Competition Authority complaint: CIF & BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Self-builder Amanda Gallagher has written the following complaint to the Competition Authority regarding the Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Self-builders have set-up an online petition to highlight the plight of self-builders and farmers who have bee adversely affected by the new regulations. Link to petition:  Online petition- Self Build in Ireland- BC(A)R SI.9

The intention of the government is to put the construction industry federation’s (CIF) privately owned and operated register of builders (CIRI) on a statutory footing in March 2015. The IAOSB opinion is that promotion of a private register by Government is a restrictive practice which precludes many experienced owners form undertaking builds themselves and is the subject of an appeal by the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) to the european ombudsman. See previous post here. CIRI is the only government recognised and endorsed register of builders in Ireland.

According to the CIRI website, the cost for joining the register in its first year is €600 + VAT at 23%.  This fee is not fixed and may well increase year on year. No estimates of how many people or firms will join the register are available. Industry estimates are that approximately 60,000 persons are directly involved in contracting in Ireland at present. If 10% of these were to register either as individuals or companies, the additional membership income to the CIF for the register alone would be €3.6m per annum.

Presumably people and firms registering and paying the annual fee will hope to recoup that cost from customers. The main issue farmers and self-builders have with SI.9 is that they will be required to employ main contractors (preferably registered with CIRI) for qualifying works that otherwise they would manage themselves. This could add over 10% to the cost of a project on its own. Costs for additional professional duties are in addition to this figure. IAOSB estimate this year 1,800 self-builders will abandon house projects due to the increased costs incurrent under BC(A)R SI.9.

Extract from Letter to follow:

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Important Letter for The Competition Authority

Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014

Re: Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 9)

Dear Competition Authority,

My name is Amanda Gallagher and along with my husband, Raymond, we were hoping to ‘self build’ our new family home in Co. Sligo.  We were featured on various RTE Radio & TV Shows in the week preceding Saturday, March 1st last.  We were absolutely devastated when Minister Hogan went ahead with implementing the Regulations. The Minister has essentially ‘banned’ self building / direct labour in Ireland – (the only country in the world to do so by the way) – he has basically made it impossible for a ordinary person to construct a home for their family – by the way even if we were millionaires my husband would have enjoyed the experience of constructing a home for myself and our 5 children.

The reason I write to you now is if you could kindly enlighten me in the regard of Competition Issues with the implementation of the CIRI (Construction Industry Register Ireland) which is set up and managed by the CIF (Construction Industry Federation), a private company. I think the whole notion of a Statutory Register of Builders is nonsensical in itself – as there are no ‘school’ for builders – there are however, schools for tradesmen – they are the ‘builders’ – the constructors of homes – they can prove they are ‘competent’ as they will have a qualification that says they are.

How can our Government put this CIRI on a statutory footing on March 1st, 2015? Why can’t the Irish people have a Register of Qualified Tradesmen available at each Local Authority?  A Register that is not privately owned, a Register that actually means the people listed on it do in fact hold an actual qualification. A Register that will not ‘rob’ the poor tradesmen with extortionate annual fees. A Register that will actually mean they have some hope of employment from – some degree of fairness. Because under the SI 9 – all construction work must go through a main building contractor – therefore it is up to that contractor which sub-contractors he brings with him to each project – therefore many, many tradesmen on CIRI have no hope whatsoever of employment – and they don’t even know it!

The CIF are charging 730 Euro plus a 50 induction fee to each person on this Register – they are welcoming applications from builders, tradesmen, anyone at all involved in Construction.  All you need to do is ‘prove’ 3 past projects you have been involved in!

The Certificates within the SI 9 have made a provision for the CIRI No for the Builder to fill in.

Now, there already is a Register of ‘competent’ builders and tradesmen in Ireland – they are the National Guild of Master Craftsmen – they charge 295 Euro to register. I would like to know what happens to the men on this Register next year when CIRI is put on a statutory footing? Do these men have to Register with the CIF if they have any hope of employment in the Construction Sector? I take it that the National Guild of Master Craftsmen have yet to be told of this unfortunate fate – i suppose they won’t be informed – just like us, the self builders – we will have to find out for ourselves the totally unjust laws we have to live by.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that a Building Contractor is actually a Self Builder.  We do the exact same thing – we both study the plans – we both shop around for materials – we hire some trades in – we both listen to the architects, engineers and surveyors advice – we do exactly the same thing – the only difference is the Building Contractor is a business man and does it for PROFIT and puts a lot less Love into the build!

There are many questions here to be answered.  My main and most urgent one is: How can the Irish Public be FORCED to choose a ‘competent builder’ from a Privately owned Company when there is actually NO WAY they can be guaranteed that the person they are picking is in fact competent?

Thanking you,

Amanda Gallagher

Co. Sligo

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