Press Piece: Fingal Councillors call to end BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In this press piece local TD’s and councillors in Fingal express reservations concerning BC(A)R SI.9, with particular reference to once-off housing. Quote from article:

Councillor Anne Devitt spoke to the North Co. Dublin newspaper, County Leader about her objections to the new regulations. “I feel they are not fit for purpose, where one-off rural housing is concerned. It is bringing in an unnecessary lair of bureaucracy. I absolutely support it for large housing schemes and developments. The purpose of this regulation is to improve building conditions all round, to make sure that we no longer have a Priory Hall, or a pyrite problem.”

She continued, “The requirements for one-off housing are overprotective and are prohibitive, which will make the price of housing far too expensive. I project managed two self builds and I had an architect, who supervised the whole thing, which was needed to ensure that everything was in order. I knew excellent people in the building industry that I was able to call on, as I needed them, which meant I was able to complete the projects, without having to be a building contractor,” she said.

The North County Leader is a north County Dublin newspaper. Link to article from 10th March:  Divided Opinion On New Building Regulations

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Extract from article:

Divided Opinion On New Building Regulations

The new Building Control Regulations, which came into force on Saturday, 1st March last, are set to divide opinion in the locality, as regards the need for them, particularly in the case of rural one-off housing.

The Building Control Amendment Regulations 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. A case in point is the ill-fated Priory Hall development.

Environment Minister, Phil Hogan maintains that “this is about restoring consumer confidence in construction as an industry, which are a major step forward and will, for the first time, give homeowners clarity, traceability and accountability at all stages of the building process. They will provide consumers with the protection they deserve.”

What this effectively means for local builders is that Assigned Certifiers, who can be registered architects, engineers or building surveyors, will inspect building works at key stages during construction. The Assigned Certifier and the builders will both certify that a finished building complies with the requirements of the building regulations.

Owners/developers will now be required to assign a competent person (i.e. Assigned Certifier) to inspect and certify the works. Industry sources suggest this requirement will typically cost between €1,000 and €3,000 per housing unit, to the overall building costs, although in reality this cost will be decided by market forces. Many believe that this is a small price to pay for ensuring that all safety precautions have been adhered to.

The County Leader met with mixed reaction to the regulations locally, with opinions divided on them. Mark Stillman of Stillman Building Contractors, who plies his trade in the North County, had very definite opinions about the new regulations. He said, “This will now put pressure on builders, engineers and architects to make the whole business compliant. It’s a good thing, especially with Priory Hall and is a more watchful eye from engineers and architects. It’s more about making sure that work is being carried out in accordance with building regulations. Too much work was done in the past, without proper compliance with regulations,” he said.

However, there is not widespread approval of these regulation, and a local councillor is calling on the Minister to place an exemption, or special clause for the necessity for a certified contractor, in the case of rural one-off housing.

Councillor Anne Devitt spoke to the County Leader about her objections to the new regulations. “I feel they are not fit for purpose, where one-off rural housing is concerned. It is bringing in an unnecessary lair of bureaucracy. I absolutely support it for large housing schemes and developments. The purpose of this regulation is to improve building conditions all round, to make sure that we no longer have a Priory Hall, or a pyrite problem.”

She continued, “The requirements for one-off housing are overprotective and are prohibitive, which will make the price of housing far too expensive. I project managed two self builds and I had an architect, who supervised the whole thing, which was needed to ensure that everything was in order. I knew excellent people in the building industry that I was able to call on, as I needed them, which meant I was able to complete the projects, without having to be a building contractor,” she said.

“The part of the regulation that I object to, is that, in order to commence building your house, you, as the site owner, have to hand over responsibility for that to a qualified contractor. But what constitutes a qualified contractor, has not yet been defined. This may take six months to decide, so in the meantime, I have no qualifying contractor to contact, so I don’t know who to engage.” “I don’t think you will get a building contractor to undertake the liability of somebody else’s work that is not in his team. For one-off houses, I don’t believe that a certified contractor is necessary. Even if you have an electrician or plumber in the family, they can no longer work on your house, it’s crazy. This will drive up the cost of one-off rural housing and put this kind of development beyond the reach of families,” she said. Any Cooney, a construction project manager from Ballyboughal, agrees with Devitt’s assertions. She said,  “I grew up in the country and if I didn’t get my commencement notice in on Friday last, the last day before the new regulations came into law,  I would have had to employ a contractor. The extra cost of 20 per cent, would have meant I may not get a mortgage for the job.  I don’t agree that we have to bring in contractors. My line of work is in project management, which means I have various tradesmen, and I don’t need to be loyal to a particular electrician. I could have five or six plumbers or carpenters, and I use them accordingly.

“Any contractor that I have worked with insist on using their own tradesmen and their friends. There’s a clique there and they have their set prices, and I always found them to be the most expensive jobs. There’s a sort of monopoly going on and I think these new regulations will mean the big contractors will get bigger and the small, independent carpenter will have to come under the wing of the big contractor, to ensure work for himself,” she said.

 

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