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Query Considered: When is a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) application required?

We will be starting a new series of articles called “Accessibility Considered” to cover some of the typical queries we get from customers including; Typical accessibility queries, key accessibility elements to be aware of at design stage and common accessibility items that arise when on site. These articles will be based on the requirements of TGD M 2010, Irish Building Regulations and the Irish construction industry in general. There will be instances where an alternative guidance is relevant or provides greater detail to achieve a high level of accessibility within a building and will be discussed or referenced for further consideration. We may also look to incorporate additional best practice guidance and Universal Design elements within some of the topics for further consideration.

To kick off the series we will look at one of the fundamental queries we get asked regularly: “When is a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) required?”
The answer to this query can, in some situations, be a little confusing and previously was not always straight forward and often the approach was taken to submit an application at all times to ensure you were covered. There was also an old rule of thumb that was generally commonplace – “if a Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) is required then a DAC is required” and this is still many people’s go to, however, it is more nuanced than this and there are differences between when these two certificates are required.

Thankfully, to clarify much of the confusion in this area an amendment to the Building Regulations – S.I. No. 526 of 2018 – was published which gave a clearer outline of the requirement for DAC applications. In this document there are four main types of works which we need to start with to ascertain if a DAC is required;

Some of these headings need to be broken down further to provide more specific subheadings, particularly material alterations and material changes of use, as not all material alterations or material changes of use require a DAC. These two headings are specified further as follows;

  1. A day centre
  2. A hotel, hostel, or guest accommodation
  3. An institutional building
  4. A place of assembly
  5. A shop (which is not ancillary to the primary use of the building)
  6. A shopping centre

For details of the specific types of buildings covered by these subheadings we can refer to the definitions in Section 0.6 of TGD M 2010.

Some of you may have noticed a fairly large category which is not mentioned, which we get asked about regularly – Material change of use to offices. This category would cover a large number of projects that change exiting buildings into offices, which technically do not require a DAC to be submitted. Note: that many office developments also include extensions to existing buildings which would then trigger an application to be required due to the extension itself.
While a DAC is not technically required in this scenario it is always recommended to go through the process of completing a Compliance Report for the building in order to show how it has been designed to Part M. This is particularly useful for offices that are let out as many companies will request a DAC certificate for the building when conducting due diligence. In these cases it has been useful to our clients where we complete the process of a typical DAC submission without actually submitting to Building Control as well as completing a number of Part M inspections to provide an opinion of compliance on completion. The Report, Drawings and Opinion of Compliance are then ready for review by any potential tenants.

There are also instances where DACs are not required at all for certain types of buildings, typically those where the requirements of Part M are not applicable, which are also covered in S.I. No. 526, as follows;

Generally, the old rule of thumb that a DAC is required if an FSC is required holds true only in some circumstances, however, there are more scenarios where this is not the case as outlined above and stated in S.I. No. 526. Once you have established if a DAC is required you can start to prepare an application to submit to building control, which should include a Compliance Report, marked up drawings and the application fee. Knowing when an application required is just a first step and there are many more accessibility considerations to take into account when designing and constructing a building, which we will endeavour to cover in this series.

If you have any topics or accessibility queries that you would like us to cover in this series, please let us know. You can reach us by email at [email protected], or find us on Twitter and LinkedIn where we can either answer your queries directly or look at covering bigger topics in a future article.

If you need further information on how when a DAC is required or you would like to enquire about our services related to this topic, we would be happy to help – you can contact our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].