Tag Archives: paudie coffey

SI.9 | What’s another year?

one-year-on

 27 February 2015

In two days time, on Sunday, 1st March 2015, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations SI.9: 2014 will be one year old. It has become clear that issues with SI.9 are not just ‘teething’ problems that will settle down. In fact many in the construction industry who embraced the change are now struggling with legal and practical implementation problems that cannot be resolved within the legislation.

The BRegs Blog has brought together a community of industry experts and commentators as we reach this important milestone and the imminent review of the legislation. In the coming week or so we will be publishing a series of posts on SI.9 – one year on. This will commence on Monday.

The BRegs Blog is changing!

  1. The BRegs Blog will launch a new e-zine this afternoon that gathers all SI.9 related information (tweets, photos, blogs, comments and other media links) into one easily accessible weekly digest. It will be published each Friday lunchtime as an alternative to the Saturday Summary.
  2. On the last Saturday of the month we will publish a Top Five of each month’s most read posts. This will publish tomorrow.
  3. In parallel with condensing relevant news feeds into single ‘editions’ the BRegs Blog will be posting fewer posts that are more considered with news items moved to the Friday E-zine’.

The BRegs Blog is stepping up to put forward real practical solutions for an effective system of Building Control. The blog continues to enjoy extraordinary support from most representative sectors of the construction industry. The minimal criticism being made would appear to be from those who don’t read it or are challenged by any questioning of SI.9.

The BRegs Blog promotes effective Building Control improvements and best practice standards of inspection.

Thanks for your continued support,

BRegs Blog Admin. Team

Minister Paudie Coffey |Keynote Address to Housing 2020 – Design + Delivery Conference

Paudie 3

February 11th 2015

Address by Mr. Paudie Coffey T.D. Minister of State Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government at “Housing 2020 – Design and Delivery” the Joint Housing Conference of the RIAI & the Department at Dublin Castle on Tuesday 10 February 2015 at 9.00 am.

Speech cleared by Aidan O’Connor, Principal Adviser, Architecture/ Building Standards.

Introduction

I am pleased to welcome you all here this morning for the resumption of our conference programme.

I compliment all concerned in the RIAI and my own Department in creating this forum where industry professionals, academics, policy makers, planners, local housing authorities and voluntary housing bodies can collectively engage with and respond to the many challenges we now face.

If ever there was a time for creative solutions, joined up thinking, collaborative approaches, the time is now.

Housing and Construction

The timing of this conference is fortuitous coinciding as it does with the recent launch by Minister Kelly and I of the Social Housing Strategy 2020.

Economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability require a capable and effectively performing housing and construction sector.

The Social Housing Strategy 2020 stands side by side with the broader Construction 2020 strategy.  Together they comprise some 112 measures which set out a credible and achievable context for ensuring that the housing and construction sector are aligned to the needs of our economy and its citizens.

Minster Kelly, myself and our colleagues in Government are determined to deliver these measures and will not be found wanting in working hard to create the conditions necessary to ensure the delivery of social and economic infrastructure that will allow people to live and work in a built environment that is user friendly, safe, secure and sustainable.

This means working openly with stakeholders to overcome the challenges of:

  • Careful manpower planning that ensures the right skills and training are in place to respond effectively to growing construction demands following several years of little or no activity;
  • Close alignment of the planning and development system with current and future  investment and infrastructural needs
  • The need for new and innovative investment funding and investment models that provide the wherewithal to meet real and growing demands

Our recent return to growth does not in itself herald the end of constraints on resources.  We need to ensure that public investment is targeted wisely and effectively, not least the €2.2 billion now committed to the delivery of 10,000 social housing units over the next 3 years.

The welcome return from a period of low or minimal housing provision to one where, thankfully, significant investment is again possible, comes with its own stresses and strains.  We are expected to respond to the current high level of pent-up demand for housing while simultaneously addressing and keeping apace of future needs.   It is important therefore that we act quickly, decisively and responsibly in delivering appropriate solutions to current and future housing needs.

