09 June 2016
Two stories in the Irish Examiner highlight the systemic construction industry problems still faced by consumers despite new regulations introduced in 2014. New Minister Simon Coveney, who plans to double house building output, confirmed that the state has no role in the regulation of construction standards. Yet another defective residential development highlights the continued lack of consumer protection.
- In “Firetrap homes: Homeowners suffer sour legacy of boom at Ceol Na Mara” 8th June 2016 by Michael Clifford, the author notes a stark admission by Minister Coveney, “The State has no function in testing compliance of building regulations”. Extract:
“There are many similarities between those other developments and what has befallen the owners and residents of Ceol Na Mara in Kill, but above all else, the human emotions are identical.
One resident of the estate, who doesn’t want to be identified because of tensions over the problem, put it thus: “We’ve been left high and dry. We who bought our homes in good faith, thinking they were in proper order, have been told we’re on our own. Something is very wrong…
The only option open to the owners is to legally pursue some of the construction professionals who were engaged to sign off or approve the original works. That is an arduous and usually unsuccessful route, but the owners feel they have no option. [BReg Blog Note: under the 2014 Regulations future homebuyers are in the same situation]
“Who was supposed to be keeping an eye on this when it was built,” a resident told the Irish Examiner.
“We all trusted that we were buying homes that were safe and properly built.”
Not for the first time, the trust was misplaced. Regulation of the construction industry was handed over to the business itself in 1990, and — even with changes since some of the problems from the Celtic Tiger were exposed — largely remains so.
Minster for Housing Simon Coveney recently confirmed this position when answering a parliamentary question from Waterford TD David Cullinane about Ceol na Mara.
“Compliance with the building regulations is first and foremost the responsibility of the owners, designers and builders of the building concerned,” he said. “As minister, I have no function in assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or development.”
That was a stark admission. The State has no function in testing compliance of building regulations. What if the state abdicated testing compliance with financial institutions, or, more pertinently, compliance with road safety laws? How would that be received?
Mr Cullinane described the reply as extraordinary. “It demonstrates that little has changed since scandal after scandal has emerged regarding poor building standards,” he said.”
- In “Homeowners in Waterford face €15k bills for fire safety works” 8th June 2016, the extent of problems at the Wexford estate is noted and the two-tier system highlighted where state-owned housing will be repaired with private owners left with no means of redress. Extract:
“The Ceol Na Mara estate in the village of Kill was completed in 2008 and is now the latest in a growing list of developments where potentially lethal fire safety defects have been uncovered.
There are 54 homes in the timber-frame development, but 24 of those, which are owned by Waterford County Council and the housing agency Respond, are having the remedial work completed. The local authority confirmed to the Irish Examiner that it has no provision for financial aid for the private owners in making their homes safe…
“It’s another hangover from the Celtic Tiger,” said Sinn Féin councillor Declan Clune. “Loose regulation again, more houses slapped up, poor oversight, and people left with no comeback. These people simply don’t have the money.””
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