19th March 2015
We wonder will anyone ask senior Department of the Environment officials the question “will any new staff go to building control?” at the upcoming Irish Building Control Institute (IBCI) annual Conference next week? Speakers will include Aidan O’Connor (Principal Advisor, Architecture & Building Standards Sections in the Housing and Planning Division of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG)), John Wickham (DECLG) and Mairead Phelan (BCMS Project Manager, LGMA Project Management Office) amongst others. The annual event for 2015 is scheduled on 25-26th March in the Malton Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry.
In an Independent article “Environment Minister Kelly approves 200 housing staff“, 200 new staff to deliver more social housing are to be employed in Local Authorities. We have noted official Department of the Environment figures confirming less than 90 social housing units were built by Local Authorities in 2014 (see here).
We have posted an analysis of staffing requirements to create a self-funded system of Local Authority independent inspections, similar to the much praised system in the UK. With the same number of new staff, 200 additional building control officers, we could have a similar system delivering real consumer protection at a fraction of the cost to the consumer and industry of our current enhanced system of self-certification.
We wonder will any new resources be put at the disposal of understaffed building control sections? With less than 70 staff at present nationwide these departments have targets of 12-15% inspection rates for a €10Bn industry- hardly credible. Under the building control regulations introduced last March, the inspection requirement has increased from per project from one to a minimum of 4. Based on historical data it is estimated that this will lead to less than 3% of projects completed will receive a local authority inspection. This will give the consumer little comfort with 97% of all buildings failing to get even a cursory independent inspection.
Other posts of interest: