Category Archives: Building Regulations

Budget 2018: Part 2 – Voluntary & Not-for-Profit Organisations

20 September 2017

World Homeless Day coincides with Budget 2018, to be announced on 10th October 2017. In the second of two posts, BRegs Blog gathers submissions from various interest groups and Voluntary and not-for-profit organisations that suggest measures to tackle the housing and homeless emergency. Part 1 gathered various private key-stakeholder organisations and their submissions  (see Part 1 here).

Pre-Budget Submissions (click on organisation for link to PDF)

Articles of Interest:

Peter McVerry: Housing crisis for the rich or poor?

Number of homeless could reach 10,000 by next year–Simon Community

Budget 2018: Here’s what we know so far | Irish Times

Other posts of Interest:

Rebuilding Ireland Review | John McCarthy

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Government’s ‘rapid-build’ schedule in realms of fantasy | Irish Times

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

Rapid Answers – Broadsheet.ie

Homelessness in Galway at unprecedented level, says NGO

Is ‘Rapid’ housing too little, too late (again)?

BRegs Weekly | 15 September 2017

 

15 September 2017 –  BRegs Weekly Edition 121

Edition 121 of BRegs Weekly is out now.

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.

In “State must answer fire safety questions” by Mick Clifford, the case for a widespread audit of Celtic Tiger-era buildings has never been as strong. The Department of Education recently released details of a fire safety audits in five schools completed two years ago and withheld till now. It was only with the intervention of the Information Commisisoner, following an FOI request from the Dublin Inquirer newspaper, that the department finally caved in. The reports were published eight days ago and showed a whole range of fire safety deficiencies-  all were in breach of fire safety standards. Remarkably the Department was reluctant to let parents know whether their children were at any risk should a fire occur in any of the five schools. Now, rather than facing up to the past, the State and its agencies are hoping against hope that any fire problems in defective Celtic Tiger-era dwellings can remain buried, a ‘potentially catastrophic’ gamble.

The issue of defective public sector buildings is note restricted to Ireland. In “NHS hospitals exposed to fire risk” in The Construction Index, it appears that several NHS hospitals, including the flagship £545m Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, are at serious risk of fire due to inadequate or non-existent passive fire protection. Despite Building Regulations requiring minimum levels of fire protection within buildings, the application and installation of passive fire protection is poorly understood and that there is no effective system to ensure that it is installed and maintained correctly. A UK industry source said that several cases of inadequate fire protection have surfaced recently at a number of new NHS hospitals but these are just “the tip of the iceberg”. Problems with shoddy fire protection have surfaced at these hospitals largely due to the nature of so-called Public Private Partnerships  (PPP/PFI) contracts. This is of particular concern in Ireland where the widespread extension of the PPP programme for state housing is being considered at present.

The Housing crisis rolls on. In “Murphy’s social housing plan ‘falls far short” by Eithne Loughlin in the Examiner, social housing plans were criticised as falling “ far short” of what is required to address the escalating crisis. However, Mr Murphy said the 800 extra homes to be built in 2018, on top of the 3,000 already promised, represents a “significant increase”. Focus Ireland said the meeting had produced some positive proposals, but had failed to live up to the expectations created by the decision to bill it as a summit. Focus Ireland director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said the proposals announced were “dominated by managing the emergency rather than tackling the problem”. Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, welcomed the provision of extra emergency beds before Christmas but added: “Clearly the latest homeless figures point to the fact that more needs to be done and done quickly…” Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin branded the Government’s housing response a “national scandal…We need to build significantly more houses and apartments, and quickly.

Click Here to read: BRegs Weekly Edition 121

Budget 2018: Part 1 – Industry Submissions

13 September 2017

Budget 2018 will be announced on 10th October 2017, World Homeless Day. The budget sets out the main changes in the areas of taxation, social welfare, health, housing, education, employment and other areas. In Part 1 of 2 posts, BRegs Blog tables submissions by various industry interest groups- Construction Lobby Groups the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and Property Industry Ireland (PII), Industry stakeholders Engineers Ireland (EI), Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland (SCSI), Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI). Part 2 will gather Voluntary and not-for-profit organisations and their submissions aimed at tackling the acute lack of housing that we are currently experiencing and measures aimed to tackle the housing and homeless emergency.

