BRegs Blog

A blog to debate the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR): The BRegs Blog presents an opportunity for free expression of opinion on BCAR and their implementation. The blog is not representative of any professional body or organisation. Each post represents the personal opinion of that contributor and does not purport to represent the views of all contributors.

Why do we favour light-touch regulation, or none at all?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In the following article from the Irish Examiner on 18th March 2014 Fergus Finlay explores why we prefer “light-touch” regulation in Ireland. This article is very applicable to the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) which reinforces “light-touch” self-regulation in the construction industry. Link to article here: why do we irish favour so called “light touch regulation” or none at all

Given that the construction industry is a €10bn business, a multiple of the charity sector (€1.8bn), we wonder why in the light of much quoted pyrite and priory hall scandals no similar call to end self-regulation has been made? In a previous post we noted the calls for an charity industry regulator after recent charity scandals surfaced in the media (link here: what do the charity sector and the construction industry have in common?).

Quote from post: One radio pundit was astonished that the charity industry with an estimated €1.8bn annual value is self-regulated, with no independent government oversight. Imagine an industry sector four times this size which also is self-regulated. This is the construction industry…

A number of the submissions made by major consumer groups to the department in 2012 when SI80 was being formulated made specific reference to the requirement for comprehensive, independent local authority building inspections. Astonishingly these requests have been disregarded…

This is the time to aim to introduce a proper building control inspectorate for buildings with 100% inspection rates- now when the industry is at a low output and a new system can be bedded in. To have such huge part of our economy with no independent government oversight is simply not acceptable: it would not be tolerated in any other sector.

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The cost of a Solution to BC(A)R SI.9?

by bregs blog admin team

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As a follow-on to the Michael Collins and Eoin O’Cofaigh paper yesterday on a solution to BC(A)R SI.9, we look back on an earlier blog post that attempted to quantify the resources and cost of a UK-type system here of “approved inspectors”. Link to previous blog post:  how much for a proper independent building control inspectorate? Quote from post:

“…Let’s look at the costs of a good system of Building Control for a moment. The UK ranks 27th out of 182 countries for “ease of obtaining construction permit” according to the recent by the World Bank Report mentioned recently by Minister Richard Bruton. Their legal and system and building standards are closest to ours so they are a good precedent to look at. How much would it cost us to establish the similar system here?

There are over 3,000 local authority building control inspectors (source: Local Authority Building Control UK) with an additional 600 private licensed Approved Inspectors (source: Construction Industry Council UK). Approved Inspectors complete 20% of all building control inspections in the UK (source: World Bank). So we have a conservative total of 4,000 Building Control inspectors in the UK.

In the UK the current construction industry output for 2012 was €115Bn with Ireland at €7.5Bn (source: Bruce Shaw). Given our construction output is just 6% that of the uk the consequent number of inspectors required should be 270. In 2007 we had less than 70 for the entire country so by employing 200 new inspectors we should have coverage similar to the much praised system in the UK.

…The system would be self-funding, transparent and effective. 100% independent building control inspections throughout the country, real consumer protection. There would be plenty of well-qualified applicants for these roles and a separate simple register could be set up to monitor 200 professional inspectors.

No millions of euros in consultants fees needed to work out the feasibility or costs.”

Even being conservative and over-staffing by double all local authorities to bed-down the new regulation system, we would need 400 new inspectors, a fraction of the resources allocated to Irish Water.