Category Archives: DAIL

“30 % of self-builds in 2014 have been postponed or abandoned” | IAOSB

self-build10 January 2014

The Irish Association of Self-builders (IAOSB) conducted a survey of its members in 2014 and found that one third of self-build projects including one-off houses and extensions had either been abandoned or postponed. This figure could represent almost a quarter of the total for house building in Ireland. We reproduce below an interview Shane McCloud, of the IAOSB,  gave recently on this issue outlining some of the reasons for this collapse in self-build housing figures.

 1) What is your own background, are you a self builder, where are you from and when did you set up the Irish Association of Self Builders website?

I have built three houses here as a self builder on direct labour and project management route. Before that, I was a Civil Engineer graduated in USA and have previous experience in this field in the UK. Irish Association of Self Builder was officially launched on 1st of January 2004 and has constantly been ranked number one with all major search engines for “Building a house in Ireland” or similar phrases. Iaosb.com was never started as a business and the aim has always been to help and assist new self builders to understand the whole process from start to finish. The whole operation of the website is run by a team of volunteer self builders who have gone through the experience themselves and want to help others going through the process now.

2)  Did you get any response from Minister Alan Kelly following your letter calling for changes to the building regulations?

We have written to Minister Alan Kelly twice and have received no replies. Recent comments from Minister Alan Kelly mentioned amending SI9 to reduce impacts on self builders. The RIAI at an EGM on 4th November mentioned that they had been tasked with “sorting out” the self-builders. R.I.A.I President said at his meeting with Alan Kelly in early September he was asked for help in resolving the self-build problems under the regulations. We don’t know if the RIAI have proposed technical solutions to the minister in the last 3 months. The RIAI president raised this issue on SixOne in February when Phil Hogan was the Minister and nothing was ever done about it.

 3)  Can you provide details of the survey you did, which found that  1/3 of all self-builds this year have either been postponed or abandoned and could have led to up to 1,000 houses not being built? Was it an online survey?

Out of a representative sample canvassed  we had 40% replies. Based on membership profiles, we believe 30 % of self-builders in 2014 have been postponed or abandoned. The breakdown of respondents were as follows:

  • 1/3 at the upper end were able to assume 22%+ increased costs. These are at the upper cost end of the spectrum.
  • 1/3 in the middle band were still able to undertake projects but were reducing their scope to accommodate increased costs. For many this means reducing size, specification etc.
  • The bulk of respondents who have indefinitely postponed or abandoned self-builds (last 1/3) are at the lower cost end. Many here were hoping to build cheaper than speculative built housing. Normally savings to self-build at this end are around 30% on the sales price of similar standard spec- built housing. Quite a few self-builders are either on housing lists or in rental accommodation at this level.

We believe Bank lending has become much tighter this year , borrowing extra for more  ‘consultancy fees’ is very difficult.

We believe out of 8,300 completed housing units in 2013 around 1,300 were developer built housing units (CSO source). This means that 85% of the new homes built in Ireland in the last few years were ‘custom build’ or ‘self build’??

4) Is the problem right across the country, or is it more prevalent in rural areas?

Our membership is diverse and most individual self-builds are rural. However a significant proportion of members undertake significant extensions and alterations managing projects themselves. Direct labour is not limited to house building. Lots of small businesses in retail, hospitality, tourism and services sector do work through direct labour.

 5) Has the association had a meeting with the Department of the Environment on this issue and what was the outcome?

We have had no meeting with DECLG on this issue . We found out that Minister Hogan stated in a Seanad debate that he consulted with the IAOSB but this is incorrect (Link to Seanad speech). We have also noted the transcript of this debate has been altered to remove this factually incorrect statement. Senator Paschal Mooney has requested more information on this. Self Builders would welcome a meeting to propose solutions.

6) Have you been contacted by people complaining about the fees they are being quoted for having their self-build signed off under the new building regulations, and can you give any examples?