Pre-Budget Submissions (click on organisation for link to PDF)

Articles of Interest:

Peter McVerry: Housing crisis for the rich or poor?

Number of homeless could reach 10,000 by next year–Simon Community

Budget 2018: Here’s what we know so far | Irish Times

Other posts of Interest:

Rebuilding Ireland Review | John McCarthy

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Government’s ‘rapid-build’ schedule in realms of fantasy | Irish Times

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

Rapid Answers – Broadsheet.ie

Homelessness in Galway at unprecedented level, says NGO

Is ‘Rapid’ housing too little, too late (again)?

Schools Safety Report: Building Firm earned €40m & built ‘Rapid’ homes

06 September 2017

Following on from a successful appeal by the Dublin Inquirer of a freedom of information refusal by the Department of Education (see story here), a fire safety report into six “Rapid” build schools was released last week. Katherine Donnelly and Paul Meila in the Independent  article “School fire safety probe: Firm earned €40m from department and built modular houses for homeless Dublin families” report on the substantive issues (link here). A list of more than 35 schools completed or under construction currently by Western Building Systems is attached.

WBS have been contracted to provide seven more schools this year including schools in Kildare Town, Gorey, Co. Wexford, Letterkenny, Galway and two schools in Firhouse, Co Dublin. Extract of Independent article to follow:


The company at the centre of the schools fire safety probe has been paid more than €40m by the Department of Education since 2013 and also built 22 modular homes for homeless families.

The company is the owner of two non-compliant school buildings that it is leasing to the State.

It has also emerged that Co Tyrone-based Western Building Systems (WBS) has built 22 modular homes for Dublin City Council under a rapid build programme and is currently completing three schools projects in Dublin, Donegal and Galway.

Education Minister Richard Bruton is to seek legal advice after it emerged that four schools housing thousands of pupils, built by WBS in 2008, are subject to fire safety concerns.

Mr Bruton said … that he was “not satisfied” that remediation works ordered by his department had been completed by the firm.

All of the affected schools were built under a rapid delivery programme in 2008 by WBS, and were audited after breaches of fire safety rules were discovered and remedied at Rusk and Lusk Educate Together National School in 2014, which was also built by WBS. Fire safety inspections were carried out in January 2016, and reports finalised the following July. The Department of Education said the firm agreed to complete works in June last year, but that many remain incomplete.

Problems were identified in five schools: St Francis of Assisi Primary School and Belmayne Educate Together School, both in Belmayne, Co Dublin and which are owned by WBS and leased to the State; Mullingar Educate Together in Westmeath, Gaelscoil na gCloch Liath in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and a building at Powerstown Educate Together in Dublin, which has since been shut. The Department of Education plans to conduct audits of up to 30 more schools built by a range of developers to check for compliance with safety rules.

Department of Education records show that the firm was paid more than €40m since 2013 under the school building programme, and for renting property to the State. WBS said that all buildings met the relevant standards at the time they were handed over to the State, and that it could not be held responsible for works carried out by third parties in the meantime. It does not believe it is responsible “for issues that have presented themselves since the hand-overs”, but was working with the department to address concerns.

However, Mr Bruton said the works were being supervised by the department and local authority fire officers.

“My department will be taking legal advice in relation to queries we have had with these cases,” he said. “Our concern is for children’s safety.”

Meanwhile, a primary school built nine years ago is to be demolished because it is not fit for purpose. Rush and Lusk Educate Together National School is the sixth school where fire safety issues have been found.

A total of €900,000 was spent afterwards on structural issues and in terms of fire safety, the building is now completely safe. The only option now is to demolish and build a new school which will cost €5m-€7m.

