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Frequently Asked Questions on Compliance Certificates Services

  • What is a Compliance Certificate?
    A Certificate of Compliance is required for all new build work and for all alterations, additions or extension work to an existing property to ensure that all works have been carried out in accordance with any Planning Permission granted and the Building Regulations. Since the introduction of the Building Control Amendment Regulations 2013, it is now part of a statutory process, which is managed on the BCMS system for all new building work over 40 sq.m. A Certificate of Compliance is provided by an architect, surveyor or engineer, to certify that they have supervised your construction project and that it has been built in compliance with Building and Planning Regulations. You will be asked to supply this on the sale or mortgage of your house. If you have not employed an architect, engineer or surveyor and you do not have a Certificate of Compliance, then you will have to provide an Opinion of Compliance.
  • What is a Certificate of Exemption?
    Exempted development is development for which planning permission is not required. Categories of exempted development are set out in planning law. There are usually certain thresholds relating to, for example, size or height. Where these thresholds are exceeded, the exemptions no longer apply. Our Certificates of Exemption cover the following: Certificate of Exemption with Planning Regulations. All our Certificates/Opinions are prepared in compliance with the Law Society of Ireland standard format. We carry adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance which offers you the protection and peace of mind for all certificates furnished by us.
  • What Is an Opinion of Compliance with Planning?
    A Planning Certificate is required before any new build work starts. This often includes alterations, additions or extension work to an existing property to ensure that all works have been carried out in accordance with any Planning Permission granted and the Building Regulations. Since the introduction of the Building Control Amendment Regulations 2013, it is now part of a statutory process, which is managed on the BCMS system for all new building work over 40 sq.m. A Certificate of Compliance is provided by an architect, surveyor or engineer, to certify that they have supervised your construction project and that it has been built in compliance with Building and Planning Regulations. You will be asked to supply this on the sale or mortgage of your house. If you have not employed an architect, engineer or surveyor and you do not have a Certificate of Compliance, then you will have to provide an Opinion of Compliance.
  • What is an Opinion of Compliance?
    An Opinion of Compliance is similar, but it does not offer you the same assurances that a Certificate of Compliance will do. The Opinion of Compliance is carried out after the completion of the project and is generally only based on a visual inspection of the works. An Opinions of Compliance covers the following; Opinion of Compliance with Planning. Opinion of Compliance with Building Regulations. Opinion of Exemption with Planning.
  • What is the difference between a Certificate of Compliance and an Opinion of Compliance?
    Typically, a Certificate of Compliance is issued after construction progress has been overseen by the engineer or architect working on the project. Conversely, an Opinion on Compliance is crafted in situations where a certificate for finished works is unavailable.
  • Who needs to obtain an Opinion of Compliance?
    Usually the owner of a property (or vendor) requires an opinion on compliance for any changes that have been made to their property during their period of ownership.
  • When is an Opinion of Compliance Required?
    An Opinion on Compliance becomes necessary when alterations have been made to a property without a Certificate of Compliance available to validate those modifications. This applies in two scenarios: When the changes made do not necessitate planning permission (Opinion on Compliance for Exempt Development). When the changes made require planning permission (Opinion on Compliance with Planning Permission).
  • Do solicitors and banks require Opinions of Compliance on developments?
    Whether you are selling a property or re-mortgaging , a solicitor or bank will require a document – an Opinion on Compliance or Certificate of Compliance – to make sure that the property that you are purchasing, and/or that you are borrowing money for, is compliant with planning permission and building regulations.
  • How Long does it take to obtain a Certificate of Compliance?
    Once the enquiry is made, one of our Architects will reach out to discuss the enquiry, offer a quotation and look to book in the inspection. Once the inspection is booked and completed the Certificate can be issued within 24-48 hrs afterwards. The only delay could be if you require an Opinion of Compliance with Planning and the planning file is not available for viewing online and required the file to be ordered in the council offices from their archives. If this is the case a separate fee will be added and the timeline for the council to make it available for viewing could be anywhere for days to a week or two.
