ISO 9001 : 2015

cropped-bright-logo1.pngBright Design Architects have engaged with Mackin Consultancy to align our office QMS (Quality Management Standards) to the new ISO 9001 : 2015. Our aim is to achieve full implementation and certification by the end of 2015 when the new standard will be active. This is an exciting and challenging time which we know will lead to an improved quality and consistency of service while making us more efficient and cost effective.

Mountdown Park Planning Grant

This week we continued recent planning permission success with a Final Grant of Permission for 23 Mountdown Park (South Dublin Co.Co. Reg. Ref. SD14B/0235). This project involves the adaptation of the house for a young power chair user. This continues our 100% planning success rate in the Dublin Planning Administrative areas in recent years…

Planning Granted for House on Torquay Road

1340 Torquay Planning PHOTOMONTAGE 09.05.14A full planning grant has been received for our house design on Torquay Road in the shortest timeframe possible and without any third party objections or appeal. This continues our 100% planning success record in the Greater Dublin Area in recent years. (

The location of the site within the Architectural Conservation Area (A.C.A.) of Foxrock meant that a considered approach and contempary design was sought. Multiple pre-planning consultations in conjuction with in-housedaylight analysis, arborist consultancy and in-house computer visualisations yielded the positve outcome.

Design Intent + Description  The 312sq.m (3,300+sq.ft) house is set on a narrow south west facing site in a two storey over part basement design. The design sought to create a distinctly monolithic composition executed through a limited palette of materials carefully detailed. Brick is chosen as the primary material (walls and roof) to echo the tones of bricks to be found elsewhere within Foxrock and which partly characterise the A.C.A. The expression of solidity is continued further by the use of limited areas of coursed stone stratified into layers to compliment the overall brick coursing. This use of a simple palette of traditional materials used in a contemporary fashion will serve to subtlety integrate the dwelling into the historic context.

The description in our planning report goes on to say…”The asymmetrical roof form completes the composition, the intention of which is to be boldly contemporary yet restrained through simplicity of material and detailing all of which will embody the positive high quality design sought under Development Plan policy within A.C.A.s”.

The full planning submission and floor plans can be viewed on the DLRCoCo website.



Workmanship compliance

Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014

SI 9 2014The Building Control Amendment Regulations 2013 have been revised and were signed into law on 15th January 2014 effective from 1st March 2014 without any transitional period. Now known as BC(A)R S.I. No. 9 of 2014, the full version can be read in full here. This has far reaching consequences for all involved in building from clients to builders and architects and will add a further layer of control to the building industry.

Why is it being introduced? : It is primarily a reaction to a number of high profile building control failures whereby completed buildings were occupied or inhabited having never been safe to do so. It does not increase the building regulation standards but rather aims to ensure compliance with existing regulations. The intent should be to protect the consumer or building users however it falls short in many areas as outlined below. The current system relies on self-regulation by professionals in the form of Opinions on Compliance required for conveyancing. The new system still involves self-regulation by building professionals but now on a Statutory basis. To save on costs and resources the Building Control Authorities will hold an administrative function with zero liability unlike the UK where such authorities assume a central role and are actively part of ensuring better building standards collectively.

It will effectively signal the end of house construction without the mandatory involvement of competent professionals and builders and may ultimately bring the practice of ‘self-build’ to an end.


Who does it affect? It will affect any building works that involve any of the following:

– A Fire Safety Certificate (ie, most non-residential buildings but including apartments)

– The construction of a domestic dwelling.

– The extension of a dwelling where the extension is >40sq.m in floor area.

What are the Changes? From 1st March 2014, the building owner is obliged under the law to engage an Assigned Designer and Assigned Certifier for works falling within the above categories. These new roles must be fulfilled by a qualified and registered architect, engineer or building surveyor. Therefore the days of a building owner engaging a builder directly without any professional involvement except on small domestic projects is coming to an end. In summary it will involve 1. Statutory Certification in relation to Design and Construction, 2. Mandatory Site Inspections by registered professionals and 3. Public Record for future reference by future building owners or prospective purchasers.

Before eligible works start… a Commencement Notice is submitted (current requirement) but now it must include a Notice of Assignment by the building owner of an Assigned Certifier and competent Builder including Certificates of Undertaking by both. Also to be submitted is a Preliminary Inspection Plan, which outlines the key site inspections to be undertaken and recorded, as well as drawings, calculations and specifications demonstrating compliance with the building regulations. The Assigned Designer is also required to submit a Certificate of Compliance for Design.