Other schools by developer

2017 (current)

  • Firhouse Educate Together NS (on site)
  • Firhouse Gaelscoil (on site)
  • Galway Educate Together NS (pending)
  • Kildare Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha NS (pending)
  • Gorey St Joseph’s Primary School (pending)
  • Letterkenny Educate Together NS
  • Scoil Aoife CNS, Citywest

2016

  • Ashbourne Educate Together NS
  • Ashbourne Gaelscoil na Mí
  • Colaiste de Lacy, Ashbourne
  • Scoil Chaitlin Maude, Tallaght
  • Broombridge Educate Together NS

2015

  • Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua, Stepaside, Dublin
  • St Colmans NS, Macroom, Co Cork
  • Gaelscoil Thulach na nÓg

2014

  • Cara Junior Special School, Mayfield, Cork

2013

  • Luttrellstown CC, Porterstown, Dublin
  • Scoil Choilm, Porterstown, Dublin
  • Carrigaline Educate Together, Cork
  • Gaelscoil Chloich na Coillte, Clonakilty, Cork
  • Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown, Cork
  • Portlaoise Educate Together, Co Laois
  • Gaelscoil Portlaoise, Laois ¦ Maryborough CoI, Portlaoise, Co Laois

2012

  • Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, Lucan, Dublin
  • Scoil Naomh Lucais, Mulhuddart, Dublin
  • Portarlington Convent National School, Co Laois
  • Scoil Chormaic, Flemington, Balbriggan, Dublin

2011

  • Scoil Atha Í, Kildare ¦ Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Athy, Co Kildare
  • Model School, Athy, Kildare Lucan East Educate Together, Dublin
  • St Paul’s National School, Ratoath, Co Meath
  • Tyrrellstown Educate Together, Dublin

2009

  • Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, Dublin

2008

  • Scoil Naomh Lucais (previously Mulhuddart national school), Tyrrellstown, Dublin
  • Belmayne Educate Together/ St Francis of Assisi, Dublin (adjoining campus)
  • Rush/ Lusk Educate Together, Dublin
  • Greystones Educate Together/ Gaelscoil na gCloch Liath, Dublin (adjoining campus)
  • Mullingar Educate Together, Co Westmeath

Related articles:

 Principal ‘regrets’ timing of report

School by school we look at the breaches found during fire safety audits

Other posts of interest:

Defective schools | Are our children safe?

Fire-fighting | Rush and Lusk School | BRegsForum

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

Gaelscoil shut over health and safety concerns – The Mayo News

Schools Building Projects: 5 Jul 2016: Written answers (KildareStreet.com)

Firm that built school with fire safety concerns constructed at least 25 others | Irish Examiner

Calls for a national audit to ensure school fire safety | Irish Examiner

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

Lessons learned from the Millfield Manor fire? Broadsheet.ie

 

The following article by Councillor Cian O’Callaghan “Ill Manor” was published in Broadsheet.ie  on 28th August 2017. Full article here, extract to follow:


…Cian O’Callaghan writes:

Have any lessons been learned from the Millfield Manor fire?

In March 2015 fire spread within minutes through six terraced houses at Millfield Manor, a timber frame estate in Newbridge. The fire stopping measures required by the building regulations were partially missing, allowing fire to spread rapidly between homes.

…In response, the government commissioned a review in July 2015 to include a case study of Millfield Manor.

Last Friday, more than two years later, the review was finally published – with the case study from Millfield Manor was omitted.

Over the weekend residents of Millfield were given an unpublished copy of the case study into their estate – the review categorises the risks associated with fire safety defects in Millfield as moderate or medium despite the destruction of six homes in March 2015.

So what are the key learnings from the fire?

And what is the plan for dealing with structural fire safety defects?

Is there a specific plan to deal with the issue of fire safety defects in timber frame estates that were not constructed in compliance with the building regulations?

It appears that there aren’t any key learnings taken from the fire at Millfield Manor or the other fires that have spread rapidly in timber frame estates.

In fact, the government’s review does not even mention the word timber frame; there are no proposals about how to tackle fire safety defects; and responsibility for remedying defects is put firmly on the shoulders of residents and homeowners.

There is no mention in the review of the failure of local authorities to use their enforcement powers against developers to ensure remediation of homes that are structurally non-compliant with the fire safety building regulations.

There is no attempt to hold those responsible to account.

Facing up to the problem of fire safety defects and offering practical assistance and solutions for residents will be challenging – however the alternative minimalist approach to fire safety concerns, favoured up until recently by the authorities in London, is simply not worth contemplating.