  • How is the Opinion of Compliance issued?
    A soft copy is issued via email in PDF once payment has been received. The same day, the original signed hard copy will be posted to the address. If the client would prefer it is sent directly to the solicitor, this can also be arranged at no extra charge.
  • How much does an Opinion of Compliance Cost?
    The cost depends on the Opinion required. An opinion on compliance with building regulations and planning permission is more costly since it includes the investigation of planning files as well as the visit to the property. Filing fees and/or retrieval fees from the local authority may also be incurred.
  • If some areas of the development are non-compliant can the Opinion still be issued?
    While the opinion is still issued, a disclaimer may be appended to the document indicating its non-compliance with specific regulations, such as planning or building regulations in a particular area. The solicitor's approach to the document depends on the severity of the non-compliance issue. If the non-compliance is substantial, the solicitor may refuse to accept the document. However, if the issue is minor, the opinion is likely to be accepted.
  • Who can supply an Opinion of Compliance?
    An Opinion of Compliance can only be issued by a qualified professional in the following roles, a Registered Architect, Chartered Engineer or Surveyor. These professionals must also have appropriate professional indemnity insurance.
  • Are your Opinions of Compliance accepted by banks and solicitors?
    Yes, our Opinions on Compliance are provided in a format approved by the Law Society of Ireland and accepted by Banks and mortgage companies.
  • Can my solicitor deal directly with your company?
    We prioritise direct communication with your solicitor to minimise any confusion or misinterpretation regarding planning queries or requirements. The advantages of this approach for both you and your solicitor include: Receiving professional responses that are reliable and supported by relevant third-party liability insurance. Facilitating clear communication between two professionals who understand the necessary requirements, thus avoiding ambiguities and misunderstandings. Streamlining the conveyancing process for efficiency and organisation. Nonetheless, we are also open to communicating directly with the client if preferred.
  • Is a site visit required even if I have the planning Drawings?
    Yes, we must visit the property to certify that the works included in the opinion on compliance have been carried out. We also need to carry out a visual inspection and document the development with photographs and measurements as required.
  • Who organises access to the property?
    Access arrangements for all inspections are coordinated by If the individual requesting the opinion has access to the property, we will work with them to arrange access, expediting the process. Alternatively, if access is not available through the requester, we will liaise directly with the agency or vendor. Please note that this process may require some time, as the contact person may not always be immediately available, and scheduling dates and times must be confirmed. Once scheduling for the inspection is finalised, clients will receive an email confirmation of the scheduled date.
  • What constitutes exempted development?
    Exempted development refers to development that doesn't necessitate planning permission. These exemptions are defined within planning legislation. This leaflet delineates the pertinent exemptions concerning residential developments. Typically, there are specific criteria like size or height thresholds. Once these thresholds are surpassed, the exemptions cease to be applicable. Exemption aims to circumvent regulations on minor developments, such as modest house extensions.
  • Is it possible to construct an extension?
    Small-scale domestic extensions, including conservatories, can be built without planning permission if they are positioned to the rear of the house and adhere to the following criteria: The original floor area of the house doesn't increase by more than 40 square meters. Note that if the house has been extended previously, the combined floor area of the proposed extension and any previous extensions, including those with planning permission, must not exceed 40 square meters. For terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of any above-ground extension doesn't exceed 12 square meters, including any prior extensions. Any extension above the ground floor level maintains a distance of at least 2 meters from any boundary. The extension doesn't surpass the height of the house. The extension doesn't reduce the area of private open space, designated for the occupants of the house, to less than 25 square meters.
  • Regulations concerning the height of such extensions:
    If the rear wall of the house lacks a gable, the extension walls must not exceed the height of the rear wall of the house. If the rear wall of the existing house features a gable, the extension walls (excluding any gable constructed as part of the extension) should not be taller than the side walls of the house. In the case of a flat-roofed extension, the highest part of the roof must not surpass the height of the eaves or parapet. In other cases, no part of the new roof should exceed the highest part of the house's roof. A gable refers to the upper part of a wall, often triangular, situated between the sloping ends of a pitched roof. Rules also exist regarding the distances between windows in extensions, the facing boundary of the adjoining property, and the utilisation of the extension's roof: Ground-floor windows in an extension should be at least 1 meter from the facing boundary. Above-ground windows should be at least 11 meters from the facing boundary. The extension's roof cannot be used as a balcony or roof garden.
