Disability Access Certificate Applications.

Disability Access Certificate Applications.

For a Disability Access Certificate quotation simply e-mail your planning or project drawings for review and You’ll receive a quote within 24hrs. 

What is a Disability Access Certificate?

The City or County Council Building Control Authority assesses applications for Disability Access Certificates. Once approved, the Building Control Authority issue the Disability Access Certificate which states that the works or building will comply with the requirements of Part M of the Building Control Regulations, if built in accordance with the submission made and any Conditions that may be attached to the Certificate.

Is there any legislation governing Disability Access Certificates?

The Disability Access Certificate (DAC) was introduced through SI 351 of 2009 dated 4 September 2009 and came into effect on the 1st January 2010.

Does my proposed development require a Disability Access Certificate?

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2018 set out the classes of buildings or works, which will require a DAC, as follows:

(a) The construction of a new building,

(b) The material alteration (excluding minor works) of:

(i) a day centre,

(ii) a hotel, hostel or guest building, or

(iii) an institutional building, or

(iv)  a place of assembly, or

(v) a shopping centre,

(c) The material alteration of a shop, office or industrial building where –

(i) the building is being subdivided into a number of units for separate occupancy, or

(ii) additional floor area is being provided within the building,

(d) The extension of a building by more than 25 square metres,

(e) The material change of use where the building, becomes used as:

(i) a day centre,

(ii) a hotel, hostel or guest building,

(iii) an institutional building,

(iv)  a place of assembly,

(v) a shop (which is not ancillary to the primary use of the building), or

(vi)  a shopping centre.

In relation to Article 20D (1)(b), it should be noted that a DAC is no longer required for Material Alterations to a building containing a flat. However, this does not exempt the works from the requirements of Part M (Access and Use) of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations (where there is a Part M requirement). Part M continues to apply in the case of Material Alterations to a flat, or to a building containing a flat where Part M is applicable (but only to those works), as per Article 11 of the Building Regulations 1997 – 2017 (as amended).

Article 20D (1)(e) clarifies that a DAC is not required for the Material Change of Use to a building, where:

a) a flat, becomes so used,

b) an office, becomes so used, or

c) an industrial building, becomes so used.

Article 20D (2)

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2018 set out the classes of buildings or works, which do not require a DAC, as follows:

(i) An agricultural building,

(ii) A dwelling (other than a flat), See note below regarding ‘Bringing Back Homes’

(iii) A garage ancillary to a dwelling,

(iv) Certain other buildings ancillary to a dwelling,

(v) A building used solely to enable inspection, repair or maintenance of fixed  plant, building services, or machinery.

In relation to Article 20D (2) (a) to (d), it should be noted that the exemption for a DAC equates to the same building types which are currently exempted from the requirements for a Fire Safety Certificate, as specified in Article 11(2). However, the exemption for a DAC is irrespective of storey height.

In addition, Article 20D (2)(e), clarifies that a DAC is not required for a building used solely to enable inspection, repair or maintenance of fixed plant, building services, or machinery, such as access to roof top air handling units or electric substations.

The Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government published a document called “Bringing Back Homes” in 2018, though unfortunately they didn’t circulate it to Agents. It came into FiSCA’s possession via an Architect undertaking her own project of returning a former office and shop building back to a dwelling over the shop, on the 8th September, 2020. The document is available free for download on the Department’s website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/bringing_back_homes_final.pdf  Pages 16 – 19 inclusive illustrate charts to show if you project may be exempt from the necessity of obtaining a Disability Access Certificate.

What happens if I ignore the legislation & build anyway?

Apart from leaving yourself open to prosecution under building control legislation if you open a building without a disability access certificate. If you then try to sell your premises, the buyer’s solicitor should seek a copy of the disability access certificate & fire safety certificate for the building. If you are unable to produce these certificates you may find it difficult to sell.

