“Between a rock and a hard place”| SI. 9 Review

rock and a hard place

18 August 2015

The attempt by Ministers Alan Kelly and Paudie Coffey to address the major shortcomings with Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (aka SI.9) by way of the recent report on the consultative process is to be commended. It is a difficult exercise for any Minister to try and get his or her department to bring about a policy change when any new legislation fails as SI.9 so clearly has. From recent media coverage it is clear that the knives are out at the Custom House for the incumbent Ministers.

The two Ministers now find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place or in other words between their civil servants and the construction industry vested interests. It even looks as if some are trying to catch them in a rift between Ranelagh Red-brickers and Rural Residents. The proposed exemption from the onerous and costly SI.9  legislation for one-off houses and residential extensions is being branded as pertaining only to the bungalow blitz phenomenon; in case you did not realise it, people in the ‘D-Eircodes’ also build and extend their own homes!

The silly season spin being spread about the amendments to SI.9 is that this effort to assist the building owner or consumer is an electioneering stroke exemplifying the worst of parochial pump politics. This is not so. With approximately 5,400 one-off homes being built annually this would represent an average of only 62 homes being impacted by SI.9 in each of Ireland’s electoral constituencies before the next General Election. The Ministers would be on to a much better vote winner by trying to get 100,000+ unemployed workers in the construction industry back to work.

Ill informed media comment has sought to link the major problems encountered in the speculative developer multi-unit housing and apartment sector such as Priory Hall to self-builders trying to build their own homes – when there is no evidence that there is any similarity. The real evidence is that SI.9 is unworkable and costly to the consumer without any real benefit. This is clear to most professionals who have tried their best to make the legislation work; the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland recently called for a “root and branch review” of SI.9.

The Ministers’ changes in policy, as announced, are much broader than recent mainstream media coverage has indicated and show real insight into the problems with SI.9. The proposal to broaden the requirement for Building Control supervision to all Local Authority projects is to be welcomed. It is clear that this will be strenuously resisted within the public sector who may not want the responsibility and certainly do not have the resources at present to undertake this. In addition the suggestions to have greater supervision of one-off houses and extensions by way of independent inspections by Local Authorities are a good alternative means of ensuring compliance. It appears the changes are also an attempt to prevent the Construction Industry Federation developing a monopoly by controlling access to any statutory register of builders which is not a bad thing.

It is difficult to assess the changes as announced by the DECLG in the absence of any published legislation. It was indicated that the revised regulations would be effective from 1st September 2015 which is only two weeks away. The delay in publishing the legislation is already causing delays to construction projects.

BRegs Admin. Team

Other posts of interest:

RIAI Response | Ministerial Review SI.9

First Responders | Engineers Ireland criticise proposed SI.9 reforms

DECLG Report on the consultative process | SI.9 Review

“Major Reform of Building Regulations” (sic) | Minister Alan Kelly

Minister Coffey announces changes to BC(A)R SI.9

CIF advises against any easing of regulations for Self-builders | Irish Building Magazine

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 8: Stakeholders ACEI, SCSI & RIAI

 

1 thought on ““Between a rock and a hard place”| SI. 9 Review

  1. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    “Between a rock and a hard place”| SI. 9 Review

    http://www.bregsforum.com/2015/08/18/si-9-and-the-silly-season-declg-rocks/

    “The silly season spin being spread about the amendments to SI.9 is that this effort to assist the building owner or consumer is an electioneering stroke exemplifying the worst of parochial pump politics. This is not so. With approximately 5,400 one-off homes being built annually this would represent an average of only 62 homes being impacted by SI.9 in each of Ireland’s electoral constituencies before the next General Election. The Ministers would be on to a much better vote winner by trying to get 100,000+ unemployed workers in the construction industry back to work.”

    We could divide the number of 5.400 homes into Townlands and we might end up with one or two! Why not look at Streets instead and we might end up with fractions!

    This is totally beside the point.

    Politics is about managing perception and bringing pressure to bear on political parties and elected representatives at opportune moments. There is no better opportune moment to bring pressure to bear on this government than right now.

    First lets look at the relevant numbers, not the current deflated ones, to get an idea of the real potential figures being affected.

    Back when I was posting to Askaboutmoney on a regular basis I sourced information which led me to believe that the self-build market in Ireland ranged from 25 – 45% of the new homes constructed that year, including apartment dwellings.

    Lets take a reasonable period in the Irish Construction Industry. Between1996 – 2002 there was an increase in the number of habitable dwellings of 200,000 or around 33,000 a year.

    Source

    http://www.esri.ie/pdf/JACB_FitzGerald_The%20Irish%20Housing%20Stock.pdf

    Applying the 25-45% figure for self-builds that equates to between 8,250 and 14,850 new homes.

    So one and a half to three times the estimate quoted above. But the number of houses does not related to the number of people affected by these regulations. That figure is a multiple, going far beyond the nominal doubling that a couple implies. Just assuming they are couples building houses the figures now range from 16,500 to 29,700. i.e. we are now almost three to six times the figure quoted above.

    Now lets look at the numbers actually required to bring about legislative change.

    There is a group called the Architects’ Alliance of Ireland. It lobbied and met with Ministers and in July 2010 it got a private members bill into the Dail.

    Reference

    http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/bills/2010/4110/B4110D.pdf

    It might have had 500 core members and supporters with perhaps as many again undeclared supporting them. Say 1,000 persons in total. With only 1,000 people to support it, the AAOI got a private members bill onto the floor of the Dail to right what its members perceived as a grave injustice. A minority group effected change at that level.

    Do you seriously think that 30,000 self-builders who are directly affected by this legislation were not be able to effect change? Do you still push the view that the changes to date are NOT about vote-getting? The proof is the proposed changes legislation.

    The only thing you have to do is look at the proposed changes and ask – who benefits?

    Reply

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