S.I. 9 | Self-builders – 6 months’ update
by Bregs Blog admin team
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stone-cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob A. Riis
Dear Bregs Team,
After reading Mr. Eoin O’Cofaigh’s informative opinion piece – ‘A changing landscape?’, I decided to update you regarding our situation as self builders. For us, at the moment, the landscape has most definitely changed…one can no longer self build in Ireland (no matter how many times the Department say otherwise!). Myself and Raymond finally were granted full planning permission, which is usually a most celebratory day, however, for us, the mood was sombre. Six months on, and we are still in shock as to how on earth Ireland can be the only country in the world to outlaw self building. We received an Assigned Certifier quote from our own architect – this amounted to €7,380 incl VAT 23% – which, even heavily discounted, is a multiple of Minister Hogan’s now infamous “one to three thousand” estimate! But, for us, the real blow is what our architect goes on to say in the quote – “..on the assumption that a competent building contractor is appointed…” – this is the straw that breaks the self builder’s back – the necessity for a competent building contractor. Myself and Raymond are well competent enough to manage the build of our family home and for anyone to presume that we are not, is deeply upsetting.
S.I.9 is flawed for many reasons, but for self builders, the deepest flaw is the word ‘competent’. There are no schools for builders, no State examination for contractors – so how can one judge another’s competence? They cannot. The three past projects that CIRI requires for registration is nonsensical also, as the main contractor is most probably not the actual builder of those projects. In fact, it is most likely that the true builders of those projects now construct beautiful homes in Canada! Ireland is rife with ‘briefcase builders’ – mere managers of builds – S.I.9 does not ensure or guarantee that these businessmen will construct sound buildings – S.I.9, at the very most, guarantees that the main contractor has an up-to-date insurance and tax clearance certificate, not a certificate of qualification in any aspect of construction.
Even if self builders were ‘lucky’ enough to find an Assigned Certifier who was willing to act for them, there is still the massive elephant in the room – the Certificates of Completion and the Undertaking by Builder that needs to be signed. I might add that the builder signs this absolute legal declaration that he is ‘competent’ – surely this is unlawful when there is no examination for competency. We are not principals or directors of building companies, so we cannot sign legal documents claiming to be so. To say that we have major reservations about making a completely false declaration on an official document is an understatement. There is an array of serious problems that could arise in the future regarding this issue. What if the Certificate was overturned and we could never re-mortgage the house, or sell the house? The same can be said further down the line when we are gone and our children may wish to sell the house….they will be prevented from doing so because we signed these documents fraudulently. There is no going back under S.I.9 – it is as concrete as the foundations. It does not allow for errors – even genuine ones.
There is also the issue of one not being permitted to move into the new home until it is certified ‘complete’. This is a major cost factor for most families as traditionally many self builders would complete as much as they could and move in and complete the rest as circumstances allowed. As my father-in-law says, “self-builders build according to their purse”. This is very important and under S.I.9 this is now denied to us. We may not have the finances to fully complete all the bedrooms, the outside path or flooring and wish to do so once we have moved in – the snag list self builder style is now gone!
What will happen if an insurance claim arises on the new home in the future? The insurance company will not have far to look to find a get out clause for themselves. They will be most happy to inform the self-builder that the house was not constructed by a principal or director of a building company and therefore any claim is void !
S.I.9 is an absolute nightmare for anyone who had intended to self build a home in Ireland – the three parts to the nightmare that crush the dream of building a home are:
- The need for a ‘competent‘ building contractor to be employed
- The Assigned and Design Certifiers’ fees
- The requirement for the house to be certified ‘complete’
The cost of these three parts add up to a home that would cost far, far more than the self builder had ever envisaged thus rendering the project obsolete – how very sad.
Since March 1st, I have written numerous letters to everyone I could think of, from local representatives to President Higgins himself, telling them of the difficulties that self builders face now under S.I.9. Some positive developments have arisen from my letters, for example, Sligo County Council passed a motion to write to Minister Kelly for an immediate revoke of S.I.9, so all is not lost! I have yet to write to Minister Kelly, but will do! Our hopes were high also, when we heard of the RIAI EGM on August 12th, and then dashed again when we heard that no vote went ahead that day.
While I understand that for Assigned Certifiers, S.I.9 causes a whole raft of issues, for the self builder, there really is only one issue: you can no longer self-build. So, we have no intention of giving up our fight for S.I.9 to be revoked and just like the stone-cutter we will continue the little ‘blows’, and please God with the final blow, our beautiful dream home will become reality!
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