Recent calls by the RIAI and the Institute of Chartered Surveyors for postponement of the upcoming Building Control Amendment Regulations SI80 in March and the establishment of a comprehensive building control inspectorate seem badly timed. Given the costs for the establishment of Irish Water the how much will a local authority system of comprehensive building control cost us?
Let’s look at the costs of a good system of Building Control for a moment. The UK ranks 27th out of 182 countries for “ease of obtaining construction permit” according to the recent by the World Bank Report mentioned recently by Minister Richard Bruton. Their legal and system and building standards are closest to ours so they are a good precedent to look at. How much would it cost us to establish the similar system here?
There are over 3,000 local authority building control inspectors (source: Local Authority Building Control UK) with an additional 600 private licensed Approved Inspectors (source: Construction Industry Council UK). Approved Inspectors complete 20% of all building control inspections in the UK (source: World Bank). So we have a conservative total of 4,000 Building Control inspectors in the UK.
In the UK the current construction industry output for 2012 was €115Bn with Ireland at €7.5Bn (source: Bruce Shaw). Given our construction output is just 6% that of the uk the consequent number of inspectors required should be 270. In 2007 we had less than 70 for the entire country so by employing 200 new inspectors we should have coverage similar to the much praised system in the UK.
A simple and viable system for us would be to have an existing local authority building control officer co-ordinate 4 new private licensed suitable qualified professionals who would be out on the road doing inspections. The costs for these new inspectors would be paid by new fees to developers/ builders (e.g. €370 per dwelling). The system would be self-funding, transparent and effective. 100% independent building control inspections throughout the country, real consumer protection. There would be plenty of well-qualified applicants for these roles and a separate simple register could be set up to monitor 200 professional inspectors.
No millions of euros in consultants fees needed to work out the feasibility or costs.