If you’ve ignored the legislation and then try to rectify the building at a later date, you may find it difficult or almost impossible without major works to make the necessary changes to obtain a Disability Access Certificate. The author is aware of some projects that have been commercially unviable due to the stringent measures required by these regulations. You are well advised to be aware of the implications of ignoring the legislation.

Very significant changes were made to the 2010 edition of Part M which is far more onerous than the 2000 edition.

Can construction commence before I have a Disability Access Certificate?

Yes. However it would be prudent to obtain a Disability Access Certificate prior to work commencing on site as this will avoid any expensive remedial works which might delay the occupation and/or opening of the building.

Once built it might be impossible to provide the necessary requirements. The author is aware of small projects that have been commercially unviable due to the stringent measures required by these regulations. You are well advised to be aware of the implications of ignoring the legislation. You are legally prohibited from opening your building without a Disability Access Certificate.

Can I prepare & submit my own Disability Access Certificate application?

It is normal for a professional consultant, Architect or Engineer to prepare a Disability Access Certificate application. Such a person will be familiar with the Building Regulations and the procedure for applying for a Disability Access Certificate. The content of the application needs to be comprehensive in nature.

A person preparing a disability access certificate should have a sound knowledge of building construction and disability access design. If the application submitted is lacking in information or drawings, then the local authority will consider it invalid and will return it to you.

How much are the City/County Council fees for a Disability Access Certificate?

Providing the application is lodged at the same time as the Fire Safety Certificate application, €500 otherwise it’s €800 per building.

How much are Our fees for making a Disability Access Certificate submission?

It depends on the size and complexity of the project. If you’d like a quote, please email the project drawings . You’ll receive a quote within 24hrs.

When should I apply for my Disability Access Certificate?

It is best practice to apply for your Disability Access Certificate at the same time you are applying for your Fire Safety Certificate. If both applications are prepared at the same time by the same person, the drawings can be co-ordinated prior to submission! This alleviates the necessity for otherwise unnecessary alterations later.

What process does a Disability Access Certificate application go through?

  • An application for a Disability Access Certificate is submitted to the local Building Control Authority in the County or City concerned by the applicant or their agent.
  • Valid applications are date stamped and an acknowledgement stating date of receipt is meant to be sent to the applicant/agent. Where an application is incomplete and therefore not valid, the Building Control Authority may request the applicant to submit the necessary documentation to enable the application to be validated.  A considerable number of City & County Council do not validate the application until they are happy that they can issue the Disability Access Certificate.
  • The application is examined technically for compliance with Technical Guidance Document M, 2010
  • Where it is considered that additional information or modifications are required to the application, the officer examining the application may request such additional information/modification from the applicant/agent.
  • A Disability Access Certificate will issue after all required additional information has been submitted.
  • The Building Control Authority must notify the applicant of the decision on the application within two months of the application being validated or within such extended period of time as may be agreed between the applicant and the Authority at any time.

What must be included in a valid Disability Access Certificate application submission?

A valid Disability Access Certificate application must include:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Relevant disability access drawings in duplicate
  3. A disability access report in duplicate.
  4. Site location maps in duplicate.
  5. €800:00 fee.

What must be included in the Access report?

The application is required to demonstrate that the development complies with TGD’M’, 2010. Persons familiar with TGD’M’ can cherry pick the relevant sections as they see fit for the project at hand. Alternatively it could be achieved by systematically addressing each relevant clause of the Guidance document.

How long will a Disability Access Certificate application take?

The Regulations are imprecise and ambiguities exist, so the time taken to resolve issues that might exist with one particular authority, that another may not have, will depend entirely upon the idiosyncrasies of the Building Control Authority officer dealing with the application. The legislation allows eight weeks for a decision to be made on a Disability Access Certificate application. There isn’t the urgency in receiving a Disability Access Certificate that there is for a Fire Safety Certificate. You only need the Disability Access Certificate before you open the building for use. You can commence construction without one.

