visual inspections

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    • #711439
      Paul Clerkin

      Priory Hall apartments never checked by fire inspectors and just a visual check by the architects

      Going to be a lot more of this.

    • #817368

      As my old gaffer who lived by the banks of the Tolka used to say…

      “When the water goes out….you see all the rusty shopping trolleys”.

    • #817369

      I watched the discussion on Primetime will interest.
      Many might try to blame the system but surely someone has been dishonest here?
      The inspector on Primetime stated that “inner rooms” were constructed in apartments which is fundamentally against fire regulations (TGD B) This is the crux of Priory Halls apartment scandal, as it can not be argued that the works “were covered up or inaccessible“.

      If the “inner rooms” were constructed then the Design didn’t comply with Document B, the structure was constructed contrary to a condition on the Fire Certificate and the opninion on compliance was deeply flawed.

      Who signed the Opinion on Compliance with Building Regulations / Control?
      Was the signatory a member of a professional body?
      Even a basic visual inspection would have spotted the “inner room” which was to be removed as a condition on the Fire Cert.

      I note the RIAI has been very silent on this issue. Yet in the past RIAI sought to be seen as a protector of Consumer Rights.
      Surely the RIAI must advise the public on this matter & take appropiate action against any member that may have been involved.

      I believe that severe prison sentances are the only remedy to Priory Hall apartments. The public must be protected from one of the worst instances of non- compliance in the history of the State. The residents have suffered terrible hardships.
      Shame on all those involved.

    • #817370

      Does anyone know what the ‘inner room’ is? I’m wondering if it is a Kitchen accessed off a living room.
      Twould be difficult to miss during a visual inspection. :crazy:

    • #817371
      Paul Clerkin

      Heard it was a bedroom off a kitchen.

    • #817372

      Oh of course, for when you are feeling peckish during the night and
      need to raid the fridge in a hurry :clap: . Architecture bedamned

    • #817373

      I think that there’s a danger of going off on one here. Typical RTE sensationalism- has anyone actually seen a plan or a recognised professional actually inside an apartment explaining to anyone what the issues actually are (if indeed there are any inside the apartments)? If a journalist – and I use that term loosely when it comes to Prime Time – had actually asked anyone what was actually the issue then maybe it wouldn’t be such an issue. Of course, Miriam wouldn’t have been able to climb on her high horse otherwise

    • #817374

      This is the plan. These are the non-compliant double bedrooms located off the living rooms with shared kitchens. These are duplex units, hence no lobbies off the stairs.

      The Prime Time report was quite balanced. The shame of course being that these matters are being reported on after the horse has bolted – i.e. our ‘economic miracle’ and all that sailed in her. Producers and senior reporters were too busy reporting on binge drinking while building second homes and apartments in Bulgaria to notice.

      Indeed, the lack of coverage in all the media of the regulatory aspect of this appalling spectacle for over a week since the story gained legs said it all. We have such an appalling suburban media in this country.

    • #817375

      how many of those duplex units are there? It doesn’t look like a big deal – a bit of wall and another door

      I can’t imagine that they would evacuate the whole place for that – I think the cavity barrier issue is the real reason

    • #817376

      It is yep. But there are multiple problems, including smoke extraction on the stairwells, fire separation in the external walls, fire separation in the ghastly timber-framed uppermost floors, fire insultation on gas installations, failing render and damp issues, and whatever you’re having yourself.

    • #817377

      @wearnicehats wrote:

      I think that there’s a danger of going off on one here. Typical RTE sensationalism- has anyone actually seen a plan or a recognised professional actually inside an apartment explaining to anyone what the issues actually are (if indeed there are any inside the apartments)? If a journalist – and I use that term loosely when it comes to Prime Time – had actually asked anyone what was actually the issue then maybe it wouldn’t be such an issue. Of course, Miriam wouldn’t have been able to climb on her high horse otherwise

      This saga, me thinks is going to be a ” David Grant” moment for the brotherhood in Merrion, who are so silent at the moment. Looking at the drawings shown, no person calling themselves an “architect”, or otherwise, could have made such a basic error, unless they slept right through their fire safety lectures, but! we can blame the fire dept, whom did not seem to spot this obvious error, we can blame the engineers, the surveyors, the builder, and the planning office as well, we can blame the banks, and ultimately we can blame the poor sods whom bought these death traps, but woe behold, lets not blame the architects responsible for the design and certification of the structure. I for one am not the person to close ranks around “one of me own” , unlike the legal and medical profession, and I will call a spade a spade, and s***e s***t (can I say “shite” Mr Clerkin ??) This appears to be a major cock up, of untold magnitude by the architects, and I feel this will be the catalyst for a shake in the whole , self certification system, and will lead to a system the same as found in NI, and the UK, where building control will check the works, in tandem with the inspecting architect. I see another major stream of income now being withered away, thanks lads..

      also this is manna from heaven to those unqualified successes, to those lads in the AA, they must be pointing their broadside cannons towards Johns battlements on the square. It will interesting to see how both sides handle this propaganda piece?

    • #817378

      are you sure that inner rooms aren’t allowed in duplexes?

    • #817379

      Not if over 4.5 metres from the ground according to the quoted regs.

    • #817380

      got a section through them?

      the main thing is that this hasn’t been dragging on for 2 years or anything

    • #817381
      Paul Clerkin
    • #817382

      more half-arsed say nothing reporting.

      The reason I ask about the section is that PArt B regarding duplexes is far from simple. Ground levels vs access levels, staircase ratings etc. All is not always what it seems

      I can understand (as opposed to condoning) missing cavity barriers etc given the current inspection system in place versus speed of construction and skill of contractor. Having worked in the UK I can assure you the system there doesn’t catch everything. What I can’t understand is how the fire safety systems were commissioned however ie in full working order. all – not to deflect it – that’s not necessarily to do with the architect. Why would an architect not issue PC if advised by the fire consultant that all the systems are working ok.

    • #817383

      The layouts would be acceptable in many other parts of the world…
      Anyway inspections don’t always pick up everything whats new…

    • #817384

      I stayed in an apartment (one floor) in Switzerland that
      had two bedrooms opening directly onto the living area.
      One of these bedrooms was accessed directly off the
      kitchenette part of the same living area. A short
      corridor with bathroom off led directly to the main
      door onto the stairwell (3 stories) without a sperating door.
      It was quite a new apartment. I presume the same type
      of layouts can be found all over Europe. One thing about
      the Priory Hall layout apart from the Fire Safety issues is
      the way the door opens out from the living room onto
      the landing- it looks pretty awkward. :crazy:

    • #817385

      Another thing. Do you have to jump over the dining room table to get
      out onto the stair-well. This is pure shite at very basic design level
      regardless of the fire-safety issues.

    • #817386
    • #817387

      “The fact that Dublin City Council did their job properly and brought this particular individual to court is a clear indication that the Building Control Act is robust”.

      obviously our minister for environment has no clue as to the sequence of events which led to this crisis, nor has he any understanding of the role of the building control section.

      the issue came to light AFTER a fire occurred in one of the premises, and the fire officers subsequent visit and report brought the seriousness of the situation to light.
      The ‘building control act’ and associated building control section of the authority played no part in the situation until the faults were observed and noted by the fire officer. This is the obvious and true failing of the system.

      the silence of the RIAI here is deafening… something the SCS are looking to profit from.

    • #817388

      I think that was Reddy’s point

      Anyway – in case you missed it Henno- this was issued last Wednesday. It was on the News at 6 and 9pm

      Architects Call for Introduction of System to Deliver Stronger Enforcement of Building RegulationsPosted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

      The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has today (19th October) called for the introduction of a system to deliver stronger enforcement of the Building Regulations. The RIAI’s Director, John Graby, said that the Institute has been engaging with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) about strengthening the enforcement system since 2004 including the creation of a National Building Inspectorate, and a defined statutory inspection system by competent professionals. The RIAI is the regulatory and support body for architects in Ireland.

      John Graby said that the current downturn in the construction industry gives us an opportunity to strengthen and improve our systems so that they are in place when building activity commences again. “The introduction of the Building Regulations in the early 1990s has led to a marked improvement in building standards in Ireland. However, enforcement has always been an issue to ensure that these improvements are as widespread as possible. Unfortunately, the aim of those enforcing the Building Regulations is to inspect 12-15% of all building sites and we have been arguing for sometime that this is simply not sufficient.”

      Mr Graby said that the RIAI has proposed that a new National Building Inspectorate – which could be staffed by redeployment from existing resources – be part of a stronger enforcement system. However, apart from creating such an Inspectorate, there are a number of possible options to be considered in strengthening our system, John Graby explained.

      “We could follow some European systems which require full lodgement and approval of all drawings and construction data prior to the commencement of building work and regular inspections while construction is underway. However, for such a system to work, it would require some 1,200 additional local authority staff in place.

