Irish Countrywomen’s Association and BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team


Here is an address delivered to the Sligo Federation of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, on Tuesday, April 23 2014 in the Sligo Park Hotel by Amanda Gallagher, Self-builder

Good evening Ladies and I thank you giving me some of your time tonight  to speak to you about these new Building Control Laws – I know when we here those words – building control – we usually zone out or nod off but trust me this is Building Control – out of control!

One of dreams one has as a young adult, when we think about our future – is of the dream house we will live in some day.   I was blessed the day I married Raymond, he is an electrician, we have 5 children We have five children and four of them are under 4.  I am a full time mother and housewife.    Myself and Raymond first saw our Architect in October 2012, between the three of us we came up with a plan of our dream home – everything we need as a family.  Raymond had just completed his Green Cert in Agriculture so the time was right in our lives and we were all set for our next adventure as a family.  We even built a little model of the house and the children know their rooms – they imagine what it will be like when we move there.   This house was always going to be a self build. Raymond would do the majority himself – we would employ some trades also – Groundswork team, block-layers, plasterers etc..

A few months ago Raymond came home from a meeting with our Architect and I could tell when he walked in that something was desperately wrong. He asked me had I read anything about new Building Regulations coming in?  After some internet research I came up with some very contradictory and confusing information. I rang the Department of the Environment the next day and the lady I spoke to assured me that Raymond could still build the house – ‘but’ she said most sternly – will your architect be happy if Raymond builds the house?  I found her question strange to say the least.

Our Planning Application was due to be lodged and our Architect informed Raymond that if this was going to be a self build project he would unfortunately have to let go of our hands. We didn’t understand at the time but we now know that anyone who intends to self build in Ireland will not find an Assigned Certifier to work with them – even the Law Society have advised these professionals that it would be too ‘risky’ to work with self builders – I don’t blame the Assigned Certifiers because these regulations are put together in such a way where all the responsibility of the build is on the certifiers shoulders.   Myself and Raymond were so desperate for answers we contacted Ocean FM, where we received more confusing information, we then called Joe Duffy’s Liveline, Raymond spoke one day, I the next, I was then contacted by RTE and they sent an interviewer to our home, we then were invited to the Morning Edition TV Show and we were featured on the Six One News.

I contacted you ladies as I am shocked at the mis-information that is coming from our Government. Minister Hogan says you can still self build – even though he knows that the Assigned Certifiers will not work alongside a self builder – there is nowhere for a self builder to sign the certificates within these new laws.   The government thinks these laws are needed to eradicate the ‘black market’ – they have this notion that they are losing out on revenue by people  self building their family homes.  I have pointed out that my husband is a PAYE worker – he is tax compliant, we would be purchasing all materials at local builder’s merchants, I am sure they are tax compliant – I hope the Government aren’t suggesting they want Tax from our Blood, Sweat and Tears?

You only have to do a little research yourselves and you will soon realise the same thing – If your husbands, sons, daughters or grandchildren are intending to build a home or extension or certain farm buildings,  they must employ a building contractor, an assigned certifier and a project supervisor.  The cost of all of the above compared to what the build could be done for by direct labour is monstrous.  If fact I would even go so far as to say – many of these planned builds will simply not go ahead now – this is very sad. This will have a disastrous effect on the future of rural Ireland and for the future of farming.

As you must employ a main building contractor – this will mean that many local tradesmen now have no chance of employment – this is terrible – we can no longer choose our own tradesmen – what will this mean for them now? After all – it is the tradesmen who are the actual ‘builders’ of our homes – not the building contractors – they may not know a hammer from a nail – they may be merely businessmen.

Ireland is now the only country in the world to ‘ban’ self building – this is a shocking fact – across the water in the UK they reward, support and encourage people to build a home for themselves – they quote up to £100,000 of a difference between self building and the cost of a building contractor- they encourage people on low incomes to self build a family home – giving them a purpose, dignity and something solid to leave their children one day.  I wanted to come here tonight to ask you ladies a few questions:

•Do you want your children and grandchildren to grow up in the Ireland that we all grew up in – the good old days – the days when everything didn’t revolve around money?

•Do you want your children and grandchildren to be free of the burden of debt – free of the massive mortgage that has so many poor people crippled in this country today?

•Do you want your local tradesmen to have a fair chance at gaining employment?

•Do you want to have the right to manage the build of your own family homes, extensions and farm buildings?

•Do you want to see Rural Ireland thrive once more like the days of old?

•Do you want to see an end of the greed and corruption of Developers and Builders that has destroyed this country?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions then I ask you to make your voices heard – research what I have told you here tonight – discuss it with your husbands and families. Pray to St. Joseph and to Jesus – those great carpenters – those magnificent Self Builders – these laws are an attack on the Irish Family – and there’s one thing I am sure of – the Irish mother and wife will not let anyone attack her family!

Question the Local Election Candidates – tell them Minister Hogan must immediately amend the wording on these documents to include the words building owner / self builder as opposed to a principal or director of a building company only.  Tell them this is outrageous and it is a national scandal. Tell them that this country’s survival depends on us, the ordinary men and women of Ireland, the farmers, the tradesmen, the children of tomorrow – not on builders or developers.  Tell them sometimes life is hard and we do not  need our government to make it harder when there is another sensible solution that would be fair.

You know this whole thing is so irrational when you grasp the fact that a building contractor and a self builder do exactly the same thing – we both study the house plans, we both purchase materials, we both employ tradesmen, we both listen to the architects advise – there is one difference however, the building contractor gains a hefty profit and puts a lot less love in to the build!  A building contractor is the one person that a self builder does not need to employ – it is the one expense that will send the budget out of control – we most definitely do not need to burden ourselves with debt and enslave ourselves to builders and banks for the rest of our days – after all:  If you buy what you don’t need you might have to sell what you do!!

Amanda Gallagher – My email: