly small amounts of inert material which arise from carrying out these activities, at convenient locations such as adjacent farmers' lands, quarries and sandpits."

Tarmac from road works, or any bituminous material, may not be classed as "inert material" in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The least onerous form of dumping is that of inert landfill, but even a well-layered mix of earth and topsoil can cause problems for future development.
Where the depth of fill exceeds 1.2M and the ground level is to be maintained, a suspended floor slab may be required, because the build up of hardcore is excessive.

Illegal dumping affects the site on an ongoing basis, leaving the new owner liable for the clean up even though he had no part in its deposition.
Some substances can pollute nearby aquifers, groundwater and watercourses, leading to consequences for letting it persist that go far beyond removal.
Non-inert material can also contaminate the soil it lies in requiring the removal of both the unauthorised material and the remediation of significant amounts of soil.
Pollution of the site can arise from remote sources too, both industrial effluent and emissions as well as illegal dumping of used oil and brake fluid into ditches and watercourses.

A relatively simple thing such as checking the working hours and days of a local timber mill or metalworks can avoid years of annoyance due to penetrating noise from 7:00 a.m. on Sundays.
"Coming to the nuisance is no defence" can mean that the pig farmer near a new estate may soon be out of business through objections to noxious smells ruining the amenity of the area.
Careful zoning by the local authority is designed to minimise the effects of incompatible uses, but factory chimneys cast a long shadow and health issues can be the price for having local jobs.

b) Geographical

These issues arise from the physical characteristics of the site - the usual ones to watch are drainage, water supply, ground conditions and access.
In the fortnight prior to 17th November 2009 two landslides affecting the rail line from Dublin to Wexford were reported, supposedly caused by heavy rainfall.
In recent times we've seen peat bogs moving after rain following periods of construction to install wind turbines where the ground conditions are not accounted for.

A plot of land with a high water table that's in a sheltered hollow on the north face of a mountain is unlikely to provide sufficient ambient energy for Part L compliance.
In more remote areas, the idyllic nature of the site may not be suitable for a house because while an aquifer or groundwater exists it is too alkaline or acidic for drinking.
Similarly, land near lakes or rivers may seem ideally placed for water supply until its discovered that years of over-fertilization has polluted the watercourse and groundwater.

Land with marsh grasses may be prone to flooding or have a high water table over and imprevious layer.
Regular seasonal flooding will be known about by locals but for many reasons they may not be forthcoming, yet the 100 year return flood may be unknown to them.
To get info on flood records and flood risk in Ireland, go to http://www.opw.ie/en/FloodRiskManagement/
The OPW launched a very useful GIS flood record and flood risk interface 2-3 years ago = http://www.floodmaps.ie/.

A Site Suitability Report by a Registered Agent in accordance with the EPA Manual is required.
There is a link to what seems to be a well-put together powerpoint presentation from Wexford County Council here.

A civil and structural engineer should be retained to evaluate any Trial Hole results to better inform the design of the foundations.
Failing to specify your substructures correctly [including underfloor and perimeter insulation, services penetrations, radon gas barrier and sump]will affect everything else you do.

c) Legal

The site itself may have been brought to your attention by word of mouth, advertising in a newspaper, by an auction notice or via an estate agent.
If its with an estate agent, he is often the agent of the landowner and deals must be done through that office.
Occasionally you may get to talk to a friendly landowner who will sell you an interest in their property.

You can do some investigation of the title yourself .
In past years Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds were your sources.
The Land Registry is now the Property Registration Authority and their website is here: http://www.landregistry.ie/eng/
The Registry of Deeds is under the control and management of the Property Registration Authority under the 2006 Act (sections 4 and 10 refer).

You will need the services of a solicitor to effect the conveyance of land.
Solicitors, while most are sound, bear watching, judging from the recent cases before the Courts and the Law Society.

