Opinion piece: RIAI need to stop ‘passing the ball’.

by Bregs Blog admin team


The following letter to the representative body for architects (RIAI) was posted on 29th May 2014 by Amanda Gallagher, Self-builder. For original link see here. This is the latest in a  series of letters to the RIAI, one of the three representative bodies for the professionals that can undertake certifier duties under the new building regulations. We will be posting responses from the other two representative bodies shortly.

Opinion piece: RIAI need to stop ‘passing the ball’.

“The declaration as it currently stands relates to a Director or a Principal of a Building Company, which obviously self builders may well not be – we would welcome clarification from the Department as to what exactly the role of a self builders is..” – Mr Robin Mandal, President, RIAI on the SixOne News (Feb 28th 2014)

Dear Robin,

I was full of hope yesterday when your letter arrived, but I am dismayed at your totally inadequate response to most serious issues.

If you take a look at your words above that you spoke on Friday, February 28th on the Six One News, and compare them to your letter (attached), you will soon realise why I am so dismayed. It seems that, like senior officials in the DOECLG, the pressure to tell the truth is so great that you renege on previous statements, lose all credibility and treat the self builders of Ireland as if we have the memory of a goldfish or worse still, biofoam in our heads instead of brains – the insult to our intelligence is shameful.


Yes, you are correct when you say that I should seek answers from the DOECLG – I have on many occasions done this, but to date have been met with deplorable treatment – they have proved how incompetent they are by their ridiculous misinformation. I naively thought that the RIAI would be professional enough to tell the truth to self builders, as self builders and architects have always had an excellent working relationship, and I, for one, have the utmost admiration and respect for the talents of an architect – in light of your letter, my sympathy for the honest RIAI members has just increased tenfold.

The statement that most confounded me in your letter was that ‘The RIAI sees no prohibition for self building in S.I.9′ – Robin, one does not need binoculars to see the prohibition in S.I.9 that outlaws self building – as you well know – the prohibition is that to build a home one must be a principal or director of a building company only. This signatory issue is hardly a needle in a haystack.

I am shocked that at this stage the RIAI have not sought legal opinion on the major self build issue – can I ask you why you have not sought legal advice yet? – It really would be a good idea if you sought advice at your earliest convenience as this issue will not be going away any time soon. The Law Society advice that I spoke of is here:

law society guidance note on bcar si 9

you will note that they advise all construction professionals not to take on the role of certifier for self builders as it would be too risky. Maybe you have not yet seen that advice, but I can assure you many of your members have seen it and are taking it on board.

I believe some self builds have commenced under SI 9, only due to a grey area. The grey area is that the DOECLG will turn a ‘blind eye’ on self builders who sign themselves off as principals or directors of a building company only, however, this blind eye will only be in operation until March 1st, 2015, when CIRI is put on a statutory footing. To myself and my husband, there is no grey area at all, the area is as black as black could be – self building is illegal and we will not commence an illegal build, no matter who encourages us to do so. When we leave this earth, we want to leave a legal home to our beautiful children, a home that if they wish, they can sell on. Anyone who has commenced a self build since March 1st needs to question themselves, but more importantly their Assigned Certifiers need to be questioned by their representative bodies.

I know that the RIAI supports this CIRI Register of Builders – I have explained to you reasons why, in the past, that self builders most definitely do not support such a Register – we do support the idea of a Register of Tradesmen, Project Managers etc.. This would be most fitting for a fair and transparent construction sector. So, I ask you, what advice you will give your members on the issue of self builds where the owner is not an experienced builder from March 1st, 2015.

You also say that the RIAI supports the principle of self building – this is all good and well – I support the principle of Formula 1 racing, and would love to race you down the M50 Motorway, but as it would be illegal to do so I have to make do with watching it on TV. This is the same now for self building, you and I both know well that it is now illegal to self build in Ireland, so as much as the RIAI and myself support the principle of self building, we can now only watch it on TV, on shows like Grand Designs – how intolerable for anyone who intended to build a home for their family. Every day I question the rationale of the members of the DOECLG, CIF, RIAI, SCSI & ACEI, who sat down and drew up such hideous building control regulations.

I note an article in todays Irish Independent in which you state: ‘We need enough buildings for an extra one million people in 25 years’ – It is sad to think that not one of the one million buildings will be self built. This is extraordinary and it beggars belief that the RIAI would have ever signed legislation that would wipe out the self build sector overnight.

I know that there is a meeting of RIAI members today, so I will forward this letter to the Council also and hopefully they get to read it in time. I would like the self build issue discussed at this meeting, as a matter of fact I feel it is a most urgent issue to be dealt with by the RIAI. If the members come to the same conclusion as you during this meeting that self building can indeed continue as before under S.I. 9, then I request a list of all RIAI members who are willing to take on the role of certifier for self builds. If, however, the honest members of the RIAI come to the conclusion that I am right in my concerns that self building is now, in fact, banned in Ireland, then I request a statement of same.

The RIAI were at the table at the now infamous ‘secret’ talks on the S.I.9, so it is only right and just, that now the RIAI give an unambiguous statement to the Nation on the true stance of self building – Robin, as President of the RIAI, you must not shirk the responsibility of telling the truth – there is already widespread condemnation of all the professional bodies (key stakeholders) and the DOECLG, and the way in which you all ‘pass the ball’ in this ‘game of truth’. This ‘game’ is tensing up day by day and will reach a penalty shoot out very soon, and I am most confidant that the self builders of Ireland will win and the professional bodies will come under intense criticism for the way in which you all handled the ‘ball’, in fact, by your letter yesterday, you scored an ‘own goal’ for the RIAI. It beggars belief that building control legislation is causing such distress to so many people.

I do hope this serious self build issue can be discussed at today’s meeting of the RIAI, as it is not only an issue for self builders, it is a major issue for your members also. The SI9 must be revoked, our Government and indeed, construction professionals must stop acting like teenagers, and we must all get back to our normal, everyday lives.

Regards to you at this most difficult time in the construction sector,

Amanda Gallagher

Other Posts of interest:

(Robin mandal) RTÉ TV: Six-One news 27th February 2014: RIAI on BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

RTÉ Radio: self-builders & RIAI past presidents Collins + O’Cofaigh- click link here

Radio Clip: Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Self-builders write to Attorney General: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Radio Clip: Joe Duffy “what government in their right mind would make people unemployed?” BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Radio Clip- O’Cofaigh: self building, self-regulation & the consumer – click link here

RIAI confirm self-building not possible after 1st March 2014: BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Self builders escalate to Law Society: BC(A)R SI.9- click link here

Self builders appeal to Priory Hall residents: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

(Robin mandal) RTÉ Radio 1 Clip: RIAI confirms call for deferral of BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here