BRegs Weekly | 1 September 2017

1 September 2017 –  BRegs Weekly Edition 119

Edition 119 of BRegs Weekly is out now.

In “Delayed fire safety report an ‘insult’ to residents of estate that lost 6 homes in blaze”, the Examiner noted an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the publication of a long-awaited report into fire safety which had been expected to address specific concerns about construction methods during the boom years. The Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety In Dwellings Where Concerns Arise was commissioned in September 2015 on foot of a devastating fire in Newbridge, Co Kildare. The residents of the estate, where six houses burned to the ground in 25 minutes, had allowed their homes to be surveyed as part of the framework review. This potentially catastrophic fire has given rise to major concerns about timber frame construction. The framework, published last week, was to have included a specific separate report into the fire in Newbridge, but this has been redacted. Mystery surrounds the delay in publication for over a year. A number of different reasons were given by the Department of Housing for the delay, including that the report was being examined by the Attorney General. Freedom of Information requests were denied. Labour TD Alan Kelly, who commissioned the report when he was environment minister, told the Irish Examiner that the “report out today is simply not what I commissioned. It’s not in accordance with the terms of reference.”

In Passive House + Magazine article  “Grenfell Tower – How did it happen?” Kate de Seincourt explores some of the deeper questions that face the building industry following the tragedy. On a refurbishment project like Grenfell Tower, the procurement and installation of materials, the continuity of design into the final build, the checks that fire compartmentation has been reinstated – all of this is down to the contractor and designer. So-called “Design-and-build” contracts hand the initial design over to the contractor, who ‘value-engineers’ aspects in order for them to stick to the contract price. The Grenfell disaster has led to calls to “bring back the clerk of works” and “reempower architects”, but it is hard to see any single additional role making much impact, unless the entire chain buys in- a cultural shift is needed. At Grenfell there wasn’t a single designer and a single contractor. The Metropolitan police have reportedly identified sixty companies that played some role in the building’s refurbishment. Investigations may eventually confirm the specifics of how the fire at the West London tower block spread so catastrophically, but the government and construction industry faces much deeper questions about whether a culture of deregulation, cost-cutting and buck-passing turned what should have been a small, inconsequential fire into a national tragedy. There are lessons here for Ireland and large scale planned “Design-and-build” contracts.

In Silicon Republic’s article Ireland’s accommodation crisis is sending out a dangerous message” author John Kennedy noted a study by Prosperity, a recruitment firm which has seen rejections rate by overseas candidates offered jobs in ireland soar to 30% by the third quarter of 2017. According to Prosperity MD Gary Mullan, candidates from abroad have cited the cost and availability of accommodation in Dublin as their reason for rejecting a job offer, and instead choose to remain at home or locate to a different European city. A software designer would pay 80% less for an apartment in Lisbon or 50% for an apartment in Berlin, yet they might earn a salary of just 10 – 15% below what they could earn in Dublin. Berlin also offers cheaper transportation, at 30% less. Anecdotally foreign nationals are quitting good jobs in Dublin to move to cheaper rental markets overseas. This should be setting off alarm bells to IDA Ireland, whose professionalism and unwavering commitment to selling Ireland in the past decade is what helped the country regain its pride and claim Europe’s digital crown when all else seemed lost. “This kind of thing gets around. And it won’t look good for Ireland.”

The BRegs Weekly e-zine gathers all recent social media discussions relating to Building Control Regulations into one weekly digest. It is published every Friday and gives a round-up of news highlights for the week.  We recommend signing up for an automatic subscription to keep up with the discussion surrounding the current annual review of the BC(A)R, and more recent media articles and stories about building control and the impacts on the consumer and construction industry.

Click Here to read: BRegs Weekly Edition 119

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