  • Can I convert my garage for domestic use?
    Converting a garage, store, shed, etc., attached to the rear or side of a house for domestic use, such as a living room or bedroom, is typically exempted development, subject to the 40 square meter limit and conditions outlined in Question 5. Note: If uncertain about any of the conditions related to a proposed extension, contact your planning authority.
  • Can I construct a garage?
    You are allowed to construct a garage, carport, shed, greenhouse, or kennel for domestic pets, provided it doesn't extend beyond the building line of the house and doesn't exceed 4 meters in height (for a tiled or slated pitched roof) or 3 meters (for any other roof type). The floor area limit for exempted development is 25 square meters. However, such structures cannot be used for living purposes, commercial activities, or for housing pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies, or horses. Garages, sheds, etc., located at the side of the house must match the finish of the house, and the open private space at the side or rear of the house cannot be reduced below 25 square meters.
  • Can I construct a front porch?
    You can construct a porch without planning permission, provided it doesn't exceed 2 square meters in area and is positioned more than 2 meters from any public road or footpath. If the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed 4 meters in height, or 3 meters for any other roof type. A front porch within these limits is the only type of development permitted to extend beyond the front wall of the building (the building line) while remaining exempted.
  • Can I erect walls, fences, and gates?
    Capped walls made of brick, stone, or block with a decorative finish, railings, and wooden fences can be erected as long as they don't exceed 1.2 meters in height in front of your house or 2 meters at the side or rear. If the wall is made of plain blocks or mass concrete, it must be rendered or plastered. Gates and gateways may be built or replaced as long as they don't exceed 2 meters in height. However, planning permission is necessary for making a new or wider access to the public road.
  • Can I build a chimney and a boiler house?
    Constructing a boiler house, chimney for a central heating system, or an oil storage tank (up to 3,500 litres capacity) is considered exempted development.
  • Can I build paths, ponds, and patios?
    Car parking spaces, hard surfacing, garden paths, garden ponds, and patios are exempt as long as they are not more than 1 meter above or below existing ground level. There are no limitations to the rear of the house, but no more than 2 car parking spaces to the side or front of the house are exempt.
  • Can I put up a television aerial?
    A radio or TV aerial on your roof is exempt as long as it doesn't exceed 6 meters in height above the roof. A satellite dish up to 1 meter across and below the top of the roof is also exempted development, but only to the rear or side of the house. Only one dish may be erected on a house. A dish to the front requires permission.
  • Can I carry out internal alterations, external repairs, and maintenance?
    You can carry out any internal alteration as long as it doesn't change the domestic use of the house. External works of repair, maintenance, and improvement such as painting or replastering don't need planning permission as long as they don't materially affect the external appearance, making it inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. However, approval may be needed for certain external alterations, such as a new connection to a sewer. This exemption doesn't apply to protected structures or to the subdivision of a house into flats or granny flats; planning permission must be obtained for such works.
  • Can I demolish an old building?
    You can demolish a building without permission, except for a habitable house, a protected structure, a proposed protected structure, or a building in a terrace or attached to another building in separate ownership. However, demolishing a building doesn't automatically grant permission to build a replacement. A habitable house includes a building used as a dwelling, not in use but previously used as a dwelling and not derelict, or provided for use as a dwelling but not yet occupied. It also includes a building where the last permitted use was as a house, even if it has been in unauthorised use since then.
  • Can I store caravans and boats?
    You can store one caravan, one campervan, or one boat in your garden for up to 9 months of the year as long as it's not lived in or used for business purposes.
  • Can I put up advertisements?
    You don't need permission for domestic advertisements up to 0.3 square meters in area, such as your house name or number and "Beware of Dog" signs. If selling or letting your house, the size increases to 0.6 meters, but only one advertisement is allowed and it may not be left up for more than 7 days after the sale or letting.