Cian O’Callaghan is a Social Democrats councillor on Fingal County Council. Follow Cian on Twitter: @ocallaghancian

Other posts of Interest

Fire safety issues ‘whitewashed’ in long awaited review (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Fire safety report an ‘insult’ to Millfield Manor residents | Irish Examiner

Dept. of Housing withhold Fire Review into timber frame housing | Irish Examiner 

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Kildare Fire: Safety concerns arise from Celtic Tiger ashes | Irish Examiner

‘Does our Housing Minister know how many homes are at risk of rapid fire spread?’ Cian O’Callaghan

Local Authority knew of estate fire fears for 12 years | Sunday Business Post

“More dog wardens than Building Inspectors” | Look Back 18 

Possibility of Grenfell Tower-type fire exists in Ireland | CJ Walsh

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

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

Cracking up: the legacy of Celtic Tiger Ireland | Independent

“How many more Irish homes are in breach of Fire Regulations?

Defective schools | Are our children safe?

Fire safety report an ‘insult’ to Millfield Manor residents | Irish Examiner

Millfield Manor fire pictured

The following article “Delayed fire safety report an ‘insult’ to residents of estate that lost 6 homes in blaze” by Mick Clifford appeared in the Examiner on 26th August 2017 (full article here)- extract to follow:


There has been 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, which gave rise to major concerns about timber frame construction.

The framework, which was published yesterday, was also to have included a report into the fire in Newbridge, but this has been redacted.

The 24-page document that was published largely restates existing regulations and offers advice on how to prevent fires. There is no mention of concerns about timber frame construction, which accounted for up to 30% of homes built between 2000 and 2008…

A statement issued by the residents’ group in Millfield Manor in Newbridge described the report as “a whitewash and insulting to the residents”…

“The division of the terms of reference into two separated reports is a betrayal of the Newbridge estate…The advice contained in the published report is minimalist and a generic risk assessment and not the serious review that was promised to the Millfield residents.”..

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. The case study in relation to Newbridge was to be a key component. It was the example we were using as a case study to inform us about deficiencies in relation to timber frame houses across the country. This case study has not been made public and to me that is shocking and puts into question the report in its entity.”

Social Democrats councillor for Dublin Fingal Cian O’Callaghan, who has consistently raised concerns about fire safety issues in construction, said the report “spectacularly fails to address the very serious risks in homes faced with fire safety defects…The department sat on this report for months and now that it is finally released it turns out to be a damp squib in terms of addressing the very serious problems that many homeowners face in dwellings where fire risks have been identified…The report fails to even mention timber frame estates, let alone provide practical solutions for addressing this problem.”

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…

NOTE: The Framework is available on the Department’s website HERE

PDF: Framework for enhancing fire safety in dwellings

Other posts of Interest

Dept. of Housing withhold Fire Review into timber frame housing | Irish Examiner 

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Kildare Fire: Safety concerns arise from Celtic Tiger ashes | Irish Examiner

‘Does our Housing Minister know how many homes are at risk of rapid fire spread?’ Cian O’Callaghan

Local Authority knew of estate fire fears for 12 years | Sunday Business Post

“More dog wardens than Building Inspectors” | Look Back 18 

Possibility of Grenfell Tower-type fire exists in Ireland | CJ Walsh

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

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

Cracking up: the legacy of Celtic Tiger Ireland | Independent

“How many more Irish homes are in breach of Fire Regulations?

Defective schools | Are our children safe?

BRegs Weekly | 25 August 2017

25 August 2017 –  BRegs Weekly Edition 118

Edition 118 of BRegs Weekly is out now.

In “‘Huge demand’ for qualified engineers” the Irish Examiner highlighted the current skills shortage in the construction sector. Damien Owens of Engineers Ireland said Ireland must produce more engineers at a quicker rate to keep up with demands on infrastructure and technology. He said “The acute shortage of skilled professionals is threatening the country’s supply of new infrastructure and technology, thereby potentially undermining our future prosperity,”

BRegs Blog featured a “‘Rebuilding Ireland Review” in Eolas Magazine by the Secretary General of the Department of Housing John McCarthy, the highest placed civil servant in the Department and has been the architect of housing policy under four successive Ministers. In the past 12 months there has been a 30% increase in families in homelessness, rent inflation is more than 10% per annum and house price inflation has  increased beyond 11%. Despite Government measures, key milestones such as the discontinued use of B+B’s and hostels for emergency homeless accommodation by July 1st have been missed, and 200 ‘rapid’ prefab housing units  promised for the end of 2016 have yet to be completed. Mr McCarthy said: “One year into implementation of what is a six-year Action Plan, a very significant amount of progress has been made in delivering the comprehensive set of actions set out in Rebuilding Ireland.”

