Press piece: Co Council votes to scrap BC(A)R S.I. 9

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Wicklow County Council are the first Local Authority to formally request that Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan T.D. should revoke SI.9 for one-off housing. Given that the Minister is the director of elections for Fine Gael it will be interesting to see if BC(A)R SI.9 becomes a live issue during the forthcoming Local Election campaign, particularly in rural areas, where it is being hotly debated at local and council level. The following article appeared in the Wicklow Times on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014, and describes the successful motion passed, and comments of various councillors and local representatives. There was also a separate article on this in Wicklow People on 16th April 2014.

Extract from article below (party affiliations have been added by blog in brackets):

Councillors want one-off houses off the hook

Councillors have voted to write to Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government to request that one-off houses be exempt from the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014.

At last week’s meeting of Wicklow County Council, (Independent) Councillors James Ruttle and Christopher Fox put forward the motion on the belief that one-ff houses would be the least likely to have irregularities.

Councillors also voiced concerns that individuals building one-off houses would have to pay far more than the estimate €1,000 – €3,000 figure that’s been reported.

Cllr Pat Doran (Fianna Fail) seconded the proposal, and it was passed by 12 votes to 5, with councillors John Byrne (Labour), Mick Glyn (Fine Gael) , George Jones (Fine Gael) , Conal Kavanagh (Labour) and Derek Mitchell (Fine Gael)  voting against it.

“From what I’m being told the €1,000 – €3,000  is way off the mark,” Cllr Fox said.  People are already being quoted €10,000 and €12,000 an people have produced these quotes to me.” he added.

“If you take the one-off house, whereby someone is buidling it for themselves to live in, they are not going to build an inferior type house,” argue Cllr Fox.  “I think most here have no problem with large multi-house developments or apartment blocks having to go through the riggers of certification, but for a one-off house I think we are adding a layer of cost that is unnecessary .” he continued. “We have to decide whether we support people who build one-off houses or don’t,” said Cllr Ruttle, who described the figures of €1,000 to €3,00 as “immensely conservative” and said that costs were instead escalating towards 10% of the build cost.  Echoing Cllr Fox, he said “the people who build to the highest standard are those who build their own homes on their own land with their own efforts.”

Cllr Pat Casey, who claimed to have recently seen  a quotation for an extension to a community hall where the new building regulations put the cost of an assigned certifier at €5,500, said that “it might be €1,000 to €3,000 on a development of 100 houses, but definitely not in relation to one-off houses.”  Cllr Pat Doran added that he knew somebody “that had to pay €1,000 for somebody to draw a bit of a sketch for somebody to put a few trees around his house.”

“We’re just stopping people from building their own home. I think it has to be re-thought, and should be abandoned at this stage.” he added.  Cllr Jones, however, believes that proper standards are needed across the board to hold people responsible.  “We’re screaming at the Minister to bring in legislation about standards in building: you can’t have discrimination between 1,500 houses and one house,” he said. “I would certainly support amending the legislation if there is a flaw in it, but not abandoning it; that’s absolute madness,” he added.

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Link to page here: One off housing WTimes copy

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