  • What are the limitations of exempted development?
    Exemptions from planning permission lose their validity and necessitate planning approval if they: Contravene a condition of a planning permission. Endanger public safety by causing a traffic hazard or obstructing the view of road users. Extend beyond the building line (except for small porches). Involve a new or wider access to a public road. Affect buildings, features, sites, landscape characteristics, views of special amenity value or interest, etc. (Refer to your local development plan). Obstruct a public right of way. Are not wholly related to the domestic purposes of the house. Involve development within a special amenity area. Involve development to a protected structure. Include any works or changes to an unauthorised structure, or one where there is an unauthorised use. ("Unauthorised" means without planning permission or exempted development status).
  • Do exemptions apply to apartments?
    The exemptions mentioned above do not extend to flats or apartments, and the provision of car parking is only exempt when located to the rear.
  • Where can I find more information on exemptions?
    The comprehensive list of exempted developments is outlined in the Planning Acts and Regulations (details provided at the end of this leaflet). The planning authority can offer guidance on whether planning permission is required in a particular case. If there is a disagreement with the planning authority regarding the need for planning permission, a formal ruling can be obtained by referring the decision to An Bord Pleanála, subject to the appropriate fee. Additional information is available directly from the Board at 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1,
  • What happens if exemption limits are exceeded?
    The prescribed limits must be adhered to, and the planning authority holds the power to halt development if these limits are breached. In case of oversight or error, an application should be submitted to the planning authority for permission to retain the work done, known as "retention" permission. However, granting retention permission is not automatic and is subject to conditions. The fee for a retention application is three times the standard fee, and rectifying work done can be costly. Breaches of planning law can lead to heavy fines or imprisonment. Non-compliance with planning requirements may also pose difficulties in selling the property. When purchasing property, ensure that the building, including any extensions or alterations, complies with planning requirements to avoid enforcement actions as the new owner.
  • What is a Land Registry Compliant Map?
    A Land Registry Compliant Map is a detailed map used for Land Registration purposes. This is a detailed large scale map which meets the specific requirements of the Property Registration Authority of Ireland. As part of any sale of land, or subdivision of a property, your solicitor will specify that you require an original Land Registry Compliant legal mapping.
  • Do I need a Land Registry Compliant Map ?
    You can click here to check if your property has been previously registered with The Land Registry - click the 'Proceed as Guest' button on the following landing page and search your property address through the interactive map. If your site or property is not outlined in red or green this will mean that it is currently unregistered and you will require a Land Registry Compliant Map for First Property Registration.
  • Why do I need a Land Registry Compliant Map?
    When a property or part of a property requires a new title, the boundary and plot require lodgement and approval by the Land Registry. Properties that have not been previously registered go through a process called First Property Registration.
  • Land Registry Map – For Detached, Semi-Detached, and Terrace Properties:
    For these property types, you will require a Land Registry Compliant Map which is certified by your architect. This certified map will indicate the boundaries and the area of your site.
  • Land Registry Map – For Apartments
    For these property types, you will require a Land Registry Compliant Map which is certified by your architect along with a plan of the apartment which is also certified by your architect. This certified map and plan will indicate the boundaries and the area of your site. There is significantly more work in producing this type of first registration map and it will involve a survey of your apartment.
  • What is a Declaration of Identity?
    A Declaration of Identity is a letter prepared by a suitably qualified professional that certifies that all of the services to a property are located within the site boundary of the property. These services usually include a septic tank/waste water treatment systems and percolation area, services, the dwelling and ancillary works and a private supply water well.
  • Who signs a Declaration of Identity?
    The Declaration is signed by the suitably qualified professional and is witnessed in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths. The declaration refers to a folio number and is accompanied by the Folio map outlining the site in red.
  • When is a Declaration of Identity Required?
    It is generally requested by the purchasers Solicitors to ensure that no issues arise in the future with access to these services. A Declaration of Identity is most commonly required for sites in rural locations.

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