Today, 2nd April, is the first day of the Irish Building Control Institute conference in Sligo. We ask will SI.9 fix the construction industry? Can a reinforced system of self-certification work? Do we really need more self-certification, more of the same? How can the same system, with the same resources, stop another Priory Hall?
Here is an Irish Independent article from 11 months ago, 23rd April 2013. In this article Paul Melia discusses the lack of adequate independent inspections throughout the country. Quote: “Eight in every 10 houses and apartments built every year are not being checked for structural defects and possible breaches of the fire safety code, the Irish Independent has learned.”
Link to article: Eight in Ten Homes are never inspected for defects despite Priory Hall debacle
We wonder, given the lack of additional resources allocated to local authorities and inadequate Departmental guidance on Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) will anything be different now? In yesterday’s post we suggested that overworked and chronically under-resourced building control sections throughout the country needed help: see previous post here.
We wonder will any self-builders attend, and if so will they get any answers to their questions? Will Department representative Aidan O’Connor answer why contradictory and conflicting guidance on self-building has been issued to date? Will the construction industry federation (CIF) representative Hubert Fitzpatrick answer the questions asked by the representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) to the European Ombudsman (See post on this here)? Will Hubert Fitzpatrick or Aidan O’Connor be able to answer questions by Amanda Gallagher on behalf of self-builders to the Competition Authority regarding the restrictive nature of the privately owned and operated register of contractors CIRI (see post here) which is endorsed by the Department and the Government?
Perhaps someone from the audience can ask why the Building Regulation Advisory Body (BRAB) was disbanded in mid-2012 by Minister Hogan? Is it true, as we are led to believe, that BRAB was never re-convened after a May meeting where members were very critical of the proposed building regulation amendment (see post here)? Were minutes ever circulated of this meeting, and if not, why not? So many questions, so little time.
Given some BC(A)R SI.9 critics will be speaking at the conference over the next two days, we wonder will any conclusions be reached as to the current and likely performance of the new system? Commentators such as Barrett Chapman (Solicitor & Partner, McCann Fitzgerald) have been very critical, for example, of the wording and legal liability (for professionals) of BC(A)R SI.9. In a previous post Deirdre Ni Fhloinn, specialist construction lawyer and consultant at Reddy Charlton Solicitors noted “There are no new legal rights or remedies for consumers created by BCAR 2014” See here legal perspective article here. We wonder if anyone will examine the new regulations from the perspective of the consumer, the one group excluded from stakeholder meetings post 2012.
The conference could be very interesting. If anyone is in attendance they might tweet interesting points and information to us here. Speakers at the Irish Building Control Institute conference on 2nd and 3rd April 2014:
- Aidan O’Connor, Principal Advisor, Architecture & Building Standards Sections in the Housing and Planning Division of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
- Mairead Phelan, Chartered Engineer, Senior Engineer, Building Inspectorate Division, Fingal County Council and Building Control Project Manager
- Rhoda Kerins, Project Manager in the LGMA overseeing the Open Source Practice Centre
- Kevin Sheridan, Chartered Building Surveyor, Building Manager and Project Manager
- Paul Kelly, Architect, Member of RIAI Building Control Oversight Group
- Maria Melia, Chief Fire Officer, Wexford County Council, former CFOA member of BRAB
- Bernadette McArdle, Chartered Engineer and Building Control Officer for Louth County Council
- Barrett Chapman, Partner, McCann Fitzgerald, Construction Group – construction law, advising developers, contractors and consultants
- Hubert Fitzpatrick, Director, Construction Industry Federation, responsible for Eastern region
- John Sweeney. Building Control Officer for Meath County Council
Extract from Independent Article:
Eight in 10 new homes are never inspected for defects despite Priory Hall debacle
THOUSANDS of new homes have not been inspected by local authorities despite the fallout from the Priory Hall scandal.
Eight in every 10 houses and apartments built every year are not being checked for structural defects and possible breaches of the fire safety code, the Irish Independent has learned.
And the number of homes being inspected is steadily falling, resulting in properties being sold to an unsuspecting public without basic checks being carried out.
The drop is despite shoddy building work resulting in hundreds of residents of Priory Hall, a north Dublin estate, being evacuated from their homes more than 18 months ago because they were fire traps.
New figures show that not one house or apartment was inspected in Co Galway or north Tipperary in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, because there was no building control officer.
Another county, Roscommmon, said its officer was on “long-term” absence, meaning that few homes could be inspected.
City and county councils are supposed to carry out random inspections of new buildings but a lack of staff and financial pressures means that just under 22pc of new homes are examined.
A report comparing the performance of each local authority during 2011 shows that inspection rates range from none to more than half of all new buildings.
The ‘Service Indicators in Local Authorities’ report shows:
• Just one in five new homes was inspected in 2011, a drop from 2009 when one in three was examined.
• None were inspected by Galway County Council and North Tipperary County Council.
• Other poor performers include Donegal (8pc of the total), Fingal (9.97pc) and Waterford City (10.61pc).
• Most inspections were carried out in South Tipperary (66pc), followed by Carlow (55pc), Kerry (44pc), Meath (38pc) and Kildare (35pc).
• Some 9,295 private houses were constructed in 2011. The figures show that 7,251 were not checked.
Developers of shoddy buildings face being jailed for two years under building regulations being introduced from next March.
The regulations are aimed at avoiding the mistakes of the housing boom where poorly constructed homes, pyrite damage and structures breaching fire regulations left thousands of homeowners out of pocket and at risk of death or serious injury.
Under the old rules, a builder nominated a person to sign off on construction of new dwellings based on their opinion, and often without visiting the site during construction.
It meant that the building regulations were, effectively, based on an honour system where it was assumed homes would be properly constructed. In 2006, just one in four homes was checked to see if it conformed to regulations.
Many homeowners have since learned, to their misfortune, that this was far from the reality.
From next March, “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 builder will both have to certify that a finished building complies with regulations, or risk prosecution.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan said there would be an increase in the number of building inspectors in local authorities from next year.
“We will be adopting a code of practice this year to set out clearly what the responsibilities are for the professionals and local authorities,” he said.