Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions section has been divided into How and Why to Join, How the Schemes Work and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

How and Why to Join

Who is eligible to join?

All construction professionals with suitable qualifications and experience. The following pre-qualify:

  1. Architects registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB)
  2. Chartered Members of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (MCIAT and TCIAT Members)
  3. Corporate Members of and Low Carbon Consultants (LCCs) registered with the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
  4. Existing Approved Certifiers of Design, whether they are moving Scheme or adding an additional Scheme

Why should I join?

As an Approved Certifier of Design, you will able to retain control of the energy aspects of your projects, provide clients with an enhanced service and/or help design teams optimise their energy strategies. Other Scheme benefits include:

  1. In an increasingly complex regulatory environment, certification minimises the time taken by local authorities to verify building warrant applications
  2. Where the intention is to lodge a Certificate of Design for a Section of the Technical Standards, the building warrant fee can be discounted by 10%. Where a project includes both Domestic and Non-domestic elements, both require to be certified to obtain the discount
  3. Certificates of Design can be issued for all forms of construction, included alterations & extensions, conversions and new builds
  4. On completion of new buildings Approved Certifiers of Design, who join an Approved Body, can lodged Energy Performance Certificate
  5. Approved Certifiers of Design can join multiple Schemes provided by RIAS-regs.co.uk
  6. Approved Certifiers of Design will be kept up to date with the latest changes to the Technical Standards and will have access to Technical Advice.

Why are the Domestic and Non-domestic Schemes separate?

When the Schemes were originally proposed it was recognised that the energy calculation software differs between domestic and non-domestic buildings and that by separating these into two Schemes meant that applicants did not have to demonstrate and maintain competency in the use of a software program that they might, in reality, rarely use.

Why is there a distinction between Non-domestic and ‘Advanced’ Non-domestic Approved Certifiers of Design?

The distinction is internal to our Scheme both are registered as Approved Certifiers of Design. In developing the Non-domestic Scheme in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) it quickly became apparent that unlike dwellings there can be a significant difference between the skills needed to design relatively simple domestic scale non-domestic buildings and highly serviced and complex buildings such as schools and hospitals.

Every Certifier of Design must work within the limits of their competency and by providing these two levels of membership we are able to provide a Scheme which serves both those construction professionals (and their clients) who deal with a range of different building types and those specialists who are able to design complex heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, where the energy performance is dictated by several components and control systems working together. These complex systems will typically be designed by members of CIBSE.

Detailed guidance is provided within the Scheme Guidance Documents which defines when a project is considered as ‘Advanced’. This distinction is not just about value and scale. For example, a new warehouse may be very large and expensive, but may only have some small serviced areas. Equally a project may be a relatively small or simple alteration to a complex building. Neither would make the project ‘Advanced’. Alternatively, the value of an alteration might be relatively small, but entails altering a complex HVAC system and this would make the project ‘Advanced’.

Can I certify the design of Section 6 – Energy (Domestic and Non-domestic) if there are no changes to the external fabric of the building?

Yes, Section 6 – Energy is a material consideration for all building warrant applications even if the works are only internal. Certifying the design of Section 6 – Energy, still delivers a 10% saving on the building warrant application fee.

How do I Join?

The Domestic and Non-domestic (Section 6 – Energy) Schemes are available to all competent and experience construction professionals. All applicants to the Schemes are required to complete a series of competency tests to ensure a minimum threshold of expertise is met by all.

Membership has four stages:

  1. Initial application
  2. On-line competency tests
  3. Practical calculation test / confirmation of prior competency
  4. Identity and Approved Body checks.

What does an Approved Body do?

Certificates of design can only be issued by an Approved Certifier of Design working for an Approved Body. An Approved Body can be a sole practitioner, a Company, an Architectural Practice, an Architectural Department or a Section within a bigger organisation such as a house builder, developer or local authority, which is registered as having both one or more Approved Certifiers of Design and one Certification Coordinator. An alternative Certification Coordinator may be appointed to cover periods of absence when the Certification Coordinator is unavailable to countersign certificates.

What happens if I change jobs?

If you are an Approved Certifier of Design and wish to certify for your new employer, you can add a new subscription and provide details of your new Approved Body. www.RIAS-regs.co.uk will then close the subscription associated with your former employer.

What does a Certification Coordinator do?

Every Certificate of Design must be signed by an Approved Certifier of Design and Certification Coordinator. At least one Certification Coordinator must be appointed by every Approved Body. They have the responsibility of ensuring that the Approved Body complies with the requirements of the scheme to maintain up to date records and that the Approved Certifiers of Design are registered and resourced to undertake the task of certification. The Approved Certifier of Design and the Certification Coordinator can be the same person.

I am a sole practitioner; can I sign twice?

Yes, the Approved Certifier of Design can act as the Certification Coordinator of that Approved Body.

What training support does www.RIAS-regs.co.uk provide for the schemes?

www.RIAS-regs.co.uk provides learning materials and guidance to support applicants through the on-line tests. When applicants become stuck they can ask for further advice from the Technical Advisor.

www.RIAS-regs.co.uk  also has an agreement with Strathclyde University to provide a series of on-line tutorials and a practical iSBEM test to support applicants to the Section 6 – Energy (Non-domestic) Scheme.

www.RIAS-regs.co.uk  has previously run classroom SAP courses in the past in tandem with the University of Strathclyde, in recent years the call for these has been very low, but if there is further demand we will look at running these again.