Yes many members have contacted us. One you could talk to is Amanda Gallagher. An RIAI architect (with a quantity surveyor) self-has completed a detailed breakdown of additional costs for SI.9 due to increased professional fees and increased costs to use a main contractor registered for a typical 1,350 4 bed detached house in suburban Dublin- see link here [SI9 costs for a typical dwelling]

The problem is that the regulations are very demanding- it’s understandable that someone won’t risk their own livelihood- if the regulations were clearer the cost would drop. The following is an extract from a member asking for help this morning:

“ To put into perspective I have received three quotations of €4,500, €12,000 and €32,000 all exc VAT for work. This has scared me immensely. I am open to admitting I know nothing about construction but I have two builders both of whom I trust having witnessed them build homes for my friends and family over the past 15 years. Either will do a great job for me with my families best interests at heart. I cannot engage either of them until I have a certifier picked who will need to re-draw my plans to meet their needs and start this process but how can I tell which is the right one to go with especially when each are saying ‘we are all learning about this process and trying to get our heads around it’. Am I really to pay up to €40,000 for something that my neighbour who started work in February (one month before the new regulation launched) is not having to do at all?”

The quotations are based on the work being done by a Building Contractor.

7) I’ve seen the statistic that 60 per cent of houses are self-builds- is this an old statistic because it seems very high?

It varies between 40- 60%. This excludes extensions many of which are self-built. Based on CSO figures for 2013, 8300 dwelling units (including apartments) were built in the year. Approximately 3,000 were once-off houses. Only 1,300 units were registered with house-building guarantee schemes (speculative WITH HOMEBOND) so the bulk of dwellings built were either commissioned or built by individuals rather than house building companies.

Private individuals and businesses with no experience commission buildings and extensions all the time- that’s normal in every country, it doesn’t mean shoddy work. Cowboys are more likely in speculative building where cutting corners can bring big profits,

A quick look at sites like link2plans (we think they may overestimate the number slightly) and the BCMS website (Department site where new commencements are recorder) to verify the extent.

In the UK self-building is very big, and the UK recently have launched a co-housing initiative, to supply low-cost sites to self-builders and decided that there’ll be no development levies for self-build. UK government see self-building this as a big part of solution to the housing crisis- sustainable well built homes, no cost or risk to tax payer.

8) Are the new building regulations having any impact on extensions (from the building regs forum, it seems that extensions under 40sqm are not affected)?

Apparently the Department have recently come back to recommend that many extensions previously under 40sqm that were considered exempt are no longer. The advice is very confusing and we believe the RIAI have written to the department to clarify. It is remarkable that professional architects currently are uncertain and in the dark as to whether extensions under 40Sqm are exempt or not. The BRegs Blog has written extensively on this. In the meantime many small extensions aren’t viable as the cost for inspections is more than the build.

If you need links to any of the statics or sites/ topics listed I can provide them for you.

As you can see from the attached Department of the Environment information there is little to suggest a  housing boom.

Bruce Shaw Annual Review for information on costs, trends and the construction industry:

http://www.bruceshaw.com/knowledgecentre/chapters/ireland

All our information are gathered by a self-build research team and if you have any further technical queries please do not hesitate to let us know and our team will endeavour to answer all your questions.

Kind regards,

Shane McCloud

Other posts of interest:

Self build: How to make your dream home come true

What is Cohousing? | Homebuilding & Renovating

Lobbying in the Construction Industry – Part 1

CorkCityAerialView_large

8th January 2014

In Tuesday’s Irish Examiner Rory Hearne suggests the housing market should serve the interests of all not just the few (Link to article). He also writes:

“We need a national debate about who really benefits from the current housing and property market based around home ownership, and spiraling house prices and rents.

The big beneficiaries remain the banks, developers, estate agents, solicitors, landlords, and increasingly, international capital and vulture fund investors who are buying up huge swathes of Irish residential property (often from and with Nama).

They all have a vested interest in a rising property market.

There has been widespread concern and criticism of some of the same vested interests being involved in the negotiations for the new building regulations, SI.9, introduced in March 2014. Seen as a paper exercise and ‘a political solution’, SI.9 creates a complicated ‘red-tape’ exercise in hands-off private regulation which is resulting in massive costs to consumer and industry. SI.9 was introduced by the former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan,  with little public or professional back-ups being in place, and no consumer input.

Following on from a public consultation in 2012 only a small circle of key stakeholders were invited to participate in the formation of SI.9.

The organisations invited to participate were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Most of these bodies now have statutory roles and operate self-policing registers. The CIF register, CIRI, is due to be put on a statutory footing in March 2015.

Critically no consumer groups were involved.

Many consumers share this view and many perceive that the government has conveyed vested interest groups with a monopoly on various statutory roles within the construction process. This is most visible in the self-build sector, where owner/ builders legally are unable to build their own houses without the involvement of a contractor, preferably a Construction Industry Federation/CIRI registered one. This has resulted in significant cost increases, particularly for housing (see links below). The industry has observed a significant fall-off in new self-built homes being undertaken this year.

