If I was an architect working on a residential development project in the heated period from 2006 to 2008 then chances are I was flat out. Chances are the extent of ensuring compliance that the apartment block my client built was in accordance with Building Regulations was based on
(a) a one off visual inspection at completion stage of the apartment block and;
(b) a comparison of the drawings with the built structure.
You can bet there was no excavation or periodic inspections.
Chances are my Certificate of Compliance was a load of waffle about 'substantial' compliance. As most conveyancing solicitors used to comment - "Not worth the paper".
Chances are if NAMA has not taken over the common areas of the apartment block through a Receiver of the unsold units then the residents are facing a €1.5m bill to get the block fire safety compliant and desperately appealing to some organ of the State to assist.
Through a facile and disingenuous Opinion on compliance architects managed to slip through the net of liability for the most part. Not any more, hopefully.
Through the 2014 Building Regulations at least now architects have to give an undertaking to comply with the Building Regs, Now they are instrumental in establishing an inspection plan and they must oversee the inspections at various stages of the build and then certify compliance in a more definitive way on completion. The consequence of all of this is that if there are any more Priory Halls or Longboat Quays in the next building boom then architects will not escape liability - or should I say their professional indemnity insurers.
Residents and owners at the Ath Leathan development outside Dundalk were told last month by the Louth fire officer that if remedial work isn’t done, their homes will have to be evacuated. The cost of the remedial work is estimated at €1.4m. Sound familiar? A similar scenario arose last year in the Longboat Quay development in Dublin’s docklands. Dublin Fire Brigade obtained a fire safety order requiring remedial works to be completed or the 600 residents would have to evacuate their homes. The work is estimated to cost about €2.5m. There have been others. In March 2015 a fire in a housing complex in Newbridge Co Kildare saw a terrace of six homes burnt to the ground in less than half an hour. That prompted an investigation into how the homes on the estate, Millfield Manor, were built.