Are alterations & changes in the design permitted after a Disability Access Certificate has been granted?

Alterations are permissible at construction stage from the documentation submitted but may call into question the validity of the Disability Access Certificate as it applies to the development. Revisions are permissible to a Disability Access Certificate but in some instances a revised Disability Access Certificate application may have to be lodged for the alterations made to the development.

Naturally, it would be wise to seek clarification while works are on-going to ensure that desired alterations will comply with the Access Regulations before making them. It is important to note at this juncture, that you are prohibited from opening a building without a valid Disability Access Certificate. If changes have been made during construction, the Certificate may no longer be valid.

Will the City/County Council certify the development upon completion?

No. The Building Control Authority may inspect the project on an on-going basis and may intervene if they see something untoward; however they will never certify the finished development. You must employ your own consultant to oversee the works. Under  the new Building Control Regulations, you are required to have a registered Architect, Engineer or Surveyor supervise the works. This person is now referred to as The Assigned Certifier, which is a particularly onerous task. When the works are finished and the Assigned Certifier is satisfied, s/he will issue a Certificate of Compliance. This should certify that your building has been constructed in accordance with the Planning Permission granted and the Building Regulations including the Disability Access Certificate and the Fire Safety Certificate.

Will one Disability Access Certificate cover a number of buildings of the same design?

No. The building control legislation requires that a Disability Access Certificate be obtained for each & every building. However, FiSCA prices the first building normally and thereafter normally charges 30-40% for the same building in a different location reducing with the number of multiples, providing it’s in the same Local Authority and on the same site. Local Authority Building Control Officers differ greatly in their particular needs. What’s fit for the goose in one jurisdiction isn’t always fit for the gander in another jurisdiction! It’s called bureaucracy!

Are there any works exempted from having a Disability Access Certificate?

Yes, a residential dwelling other than a flat or apartment.

Please ring us to discuss your project/building for a quotation or alternatively forward drawings. You’ll receive a quote within 24hrs, providing it’s not 6pm on Friday evening.

Why do we need two wheelchair accessible toilets in our Cafe, Restaurant, Diner, Bistro?

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 states the following:-

“Sanitary and washing facilities.

  1. An employer shall provide and maintain and keep in a clean state—

(a) adequate and suitable sanitary and washing facilities for the use of employees,

(b) an adequate number of lavatories and washbasins, with hot and cold running water, in the vicinity of workstations, rest rooms, changing rooms and rooms housing showers,

(c) separate use of lavatories or washbasins for men and women, when so required for reasons of propriety,

(d) adequate and suitable showers for employees if required by the nature of the work or for health reasons related thereto, and in such case—

(i) separate shower rooms or separate use of shower rooms for men and women,

(ii) shower rooms which are sufficiently large to permit each employee to wash without hindrance in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, and

(iii) showers which are equipped with hot and cold running water, and

(e) easy access between the rooms housing showers or washbasins where they are separate from the changing rooms.”

It should be noted that the text explicitly refers to employees, no one else.

Section 1.4.3 of Technical Guidance Document M, 2010 of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations states:-

“Section 1.4.3 requires the provision of accessible sanitary facilities where sanitary facilities are provided in a building, whether this is for customers, visitors, or staff working in the building. It does not create a requirement for the provision of sanitary facilities in a building or for different user groups e.g. for visitors where provision has only been made for staff. The following guidance represents the minimum provisions to ensure that  sanitary facilities where provided for a particular user group, are accessible to all in that group”

Toilets must be provided for customers of Restaurants under the Health legislation for places serving food for consumption on the premises, The requirement under that legislation is for the provision of one cubicle for every twenty five seats provided for diners.

To summarise then, the S,H & W at Work Regulations require separate facilities for employees. The Building Regs require a disabled toilet for each user group. Hence, two wheelchair accessible toilets are the minimum requirement for places serving food for consumption on the premises.