With Local Authorities already chronically under-resourced, with no additional training or staff allocated to operating the new system, problems such as rogue or cowboy builder/ developers and serious materials issues such as pyrite are set to remain with us for some time.

All these representative bodies are now set for a windfall in income as a result. In order to operate as a registered professional under the new SI9 one must be on a register, and a hefty registration fee must be paid annually to these representative/policing organisations. With 60,000 operatives involved in various roles in the construction sector annual registration fees represent a bonanza for these key stakeholder bodies.

A significant reason for all these organisations to be supportive of SI.9, even though most agree that the regulations bring little or no additional consumer protections to owners.

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

Other posts of interest:

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 

€ 5 billion | The extraordinary cost of S.I.9 self-certification by 2020 

Government Reports + Professional Opinion Ignored in SI.9 | look back 5

Summary of Legal Posts- BC(A)R SI.9 

Pyrite legal dispute referred to European Court | Independent

World Bank Report 2015 | UK v Ireland the real cost of “Dealing with construction permits”

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking | BRegsForum

Look forward to SI.9 review in January 2015 | Minister Paudie Coffey

paud

Minister Paudie Coffey pictured. December 24th 2014.

The BRegs Blog Admin Team are optimistic that both Ministers at the DECLG have been listening. Minister Kelly and now Minister Coffey have signaled an industry-wide review of the new building regulations for early in the new year. We hope that the key stakeholders are prepared and will make informed representations concerning the unintended consequences on consumers as well as impacts on their respective members in their submissions. A comprehensive review of SI.9 that includes some of the consumer groups overlooked in the drafting of the original legislation would indeed be a super Christmas and New Year present for consumers and professionals alike who are subject to numerous unintended consequences at present.

“Early in the New Year, the Department will commence its review of the first year of operation of the regulations in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The impact, particularly in relation to cost, of the regulations on one-off housing will be a key element of this review which will inform future regulation in this critical area.”

Minister Paudie Coffey in answer to Barry Cowen TD last Thusday 18th December 2014 in the Dáil. Link to Dáil exchange here.

The initiative to improve building standards in Ireland was welcomed by all sides. There is general  agreement that almost 25 years of Building Control and self-certification has not been a success- there are many reasons for this but the political will to make improvements is to be applauded.

After 10 months of the new system, all sides acknowledge that changes need to be made. There is an urgency about dealing with this because construction is a driver of the economy- we need houses and schools, more importantly we need jobs.

The challenge for 2015 is to deliver a robust system that doesn’t compromise on standards with the resources available. Let’s all look forward and not loosing this opportunity to change the current regulations and create a proper system that delivers real consumer protection.

We look forward to presenting contributors’ workable and practical solutions to the current problems of SI.9 in the new year.

We will resume normal transmissions after a short break on the 5th January 2015Best wishes for the new year from all here in the BRegs Blog Admin team. 

Extract of Dáil exchange:

___________

Written answers

Thursday, 18 December 2014

What are written answers?

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Regulations Amendments – Written answers 19th December 2014

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

541. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the new proposed changes to building regulations for one off houses introduced in March 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49090/14]

Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

542. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the cost benefit analysis of the building regulations undertaken prior to them being introduced in March 2014; if a cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken for the proposed changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49091/14]

Paudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 541 and 542 together.

The amendment s to the Building Control Regulations introduced through S.I. No. 9 of 2014 have greatly strengthened the arrangements in place for the control of building activity by requiring accountability for compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. I am satisfied that this key reform of the regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade and will lead to improved quality within the construction sector.

The main concern of families intending to build their own homes remains the question of cost. A number of cases have been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects. While the new regulations support improved competence and professionalism and while I believe it is worthwhile for homeowners to have the home they invest in checked and inspected, I do not believe that they should be faced with inflated charges or excessive inspection services.

An extensive public consultation process was undertaken in 2012 to inform the development of the new regulations. Comprehensive consultation documents were published including Strengthening the Building Control System – A Document to inform public consultation on Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012which sets out the context in which the new regulations will operate and their impact with particular relevance to cost on building owners and industry stakeholders.

In summary terms, the consultation document identified the key cost impact of the new regulations on owners as being the requirement to assign a competent registered professional to inspect and certify the works. While costs are ultimately determined by market forces, it was considered that this particular requirement would add approximately €3,000 to the overall building cost of a dwelling.

