Self-regulation did not work in the past – and it won’t work in the future |Paul Meila


06 May 2015

In the following Independent article “ Self-regulation did not work in the past – and it won’t work in the future” from the 4th May 2015, Paul Melia discusses the lack of effectiveness of our current self-certification system of building control, impact on consumers, and the narrow and limited nature of the current government review into the severe impact on once-off housing.



“In April last year, the former environment minister Phil Hogan announced the regulations which were designed to prevent the future re-occurrence of “poorly constructed dwellings … and structures breaching fire regulations” which were left as a “legacy of a poorly regulated housing boom”.

But now it appears there’s a problem – construction professionals are hiking up the price of a one-off family home.

Building control inspectors have…struggled with a lack of resources in recent years, with figures from 2011 – the most recent available – showing that eight in every 10 homes were not inspected for structural defects and possible breaches of the fire safety code.

In some local authorities, there was no building control officer available. This, at a time when the building regulations were, in effect, an honour system where it was assumed homes would be properly constructed.

Since then, many homeowners saddled with expensive mortgages have learned this was far from the reality.

It’s probably worth noting just how many properties will be affected if the standards are relaxed, and the protections now in place are removed.

In 2014, just over 11,000 homes were constructed. Of these, 5,171 – or 46pc – were individual units. In January this year, just over half of the 693 units completed were one-off.

While most builders are competent and do the best for their clients, not all are.

Self-regulation did not work in the past, and there’s no guarantee it will work in the future.[emphasis by BRegs Blog]

See full article here.

Other posts of interest:

Regulations add up to €60k to house cost | Karl Deeter

Dáil: Fall in Housing Construction following introduction of Building Control Regulations

Independent inspection is essential – Flawed building regulations | Irish Examiner

Engineers encouraged to hold firm on Fees | Engineers Ireland

BC(A)R Review Meeting is “…a gathering top-heavy with vested interests.” | Irish Examiner

SCSI: Republic built 2,000 fewer new homes than official estimate | Irish Times

One year on: Reflections on the Building Control Amendment Regulations (SI.9 of 2014) | Michael Collins FRIAI


2 thoughts on “Self-regulation did not work in the past – and it won’t work in the future |Paul Meila

  1. Michael O'Neill

    While I welcome Paul Melia’s comments in general, his understanding of the additional costs required to certify under BC(A)R does not seem to understand the issues involved.

    “…construction professionals are hiking up the price of a one-off family home…”


    Everything extra that is required to be done to procure and deliver a building has a cost. This includes professionals dealing with increased bureaucracy and higher insurance costs to cover increased risk for the certifiers.

    This is multiplied by a factor when the certifiers are required to sign a cert wording written by people who seem to have a passing relationship with the liability attaching to certificates and assurances.

    BC(A)R appears to be a wholly unjustified transfer of risk from those to make the most from building a one of house (the builder or developer) to those who make the least (the professionals and certifiers).

    Of course this puts up the price of a house!

  2. Michael O'Neill

    Mr. Melia suggests that Self-Certification cannot work in principle. I beg to differ.

    Self-Regulation, like any system, can be abused. Pressure can be brought to bear on certifiers to produce Opinions that are issued

    1. before the completion of the building
    2. on the basis of little or no visual inspection
    3. which ignore clear breaches of Statutory approvals such as Planning Permission, Fire Safety Certificate, Disability Access Certificate or
    4. which ignore the requirements of the Building Regulations.

    The certifiers which produce such certification will always be with us. I cannot answer for them.

    I can only answer for myself. I did not produce such certificates. The building complied or it didn’t. If it complied in the main but there was a particular, non-catastrophic difficulty, or a delay in furnishing an assurance or guarantee, then a qualified Opinion could issue and the difficulty or delay drawn to the attention of the client and contractor.

    Therefore the self-certification system can work in principle, depending on whether the individuals involved act transparently, professionally, honourably and with integrity.

    Such qualified Opinions cannot now be issued under BC(A)R.


    Given the significant number of egregious failures of the self-certification system, due to the apparently criminal and/or negligent actions of a few rogue builders and developers, we must consider whether independent inspectors are a solution.

    Independent inspectors are less likely to be directly beholden to a patron and so we can reasonably infer that they would be less likely to issue certificates which unfairly support a particular person’s business interests.

    Less likely is the term to watch. Even the powerful are subject to corruption and temptation as a brief review of the history of George Redmond will show

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Be that as it may to proceed on the basis of NO independent inspection, to rely on the integrity of the professional earning even less fees and under more pressure that before?

    Surely we can offer more and better to the consumer?


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