Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

Need-Help

At around the same time the Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) was suspended mid-2012 (post here), the reporting of Building Control inspection rates was also discontinued. We attach one of the last tables with inspection rates from a Dáil exchange with Minister Hogan from 6th June 2012 (table from 2010). The range goes from 100% in Laois, down to zero in Wexford/ Waterford.

The Department inspection target suggested, if achieved, that 85% of all buildings would not receive any independent local authority inspections whatsoever. The much-praised “Approved inspector” system in the UK system has 100% inspection rates for all building types, at less cost to the consumer, taxpayer and industry. A similar system for Ireland, at no additional cost to the taxpayer, is discussed in a paper by Michael Collins and Eoin O’Cofaigh, two past presidents of the RIAI, in this post “How do we fix SI.9?“.

We have discussed the extraordinarily ambitious performance targets set by the Department for under-resourced local authority Building Control Officers in “Irish Water-a lifeline for Building Control?” In 2007 we had less than 70 dedicated building control inspectors for the entire country. At the peak of the celtic tiger this small dedicated group of overworked public-servants were expected to provide comprehensive inspection rates for a €35bn industry. Quote from post:

“A 15% inspection rate of a €11.5bn industry, for 67 staff, equates to one Building control officer inspecting €171 Million worth of buildings per year; for each officer!. That ranges from once-off houses, kitchen extensions, retail parks, stadia, shopping centres, places of worship- the lot. That’s a pretty impressive target. During the “celtic tiger” years this figure was three times that. I wonder are there any performance targets as ambitious as those set for any other public servants? For Irish Water?”

Under the new building regulations Minister Hogan has suggested inspections will increase. He notes local authorities still have impressive powers of enforcement under the 1990 Act etc. However we are aware now that no additional resources have been allocated to these overworked building-control sections in the country. Given that the lion’s-share of Local Property tax (for a minimum period of 2 years) is to go to re-capitalise Irish Water in advance of a sell-off by the state, the chance of additional experienced and qualified staff being allocated to Building Control is slim.

In a previous post “Are Local Authorities ready?” we wondered whether local authorities were both adequately briefed and resourced for these new regulations. The answer now would appear to be no to both questions. Key stakeholders and representative bodies for surveyors and architects the SCSI and RIAI have expressed serious concerns on the issue. According to media commentators local authorities have joined with the RIAI in a call for a 12 month deferral of the new regulations due to inadequate resourcing.

According to recent statements by Minister Hogan commencement notices have literally “fallen off a cliff” for the month of March. Given the avalanche of commencement notices lodged in February 2014 in advance of implementation (some local authorities had 200% normal level)  these two months may average out. However, if the pattern for March does not reverse quickly we could be looking at a very hard stop being put on the industry’s tentative recovery.

The impact of SI.9 was alarming enough for the another department to insist on a part-deferral for healthcare and school projects. The FDI sector is as vulnerable to the adverse unintended consequences of BC(A)R SI.9 as any other. Let’s hope the SCSI, RIAI  and local authorities are wrong. Currently Minister Quinn is top of the class with his own assessment completed of BC(A)R SI.9- let’s hope Minister Bruton gets his own homework completed quickly.

Link to table: Dáil Éireann – 06/Jun/2012 Written Answers – Building Regulations

Extract:

_______
Deputy Phil Hogan
, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:   

There is an inspection target of 12-15% of all buildings covered by valid commencement notices and Performance Indicators compiled for 2010 by the Local Government Management Agency (outlined in the following table) show that all but five Building Control Authorities (Galway County, Mayo, Tipperary North, Waterford City and Wexford County) met or exceeded the target Buildings inspected as a percentage of new buildings notified to the local authority

Carlow County Council 44.06%

Cavan County Council 18.48%

Clare County Council 20.23%

Cork City Council 26.49%

Cork County Council 17.32%

Donegal County Council 16.99%

Dublin City Council 28.07%

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council 18.51%

Fingal County Council 12.71%

Galway City Council 28.85%

Galway County Council 6.28%

Kerry County Council 28.93%

Kildare County Council 58.68%

Kilkenny County Council 15.79%

Laois County Council 100.00%

Leitrim County Council 20.00%

Limerick City Council 60.00%

Limerick County Council 16.78%

Longford County Council 12.00%

Louth County Council 14.12%

Mayo County Council 10.98%

Meath County Council 47.76%

Monaghan County Council 25.69%

North Tipperary County Council 9.55%

Offaly County Council 22.39%

Roscommon County Council 17.37%

Sligo County Council 17.65%

South Dublin County Council 19.80%

South Tipperary County Council 35.16%

Waterford City Council 0.00%

Waterford County Council 24.19%

Westmeath County Council 22.22%

Wexford County Council 0.00%

Wicklow County Council 26.39%

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