In the “Clondalkin rapid-build housing delay blasted for unnecessary red-tape and bureaucracy” the Echo.ie explores the problems surrounding Rebuilding Ireland’s so-called ‘Rapid’ prefab house programme. In February planning permission was received for a Rapid build housing development in Clondalkin, yet the project is months away from even starting on site. Deputy Ó Broin received confirmation from South Dublin County Council that the earliest date that contractors will be on site is a full year after planning permission was granted. Just 22 out of 1,500 rapid homes planned have been completed since 2015. Mr O’Broin said “I have been informed that they hope the agreed contractor will be on site during the first three months of 2018… It is not clear whether this unacceptable delay is the fault of the South Dublin County Council or the Department of Housing. What is clear, however, is that homeless families, families at risk of homelessness and those languishing on the housing list are losing out because of unnecessary delays and bureaucratic red tape.” 

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 118

Rebuilding Ireland Review | John McCarthy

24 August 2017

A short three week public consultation period during the August holidays for public input to a formal  ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ Housing Plan review concluded on Friday 11th August.  In the year since former Minister Coveney’s plan was introduced there has been a 30% increase in families in homelessness, rent inflation is more than 10% per annum and house price inflation has  increased beyond 11%. Despite Government measures, new housing output remains sluggish and Rebuilding Ireland progress reports continue to use inflated figures for new housing supply.  Key milestones such as the discontinued use of B+B’s and hostels for emergency homeless accommodation by July 1st have been missed, and 200 ‘rapid’ prefab housing units  promised for the end of 2016 have yet to be completed. No detailed proposals have been issued to date for the re-use of existing vacant buildings (Pillar 5). The following is a review of the housing plan by the Secretary General of the Department of Housing John McCarthy in Eolas Magazine, published in July in association with the Housing Agency.  Mr McCarthy is the highest placed civil servant in the Department and has been the architect of housing policy under four successive Ministers since 2014.  Article to follow (link to article here):


Rebuilding Ireland review

As we approach the first anniversary of the launch of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness in July, it’s naturally a time of reflection and review. Department of Housing Secretary General, John McCarthy, writes.

The Rebuilding Ireland launch anniversary also coincides with the appointment of Minister Eoghan Murphy as the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. In his Dáil address when appointing the new Government, the Taoiseach, while recognising the progress already made under Rebuilding Ireland, signalled the Government’s intention to carry out a review at this important juncture. Minister Murphy has now initiated that review process with a focus on how we can build on the significant achievements to date and identify new initiatives that add value and raise ambition even further.

In terms of reviewing progress to date, we already have a comprehensive implementation, reporting and communication framework in place to assess how the actions under Rebuilding Ireland are working. At this point, three detailed quarterly progress reports have been published on the rebuildingireland.ie website.

Looking back at overall progress in the first year, it is necessary to consider each of the Action Plan’s five pillars.

  1. Under Pillar One, which is focused on addressing homelessness, substantial work has been done to improve the situation facing homeless individuals and families, with a range of enhanced services now available. While the numbers presenting as homeless remain challenging, over 3,000 exits from homelessness were achieved in 2016, a record in a single year, and very significant progress continues to be made towards this summer’s target of ending the use of commercial hotels for emergency accommodation for families, other than in exceptional circumstances.
  2. Pillar Two has the key objectives of accelerating the delivery of 47,000 additional social housing units and extending the availability of the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme nationally to a projected 80,000 households by 2021. In 2016, over 19,000 social housing solutions were delivered and we are on target to deliver a further 21,000 households this year.
  3. We have committed under Pillar Three to build more houses, doubling overall housing output to 25,000 per annum by 2021, with a particular focus on providing housing at more affordable prices. All of the indicators are showing strong positive trends, with the Department’s latest Monthly Housing Activity Report for April 2017 showing that:
  • planning permissions for 16,375 new homes were granted in the year to end December 2016, an increase of 26 per cent year on year;
  • commencement Notices for 14,192 new homes nationally were submitted in the year to end March 2017, a 38 per cent increase year on year;
  • ESB connections (a long-run proxy for house completions) reached 15,327 homes nationally to end February 2017, a 16 per cent increase year on year; and
  • 1,600 new housing units were added to the social housing construction programme in the first quarter of 2017 alone, which now includes over 600 developments encompassing 10,000 homes in total, with 130 of these, yielding 2,378 houses, currently on site.

