Housing crisis and building inspection | Eoin O’Cofaigh


24 March 2016

In March 2014 former Minister Phil Hogan introduced a ‘reinforced’ system of self-certification BCAR SI.9 which has contributed towards huge costs and delays right across the entire construction industry, for little consumer benefit. Widely perceived as a political ‘solution’ in response to defective projects like Priory Hall, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR) has added 5% to building costs across all sectors (SCSI estimate  here) and over €25,000 per dwelling for multi-unit apartments and houses. Many consider these onerous and costly procedures are acting as a significant barrier to affordable residential supply at present.

In contrast an independent Local Authority controlled system of building inspections, similar to the ‘Approved Inspector’ model operated in the UK, costs a fraction of our BCAR costs and is widely acknowledged as a best practice system. Several former Presidents of the RIAI have vigorously campaigned for reform of our current ‘self-certification’ Building Control system under BCAR (see proposals here). 

The most recent letter by former RIAI President Eoin O’Cofaigh appeared in the Irish Times on 23rd March 2016, see link here

Housing crisis and building inspection

Sir, – In response to the housing crisis, construction and property lobby groups have started calling for the VAT rate on new houses to be lowered. They tell us that such tax reductions would make many new housing developments viable.

But such tax reductions would not lower the cost of new houses. Instead, they would profit the developers.

So the taxpayer, including the first-time buyer, is to pay twice over. First, through contributing to property developers’ increased profits; and second, through the loss of tax revenue funding essential services.

There is a better way for the government to reduce costs and get more houses built.

Economists at the Dublin Economics Workshop have confirmed that the cost of complying with Phil Hogan’s disastrous self-certification building control regulations is an average of €20,000 per unit. This compares with less than €1,000 per unit for the local authority-based building control inspection system in Northern Ireland. This €20,000 is a hidden cost. It does not go to the State. It goes on professional time, defensive design specifications, insurance and more. It is paid by the house-buyer, as is the case for all other costs. But it is in the power of the State to eliminate it.

By introducing an independent system of building inspections, the State could reduce the cost of house building by twice what the developers are asking for.

This, too, would make many new housing developments viable, but would not cost the taxpayer.

It would also be a better system – the evidence is just up the road in Northern Ireland. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 2.

Other posts of interest:

Building Failures – Is the consumer protected?

BCAR “is estimated to add about €25,000 to the cost of each home” | Ronan Lyons

“ BCAR… is one of the key reasons behind the absence of new housing supply” | BARRY COWEN (FF)

Here’s How to Avoid Another Longboat Quay | Dublin Inquirer

“Building control regulations not fit for purpose” | Sunday Business Post

98% say “Building Regulations introduced in recent years are acting as a barrier to construction” | Knight Frank Survey

How much does Building Control cost in the UK (Northern Ireland) for apartments?

What do Building Control Regulations cost for a typical apartment?

Moving from Self-certification of Buildings towards Independent Inspection| Cork County Council

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

1 thought on “Housing crisis and building inspection | Eoin O’Cofaigh

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    As per today’s David McWilliams post quoting from a report from Ireland’s current largest overseas private landlord – the Irish Residential Properties Reit, set up by the Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.;


    ““There is little new supply of residential housing coming to market, and new housing starts are expected to remain well under forecasted requirements over the next number of years. As a result, we continue to see strengthening fundamentals in the residential rental business.

    “The current planning guidelines and the high cost of new construction will make it difficult for the severe shortage of accommodation to be rectified, at least over the short to medium term.”


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