During the Site Works… the site inspection plan must be implemented, records kept and revisions to the design drawings updated.

Upon Completion of the Building… a Certificate of Completion from the builder and Assigned Certifier must be submitted along with any revised plans, calculations or specifications and the implemented inspection plan. The Building Control Authority have 21 days in which to validate the submission and place the details on the public register. Until the building appears on the public register the works cannot be used or occupied. This will prove particularly impractical in the scenario where a house is occupied during extension works but the extension, possibly containing the kitchen, cannot be occupied until on the public register.

The Verdict? The new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations do not go far enough for the consumer but instead will likely add unnecessary professional fees for some who often may have been as well served by a competent Building Control Authority. The online filing and electronic records are a good development provide the I.T. resources can cope and it will improve building standards although possibly not enough. Because it relies on professional self-certification, the redress mechanism by building owners will rely on the professional indemnity insurance of the Assigned Certifier and Assigned Designers. Like any insurance providers P.I.I. firms will seek to defend claims and ultimately it is the building owner who will be given the run around and possibly prolong the remedy of the defect. A better system would be the inclusion of Latent Defects Insurance whereby defects arising within a prescribed period after completion are fixed without contestation of claim. The compliance of any building is only as good as the skills of the builder and the current legislation does not include any mandatory licensing of contractors though this is expected in the years to come.


How can Bright Designs help? The roles of Assigned Designer and Assigned Certifier may be fulfilled by the building’s architect as a separate role and responsibility to architectural design. As a practice we have been engaging in CPD provided by the RIAI ( to up-skill for these imminent changes. We design with compliance in mind and this additional level of regulation will be implemented on behalf of our clients with the same attention to detail and level of professional service we apply to all of our projects. For a free consultation on how this might affect your planned building project please visit our home page.

The full version of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations can be found at :,35135,en.pdf

The above information is intended only as a brief overview or summary of the new regulations from the perspective of the building owner. Therefore reference should be made to the website and all current information published at time of enquiry. No responsibility will be taken by Bright Design Architects for any error or omission in the foregoing which is offered in goodwill.


Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme – UPDATE

Steel framed extension

Domestic Extension in Artane

Further details on the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme announced in Budget 2014 have been published by Revenue. We outline the main points below but recommend that the revenue website ( is consulted directly for the most up to date information.

The HRI scheme brings a most welcome boost to a struggling construction sector and offers a worthwhile incentive to those undertaking domestic renovation work…provided you can negotiate the finer details and eligibility criteria. The following should give you the main guidance needed to get started.

What sort of work is applicable?: The eligible works being undertaken must be for repair, renovation or improvement where the work is chargeable at the 13.5% VAT rate (ie, includes an element of labour or installation work). The scheme only applies to a home owner’s principal residence and does not apply to holiday homes, second homes or renovation of non-habitable dwellings. The work have started after 25th October 2013 and be completed by 31st December 2015 – this is extended slightly for works where planning permission is applied for before 31st December 2015.

How much is it worth to me? The minimum value that is subject to tax relief is €4,405 up to €30,000. This equates to an increase of PAYE tax credits of between €595 and €4,050. It is important to note that the relief only applies to PAYE tax payers and not an offset against the Universal Social Charge (USC) which is likely to exclude those on lower income levels from availing of the scheme.

How do I avail of the relief? Once the works start, the required documents must be submitted to revenue with 28 days. The online system to receive these applications is still not ready but expected to be operational in early April 2014. Back dated applications will be accepted by Revenue within 28 days of the April start date and any applications after that date will have to be submitted within 28 days in the normal way. The application must be submitted by the contractor along with information provided by the applicant or homeowner. Details of the application are then included in the subsequent year’s PAYE tax return by the homeowner. The relief is then split over two years so this is not an instant injection of funds for the homeowner during the works. For instance, if full relief of €4,050 is being sought for works started and completed in 2014 the relief will be split over subsequent tax returns in 2015 and 2016.

What paperwork is involved? The contractor undertaking the work must be VAT registered, fully tax compliant and registered through ROS. Before the works start the contractor must submit a Works Notification – this includes a Property I.D., the homeowner’s name, the works description, the estimated cost of the works (including a VAT breakdown) and the estimated start and completion dates for the works. This will give the homeowner the chance to verify that the contractor is HRI compliant before the works commence. Payment notifications are then submitted by the contractor after the works start and as they progress in accordance with the prescribed time limits. It is the responsibility of the contractor to submit paperwork accurately and on time otherwise the homeowner may lose out on the benefit of the scheme.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)?