“One year into implementation of what is a six-year Action Plan, a very significant amount of progress has been made in delivering the comprehensive set of actions set out in Rebuilding Ireland.”

  1. Pillar Four seeks to improve and expand the rental sector. With the publication of a comprehensive Strategy for the Rental Sector in December 2016, a key initiative was the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones, where annual rent increases are capped at 4 per cent to provide certainty and security to both tenants and landlords. At this point, 57 per cent of tenancies nationally (or over 186,000 rental households) now benefit from this rent predictability. The findings of the Q1 2017 Residential Tenancies Board Rent Index suggest that the rate of increase in private rents is moderating, with rents nationally virtually flat in the first three months of the year. While this is very welcome, we will be keeping the market under ongoing close scrutiny.
  2. Finally, under Pillar Five, which seeks to maximise the use of all current housing stock, particularly vacant housing, be that social or private, we are finalising a detailed Vacant Housing Re-use Strategy, to coordinate a suite of initiatives and actions, many of which are already bringing thousands of private and social vacant homes back into much needed productive use.

One year into implementation of what is a six-year Action Plan, a very significant amount of progress has been made in delivering the comprehensive set of actions set out in Rebuilding Ireland. There is of course a considerable journey ahead and the Department, working with local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, the Housing Agency and a range of other public and private actors, will remain resolutely focused on the implementation agenda, taking account also of the outcome of the review now getting underway.

We will continue to publish quarterly progress reports so that there continues to be a clear, up to date reflection of all that is going on in advancing the comprehensive Rebuilding Ireland programme.

Other articles of interest:

Peter McVerry: Housing crisis for the rich or poor?

Number of homeless could reach 10,000 by next year–Simon Community

Progress towards Rebuilding Ireland, Eolas Magazine 

Other posts of interest:

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Government’s ‘rapid-build’ schedule in realms of fantasy | Irish Times

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

Rapid Answers – Broadsheet.ie

Homelessness in Galway at unprecedented level, says NGO

Is ‘Rapid’ housing too little, too late (again)?

“More dog wardens than Building Inspectors” | Look Back 18

Update by Minister Eoghan Murphy on Task Force in response to Grenfell

The following statement was issued by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on Wednesday 116th August 2017 (see Link here).  Statement to follow:

“What happened in Grenfell was a tragedy. We do not have any Grenfell-type towers in Ireland, in terms of height or density of occupation, but the state does have a duty of care when it comes to fire and life safety, particularly to those who are housed by the state. I take that responsibility very seriously, hence my decision to establish a Fire Safety Task Force following the Grenfell tragedy, to make sure that our citizens are safe from similar risks.

That Task Force is working on a number of areas, two of which are probably of greatest importance – an inspection by local authorities of fire detection, alarm and escape measures in all multi-storey social housing, and a programme of identification by fire authorities of all buildings of more than 18m in height with cladding systems (this includes residential buildings, as well as hospitals, schools and other buildings) and overseeing of fire safety assessments of these buildings.

The Task Force has met on a number of occasions and will continue to meet, with an initial report on its work due by the end of September. However, I wanted to provide an update as to what that work has achieved to date seeing as the initial inspection and assessment work has been conducted, with some work still to be concluded.