Make sure the Vendor is offering registered title and make sure your solicitor has had someone inspect the documents and the site.
If its not land registry it may registry of deeds and this can have several pitfalls for the unwary through unforced errors accruing down through the years.
Where title is complex it is particularly useful if the Vendor supplies a Declaration of Identity with a new OS Title Maps, which should both be signed by a competent professional.
Regardless of whether the title is sound [and land makes liars of people] ensure that your solicitor has issued a comprehensive Requisitions on Title document, one that includes questions on;​

  • prior use
  • rights of way
  • access from the public road
  • burdens on the title
  • condition of the land
  • boundary fences ownership and upkeep
  • dumping, contamination or other hazards
You should also check with the local Council or the Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.ie/ that;​

  • no notices have been issued requiring that pollution from or affecting the site must be cleaned up, the source removed and the land remediated.
  • no warning letter or planning enforcement notice has been issued in respect of the site
  • no derelict site notices has issued in respect of the site.
d) Planning

So the investigation is over, the site is selected and bought and now you're ready to build - nope, you'll need planning permission.
Buying a hilltop to enjoy the views from the top without first checking that the view of the hill itself from a distance isn't listed is unwise.
Trying to gain access to a site through an existing estate instead of via the designated access route from the national primary may not succeed.
Seeking to knock down a line of mature trees to permit your entrance where the development plan objectives preserve hedgerows means you will likely fail.
Thus you must fully research planning and other legislation which could affect the likelihood of your obtaining planning permission in your area before you purchase.
I have listed seversl sources of legislation below in a sort of diminishing scale of operation, from the NSS which affects the entire country down to individual structures;-

The Deparment of the Environment Website offers current lists of Planning laws and regulations and technical guidance information.
The National Spatial Strategy [NSS] http://www.irishspatialstrategy.ie/ sets the terms of reference within which all local authorities and regions must work
Regional Planning Guidelines [RPG] are designed to regulate development within a regional area for example the Greater Dublin Area http://www.spggda.ie/
County Development Plans [CDP] are prepared every five years by each Local Authority to regulate development in their functional areas. This is the primary source document for most people considering their site in terms of planning issues. Most of the documents listed below will be referred to, or included in, the CDP.
Local Area Plans [LAP] may be made from time to time by local authorities for any area or part of any area in their functional area, and are often used to regulate development in those areas which require economic, physical and social renewal and for areas likely to be subject to large scale development within the lifetime of the plan
Variations to the CDP and LAP may be made from time to time and this underlines the need to consult with Local Authorities to establish the current position.
Strategice Development Zones are intended to provide a timely integrated development of an area including areas of work, rest and play of which the most well known at the moment is probably Adamstown in west County Dublin http://www.adamstown.ie/
Strategic Infrastructure Developments [SID] are a means to facilitate the timely provision of necessary services and infrastructure http://www.pleanala.ie/sid/
Architectural Conservation Areas [ACA] are a means to protect entire neighbourhoods from the negative effects development http://www.environ.ie/en/Publication...ad,2204,en.pdf
Areas of Special Planning Control [ASPC] may cover part or all of an ACA and the link above refers to them and Chapter II of the Planning and Development Act 2000 deals with them in some detail http://www.environ.ie/en/Heritage/Ar...ad,8796,en.pdf
Special Areas of Conservation [SAC] are considered to be prime wildlife environments at both National and European level http://www.npws.ie/en/ConservationSi...servationSACs/
Records of Monuments and Places are sites important to our National Heritage as defined here http://planning.southdublin.ie/index...emid=288&lang= and with an example of a Record from South Dublin County Council [SDCC] http://planning.southdublin.ie/image...&%20Places.pdf
Protected Structures are buildings which a local authority thinks are of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of viewand you can read further on this here http://planning.southdublin.ie/index...emid=285&lang= and with an example of a Record from South Dublin County Council CDP page 276 et seq http://www.sdublincoco.ie/sdcc/depar...n.03112005.pdf


2.0 Design
If you fear your preferred modern design won't sit too well with the area planning officer - don't despair!
These days planners embrace the modernist idiom and have cast off decades of design shackles by slate-or-thatched-roof cottages.
The conservative option may still be permitted more easily than today's more avante-garde designs, but the opportunities for individual design expression are growing.
This is something to bear in mind when building on a restricted budget - because good design is about taking all factors into account, which can result in cost-effective solutions.

a) Sources and References

Regardless of what assistance you decided to employ, you need to get your head around what you want in your dream home.
Even if you intend to retain the newest architect in town, you still must be able to set him a brief.
To do this you'll need to do two things (i) understand what you [and your partner] wants from the house and (ii) collect design references.
Understanding what you need is fundamental to the design of the house; views, orientation, approach, facilities, features, carbon footprint - all are relevant.
Pictures from magazines and the internet, coffee table books and reference works, all go into the melting pot to better define your intent to yourself and others.

b) Use an Architect or Not?

