Michael Clifford: “when will we address cracks in construction?” Irish Examiner


10 September 2015

Journalist Michael Clifford continues his exploration of Ireland’s defective Building Control system and highlights recent building failures at Longboat Quay.

In this opinion piece “MICHAEL CLIFFORD: When will we address cracks in construction?” 8 September Irish Examiner,  the lack of any new consumer protections in recent building regulations introduced in March 2014 SI.9 of 2014 are noted. Quote:

“One outcome from the Priory Hall debacle — which included major human suffering — was that new building regulations were introduced in 2014 by then environment minister Phil Hogan. The SI9 system was supposed to ensure that no building could be thrown up again with such glaring and dangerous deficiencies.

Yet, many construction professionals continue to be convinced that the new regulations are little more than window dressing on a self-regulation regime. Despite all that has happened, and the continuing discovery of other deficient and dangerous buildings from the building boom, there is little confidence in some quarters that the problems have now been addressed.”

In “Longboat Quay: Apartment owners may have to pay millions for remedial fire safety work”,  all the symptoms of our self-certification Building Control system are present: a defective building on the brink of having residents evacuated, developer/ builder gone bankrupt and no longer liable for remedial works, residents left trying to pursue costs of redress with whoever is “last man standing”. The author tells of the story of how residents of a large modern residential development completed less than 10 years ago in Dublin city centre could now be on the brink of evacuation. Extract:

“Longboat Quay, which was built in 2006, is a 298-unit development of privately owned apartments on Sir John Rogerson Quay, for which the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) is nominal landlord…More than 600 people will be forced to leave their homes in Dublin unless remedial fire safety work is carried out immediately…

A management company spokesman said it “has been actively pursuing all parties involved to ensure that a safe building is delivered, and the cost of delivering that is borne by the parties who bear responsibility…

“We accept it is likely that some of the cost will be borne by the owners because the developer is in receivership,” the spokesman said.

The development was built by a Bernard McNamara company, Gendsong, which has gone into liquidation. Mr McNamara declared himself bankrupt in the UK in 2009 and is now reported to have returned to the development business…

…the fire brigade said a fire safety notice would be served by August 31 if a date and timescale for the works was not agreed. The letter went on: “Whether or not a fire safety notice is served, you are also advised that the owner or occupier of the premises above may be liable for prosecution by reason of contravention of Part III of the fire safety acts 1981 and 2003.”

Other posts of interest:

You can still buy a non-compliant home…and it’s all perfectly legal | SI.9 Loopholes

Is the scene set for another Priory Hall? | Look Back 11

Further questions over Newbridge fire-trap houses that have ‘no resale value’

Reintroduce State Inspection of Buildings | Mick Wallace T.D.

Councillor calls for 100% “true” inspection and certification of all new homes

Meath County Council silent on alleged firetrap building | Irish Examiner

Is Riverwalk Court in Ratoath the next “Priory Hall”?

“These houses were rubbish” | Lobbying in the Construction Industry – Part 2

Lobbying in the Construction Industry – Part 1

More Fire Safety evacuations, European Committee of Social Rights court case & uninhabitable rented housing | NEWS

Kildare fire disaster shows madness of Kelly’s self-certification proposals | Green party

Independent inspection is essential – Flawed building regulations | Irish Examiner

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

1 thought on “Michael Clifford: “when will we address cracks in construction?” Irish Examiner

  1. Michael O'Neill MRIAI

    Reply to: Michael Clifford: “when will we address cracks in construction?” Irish Examiner


    Building failure seems to be becoming a forbidden subject. Its a bit like having a pedophile in the family. Everyone knows there is damage being done to the kids, but the SHAME of it if the truth ever got out!!! This kind of nonsense attitude to egregious building failure is doing nobody any good. HOW MANY MORE FAILURES ARE OUT THERE?

    In the absence of a body of evidence to the contrary, I will go out on a limb here and suggest that the fault lies with the Builder, and – if they are like McFeely – the Developer. And for the record, the new building regulation amendment has just opened the door wide for these cowboys.

    Phil Hogan – amongst all his other debacles – framed regulations which tried to pin the blame on Certifiers: this was done grossly and unfairly, given the impossibility of the Certifier being everywhere at every time on a building site OR in a suppliers factory to insure perfect compliance was achieved by all built works. In principle Mr, Hogan’s arbitrary and unfair regulations, and latterly Mr. Alan Kelly’s incompetent amendment to them, do no-one any good.

    Given the recent decision against Lawton Associates in the Ramparts case, I respectfully suggest that there is a case to be made for continuing DIRECT LIABILITY for contractors AND developers for TWENTY YEARS, as opposed to pinning building failures on Certifiers. Latent defects liability insurance is a simplistic solution which will fail.

    Let me be explicit here. We need to end the Companies Law Game that allows companies to declare bankruptcy and walk away from problems. This promulgates the bad practices that can be engaged in by builders and developers alike. We as consumers (and I am one) should not have to sue straw men certifiers because the building companies went bust.

    More and more we are looking at a need of ending the regime of “Development Companies as Vehicles of Convenience” by builders and developers that allow them to walk away from liability.

    It is quite clear that the so-called stakeholders ‘engaging in discussions’ with the Department of Environment are either corrupt or clueless or a bit of both, because none of them have suggested this obvious strategy to hold the people who make the most out of development accountable for the most egregious faults.

    We are led and said by moneyed Gombeen men in all walks of life and its high time those in the building industry were exposed as what they are. As for letting “the market decide” – that is so much fascist capitalist nonsense. The market decides nothing. The cartels, from banking to building, decide everything to suit themselves. Their tools in government make laws to suit them. Wake up.


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