While compliant design and construction was a statutory obligation under the Building Control Act 1990, this obligation may not always have been honoured to the full extent in an under-regulated market. On this basis, it was recognised that the revised regulations may result in additional design, inspection, ancillary certification and, possibly, insurance costs which must ultimately be borne by the building owner. In return for such additional investment owners would be assured of an enhanced quality of design and construction of the building project concerned. It was also noted that the statutory inspection and certification process would reduce the incidence of defective works and the resultant associated costs of carrying out remedial works would reduce accordingly.

In response to the concerns about the prices being quoted to consumers, my Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and the construction professional bodies, is preparing additional guidance on an appropriate inspection plan for a typical one-off dwelling. Such guidance will be helpful in better informing the market in relation to offering realistic and appropriately priced professional services for such work.

Early in the New Year, the Department will commence its review of the first year of operation of the regulations in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The impact, particularly in relation to cost, of the regulations on one-off housing will be a key element of this review which will inform future regulation in this critical area.

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Review.. “early in the new year” | Minster Alan Kelly

Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Is the UK ‘approved inspector’ model a more transparent system, with better outcomes? | The Engineers Journal

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

CSO | Construction output increased by 0.1% in Q3 2014

SI.9 stops Summer Works for schools in 2015!

Developer makes 27% profit in 6 months: warns against state housing.

Engineers Journal | BCMS 9 months on

SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

Christmas Present(s)| We are where we are | Christmas Future

presents

Christmas Present(s):

The initiative to improve building standards in Ireland was welcomed by all sides as there is general  agreement that almost 25 years of Building Control has not been a success. There are many reasons for this but the political will to make improvements is to be applauded. After ten months of the new system, all sides acknowledge that further changes need to be made. There is an urgency about dealing with this because construction is a driver of the economy – we need houses and schools; more importantly we need jobs.

The challenge for 2015 is to deliver a robust system that does not compromise on standards with the resources available. A comprehensive review of SI.9 that includes some of the consumer groups overlooked in the drafting of the original legislation would indeed be a super Christmas and New Year present for consumers and professionals alike.

Christmas Future:

The Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D. has signaled recently an industry-wide review of the new building control regulations for early in the new year. Only last Thursday the Minister of State at the same Department, Paudie Coffey, replied to Barry Cowen TD in the Dáil that:

“Early in the New Year, the Department will commence its review of the first year of operation of the regulations in conjunction with local authorities and industry stakeholders. The impact, particularly in relation to cost, of the regulations on one-off housing will be a key element of this review which will inform future regulation in this critical area.”

We hope that the key stakeholders are prepared and will make informed representations concerning the unintended consequences of SI.9 on consumers as well as the impacts on their respective members. Over the holiday season the elves here at BReg Towers will continue working away on solid, workable, cost-effective solutions for the implementation problems of SI.9. We hope to report on these shortly.

Have a safe and happy holiday,

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 Review.. “early in the new year” | Minster Alan Kelly

Dáil | Minister Kelly may take steps to control SI.9 ‘exorbitant charges’

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

Is the UK ‘approved inspector’ model a more transparent system, with better outcomes? | The Engineers Journal

BCMS Commencement Notices | Nine Months On

Bregs Blog Christmas Appeal

charity

By BRegs Blog 19th December 2014 

Bregs Blog Christmas Appeal

We invite our readers to make a donation to homeless charities, see links below.

Given the high profile homelessness have gotten in the media recently we list a number of homelessness agencies and charities you might think to donate to today. A lot of organisations are heading in for their Christmas lunches- perhaps spare a moment to think of those less fortunate and donate to some of the great organisations listed below. Let us all not loose sight of the people and families that hide behind the numbers.

We wish you all a happy Christmas. Blog will be open during the holidays

 “It must not be forgotten, we are in the middle of a housing crisis,we encourage measures that make housing more affordable”

– Niamh Randall, Head of a Policy & spokesperson for Simon Communities

“I took this job because I wanted to deal with housing.I’m passionate about giving people a roof over their head”

-Minister Alan Kelly

Here are a list of other agencies and charities active in the provision of services for Homelessness:

Donate at: 

Simon Communities http://www.simon.ie/MobileSplash.aspx

Threshold : http://www.threshold.ie/donate/

Focus Ireland: https://www.focusireland.ie/

Peter McVerry Trust: http://www.pmvtrust.ie/

Capuchin Day Centre: click here

SVP: http://www.svp.ie/Home.aspx

Extract from Simon website:

The Simon Communities of Ireland today launched their Annual Report for 2013 and the charity reported a substantial increase of 41% in the number of people seeking help from their services since 2011. The Simon Communities services are stretched to the limit supporting more than 6,000 people who are experiencing homelessness across the country every single day. Simon is calling on the Government to ensure that their plans for tackling the homelessness crisis are countrywide and offer long term solutions. For more information please log on to www.simon.ie.