This is the hard choice for some home-builders because, if you're house-building on a budget, you may prefer to pay for the AGA cooker instead of the architect's fees!
You need someone who can design, can draw and present well and is able to communicate your ideas effectively. Let's review the options

Draughtspersons who can "draw up plans" are not trained in design at all - there role is to produce co-ordinated scale drawings of things other people design and theydo not certify built work
Engineers while they are trained to design structures, civil works, roads, services and so on, will only usually certify to Part A, and have design abilities that tend to the utilitarian, not the beautiful - houses are not their forté in my opinion.
Architectural technicians receive some design training for simple building forms but do not get a full range of training in art and design for project work although - some certify works.
While some architectural technicians develop considerable abilities and go on to attend the full time design course and qualify as architects most are not in a position to do so.

The benefits of choosing an architect is that they are competent to take your most unusual ideas and comment on them competently and in a non-judgemental way on their workability and advise on the likely cost-benefit implications for any features you may wish to include.

Thus the architect is the building professional who by training, experience, previous work and design abilities is best suited to advising on the design of a high amenity residence.

c) Health and Safety

Your architect will also be competent to advise you in relation to your role under the Health and Safety legislation. People who procure their own home using Designers and Contractors are not considered to be Clients under the Act. However, self builders are usually acting as the main contractor. Even with an architect on board to inspect during the works, the self-builder is the main co-ordinator amd manager of work on site. Unless someone else is specifically appointed as Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage [PSDS], this means that the duties of PSDS normally fall to them, and this can be quite onerous.

You will see from the following guides that designers have a considerable onus on them under the Health and Safety regulations, regardless of whether or not its a private house or whether a preliminary health and safety plan is required. The architect may accept the appointment as the Project Supervisor for the Design Process and carry out those duties of foreseeability of risks and co-ordination of the design as well as other duties that come with the position. If the self-builder is also the designer, then those duties may also fall to him.

The roles and duties under the health and safety legislation must be clearly understood prior at the start of the design process, well before commencement of the building on site.
The following non-exhaustive list publications are available for download from the HSA website and should be read and clearly understood by anyone involved in the procurement or construction of buildings:

Understanding Construction Risk Assessment - A basic guide
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Understanding Construction Risk Assessment.pdf

Guidance for homeowners undertaking construction work
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Guidance_for_Homeowners_Undertaking_Construction_Work.html

Clients in Construction - Best Practice Guidance
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Clients in Construction.pdf

Guidelines on the Procurement, Design and Management Requirements of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Guidelines on Procurement Const regs 2006.pdf

Summary of Key Duties under the Procurement, Design and Site Management Requirements of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations, 2006
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Summary of Key Duties under the Procurement, Design and Site Management Requirements.pdf

Using Ladders Safely - information sheet
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/Using Ladders Safely - Information Sheet.pdf

A Guide to Safety in Excavations
http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Construction/A Guide to Safety in Excavations.pdf


d) Building Regulations Integrated Design - Example Part L, Part F, Part B and Part M.

Part L Compliance has become such a major issue in the past few years it deserves a special mention here.
This is because several different matters affecting construction have to be considered at design stage.
Part L of the Building Regulations covers Conservation of Fuel and Energy, Part F Ventilation, Part B Fire Safety, Part M Access for Persons with Disability.

Part L has been revised so frequently and so often in the last decade that the older versions are now archived at the DOEHLG website on this page at http://www.environ.ie/en/TGD/
On the same page you can find Acceptable Construction Details which focus on thermal bridging and airtightness, i.e. insulation and sealing, but Part F appears lost in condensation.
We have twelve Building Regulations and for a dwelling to be compliant we need an integrated set of details which satisfy not one, or three but all the regulations at the one time.

