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 2015. Best wishes for the new year from all here in the BRegs Blog Admin team.
Extract of Dáil exchange:
Thursday, 18 December 2014
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.
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