An alternative Building Control System? | Martin Keane

19 January 2017

The following post was submistted by Martin Keane BSc

Replicate the Road Safety Authority into the Construction Industry

There is a need to move the onus of responsibility from one individual to all concerned in the development of a build. The idea of a development not meeting the building standards leave all concerned at risk of litigation and not to mention the reputational damage that it causes to the construction industry and this could be down to a number of individuals not adhering to good building practices or simply not bothering to maintain the building standards.

Is there a need to look beyond the professionals and look at the people who actually carry out the work on the ground?  The fact a tradesperson/professional can move freely from one site/job to another with no real impact on their poor standard of work needs to be addressed in a more fundamental approach. The licence is something the author researched in 2008/2009 and found to be a useful means of identifying an individual qualifications and work experience but it on its own will not resolve the difficulties encountered by poor practices which has caused great concern for all seeking a lasting resolution.

There is a need to tackle the behaviours and attitudes of individuals who believe they can simply turn up for work and underperform in their tasks with no real accountability.  The problem of poor building practices has been around for years despite all the effort put into resolve this dilemma.

The author has looked at different system/model which has dealt effectively with poor practices as it is also built on qualifications/experience. The Road Safety Authority is responsible for ensuring users are adhering to the rules/regulations.  The fact that it is working with the Insurance Industry backed by independent policing both public/private who can issue penalty points has made a huge significance to the behaviours/attitudes of individuals using the road network. The fact people don’t want to attain penalty points on their licence has made people more aware of their responsibility to other road users.

If such an authority was to come into force in the construction industry backed by the insurance industry with independent building control both private and public who could issue penalty points to individuals not adhering to the building standards it might have a real impact on how people perceive their responsibility to their clients to ensure good work practices. The need to bring in an insurance such as the car insurance e.g. construction insurance for professionals, trades and services providers would ensure the cost of poor work practices could be recouped from the individuals not adhering to the building codes. The individual would receive a penalty point and a spot fine for breaching the building codes. The fact that individuals would have to renew their construction insurance could allow the Insurance industry play a more effective role of ensuring compliance of the building standards.  This system operate in the transport industry and is considered fair by all users as it put the onus on the individual to ensure they comply with the rules and regulations.

Martin Keane has a BSc Hons in Construction Management and is currently finishing a Masters in Project Management.

Other posts of interest:

Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness Report recommends Building Control Changes

Q + A: Local Authorities and Building Control Regulations | Eoin O’Cofaigh

Collins & O Cofaigh- A BETTER way: BC(A)R SI.9 Solutions

Tackling the Cost of Building Control | Minister Simon Coveney

Firetrap Homes | “Fingal CoCo ‘head in the sand’ approach to building control”

UK Report | Competition in Building Control in a “race to the bottom”

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

What do Building Control Regulations cost for a typical apartment?

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

BC(A)R SI.9 Submission Series No 4: Proposal for a Better System

10 thoughts on “An alternative Building Control System? | Martin Keane

  1. Denise Germaine

    Well said!! Equally, the system where the HSA has the power to shut down a building site if unsafe practices are found has a real financial impact on the contractor and has helped to change the ethos on sites regarding Health & Safety. If this type of inspection system could be introduced and enforced by Building Control Authoritites it would make a dufference.

  2. Rachel Carr

    very interesting plan, one thing ,yes theres always one,,,, the RSA havent improved or demanded improvements on rural roads ,no consideration for walkers or cyclists barely room for 2 cars to meet, 1meter each side margin would be great, warning signage is very poor about dangerous bends,corners ect,often dirty ,overgrown, rsa could also demand ramps be paced at entrances to villages and towns as is practice in North, often we hear of accident spots where many happen…….. goodluck,

  3. paddy murphy

    The Road Safety Authority is responsible for ensuring users are adhering to the rules/regulations. YOU JUST NEED TO BUILD CARS THAT DO NOT EXCEED THE SPEED LIMIT.
    What an hypocrisy of legislators to regulate the max speed limit and allow car to be manufactured and sold exceeding so.
    Is like saying I sell you illegal speed (or allow to) and then I fine you if you use it. Does it makes sense.
    Can I sell illegal drug? this kill also like the speed on the road.
    you need to eliminate the cause to eliminate the problem.

    1. Martin Keane

      Hi Paddy, This is the purpose of penalty points to make people aware of their responsibility to others users of the road network. It puts the onus on you the driver to obey the rules/regulations. It about changing behaviours and attitudes to poor standards. The fact is once you receive the penalty points and the spot fine it focuses your mind as it could affect your car insurance policy. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions as they could impact others. You have the choice to drive or not.

  4. Brian O' Hanlon

    We need public ownership for a certain amount of things. Roads is one of them. One could argue that tele-communications networks should have been another one. Many in the present day, will make an argument for public ownership of a certain amount of housing stock. In reality, by supplying rent supplement designed to try and cater for housing needs of the most vulnerable – the public owner does have in it’s possession a large amount of housing stock – albeit it, once removed. The deeds are in someone else’s hands, however the use of it is mainly for public consumption housing need. I.e. There is in existence a standing contract between the entity known as a public state, and suppliers of some amount ‘X’ of housing accommodation, that is permanently in place, and the contract for that supply of that service keeps getting renewed.

    Often times though, we need things in public ownership, not because they are up to some standard – but precisely because the thing is not up to some ideal standard – but it still needs to exist, because there is a need for it, and it gets used. Like if we decided to start transferring a lot of the road network around Ireland, into private ownership tomorrow, a lot of it would be closed down and dis-continued by next month. Why? Because no one else other than a public owner, could exposed themselves to the liability of all of those miles and miles of infrastructure that is only barely compliant, or not at all.

    The main advantage of having something like a road network in public ownership, is that it buys some flexibility. I.e. It keeps parts of the country ‘open’ to movement in and out of populations of inhabitants – and therefore prevents those parts of the island – from turning into a complete Chernoybl type, no-go wilderness habitat. It’s the same with things like public rental and ownership of housing. We’d have large tracts of urban land also, that are effectively closed down, had it not been for private ownership and rental models. Sure, a lot of the housing stock and building stock in parts of our towns and cities doesn’t come up to a certain standard. Again, like the example of the road network, it allows us to maintain open inflow and outflow of native populations, from large tracts of urban land that would otherwise by closed up. Again, it is only made possible by having that existence of that public owner who can be exposed to such a huge liability.

    It’s precisely because we have that hybrid of public and private ownership arrangements in the environment in which we live – that the environments that we have either urban, rural or suburban – are diverse. Things that are diverse by the way, as in bio-diversity, tend to become more robust and resilient than things that are mono-cultural. The ‘total solution’ of bringing everything above a certain bar, is a nice idea and I like it, because it would be great for construction professionals and employment. A lot of the time though, an obstacle to that progress and generally raising the standards across the board – is precisely that thing, of a piece of infrastructure, a network, a service or system – being in public as opposed to private ownership. There are up sides and down sides to having a public owner of things, and it’s about trying to manage the balance to work as best as possible for everyone. The fact is though, it was when we tried to raise the bar for an awful lot of folk, and then failed in execution of that strategy, that those who depended on public owners to deliver needed services – they ended up with nothing at all. One could argue, that was worse on a lot of levels.

  5. Brian O' Hanlon

    Correction: We’d have large tracts of urban land also, that are effectively closed down, had it not been for PUBLIC ownership and rental models.

  6. Lester Naughton

    Absoluty agree with this principal. At the moment shoddy work risks at worst an certifier who also adminsters a building contract might refuse payment untill works are put right. With all the reported building failures thete are very few asking questions of the workmen themselves.

  7. Lester Naughton

    Absoluty agree with this principal. At the moment shoddy work risks at worst a certifier who also adminsters a building contract might refuse payment untill works are put right. With all the reported building failures thete are very few asking questions of the workmen themselves.

  8. Brendan Thomas

    I support this idea and in years past had raised the idea, in conversation with friends that builders should be licenced to practice as in USA. Because it is an issue of public health and well-being and the biggest individual investment that an individual will make, it should be treated with such importance. However I don’t know how well the American system works and could see companies being re-named etc. Bringing it back to an individual level is even better


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