Press Piece: War of words over cost of BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team


It’s getting hard to keep up with all the exposure Building Control (Amendment)Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) is getting throughout the country. We thought the attention would wane somewhat this month following implementation. However it seems that the topic is just gathering pace as the unintended consequences begin to dawn on various different stakeholders. In this piece from the Connemara Journal on March 12th 2014 the local councillors clash over the new regulation. Some of the local representatives in the article seem to suggest that in 90 days when local elections arrive BC(A)R SI.9 may be a hot topic and an election issue. Certainly with farmers and agricultural buildings joining the ranks of disenfranchised self-builders it would appear the grass roots are not happy at all. Link to Connemara Journal article:


Extract from article:

War of words of cost of new building regulations— March 12, 2014

New building regulations signed into law by Minister Phil Hogan are putting the self-build industry at risk, and piling further financial strain on those planning on constructing their own home.

This was the warning issued last week by a number of current and former councillors, as the war of words over the actual cost of the new regulations – which became law on March 1 – shows no signs of abating.

While both sides of the debate seem to agree that higher standards and a degree of regulation are to be welcomed, the cost of these regulations to the customer is a bone of contention – with estimates of the actual cost per home ranging from €1,000 to €20,000.

The regulations require: the submission of compliance drawings and documentation to local authorities; the development of an inspection plan by an assigned certifier; and the signing of mandatory certification of compliance by the designer prior to construction, and by the assigned certifier and the builder when the building is complete.

The position of the Department for the Environment, Community and Local Government is that the regulations will ‘set out to prevent the future reoccurrence of poorly constructed dwellings, pyrite damage and structures breaching fire regulations left as a legacy of a poorly regulated housing boom.’

Opposing the reguations, Cllr Tom Welby, while acknowledging the need for ‘an element of regulation in the sector’, said: ‘The Minister and Department have gone completely over the top in relation to single rural houses, which have been the preferred option of the majority of young people in rural communities.

‘[These] regulations will add in the region of €10,000 to €20,000 to the cost of construction of a single rural house as the level of inspection from professional architects and engineers will be increased considerably, and the pool of qualifying builders has been greatly diminished.’

Former councillor Josie Conneely, who has been in the building trade for 35 years, says that the new building regulations and planning rules will hit the Connemara area very badly, and claims they will ‘put anything from €10,000 to €15,000 on the cost of a new house’.

Minister Hogan’s department, however, issued a statement which suggested a much lower additional cost – dismissing ‘wild exaggerations’ and saying the requirement will typically add between €1,000 and €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs.

Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne also criticised the ‘wildly inaccurate and untrue claims being made’, saying that the new regulations would prevent scandals such as the Priory Hall development and the use of pyrite.

Deputy Kyne said: ‘I’m astounded by the peddling by some public representatives of complete nonsense concerning the new regulations.

‘Sadly, some public representatives, clearly with an eye on the upcoming elections, have opportunistically spread inaccuracies and wild exaggerations to the extent that some constituents have contacted me, concerned that they or their families can no longer build their own homes.

‘The fact is that nothing in the new regulations prevents direct labour or a person from building their own home.

‘Owners are still required to be sure that the persons they engage to carry out works are competent but are also now obliged to ensure that there is a clear point of responsibility at each stage, with each relevant person declaring their work to be of good quality and of meeting the minimum standards.

‘The new Building Control Regulations are very welcome because they establish a clear chain of responsibility for building works. With enhanced traceability and accountability, homeowners will enjoy increased confidence at every stage of the building process.

‘Any problems that might arise will be identified earlier with a clear point of responsibility, which is hugely important in terms of finding a solution.’

Mr Conneely, a Fianna Fáil candidate for Connemara in the upcoming local elections, also warned that the new system will put some smaller builders out of business and will affect local building suppliers badly.

Mr Conneely added: ‘The regulations are a tough blow on community organisations that are involved in worthwhile projects. I know of groups in Carna, for instance, that are in the middle of fine projects and they are now facing very big extra bills for engineers and architects.’

The Department points out that there has been no change to the standards required of new buildings – and say that the regulations simply put in place a series of checks throughout the building process.

Tom Healy, a Chartered Structural Engineer in private practice in Clifden since 1987, said: ‘Unfortunately despite the regulations being signed into law, there has been little advice or support forthcoming to either customers or the construction industry – meaning that the new regulations are somewhat daunting to all concerned.

‘There are now many concerns that this may end the ability of people to build their own homes as well as driving up costs for all involved.

‘It is unfortunate that instead of an incremental and gradual process of improved regulation, the government has seen fit to apply a level of regulation that some would feel overzealous, with no consideration for the individual’s ability to afford the new costs.’