Good progress has been made and I want to thank the local authorities and the fire authorities for their cooperation. The initial work of the Task Force and the inspections of buildings, systems and cladding materials will be reported in full in September. Some deficiencies relating to adequacy of  fire alarm systems have been identified, thankfully in only a very small number of buildings, and work has commenced to address these. Insofar as cladding systems is concerned, regular updates from the UK’s own testing programme are also being monitored by the Task Force. Our own assessments will be concluded by the middle of November. Work that has been done to date does not give rise to any immediate concerns because of fire protection measures.”

Inventory and Inspection of Local Authority Multi Storey Social Housing Buildings- Initial Findings

Local Authorities were asked to assess multi storey social housing buildings’ fire detection and alarm systems, emergency lighting systems and common escape routes, including corridors, stairways and emergency exits.  Multi storey buildings are those with two storeys or more containing multiple dwelling units.  This assessment is to include both establishing the presence of systems and routes and also testing their functionality.  There has been a strong response from local authorities to the request for identification of Multi Storey social housing buildings and inspection of their early warning systems

  • 1250 multi storey residential buildings have been identified. (65% of buildings are in the four Dublin local authority areas
  • 526 of these buildings have external common escape routes and have been assessed as not requiring early warning systems. (This assessment will be reviewed by the Task Force)
  • For the remaining 724 buildings Local Authorities have confirmed that for 571 buildings inspected, early warning systems are in place and fully functional.
  • The remaining 153 inspections are scheduled for the remainder of August, including a small number of buildings where deficiencies have already been identified and works to address them are in progress.

Multi Storey Buildings with Cladding – Initial Findings

The Department issued circular FIRE 05-17 on the 4th of July, 2017 to fire authorities, requesting details of buildings of more than six storeys, or more than 18m in height.  Replies have been received from all 31 fire authorities.  Preliminary replies have identified 847 buildings in Ireland, of more than six storeys, or more than 18m in height – 372 are residential, and 475 non-residential.

Residential Buildings

  • Residential buildings include flats or maisonettes, residential institutional uses (hospitals, nursing homes, homes for old people or children, school or other similar establishment providing accommodation), and other residential uses (including hotels, hostels, guest buildings, residential colleges, halls of residence).
  • Local Authorities have identified 91 residential buildings at this height fitted with cladding systems.
  • Fire authorities have required fire safety assessments in 91 cases – to be provided by mid-November.
  • Non Residential Buildings
  • There are 171 non-residential buildings at this height fitted with cladding systems
  • Fire authorities have required fire safety assessments in 111 cases – to be provided by mid-November.

Next Steps

The task force continues to meet, and is assessing  the initial survey findings, as well as the results from the outstanding 172 multi storey residential inspections due for completion in August.  It will also provide an overview on issues arising from the fire safety assessments for the 202 higher buildings (6 storeys or more or 18m height or more) once these have been completed later this year.

As part of its ongoing work the task force will also develop other aspect s of the  response to the Grenfell tragedy.

ENDS

Note to Editors

Other Actions Taken

  • Local authorities were requested to review fire safety in the multi-storey social housing sector and to report back to the Minister’s Department by 19th July 2017;
  • The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) have been requested to notify all landlords of their responsibilities and obligations as landlords in terms of ensuring that their properties fully comply with fire safety requirements. An information notice on fire safety has gone up on the RTB’s website and a further fire safety information leaflet will issue to all landlords in  the coming days;

A Building Control Management System (BCMS) alert was issued to all 57,000 registered users of the BCMS to remind those involved in works to existing or new buildings of the need to remain vigilant in relation to compliance with the Building Regulations and in particular to Part B Fire Safety.

Other posts of interest:

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

‘Does our Housing Minister know how many homes are at risk of rapid fire spread?’ Cian O’Callaghan

Possibility of Grenfell Tower-type fire exists in Ireland | CJ Walsh

Dept. of Housing withhold Fire Review into timber frame housing | Irish Examiner 

Kildare Fire: Safety concerns arise from Celtic Tiger ashes | Irish Examiner

Local Authority knew of estate fire fears for 12 years | Sunday Business Post

“More dog wardens than Building Inspectors” | Look Back 18 

Possibility of Grenfell Tower-type fire exists in Ireland | CJ Walsh

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

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

Cracking up: the legacy of Celtic Tiger Ireland | Independent

“How many more Irish homes are in breach of Fire Regulations?

Defective schools | Are our children safe?