– The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme can be availed of multiple times within the prescribed periods up to the total eligible amount of €30k. However, this applies to the property and jointly assessed taxpayers cannot double up on the benefits.

– The property and homeowner must be fully LPT (Local Property Tax) compliant to avail of the scheme.

– Works which are partly funded by an insurance claim are eligible however the amount of VAT relief is reduced by the amount of the insurance payment. For instance on works totalling €10,000 where €2,000 is funded by an insurance payout only €8,000 can be used against the HRI application.

– Works which are subject to SEAI or ‘Better Energy Homes’ Grant payments ( are also eligible. However the amount of VAT relief is reduced by three times the amount of the SEAI grant. For instance, external wall insulation (EWI) works totalling €20,000 where a grant of €2,700 (semi-detached house grant) is availed of will have the eligible amount deducted by €2,700 x 3 or €8,100 thus reducing the eligible amount for HRI purposes to €11,900.

– Relief is not available on any products or services charged at the 23% VAT rate. For instance if you purchase an IKEA kitchen to install yourself this will not be applicable nor will any relief on professional fees (architects or engineers) or planning financial contributions etc.

How can Bright Design Architects help? We always strive to deliver the best value possible for our clients and availing of the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme is part of that service. The contractors we work with are subject to RIAI building contracts, they possess good management skills and are tax compliant – therefore this extra level of paperwork should not prove too daunting. However, as it is a new incentive we undertake to assist both the homeowner and contractor insofar as is possible with the application process.

The Verdict? The financial benefits are obvious and it will inject more activity and confidence into the sector however the process and paperwork is less than straightforward. The length of time it takes to receive the benefit and the halving of it over two subsequent years reduces the incentive and removes any short term or immediate cash flow benefit.

Until the online launch date is confirmed in April the above information remains subject to change and is only a brief overview or summary. Therefore reference should be made to the revenue website and all current information published at time of enquiry. No responsibility will be taken by Bright Design Architects for any error or omission in the foregoing which is offered in goodwill.


EnerPHit Certification Received for House Renovation in Dublin 4

Nutley news image copyEnerPhit Certification was issued by the Passive House Institute in Germany for our latest low energy house retrofit in Dublin 4 last week. This represents the culmination of 16 months of work from initial design to completion in close collaboration with Integrated Energy to achieve the optimal thermal performance and air tightness. The preliminary air test achieved 0.7 air changes per hour – 30% below the maximum EnerPHit standard with final air test achieving 0.63 which is within new build passive house standards.

Design Challenges : Contextual planning constraints, orientation and house size were all challenges faced and overcome. Existing walls had to be upgraded to meet the stringent insulation standards but most critically air tightness performance. This necessitated careful detailing, close site supervision and a very high level of workmanship and contractor expertise from Cyril Mannion in Passive House Builders. Window selection was also a careful consideration but given the EnerPHit standards to be achieved the decision was taken to use a high quality triple glazed system (class 4 air tightness) but without the extra cost of thermally broken frames and a passive certified system thus controlling cost verus energy saving return without compromising EnerPHit certification. The ventilation strategy was also carefully considered in tandem with high acoustic standards sought necessitating the use of two Dantherm HCH5 air handling units with summer by-pass facility.

Key Statistics : Annual specific space heating demand – 21kWh/; Annual specific primary energy demand (heating, ventilation, appliances) – 109kWh/; Airtightness of building envelope – 0.6h-1

Passive House Plus: This is only the second domestic EnerPHit project in Ireland to receive full certification and is the largest. Full techical details will be outlined in the forthcoming November issue of Passive House Plus online and in print. Further project images and details will be posted to our projects section of the website to coincide with this publication.

End Result: We are very pleased with the end result not only in terms of technical performance but also quality of finish and completion within a challenging programme. We now look forward to our next low energy challenge – retrofit or new build!