What happens if I fail the on-line competency tests?

You can re-take the modules and there is no additional cost. If you repeatedly fail the tests www.RIAS-regs.co.uk will advise undertaking further reading or a suitable course and then resitting the tests.

Does following the guidance and completing the competency test count towards CPD?

Yes.

What are the costs?

What does it cost to register my interest?

Absolutely nothing, registering your interest enables www.RIAS-regs.co.uk to keep you informed of the Schemes we provide as they develop.

What will it cost to apply to join the scheme?

The standard joining fee to be a member of the Scheme is
Domestic – £150.00+VAT
Non-Domestic – £150.00+VAT
Non-Domestic Advanced – £300.00+VAT
(all subject to annual review).

In addition, you will have to pay the first year’s annual subscription which are:

Domestic – £100.00+VAT
Non-Domestic – £100.00+VAT
Non-Domestic Advanced – £200.00+VAT

(all subject to annual review).

Does it cost more to become a Certification Coordinator as well?

No.

What does it cost to register an Approved Body?

Nothing.

What will it cost to remain a Member of the Scheme?

The an annual subscription charge is
Domestic – £100.00 +VAT
Non-Domestic – £100.00 + VAT
Non-Domestic Advanced – £200.00 + VAT
(all subject to annual review).

Membership will run annually from the date of subscription.

What will it cost to change my Approved Body?

To add or to change to a new Approved Body requires a new subscription.

What SAP software can I use?

After 1st December 2009, new Members can use any SAP software, purchased at their own expense, approved by the Building Standards Division (BSD) of the Scottish Government. These are listed at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/techbooks/sectsixprg

What will it cost to register a Certificate of Design and New Build Domestic EPCs?

The Cost depends on the number of dwellings. Details can been seen here.

How Does the Scheme Work?

What details do you check?

During the registration process you will be asked to confirm a user name, password, contact details. If you pre-qualify to join you will be asked to include one of the following;

  1. Your ARB registration number
  2. Your CIAT membership number
  3. Your Low Carbon Consultant (CIBSE) number

www.RIAS-regs.co.uk will then check the details provided or request additional details of your experience and / or qualifications, after which you will receive an email confirming your log-on details and can then proceed to subscribe. See the website for the Membership Criteria.

What is in the support material?

RIAS-Design Certification Scheme have developed 6 learning modules, covering:

  1. Roles, Duties and Procedures
  2. Design Limits
  3. Alterations, Extensions and Conversions
  4. Calculations Methods for New Dwellings / New Non-domestic Buildings (as applicable)
  5. Other Section 6 – Energy Issues
  6. Section 1-5 & 7

Each module should take between 1 and 2 hours (which you can record as CPD) once all of the on-line tests are completed, you will be able to either take the Practical SAP Test, undertake the iSBEM course provided by Strathclyde University or provide proof of previous training in a non-domestic software programme approved by the Scottish Government.

What if I fail?

You can redo the competency tests at no additional cost, however if you fail repeatedly www.RIAS-regs.co.uk may suggest that you undertake additional training.

Why do I need an Approved Body and Certification Coordinator?

It is a requirement of the Building Standards Division (BSD) of the Scottish Government who regulated www.RIAS-regs.co.uk and similar schemes.

What does an Approved Body need to demonstrate?

That each Certificate of Design is covered by PI Insurance and that they have a Certification Coordinator with overall responsibility for maintaining an audit trail for each certificate.

What happens when my Approved Body is approved?

The name of the Approved Body and that of the Approved Certifier of Design is added to the Certification Register maintained by the Building Standards Division (BSD) of the Scottish Government: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/certification/certreg

Are there any further checks?

Yes, it is a requirement that all schemes audit the performance of Certifiers of Design and every member will be audited at least once within the first 5 years. The details of the audit procedure are available in the Scheme Guidance page of the website.

What happens if I fail an audit?

If that happens then www.RIAS-regs.co.uk can suspend or rescind membership, www.RIAS-regs.co.uk may recommend undertaking in-depth training provided by others prior to resubmitting to join.

In the event that, a Certifier of Design feels that they have been unfairly treated then their case will be assessed by an independent Appeals Panel. Irrespective of the final decision the Certifier of Design will not be entitled to a refund of their joining or annual membership fees.

Who checks www.RIAS-regs.co.uk ?

As a Scheme Provider www.RIAS-regs.co.uk is subject to audit by the Building Standards Division (BSD) of the Scottish Government, who assess that the running of the scheme is fully in compliance with the original application and their Scheme Providers Handbook. Audits of all Scheme Providers can be downloaded from: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/certification/certspaudits

How do I issue a Certificate of Design?

Certificates of Design can cover all forms of warrantable works from minor alterations to new buildings.

The on-line system allows you to create projects and populate them with the description of individual dwellings and non-domestic plots and the method of compliance.

