The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify |

31st May 2017

Last week reported on RTÉ One’s Morning Ireland series on the construction industry in Ireland, focusing on sub-standard ‘celtic tiger ‘ developments. There are over 30 large residential projects known to have significant defects (see list at the bottom of post).  Despite more projects discovered with significant defects, Ireland has maintained a unique ‘hands-off’ 100% system of self-certification of building standards, where developers can employ private building inspectors directly. The state still has no role in testing compliance with building standards. Extract from as follows (see article here), extract to follow:

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify

In her fourth of a four-part series on the construction industry in Ireland, journalist Jackie Fox recalled the sub-standard housing developments that were built during the boom, namely Priory Hall and Longboat Quay.

In her report, Ms Fox sought to find out if standards are being met today and spoke to Cian O’Callaghan, from the Geography Department at Trinity College Dublin, and Kevin Hollingsworth, chartered building surveyor.

Ms Fox said that, over the past three years, Mr Hollingsworth has been involved in the remediation works of 29 developments which she did not name.

During the report, Mr O’Callaghan recalled:

“One of the main problems during the boom was that there was so much being built, from 2006, there was something like 90,000 housing units built in the country so local authorities didn’t actually have the staff to regulate the standards properly and what was happening then is there was a process of certification that was brought in to play, where developers would hire their own architect, their own surveyor to sign off on the safety standards for the building, the building regulations.

“So, in the 1990s, the building control regulations relaxed and this kind of allowed developers to self-certify. So this is quite an unusual circumstance. You wouldn’t have it in the UK for example. You’d have an independent body who would be responsible for building controls and responsible to ensure that the quality of things was being kept.”

And Mr Hollingsworth said:

The assigned certifier can be an employee of the developer, the assigned certifier is also just a professional – they do get paid by the end user. They don’t act independently. They’re supposed to act independently but, once there’s that financial link, that leads to a lack of independence.”


Listen back to the report in full here


  1. Longboat Quay, Dublin (see RTE news link here)
  2. Gallery Quay, Dublin (see UTV news link here)
  3. Priory Hall, Dublin (see link here)
  4. Shangan Hall, Dublin (see pdf link here)
  5. Shankill, Dublin (see news link here)
  6. Balgaddy, Dublin (see Echo link here)
  7. Prospect Hill, Dublin (see Irish Independent link here)
  8. Belmayne, Dublin (see Irish Independent link here)
  9. Thornfield Square, Clondalkin, Dublin (see Irish Independent link here)
  10. Foxford Court, Lucan, Dublin (see Irish Independent link here)
  11. The Laurels, Dundrum, Dublin (see news link here)
  12. Ballymun, Dublin (see news link here)
  13. Gleann Riada, Longford (see Longford Leader link here)
  14. Millfield Manor, Newbridge, Kildare (see Irish Examiner link here)
  15. Old Court Estate,  Bray, Wicklow (see Irish Independent link here)
  16. Glentore, Athlone, Westmeath (see herald link here)
  17. Glending, Wicklow (see Irish Independent link here)
  18. Riverwalk Court, Ratoath, Meath (see Irish Examiner link here)
  19. Kentswood Court,  Navan, Meath (see Irish Times link here)
  20. Inishowen, Donegal (see news link here)
  21. Erris, Mayo (see Mayo News link here)
  22. Derrycorris, Edenderry, Offaly (see Offaly Express link here)
  23. Moneymore, Louth (see news link here)
  24. Ceol na hAbhann, Caherconlish, Limerick (see Limerick Leader link here)
  25. Dun Ard, Craughwell, Galway (see news link here)
  26. Moyross, Limerick (see Irish Examiner link link here)
  27. Parkland, Youghal, Cork (see Irish Examiner link link here)
  28. Elm Park, Merrion Road (see Irish Independent link here)
  29. Holywell estate, Swords, Dublin (See Sunday Business Post link here)
  30. The Cubes, Sandyford, Dublin (See Independent link here)

NOTE : In compiling this post, 25 other estates affected by pyrite have not been named due to reporting restrictions (See “Location of 25 estates in pyrite probes to stay secret” Irish Independent). Homes and estates affected by mica in Donegal similarly have not been included (See Pyrite + Mica | Continuing Problems)

Other posts of interest:

Cracking up: the legacy of Celtic Tiger Ireland | Independent

Donegal Mica + Render | “State Fails to Protect Family Homes” Seanad

Dept. of Housing withhold Fire Review into timber frame housing

Defective “Celtic Tiger” projects : The Cubes | Look Back 17

Priory Hall & Longboat Quay: “I’m convinced there are others” | Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Here’s How to Avoid Another Longboat Quay: Dublin Inquirer | Look Back 15

Longboat Quay | Irish Times Letters to the Editor

First Priory Hall, then Longboat Quay…now schools | Irish Examiner

“Risky housing sale outrageous but legal” | Longboat Quay

Complaint Procedures & Construction Industry Register? | Look Back 19

97% of Cork rental homes failed safety checks | Irish Examiner

The State still has no function in testing compliance of building regulations

Housing crisis and building inspection | Eoin O’Cofaigh

FACTCHECK: “If my house is defective, Do I have any rights?”

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

Examiner | Housing Defects Special 

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

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

1 thought on “The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify |

  1. Michael Tweed

    To be precise, when the Building Control Act of 1992 was brought in there was no requirement to seek approval of construction design from anyone, and during the building process there was no requirement to have the construction work inspected by anyone. And there was certainly no requirement to write, sign or produce a Certificate of Compliance. The Act required NONE of these. The only thing the Act required was that buildings had to be designed and constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations. Compliance with that requirement was left up to those doing the designing and building. There was no compulsory independent oversight by anyone.
    Any time that a building is used as collateral for borrowings the lenders sought comfort that the building used as collateral was in compliance with Planning Permission and Building Regulations. Since Certificates of Compliance didn’t exist the alternative was to get someone with sufficient qualifications and expertise to write a statement acceptable to lenders stating that the building was compliant. Rather than this happening on an ad hoc basis the RIAI standardised these statements by drafting Architect’s Opinions on Compliance.
    The sale of houses and apartments has always relied on the principle of “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) and this applies to new houses and apartments just as it does to second hand houses and apartments. The truth is the due diligence carried out by lenders and buyers was superficial. There was no independent oversight of designers and builders. In such circumstances it is easy for control to become lax. In my opinion there was nothing actually willful about this increasing laxness, more that it’s part of human nature. Nor in all honesty do I think that non compliance was necessarily from a desire to increase profits – many of these buildings included costly materials, for example cut granite paving in the landscaped areas, stainless steel and glass balustrades, etc.
    There are numerous examples in many professions, such as banking, the press, etc where self regulation has been no regulation and scandals have arisen.
    There should really be no argument and no mistake – the ONLY way to ensure proper compliance with the Building Regulations and provide proper consumer protection is through fully funded state controlled independent building control!


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