For example; -
Part L's useful requirement for heat reclamation, MVHR, while complying with Part Q of the DEAP, contradicted the old Part F, which required permanent ventilation of habitable rooms.
This resulted in the publication of the updated Part F Regulation and Technical Guidance Document Part F 2009 - its important to stay on top of the ever changing legislation.

Part L - this has been updated on an almost yearly basis for the past few years - there is now one version for Dwellings and one for Buildings Other Than Dwellings.
There are Archived Versions and Supplemental documents and this is because we are heading for Carbon Neutral Housing in 2013, several years ahead of Europe.
There is a whole host of approved details on the Building Standards page on the environment website but many seem to deal with only two issues - insulation and sealing.

For example we used to keep our insulation in the cavity where it would not spread fire easily - what happens if you insulate a house externally with flammable insulation and it catches fire?
In an Irish climate what happens during the occassional hot summer - does the house need cooling by full aircon, where your system saves heat only?
There don't seem to be many studies done on the downside, and there's more.

Part B - DEAP (Dwellings Energy Assessment Procedure) Appendix Q has regard to MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) but it fails to address Fire Sealing.
Part B - requires that the first floor of a dwelling has a floor construction of 30 minutes Fire Resistance [FR30] - holes in the floor for MVHR without collars prevent this.
Part B - downlighters break the first floor FR30 while their transformers have been known to cause fires so Part B measures must also be considered regarding lighting.

Part M - requires several measures to be taken account of in relation to design - entrance width and threshold, set down area, level/ramped approach, size of WC.
Part M - the lack of compliance by commercial buildings with part M has resulted in the new Disability Access Certificate - this is not yet required for houses.

We have seen a change in the way we dispose of water: separate sewers to soakaways and now to rainwater harvesters/recyclers.
The Government published guidelines in 2009 to promote the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems, since adopted by several local authorities.

Thinking ahead at design stage in detail is what is required to achieve integrated building regulation compliance.

3.0 Permission
Some local authorities are blessed with an enlightened and well educated planning office whose development plans are adopted and whose word actually carries weight on planning applications.
Others show that the planning process is still a hotbed of political influence, lobbying by vested interests, last minute votes on development plans and Section 4 motions.
Into this minefield the unwary self-builder dares to tread, with the hope of achieving a 7,000 square foot mansion with basement pool in the middle of an SAC.

The downside for unsurpassed levels of inclusiveness prior to the Planning and Development Act 2000 was huge time delays accruing to the process of obtaining planning permission.
The Planning and Development Act 2000 streamlined the permission route but the planning process in Ireland remains one of the most open, transparent and inclusive in the world.
Anyone can lodge an Observation on an application for permission within the 5 weeks following its receipt by the local authority on payment of €20 fee.
The applicant and the Observer(s) can Appeal the Decision of the Local Authority to An Bórd Pleanála within four weeks of it having been made.
Certain other limited parties can also appeal/make comment [or seek leave to appeal - ie adjoining landowners] but I have yet to see such.
The Bórds Determination of the Appeal can itself be subject to Judicial Review in the High Court on technical grounds within 8 weeks.

The Planning and Development Act 2000, inter alia;​

  • set higher standards for the information required at lodgement of an application with incomplete submissions beign deemed invalid
  • set strict time limits for consideration of planning applications and further information submissions
  • required persons who might wish to Appeal to first have submitted Observations at planning stage for a €20 fee,
  • imposed requirements to submit [and gave planning authorities powers to require] comprehensive documentation at planning stage for specified uses and applications over a certain area in the form of environmental impact statements,traffic management and mobility studies
  • required contributions for social, affordable and sheltered housing by developers,
  • allowed local authorities to compose lists of ancillary development objectives for which levies could be imposed
  • set a universal 4 week Appeal period
  • required full grounds of Appeal within the said four week period
  • targeted dates within which An Bórd Pleanála should determine Appeals - 4 months, which limit is still often exceeded
  • allowed Observations to be submitted by Third Parties to any Appeal for a €50 fee.
For many, the Act represents a reasonable balance between the rights of developers to know the fate of their development within a reasonable timeframe and the rights of individuals and groups to be considered.
Some people consider the fees for submission of Observations too onerous, particularly for those on low incomes, but few cases of lack of representation due to not having the €20 have come to my attention.

Of more general concern in recent years has been the growing numbers of Strategic Development Zones in and around the Greater Dublin Region - the four Dublin Councils together with Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. Once the fairly strict terms of reference within the Zone are set, the normal avenues of objection are removed.

The balance here is struck by the public consultation process which precedes the adoption of the SDZ, and the payback to future residents of the area, which is intended to be provided with facilities supportive of a new community at an early stage in its development.

This is in contrast, for example, to the ongoing saga of Tallaght, which only got its shopping centre and civic offices when the population had exceeded 50% of its target.

A non-exhaustive list of some of the more well known existing or currently proposed SDZ'z include:​

  • Balgaddy-Clonburris, County Dublin
  • Clonmagadden Valley, Navan, County Meath
  • Hansfield, Blanchardstown, County Dublin
  • Cherrywoood, County Dublin
  • Adamstown, County Dublin
My reading of part of the Clonburris information on South Dublin County Council's website http://www.sdublincoco.ie/index.aspx...=939&pid=15009 suggests that SDZ can have associated LAPs. Within the LAP it appears that the normal planning process can apply.

Use a Planning Professional or Not?

If you choose not to use a planning professional of any kind you will need to addresess the following issues.
  • Planning Application
  • Further Information Submission
  • Clarification of Further Information Submission
  • Planning Appeal Submission
  • Judicial Review [seldom with house sites]
  • Planning Agreement Submission
  • Levies and Contributions
Continued in the Self-Build FAQ Part 2
 
Last edited:

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
Self-Build FAQ Part 2

Continued from the Self-Build FAQ Part 1

The Process of Building a House ctd./

The previous Self-Build FAQ was contained in a single post thathad grown so big it had hit the 40,000 charcter limit.
Brendan suggested that we split the single post in two to allow upgrading of sections and an overall increase.
The date of this issue is 2010.10.20.

4.0 Detail Design
Use a Building Professional or not?

If you choose not to employ a building professional of any kind, you will need to develop expertise in relation to the following matters; -
  • Planning Constraints
  • Health and Safety Responsibilities
  • Building Regulation Compliance
  • Limited Inspection
  • Certification
You can read CDPs and talk to the planner, contact the HSA and read their website and collar your friendly Building Control Officer for a chat and read the technical guidance documents from cover to cover.
Self builders are unafraid of hard work, to judge from the posts here, but the technical requirements for understanding compliant building contruction are becoming more difficult each year.
Self-builders may find that their attempts to acquire these new skill sets and abilities comes to a halt with certification, after stumbling at limited inspection, following a slowing down period when reading the technical guidance documents.
Add to that the fact that the construction methods and details are changing - sometimes it seems year by year - to achieve every greater conservation of fuel and energy and the technical issues mean you need very good advice to hand before and during the build.

Most home owners are not trained technically to a sufficient degree to allow them to inspect the works and without the overall co-ordination of the main contractor, can end up at a severe disadvantage, relying for advice on good detailing practice from tradespeople they employ by direct labour.
Some banks offering Direct Labour Loans have asked engineers to certify the built work to get around this - this compromises their PI cover, which usually only covers the design of structures or services they are competent to design and not the built work - and it may require that they certify the design of elements that may be outside their area of expertise.

A disturbing implication of this is that some self-built houses are not being designed or inspected correctly during construction by design professionals and neither do they have an experienced contractor overseeing the building programme and certifying the built work.
At a period where the technical expertise necessary to build carbon neutral houses by 2013 isn't fully developed, this lack of technical ability is a potential time bomb waiting to detonate.
When it is realised just how many self build homes are beign built annually, and this number is likely to rise short term, the lack of competent technical oversight will drawing attention to itself.
It was partly to deal with this matter that I started to write this FAQ to better inform self builders of what is going to be required of them and perhaps avoid a confrontational situation arising.