      “Another option would be to require all drawings and construction data – with the design signed off by competent professionals – to be lodged online so that they can be accessed and inspected easily by the National Building Inspectorate. The design team on each project would be required to carry out routine statutory inspections and tests during the construction phase and on completion to ensure that the building works have been carried out in line with the original drawings. The National Building Inspectorate would carry out targeted inspections – like the Revenue Commissioners or the Health and Safety Authority. Such a system is under discussion with DECLG which would deliver enhanced public safety and consumer protection.”

      While not commenting on any particular case, John Graby said that in relation to most residential building projects, architects and other design professionals are not involved in the construction stage of the buildings concerned, where the problems happen.

      “In most residential building projects architects prepare design documentation and specifications for planning permission and fire certificates. This means that they can only give an opinion on the compliance of the buildings with these drawings based on a visual inspection because they are not involved in the construction stage. Clearly this is not sufficient and we believe that design professionals should be actively involved in every stage of the construction process.

      “Where there is a building contract, where the architect administers the contract and where a site inspection service is provided then the architect’s opinion is given on that basis. Architects, engineers and other design professionals carry the legal responsibility for compliance of their design documentation with the Building Regulations; contractors, sub-contractors and other construction personnel carry the legal responsibility to build in accordance with the Building Regulations.”

      John Graby concluded by saying that it’s important to bear in mind that no enforcement system can deliver 100% perfect results. However, there is definite scope to build on the improvements that have already been made since the Building Regulations were introduced, Mr Graby said.

    • #817389

      Posted recently on


      Given the seriousness of the situation facing the Architectural profession and the fact this this is not new ground, I think it is as well that we all face known facts.

      This is the Priory Hall Report

      Before Priory Hall there there was Shangan Hall.
      The building was commissioned by Dublin City Council.
      Shangan Hall Apartments were certified by Anthony Reddy & Associates in 2005.

      Prime Time
      Presented by Rita O’Reilly
      Broadcast on: 22 May 2006

      The Section on Shangan Hall starts at timestamp 38:50 – it finshes at 48:28 and I draw your attention to the section commencing at 44:14

      This link requires Realplayer


      Media Player Classic with the necessary codec.

      Tony Reddy’s comment was
      “I wasn’t personally involved in the design.”
      Tony Reddy was President of the RIAI in 2005 and is a current fellow of the RIAI.

      I have met Tony on several occasions.
      He is one of the nicest men you could meet.
      His office in Dublin has done some interesting design work.
      Yet we see him mired in controversy in the above Prime Time Report.

      What message do Shangan Hall and Priory Hall send to the public and the Minister?
      Here are Phil Hogan’s comments as previously reported

      Here is a view on his comments.

      I agree that the current regulatory situation can be improved, but this does justify architects who may have issued Opinions at variance with the facts.

      The RIAI have to step up to the mark on this one.

      For those who may be interested, there is also an ongoing discussion on Mark Stephens Archtiect’s Blog about Priory Hall and Architects Certification.

      I have no relation or professional connection to Mark Stephens other than we may both be Member of the Architectural Association of Ireland, but I’m not certain.


      All advice on AAM is remote from the situation and cannot be relied upon as a defence or support – in and of itself – should legal action be taken.
      Competent legal and building professionals should be asked to advise in Real Life with rights to inspect and issue reports on the matters at hand.

    • #817390

      @spoilsport wrote:

      also this is manna from heaven to those unqualified successes, to those lads in the AA, they must be pointing their broadside cannons towards Johns battlements on the square. It will interesting to see how both sides handle this propaganda piece?

      In 1990 I qualified as an architect from Bolton Street College of Technology.

      In 1993 I was a associate Member of the RIAI – ARIAI.
      The following October 1994 the ILS issued its practice note advising Members that Certificates could be accepted from people having prescribe qualifications.

      DIR 85/384/EEC and S.I. 15 of 1989 referred.
      Both of these documents confirmed my right to use the Title “Architect”
      I didn’t need to be registered in order to practice or sign certificates”as an architect”

      The ILS warned its members about accepting certs from people who offered them if they competence to do so solely because on their membership of representative bodies.

      In other words, people who did not ALSO have either

      (i) a prescribed qualification OR
      (ii) 10 years providing professional services .

      On May 1st 2008 The Building Control Act 2007 [BCA 2007] came into force.
      People who were not Registered were prevented from using the Title “architect”.

      Members of the RIAI were deemed to be automatically Registered – solely because of their Membership of the RIAI.
      Many people held the opinion that this was acceptable because they had been “tested” – but some were tested over twenty years ago.

