Opinion on Compliance FAQ’S

Opinions on Compliance

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an Opinion on Compliance?

A: An Opinion on Compliance will certify whether any changes made to a property complied with the building and planning permission regulations at that time of change.

Q: Who usually needs to obtain an opinion on compliance?

A: 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.

Q: When is the opinion on compliance required?

A: An opinion on compliance would be required if you have made changes without certification to your house, are making changes to your existing house that do not require planning permission, are making any changes that require planning permission, or planning to build a new house.

Q: Why do solicitors and banks require an opinion on compliance?

A: A solicitor or bank will require a certificate to make sure that the property that you are purchasing, and/or that you are loaning money for, is compliant with planning permissions and building regulations.

Q: What are the main types of opinion or certificate that a solicitor will request?

A: There are two main types of opinions or certificates.

  1. An opinion on compliance with planning permission and building regulations.  This is where plans have been drawn up and submitted and an application has been made for planning permission to a local planning authority. this could be supplied as full or part service.
  2. An opinion on compliance for an exempt development.  This is where changes have been made to an existing building that did not require planning permission, for example changes to an attic or a rear extension. This could be supplied as full or part service.

Q: What is meant by the reference to full service and part service?

A: A full service certificate and a part service certificate will provide different levels of comfort.

  • A full service certificate is the best certificate to get.  It is provided when an engineer has supervised the building from the offset. He will have seen the foundations going in, rising walls being constructed, installation of structural floors, roof installation, supporting steel installation etc.  He can then provide a certificate upon completion based on his observations during the building works.
  • A partial service certificate is where the certificate is requested after the building work has been finished. Sometimes this can even occur ten years after completion.  The engineer will inspect the completed works and based on this visual inspection he will provide his best assessment of compliance with exemption from planning and building regulations.

Q: What information should an opinion on compliance for an exempt development include?

A: The opinion should include:

  • The property address and date of inspection.
  • Description of the developments the certificate relates to, for example a rear extension, a front porch, an attic conversion etc.
  • The engineers qualifications and details of PI insurance.
  • Details of sizes of the developments inspected.
  • The engineers opinion on why the development is exempt, detailing the classes, schedules and building acts or regulations that refer to the exempt change or changes.
  • The engineers opinion on compliance with building regulations.  If it is not compliant, it should detail which sections are not compliant.
  • There should be sections dealing with commencement notices, fire safety certs, limitation of the opinion where necessary. These will change according to the type of inspection carried out.
  • The signature of the certifying engineer
  • Definitions of terms used.

Q: Do both opinions refer to building regulations?

A: Yes, both opinions will refer to building regulations or building bi-laws, if appropriate.

Q: How long does it generally take to get an opinion on compliance for exempt developments certificate?

A: An opinion on compliance for an exempt development can be obtained quite quickly. The engineer will visit the property and produce his report within 4 working days of the inspection.

Q: How long does it generally take to get an opinion on compliance with planning permission certificate?

An opinion of compliance with planning permission will take longer as planning files have to be requested for inspection from the local authorities, which can take anything from days to weeks. The supply of this certificate is dependent on how quickly the local authorities make the files available to the engineer.

Q: How is the certificate issued to me? Does my solicitor get a copy?

A: A PDF is sent to both you and your solicitor and the original signed copy is sent on to your solicitor.

Q: Do charges differ for the two different certificates?

A: “Yes. A certificate for exemption is less costly,

Q: How much do these certificates cost?

A: The cost depends upon the time involved in producing the certificate and any other associated fees incurred. An opinion on compliance with building regulations and planning permission is more costly as it will usually incur additional filing fees and/or retrieval fees from the local authority and the engineer will have to spend time inspecting and understanding these files.

Q: What happens if the development has areas that aren’t compliant – is the certificate still issued?

A: Yes, the certificate is still issued.  However a line may be added on to the certificate to say that it’s not compliant with for example planning in a particular area, or building regulations in a particular area. Dependent on how significant or serious the non-compliance issue is will depend upon your solicitors treatment of the certificate.  If the non compliance is significant then a solicitor will probably not accept the certificate.  It the problem is minor then the certificate will probably be accepted.

Q: Who can provide an opinion on compliance?

A: The certificate should be provided by a registered architect, building surveyor or chartered engineer specialising in building surveys.  These professional will also be covered under professional indemnity insurance.

Q: How do I get a quotation for an Opinion on Compliance for an exempt development?

A: Getting a quotation from Property Health Check is very quick and easy, just fill in a short form and click “Get quote now”.  The form is very easy to complete and just requires you to tick the conversions, extensions, alterations or additions that you require to be included in the certificate.  After clicking “Get quote now” the price is displayed on screen and a quotation is emailed to the client.

Q: Are your Opinions on Compliance accepted by Solicitors and Banks?

A: Yes, our Certificates and Opinions on Compliance are provided in a format approved by the Law Society of Ireland and accepted by Banks and mortgage companies.

Q: Is your company covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance?

A: Yes, all our work is covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Q: Can my solicitor communicate directly with the engineer?

A: Yes, we prefer to communicate directly with your solicitor as this helps avoid any confusion or misinterpretation of a solicitors queries or requirements about planning. The benefits of this to you and your solicitor are:

  • Professional responses that can be relied on and are backed up by relevant third-party liability insurance.
  • Communication between two professionals who properly understand what is required to avoid any ambiguities and miscommunications
  • Time efficient to support a well organised conveyancing process

Q: Is a visit to the property required?

A: Yes, the engineer has to visit the property in order to certify that the works that he is certifying have actually been carried out.

Q: Who arranges access for the inspection?

A: All access arrangements are organised by Property Health Check. If the person requiring the certificate has access to the property, we will organise access with them which will speed up the process. Otherwise we will contact the agency or vendor directly. Sometimes this can take a little time as the contact person is not always immediately available, and dates and times must be confirmed before scheduling can be completed. Clients are emailed confirmation of the date when scheduling for the inspection is completed.

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