The wise course of action is to retain an architect to design and draw up your house plans to a sufficient level of technical detail to ensure compliance with the building regulations.
Bear in mind however that certification for the banks on a direct labour loan may raise complex issues for professionals and may perhaps compromise them in terms of certifying the built work - their Professional Indemnity cover allows them to certify the design, not the built work itself.
Another course is to choose an established system-build such as timber frame, which leaves packages of the work to other contractors, e.g. plumbing, plastering, window supply and fit. However you should have a good set of technical detail drawings done to allow proper co-ordination and correct detailing of therest of the house. These should not be taken off a suppliers website, but as a minimum should be executed by a competent architectural practice, following on from the design work, specifying in particular the provision of ventilation to walls and roofs.

Given the eventual need to pass on good title, you should retain an architect inspect, certify monies and issue opinions of compliance on completion.
With a good set of design drawings you are now ready to proceed to obtain the necessary statutory approval - planning permission​
Building Regulation Compliance​
Part A - Structure
Part B - Fire Safety
Part C - Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture
Part D - Materials and Workmanship
Part E - Sound
Part F - Ventilation
Part G - Hygiene
Part H - Drainage and Waste Water Disposal
Part J - Heat Producing Appliances
Part K - Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards
Part L - Conservation of Fuel and Energy (Dwellings)
Part M - Access for the People with Disabilities​
Health and Safety Review​
5.0 Pre-Site
Pricing of of Construction Materials, Goods, Finishes
Insurances
Selection of Site Operatives, Tradesmen
Contracts
Ordering
Health and Safety Compliance - Appointments, Site Safety, Training of Site Operatives and Tradesmen, Site Inspections, Site Safety Plan, Preview of Works, First Aid.
Develop Building Programme
Commencement Notice​
6.0 On Site
Monitor Building Programme
Cost Control
Sequence of Trades
Sequence of Works
Attendances
Site Management
Daily Schedule of Work
Materials Ordering
Machinery Hire
Excavations
Foundations
Rising Walls
Scaffolding​
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Sconhome

Frequent Poster
Messages
469
Re: Self-Build Key Post

Great work onq.

If I can be of help fattening out some of the more practical elements of the On Site section in particular please let me know.

Sean
 

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
Re: Self-Build Key Post

The approval of peers - no more encouragement is needed :)

ONQ.
 

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
Re: Self-Build Key Post

Great work onq.

If I can be of help fattening out some of the more practical elements of the On Site section in particular please let me know.

Sean
Please feel free - especially where your experience may complement or better still, contradict, my own.
I'm sort of in overview mode so I'm encompassing all shades of opinion to distill principles.
I find every building professional sees sitework slightly differently even within the same discipline, reflecting no doubt their own particular experiences of bolshie builders, difficult clients or whatever.
Opinions which may differ from mine should still be offered as long as they are based on fact and should not therefore be seen as any source of dissent or argument but a useful tool to arrive at a better understanding of the process.
Different strokes.

ONQ.
 
Z

z101

Guest
Re: Self-Build Key Post

; said:
.
At a period where the technical expertise necessary to build carbon neutral houses by 2013 isn't fully developed, this lack of technical ability is a potential time bomb waiting to detonate.
Whens the book coming out..?

Whats the basic requirement for this.? Are you saying there is a legal requirement we are not equiped to deliver on?
 
Z

z101

Guest
Re: Self-Build Key Post

This is the draft...

Do you mean the scientific basis, or the impending legislation?

Not yet.

ONQ.
The scientific basis to the fulfill impending legislation.

Should we be in a hurry to build before 2013 as it's 60% carbon neutral in 2010. May be cheaper than 100%. Would this make more sense if build cost is an issue to get it done over next 2 years (not sure what 2011 requirement is).?
 

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
Re: Self-Build Key Post

The scientific basis to the fulfill impending legislation.
I think we're still learning all the building physics involved. And we need to look at passive solar design, as well as how best to avail of ambient energy and how this utilisation will affect our environment. Does a long term use of a ground based heat pump lower ground temperatures locally to the point at which the installation is only giving 50% of its design heat flow, or less?

We know how the physics works in theory in large part, and we've seen some empirical proofs of concept, if you will, but there was a lot said in the presentations at Plan Expo that opened my eyes.

[I've been involved in giving building conditions reports and expert witness testimony on building defects for over a decade now.]