For full Report click here 

Extracts off report:

Key statistics from the annual report include:

  • 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions over the year.
  • Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts.
  • 1,830 people availed of daytime support, advice, information and referral services.
  • 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
  • 1,828 people accessed specialist treatment and support services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.

Highlights from the Annual Report 2013 include:

  • The Simon Communities worked with 6,122 people across the country in 2013; this represents a 17% increase on 2012 and a 41% increase on 2011
  • Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts
  • 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions.
  • 1,830 people availed of Simon Communities Daytime Support, Advice, Information and Referral services
  • 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
  • 1,828 people accessed Specialist Treatment and Support Services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.
  • 305 people accessed Education, Training and Employment Services provided directly by the Simon Communities.
  • 2,500 volunteers supported the work of the Simon Communities in 2013 working across a range of services from soup runs to working in emergency accommodation, and assisting with events and fundraising activities.

Other posts of interest:

12,000 social + affordable houses at no cost to taxpayer?

How much would 100% independent inspections by Local Authorities cost?

Developer makes 27% profit in 6 months: warns against state housing.

Village magazine| What’s happening with housing policy in 2014?

Catherine Murphy TD | Today’s Housing Promises Won’t Bear Fruit for at Least Two Years

SI.9 Cost for 2014 = 3 x Ballymun Regeneration Projects

Ireland – What’s Next?| TV 3 Series on Ireland’s Housing Crisis

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

Dr Rory Hearne | + 168,000 empty houses in the country

Room for improvement on social housing policy

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

 

Politicians asking questions about BC(A)R SI.9 | Summary

24875094

By BRegs Blog on 18th December 2014

Politicians asking questions about BC(A)R SI.9 | Summary

In the wake of Minister Alan Kelly’s statement that he intends to amend BC(A)R SI.9, in the following summary we list a selection of issues various politicians have tabled concerning the new building regulations.

Senator David Norris discussed the array of unintended consequences and lack of consumer protection during a Seanad Deabate on SI.105- see Senators ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (2 of 4).

Senator Michelle Mulheirn asked questions concerning pyrite in blockwork in the home county of the Taoiseach in Mayo- see Dáil update | Pyrite in Mayo.

Stephen Donnelly TD in the Dáil asked why we have no independent inspections in the new system- Dáil: Why not an independent inspection system?.

Kevin Humphreys TD asked a number of departments and Ministers responsible if costs associated with SI.9 on capital expenditure been examined- see The Cost Impact of Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014).

Barry Cowen TD raised the considerable cost to house-building form the new regulations- Minister urges draughtsmen to register for BC(A)R SI.9.

Eoghan Murphy TD came back to the lack of consumer protections under the new system- TD’s suggest independent local authority inspectorate: BC(A)R SI.9.

Senator Cait Keane as part of an Oireachtas committee warned of the problems of a self-certification- Fine Gael expert group opposed the introduction of new regulations.

Claire Daly TD continued to champion the cause of owners with pyrite affected homes- Dáil : Pyrite Remediation Programme: 10th June 2014.

Senator Paschal Mooney was responsible for tabling a Seanad Debate on the unintended ban on self-building which still is relevant today- Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate.

Mick Wallace TD who knows the construction industry better than anyone in Leinster  House warned that..

“… the major problem is that all along, the Construction Industry Federation and not the State appears to determine what is happening…The Minister’s system of assigned certifiers will crack up within the next couple of years” 

See post: Dáil debates: Mick Wallace and Minister Hogan- Pyrite

Other Posts of interest:

‘Onerous’ Building Regulations must be amended – Minister Kelly

3 County Councils ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 

Senators ask Minister to Revoke SI.9 (2 of 4)

Revoke S.I.9 – Fine Gael internal report to Phil Hogan in 2013 (3 of 4)

Going through the motions at speed – Independent.ie

Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update 

Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9