To create a Certificate of Design the system requires the details of the applicant, agent, site address and the description of the works (and first stage where appropriate). Those plots covered by the building warrant are then simply added to the Certificate of Design.

Domestic and Non-Domestic buildings cannot be covered on the same Certificate of Design, but the on-line system allows you to create two Certificates of Design if you are an Approved Certifier of Design in both Schemes.

At any point an amendment or later stage can be simply added from the project page. Although a single staged warrant cannot become staged or visa verse later on.

Can I continue to use my existing SAP software?

Yes as long as the version was or is approved by the Building Standards Division of the Scottish Government based on the date of the warrant.

A list of approved software can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/techbooks/sectsixprg

What happens when a Certificate of Design is issued?

On receipt of the Certificate of Design the Local Authority MUST check that the Certificate of Design has been signed by an Approved Certifier of Design and the Certification Coordinator for the Approved Body and that both appear on the register maintained by the Building Standards Division of the Scottish Government.

Once the certificate has been recorded as valid the application is registered with a 10% discount on the building warrant fee. If the project has a mix od domestic and non-domestic works then a certificate for each is required to obtain the discount.

What happens if a Certificate of Design isn’t ready in time for the warrant application?

The Building Standards Division (BSD) of the Scottish Government amended the Procedural Handbook in July 2017 to allow a warrant application to be submitted without a Certificate of Design, but for the discount to the warrant fee to still be claimed. To achieve this the applicant must provide the registration number of the Approved Certifier of Design and the Approved Body with the application.

The Certificate of Design must be provided before the warrant is granted but it allows certification to take place in parallel with the building warrant reporting process.

What happens if the project is altered on site?

If, as often happens, the project is altered during construction the applicant must apply for an amendment to warrant before carrying out the change. Certifiers of Design can issue a new Certificate of Design to cover any design changes (assuming they still comply).

Can I certify a staged warrant?

Yes

Who signs the certificate?

Every Certificate of Design must be signed by the Approved Certifier of Design and the Certification Coordinator of their Approved Body.

Where are the registration details kept?

The BSD Certification Register can be found on the BSD website: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/profinfo/cert/certreg and this is used by the Local Authority Verifiers to check the registration status of Approved Certifiers of Design and Approved Bodies in Scotland, based on information provided by www.RIAS-regs.co.uk as Scheme Provider.

www.RIAS-regs.co.uk in conjunction with our partner, Home Energy and Data Services Limited will maintain a register of Approved Certified Designers, Approved Bodies and Certificates of Design. This information will be retained electronically with secure back up.

Do I need to renew my membership?

Yes, it is a requirement of www.RIAS-regs.co.uk that both Approved Certifiers of Design and Approved Bodies are kept up to date with changes to the regulations. Annual subscription renewal is required to maintain the register.

What happens if I change employer?

You must open a new subscription and provide details of your new Approved Body once approved you will be able to certify projects for the new Approved Body. www.RIAS-regs.co.uk will then terminate your previous subscription if you no longer have any connection to your former Approved Body.

Can I be removed from the Scheme?

Yes, Approved Certifiers of Design who fail to maintain their membership of the scheme or fail to demonstrate competency when asked or are subject to any form of disciplinary procedure by the ARB, CIAT, CIBSE, RIAS or RIBA can be removed from the register. The details of disciplinary and complaint procedures are detailed in the Scheme Guide.

Can Approved Bodies be removed from the register?

Yes, Approved Bodies who fail to meet the requirements of the audit process or no longer have either an Approved Certifier of Design or a Certification Coordinator will be suspended from the register.

What happens if I choose to leave?

Membership of www.RIAS-regs.co.uk runs for a period of one year from each subscription. If you choose to withdraw from the Scheme for any reason you will no longer be entitled to certify the design of projects. The online Certification Register will be updated to reflect your new status with immediate effect. There will be no refund of your annual subscription or part thereof.

If I leave can I access old data?

You will have access to the data for all your Certificates of Design for the lifetime of the scheme.

Is the scheme available off-line?

No. The scheme has been specifically designed to facilitate the on-line completion of the competency tests, certification and administration.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Approved Certifiers of Design (Section 6 – Energy) who wish to lodge EPCs with the Scottish EPC Register, must become a Member of an Approved Organisation. RIAS-regs no longer operates as an Approved Organisation of a New Build Domestic Energy Assessment Scheme. A full list of those who do, can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/enerperfor/epcorgprg

Approved Certifiers of Design (Domestic) can opt in to the Scheme provided by Quidos, without further training and lodge EPCs for new domestic buildings. For details of the Quidos Scheme follow the link to: https://quidos.co.uk/ Quidos have agreed to waive their membership fee for the first 12 months of Membership, but Members should check that their choice of SAP software is supported by the Approved Organisation of their choice.

Approved Certifiers of Design (Non-domestic) can opt in to be a CIBSE Low Carbon Consultant (if not already registered) and lodge EPCs for new non-domestic buildings with the Scottish EPC Register. For details of the CIBSE Scheme follow the link to: https://www.cibsecertification.co.uk/About-us/About-Energy-Certificates/Energy-Performance-Certificates