The relatively new empirical studies and research by people into the use of sand lime products for older buildings as well as variable membranes in newer forms of construction were fascinating to hear and see presented so well and simply put to a varied audience.

It wasn't all architects and engineers - all players in the construction industry were well represented.

Should we be in a hurry to build before 2013 as it's 60% carbon neutral in 2010. May be cheaper than 100%. Would this make more sense if build cost is an issue to get it done over next 2 years (not sure what 2011 requirement is).?
I'm going to push the boat out as little here and post a link from www.globalresearch.ca which answers your question obliquely, by questioning the basis of the basis :)

Global Warming: "Fixing the Climate Data around the Policy"
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2009-11-30

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16339

Quite a lot of money is being spent on reduction of carbon yet if we really want to reduce it, we cannot start by being efficient, because the increase in the world population wipes out any efficiency gains. We need to address the thorny issue of population growth if we're serious about carbon management, at least in the short and medium terms.

There's no point reducing emissions by 20% if the population grows by 30% in the same period, is there.

But to come back to your question - I would prefer to build for a minimum of A3 now - and I have just achieved this according to a BER assessment of the last house I have designed - and do it right and build well usign known methods available today, rather than trying to go for levels of technology and untried smart materials the performance of which over time is unknown and will remain untested for some time.

I think that as the newer technologies become better understood we will see better enabled methods of still further reductions and the more popular ones will become cheaper through economies of scale.

Thus they will be tested in the field more often exposing any flaws through statistical analysis - but we need to perform testing to get that analysis! We need empirical testing, not just idealised calculations by BER testers. These are intended to put the relative efficiencies of particular designs on the map. They don't necessarily reflect a real-time approximation of the efficiency of what is actually built. You won't be able to tell if the builder skimped on insulation or the window spec, for example, unless you test the building.

Once again, I refer readers to http://www.josephlittlearchitects.com/ for a look at how one practice is attempting to address the several issues arising.

I hope that goes some way towards answering your query, Ceatharlach. Its a question we'll all be spending a lot of time answering over the next four years. Hopefully.

:)

ONQ.
 
Z

z101

Guest
Re: Self-Build FAQ

I wonder when people go looking for planning permission will there be all kinds of bedlam with all this. Will Planners and County councils be fully abreast of requirements, or will they turn you down, as they wont know what to hell your proposing. Will An Bord Plannala be no better. 'No one in your area has solar panels so you cant as it looks out of place.. not to mention a neighbour might not like the enviable 'new' technology your proposing to put in your house and object on spurious ground which ABP may uphold. You may be trying to stick to new and ever changing regulations but they might be too everchanging for the local and planning powers needed to allow it.
 

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
Re: Self-Build FAQ

I wonder when people go looking for planning permission will there be all kinds of bedlam with all this. Will Planners and County councils be fully abreast of requirements, or will they turn you down, as they wont know what to hell your proposing. Will An Bord Plannala be no better. 'No one in your area has solar panels so you cant as it looks out of place.. not to mention a neighbour might not like the enviable 'new' technology your proposing to put in your house and object on spurious ground which ABP may uphold. You may be trying to stick to new and ever changing regulations but they might be too everchanging for the local and planning powers needed to allow it.
That's a fair comment in principle but planning permission inter alia tells you what you can build, not how to build it.

The Building Regulations state the requirements and the TGD's give guidance on how to construct your building.

And to give credit where its due [or blame, depending on your POV] most of the issues are dealt with by:

S.I. No. 83 of 2007.
————————
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS 2007.

http://www.environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/FileDownLoad,1486,en.pdf

Flues, wind turbines, solar panels and ground or air source heat pumps all seem to be covered.

Thanks for asking BTW, because I hadn't read the environ.ie website in a little while.

It was useful to see the amount of new guidelines on this page:

http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentandHousing/PlanningDevelopment/Planning/PlanningGuidance/

Recommended bedtime reading :)

Your tax Euros at work

ONQ.
 
C

cheekywilso

Guest
Re: Self-Build FAQ

Moderator's note

REad the Posting Guidelines.

Start a new thread. Don't add your question to an existing thread, especially a Key Post

Brendan
 
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