      In order to comply with the I stopped using the Title “architect”.
      I started describing my self as a “Planning and Design Consultant”.

      In 2010 I joined the architects Alliance in protest at what I saw as a land-grab by the coterie of people running the RIAI.
      I helped the Architects Alliance make their presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment on 18th May 2010
      I helped draught the Building Control Amendment Bill 2010, which wisely included the showing of evidence a proof of establishment
      I lobbied members of both the then government and opposition and subsequent members of the current government and opposition.
      I and others met with Registrar John Graby to see if common ground could be reached in order to restore the standing of those affected by BCA 2007.

      In September 2010 I resigned as a Member of the Architects Alliance.
      The spokesperson was on record on RTE stating that he accepted the title “building designer”
      It had become clear there were core members who were not supportive of being tested in ANY way.

      Ergo I decided to stop fronting for a rudderless organization of people unknown competence and an anti-testing, anti-RIAI bias.
      Since then I have worked to assemble my information going back over 22 years to 1989 and before to enable me to apply to Register.

      All along I have said that automatic Registration for Members of the Institute ONLY was not the correct way to structure the profession.
      Better to include everyone in the organization and then set standards through regular evaluation of members – was this too near the bone?
      I pointed out that people like Ruairí Quinn had been tested over thirty years ago and stopped practising as an architect more than a decade ago.
      I said that merely having the Part III’s did not actually give any assurance to the public that the architect in question would act competently or with integrity.
      I noted that while young architects with the Part II’s were offering an assurance as to what they WOULD DO, people with 10 years in practice could point to what they HAD DONE.

      The problem with Stephen Opperman is that he has it all.

      An prescribed qualification
      More than 10 years in practice in Ireland as an architect.
      Membership of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.
      Yet his office has presided over the debacle that is Priory Hall.

      And now the RIAI is blaming “The System” and “Light Touch Regulation”.
      Oppermann was the architect of record – certification was his responsibility.

      This is not a “win” for the Architect’s Alliance, most of who are neither qualified as architects.
      This is not a “win” for the many fine Members of the Royal Institute, several whom I studied with.

      What particularly annoys me is that I worked the self-certification system for years AND set the standards for the built work.
      They are not mutually exclusive positions – you just refuse to certify for people who try to cut corners or build non-compliantly.

      Because if you do that ONCE, you’re lost.

      Time for the RIAI to prove its worth to the Public.


    • #817391

      Just a note on certification and its implication – where we came from on this.

      Back in the ‘Nineties when I started certifying and the RIAI new form of words came out I initially resisted the inclusion of Main Contractors and Sub-Contractors certs in my Schedule A appendices on a matter of principle.

      I felt it was my job to certify the design was compliant according to visual inspection or limited inspection on site.

      It was the contractor and sub-contractors job to certify the built works.

      I felt that by including their cert in mine I was taking on responsibility for the built works that simply wasn’t justified by the money we were making out of it.

      After all, they got the lion’s share of the profit for the built work – many, many multiples of our fees – so they should carry the can.

      I was of the opinion that two separate booklets of certification should be issued, with the contractors certification being independently verified by Building Control.

      Nobody wanted to listen – most Building Control people weren’t interested in stepping out of their offices unless it was to go to a career-enhancing seminar or course – and so I made the best of it in the following way –

      ALL the contractors, sub-contractors and specialist suppliers had to offer their certificates for the built work before I would begin the final inspection.

      These certificates would be included in my Schedule A assurances AFTER the design team and/or specialist designers (e.g. Fire Safety Consultants) assurances.

      My file was backed up with site minutes, faxes and photographs from the appointed technical person in the office looking after the work PLUS my own site visits.

      The “visual inspection system” worked well, used in that way.

      However if the implications of the Coalport Saga hold true it has been totally abused in the decade since the end of the ‘Nineties. That suggests that in our most productive period of building in Ireland, the most egregious errors may have crept in through lax standards set by architects and no inspections by Building Control Officers.

      However one local authority where credit is due on Building Standards (whatever about other issues on which I may be at loggerheads with them) is Meath Co Co. John Sweeney is the BCO there and runs a tight and efficient ship, with an amazing 100% inspections achieved in one year (2003)!$File/07_part_m.htm

      This is how it should be done.

      Both examples above show how compliant building standards could be set and achieved using available methods and staffing – no additional laws or new certs needed.

      Now let’s see if the RIAI and Phil Hogan can recognize this fact and not make a dog’s dinner of imposing new legislation and Opinions that may be unnecessary.After all,

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