Housing Challenges 

The future of a great many of our citizens is heavily reliant on the successful implementation of the Social Housing Strategy 2020, which I know you have already considered in detail during yesterday’s session addressed by Bairbre Nic Aongusa from the Department’s Housing Division.

The range of critical issues which inform this strategy and your conference programme are the traditional dilemmas for policy makers and practitioners in the housing domain, such as the challenge of matching supply and demand, aligning regional and local planning processes with needs, housing standards, funding arrangements.  Far from ever becoming resolved, they continue to throw up fresh challenges.

In addition we face further challenges particular to the present moment including the challenges of kick-starting a building industry that has been mothballed for several years, of translating the return to confidence into tangible investment, of enticing unoccupied buildings back into the market place, all the while, of course, dealing with a market place that is itself still in correction mode.

The Government’s vision for the future of the housing sector in Ireland is based on choice, fairness, equity across tenures and on delivering quality outcomes for the resources invested.   More than anything else, though people want to see delivery and I am personally focussed on the reality that action not rhetoric solves problems.

Private Housing  

Outside of state provision, it is essential that we have a vibrant private housing sector that operates to the same core values as the Government in terms of offering consumers fair play, quality standards and value for money.

Again, the availability of funding for developers and for potential buyers alike is an essential critical success factor for progress in this sector.   This forms a key topic in our Construction 2020 strategy.  In my own view, the expectations of financiers and developers in particular must become attuned to the fact that market circumstances have changed fundamentally.   There is no prospect of the market returning to where it was pre-2006.  Expectations and investment decisions must therefore be framed around today’s operating environment and outlook.

Conditions now seem conducive to allowing business to take place and it is in everybody’s interest that this happens sooner rather than later.

I look forward therefore to seeing what may come from the session later today to be led by Michelle Norris of UCD.

I also believe the upcoming conference on Construction Financing Options being hosted by the Department of Finance will be significant in highlighting the increasing levels of capital available for financing viable construction and development projects in Ireland.

Quality and Standards

The theme of quality and sustainability stands out strongly across the suite of presentations you will hear.

This is as it should be.  Public tolerance for poor building quality has been well and truly exhausted.

On the building control side of things, for which I hold ministerial responsibility, we now have a credible regulatory framework that empowers competence and professionalism in the design and construction process and that requires owner/developers, builders and professionals to account for their statutory obligations.

I look forward in the coming months to working with industry, local authorities and all stakeholders to review the arrangements now in place during their first 12 months in operation.  It is important that we identify what further steps are necessary to refine and streamline the regulatory process in order to ensure that all our citizens can enjoy the quality built environment they expect and deserve.

The next key ingredient rests in the Government’s commitment to the introduction of statutory registration for builders and contractors.  The Construction Industry Register Ireland or CIRI will give consumers the reassurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant builder.

I believe this register will become the foundation stone of quality in the industry and I look forward to seeing it develop into a robust, statutory register.

Conclusion

By way of conclusion I want to thank the impressive line-up of speakers and panellists for their generous contributions without which this conference would not be possible.

No stakeholder, be they Government representative, public servant, industry expert or consumer advocate, has a monopoly on the wisdom or perspective necessary to identify practical solutions to the problems we face or the right to impose their preferred solutions on others.  Ultimately, it is only through dialogue and interaction that real and lasting solutions emerge.

That is why events such as today’s conference are so vital and so necessary.

I encourage you all to participate as fully as you can in that spirit so that together we can

  • Take on board the lessons of the past and deliver quality housing solutions
  • Ensure that quality and sustainability becomes the watchwords in all we do
  • Continue to question, to inquire and to develop innovative solutions to what are perennial challenges

Know that in applying this approach in our own work and promoting it within our own sphere of influence we help transform the culture of the entire construction industry towards quality and sustainability.

On that note, I wish you well with what promises to be an enjoyable and stimulating event.

Thank you.

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?