Isabel Barros Architects - Blog

design + energy + excellence

Tag: compliance (page 1 of 2)

Minimum BER Rating for New Houses Built in 2019


We are quickly approaching the introduction of Nearly-Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) standard and once again we are asked to improve the energy performance of buildings.


What is a Nearly-Zero Energy Building (nZEB)?

‘Nearly zero-energy building’ means a building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.

When will the new regulations be introduced?

Article 9(1) of Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings requires that all new buildings:

– shall be nearly-zero energy buildings by 31 December 2020;

– occupied and owned by public authorities shall be nearly zero energy buildings after 31 December 2018

A full review of Part L of the Building Regulations is expected to be published very soon, this will include the nZEB standard.

What are the transitional arrangements?

This will be confirmed when the reviewed Part L of the Building Regulations is published.

The draft transitional arrangements required the standard to apply to all new dwellings commencing construction from 1st April 2019 (subject to transition).

Transitional arrangements (draft) will allow Part L-2011 Dwellings to be used when planning permission has been applied for prior to the application date of 1st April 2019 and substantial work * is completed by 31st March 2020.

*The structure of the external walls has been erected.


How will compliance with nZEB be demonstrated?

For domestic buildings, compliance will be demonstrated using the DEAP methodology. DEAP is currently being updated to account for NZEB.

For non-domestic buildings, compliance will be demonstrated using the NEAP methodology.


Is nZEB standard only for new houses?

No, the new standard applies to Domestic and Non Domestic Buildings.

It also applies to existing buildings (Domestic and Non Domestic) where major renovations take place.

Major Renovation’ means the renovation of a building where more than 25% of the surface area of the building envelope undergoes renovation.

For Existing Non Domestic Buildings this will require that the building is brought up to cost optimal level, which is defined in the building regulations as:

  • Upgrade Heating System more than 15 years’ old
  • Upgrade Cooling and Ventilation Systems more than 15 years’ old
  • Upgrade Lighting more than 15 years old.

For Existing Domestic Buildings, it is proposed that major renovation is typically activated where external wall is renovated. The cost optimal level is a primary energy performance of 125 kWh/m2/yr when calculated using DEAP or upgrade of roof insulation and heating system.


What are the BER requirements once nZEB standards are implemented?

This is currently out for public consultation, refer to Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government website for proposed changes to the regulations and DEAP methodology.

For all new builds, it is proposed that nZEB will be equivalent to a 25% improvement in energy performance on the 2011 Building Regulations.

This equates to an energy performance and carbon performance parameter that is 70% better than Ireland’s 2005 standard.

A new Nearly-Zero Energy Building (Dwelling) will typically correspond to an A2 Building Energy Rating (BER).



Will a new house be more expensive to build from 1st April 2019?

The impact on design and cost is expected to be relatively small.

The projected increase is 1.9% over current construction costs depending on the dwelling archetype and design specification applied.



Please Build Exactly as per Specifications


We always get nervous when the Contractor or the Client rings asking to change this or that. This would typically happen at construction stage and after we have spent long hours preparing construction drawings, specifications, etc. Many details are quite complex and it is not easy to change them from A to B in the hour. Furthermore, they are likely to involve extensive calculations to comply with Part L of the Building Regulations and possibly more research.

It would be easy enough to change the colour paint for a bedroom but changing a whole wall construction or even just the wall insulation is not that easy, it is time consuming and it kind of defeats the purpose of preparing pre-construction drawings.

Recently we found out on site that an existing wall was not as we had assumed in our drawings and calculations. We were prepared to review the specification and there were notes in our drawings that requested the Contractor to confirm the type of wall before proceeding with works. This was not a change requested by the client or contractor, it is just an example of what is involved when something changes. Between research, new drawings, calculations, etc there were about 10 hours extra to properly detail this variation. The image below shows one of the U-value calculations for just ONE wall. The client rarely gets to see all the work that is involved when things change on site.



In conclusion, unless there is a really good reason to change the specification, please think careful before you ask and please understand the implications not only for your Architect but also for the Assigned Certifier.

And even more important – please do not change the specifications without getting permission from the Architect/Contract Administrator!

3 Reasons You May Need an Architect if You are Selling Your House


If you are planning to sell your house you will soon realise there are a number of legal documents that are required to complete the sale. Some documents you probably never heard about and others you may have overlooked until today.

We are seeing more and more solicitors undergoing a strict assessment regarding the required documentation and they are likely to recommend their clients to move away from the purchase if the documents are not in order.


These are the typical issues that may cause you enough headache:

1 – Your house does not comply with the grant of Planning Permission, or you have carried out work (ie.: an extension) that does not qualify as “Exempted Development“.

2 – You do not have an Opinion on Compliance with Planning Permission.

3 – You do not have an Opinion on Compliance with Building Regulations.



The solution:

1 –  Any house built in Ireland after the 1st October 1964 requires planning permission. You should apply for Retention of the unauthorized development as soon as possible. Arrange for your Architect to visit the house, do a survey and prepare the Planning Application.  The length of time it takes to get planning permission is affected by the completeness of the application and by whether or not there is an appeal. Generally, a valid application will be dealt with by a planning authority within 12 weeks, from the date the application is made to the final granting of permission.

It is very important to ensure the planning permission is in order before the proposed sale. Otherwise the potential purchaser may pull out of the transaction at a very late stage, when s/he discovers the problem.

You can also find the Planning Applications Fees for Co. Wexford here.

2 and 3 -Opinions on Compliance are important legal document that certify the building is in accordance with the planning permission granted and Building Regulations. They represent an essential element of conveyancing documentation and as such Architects adopt a significant liability in relation to the opinion they give.

RIAI Architects are advised to use the standard forms prepared by RIAI. You should ask your Architect to prepare these documents but please note that RIAI advises their members to exercise extreme caution and avoid offering opinions on Building Regulations when they were not the original Architect for the building or development.


Please contact us today if you need us to help you with any of the issues above.



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