Budget 2014 Tax Relief for Home Owners who renovate

Budget 2014 – Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI)

Budget 2014 Tax Relief for Home Owners who renovateThe announcement in yesterday’s Budget of a new tax incentive scheme represents good news for home owners and the construction industry alike. This should inject much needed activity into the small works area while putting much needed cash back into the pockets of the home owner. The Government do not give away money that easily so of course there are some restrictions and limitations. The following extract from the website answers most of the obvious FAQs. The finer detail will be revealed with the publication of the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013 on 24th October. What is not fully clear at the moment is whether other incentives such as the SEAI Greener Homes grants for insulation can be claimed in tandem or whether a married couple co-owning the property and co-funding can each claim combined relief up to a value of €60k…as soon as these issues become clear we will post a further update.

Revenue Commissioners Guidance (15.10.13) : “The Budget provides for a Home Renovation Incentive Scheme which will run from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015.  The Scheme provides for tax relief for homeowners by way of a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure on repair, renovation or improvement work carried out on a principal private residence.  Qualifying expenditure is expenditure subject to the 13.5% VAT rate.  The work must cost a minimum of €5,000 (exclusive of VAT) which would attract a credit of €675.  Where the cost of the work exceeds €30,000 (exclusive of VAT), a maximum credit of €4,050 will apply.  The credit is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out.

The work must commence on or after 1 January 2014 and be carried out during 2014 or 2015.  Homeowners must be LPT compliant in order to qualify under the Scheme while building contractors must be tax compliant in order to carry out works.  The Scheme will be administered through Revenue’s online systems.  Further information will be available on the Revenue website.

What is the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme? The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme provides for a tax credit for homeowners on repair, renovation or improvement work to a principal private residence.

Is there a minimum and maximum amount for the repair, renovation or improvement work? Qualifying work must cost a minimum of €5,000 excluding VAT (or €5,675 including VAT).  While there is no upper limit on the cost of work, the maximum tax credit (see below) is linked to qualifying expenditure on work costing €30,000 excluding VAT.

Is there a minimum and maximum tax credit? The minimum tax credit is €675 (based on qualifying expenditure of €5,000 (excluding VAT) x 13.5%) and the maximum is €4,050 (based on qualifying expenditure of €30,000 (excluding VAT) x 13.5%).  The tax credit is non refundable so any unused tax credit will roll forward to the next year. The tax credit is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out.

When does the Scheme begin and how long will it last? The scheme applies to repair, renovation or improvement work commenced on or after 1 January 2014 and carried out during 2014 or  2015.

What type of work is covered? Repair, renovation or improvement work to a principal private residence, which is subject to VAT at 13.5%, is covered.  Items such as furniture, white goods and carpets are not covered.

Will the value of my Property for LPT purposes change as a result of the repair or improvement work? No. The valuation of your property for LPT purposes on 1 May 2013 will stay the same for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 no matter what improvements you make to your property.

If the Owner doesn’t pay tax, can someone else pay for the work and claim the tax credit? No. The tax credit is only available to the owner occupier.

Who is eligible under the Scheme? Owner occupiers of a principal private residence who are tax compliant are eligible.  Specifically, the homeowner’s LPT and Household Charge must be up to date. Building Contractors who are tax compliant are eligible to carry out work under the scheme.

At what stage can I claim the tax credit? The tax credit can be claimed after the work is completed.

How will I claim a tax credit under the Scheme? The scheme will operate through Revenue’s online systems – ROS, eRCT, PAYE Anytime, LPT online.

What will I have to do? Building Contractor – You should ensure that you are fully tax compliant Homeowner – You should ensure that your tax and specifically your LPT and Household Charge are up to date”.



Recent Planning Success

This week we continued recent planning permission successes with three further decisions to grant for residential projects in Brookwood Lawn, Kilmacud Park and Newtown Road Celbridge. This continues our 100% planning success rate in the Dublin Planning Administrative areas in recent years…


London Office Trip

The office took a trip to London last week to pay a visit to some of the temporary exhibitions currently on show. The first was the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 designed  this year by Sou Fujimoto from Japan. Each year the gallery select a different architect to design a temporary structure which is constructed and open to the public to visit during the summer.
This years structure is described by the architect as a delicate, latticed structure of 20mm steel poles giving it a lightweight and semi-transparent appearance that will allow it to blend, cloud-like, into the landscape and against the classical backdrop of the Gallery’s colonnaded East wing it was certainly impressive. You can judge for yourself from the photo


Planning News

We are delighted to announce that we recently received a decision to grant for a new dwelling house in Dublin 4 from An Bord Pleanala. Dublin City Council had issued a grant of permission but it was appealed to ABP. They have since decided to grant permission which is fantastic news. The house is on an extremely tight urban site which currently contains an old domestic garage. Further news in due course.