Tackling the Cost of Building Control | Minister Simon Coveney


4 October 2016

In the interview with Matt Cooper the on Today FM last Thursday 29th September, Minister Simon Coveney said that We will look at ways in which we can reduce cost, streamline decision making and approval and inspection processes and so on, and we are looking at that”.

He had been questioned about the cost and effectiveness of onerous administrative Building Control ‘self-certification” procedures BCAR SI.9 by a senior architect.  RIAI Past President, former member of the Department’s Building Regulations Advisory Board (BRAB) and an authority on Building Control,  Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI, said

“the one cost that you have under your Departments control is the Building Control system- the Housing and Homelessness Committee recommended that you would set up a pilot scheme for Building Control like the one on the North and in England to reduce the cost of Building Control inspection… Ronan Lyons and Lorcan Sirr and the economists record that it could save €8-12,000 per house. It’s not just the cost of the inspections… it’s defensive specifications, it’s profiteering by specifiers and delays. It’s a lot of money and it would also be a much better system”

Minister Simon Coveney:

“We haven’t seen results in a major way yet. The cost of building houses is a key issue…Interesting that the SCSI published the detail of what it costs to build a house… Regulations are predominantly covered by professional fees €5,500… land acquisition costs are close to €60,000… We will look at ways in which we can reduce cost, streamline decision making and approval and inspection processes and so on, and we are looking at that”.

• Listen to the last word here (segment 47.11- 50.20)

It is surprising that the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland  (SCSI) are so far out of line with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) WHO estimated last May that the Assigned Certifier role for a €200,000 (excl. VAT) residential extension project takes an additional 85 hours  on top of standard architectural services.


The RIAI table suggests a cost to the consumer of approximately €8,000 for Assigned Certifier statutory inspection duties (incl. VAT) for a modest domestic residential project. This excludes the standard architect’s fees and the other professional BCAR costs such as the cost of Design Certifier, other Ancillary Certifier (services and structural engineers) fees, contractor and sub-contractor costs, phasing and financing of delays, defensive specifications etc.  Previously the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland estimated that the cost of professional fees of BCAR SI.9 procedures to the residential sector at up to €300m per annum and would require 2-3 million additional hours to operate.

Just last year former Minister Alan Kelly ordered a ministerial review into its effectiveness and cost of BCAR which resulted in an opt-out of onerous and costly administrative procedures for once-off housing. The BCAR cost for a typical house was estimated by the Minister at over €50,000.

Currently there are no plans to launch a Ministerial review of building control costs in the multi-unit sector, despite widespread calls for a proper cost-benefit analysis. Minister Coveney has a very ambitious housing programme and he can’t afford to get this one wrong.

Other posts of interest:

FACTCHECK 4 | Dáil + Construction Costs

RIAI ALERT: Inspection Fees for House Extensions

RIAI President | “2 – 3 million hours a year to inspect new house building”

BC(A)R SI.9 has added + 5% to Residential Costs | SCSI / DKM

CIC | ‘Construction Industry Council’ or ‘Confusion in Costs’?

Conditions perfect for curtailment of house building – including BC(A)R Costs | Independent

Bruce Shaw urge caution on additional costs for BC(A)R SI.9 roles & liability

What do Building Control Regulations cost for a typical apartment?

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

1 thought on “Tackling the Cost of Building Control | Minister Simon Coveney

  1. Michael O'Neill

    The primary issues are compliance and delivery
    We can address the lack of compliance with regulations
    Regulatory changes have been badly managed by Government

    This applies to Building Control Regulations and Building Regulations
    This leads us to our dilemma – the lack of a speedy remedy for the consumer
    We can see that the strategy of placing all the responsibility onto Certifiers is poor

    Nothing in this Government’s stance suggests they are remotely competent to fix this
    We see successive Governments protecting the people who build and develop bad buildings
    Certifiers are scapegoats for bad building practices and developer strategy which encourages them

    The building Industry need changes which means culpability leads to directly to responsibility
    It does not need fictitious pieces of paper which promise more in fact than can be delivered in theory
    The greatest profit-takers from the building procurement process should be the ones to remedy any defects

    The government must do its job; –
    – Legislate
    – Regulate
    – Prosecute
    – Remediate

    Remediation of the defect must be overseen by government but financed by the person(s) or firm who carried out non-compliant work

    In general I do not mean the person(s) who certified design or the built the buildings or works; –
    – they should be held liable only if they knowingly certified non-compliant designs or works
    – in other words if it was something they could and should have known was not compliant
    – the inability to oversee all designers or all of the components or built work affects this

    I mean the person or firm who profited by altering designs and/or building non-compliantly

    The Main Contractor

    The Main Contractor has the primary role regarding the built work whether he is a developer or not
    The Main Contractor controls the wotk on site and what goes on during the building process
    Subcons, specialist vendors and suppliers must come through the Main Contractor
    Subcons must coordinate their work with milestones in the Building Programme
    The Main Contractor has an oversight position to ensure all work is coordinated
    No other person or firm is on site 100% of the time with all necessary contacts
    No other person or firm has contractual relationships they can call on for this

    As-Built documents should be produced by the Main Contractor
    Record photos and videos of inspection should issue in support of this
    As-Built documents should reflect compliance matters for consumers’ files

    The current legislation largely ignores all this
    It rests the compliance or otherwise on a piece of paper
    It transfers all the liability onto the Assigned and Design Certifiers
    It effectively protect the interests of Main Contractors and developers
    This current unwise strategy does not confer any benefit to the consumer


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *