The Building Regulations 1997 - 2019 set out the legal requirements in Ireland for the construction of new buildings (including houses), extensions to existing buildings as well as for material alterations and certain material changes of use to existing buildings. Their aim is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. The Building Regulations are set out in functional terms and are performance based – they do not set limitations on the materials.
The associated Technical Guidance Documents (TGD A - M respectively) provide technical guidance on how to comply with the regulations in practical terms for non-complex buildings. Where works are carried out in accordance with the relevant technical guidance, such works are considered to be, prima facie, in compliance with the relevant regulations.
The Building Regulations are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation.
Part B of the Building Regulations deals with Fire Safety. The associated Technical Guidance Document B (TGD B) provides guidance indicating how the requirements of Part B can be achieved in practice. Where works are carried out in accordance with TGD B, this will, prima facie, indicate compliance with Part B of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations.
A fundamental review of Part B (Fire Safety) is underway at present and will take note of the Fire Safety in Ireland report (published in 2018), and consider common and emerging building trends, developments and events from a global perspective, matters relating to external fire spread, external fire resistance, internal fire resistance, cladding systems, sprinklers, etc. Changes in standards, including fire test standards and technological changes in areas such as materials and systems have necessitated a fundamental analysis of the provisions and assumptions contained in Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety.
In this context, my Department established a Consultative Committee in December 2020 to discuss the technical revision of Part B/TGD B and has already met several times.
Draft documentation in the form of revised draft Building Regulations (Part B Amendment) Regulations, Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety and a Regulatory Impact Analysis are currently being developed with a view to being brought forward for public consultation later this year.
Separately, Part D (Materials and Workmanship) requires that all works should be carried out in a workmanlike manner using “proper materials…which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used” to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations and includes materials which comply with an appropriate harmonised standard or European Technical Assessment or comply with an appropriate Irish Standard or Irish Agrément Certificate or with an alternative national technical specification of any State which is a contracting party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which provides in use an equivalent level of safety and suitability.