Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (432, 434)

Jim Daly

Question:

432. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the options available to persons who wish to construct a home in stages using various subcontractors without employing a principal main contractor in view of the pending changes under SI No. 9 of 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4891/14]

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Michael McCarthy

Question:

434. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government with regard to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 S.I No. 9 of 2014, if the new building regulations will preclude persons from building through direct labour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4915/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 432 and 434 together.

The new Building Control Amendment Regulations which come into operation on 1 March 2014 will greatly strengthen the arrangements currently in place for the control of building activity by requiring greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. The new regulations are necessary following the widespread instances of failure by owners, designers and builders to comply with their statutory obligations under the Building Control Act 1990 to design and construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations. These obligations apply to all sectors of the housing market, including the self-build sector.

Neither the Building Control Act or any regulations thereunder, including the new Building Control Regulations, place any restrictions on whom an owner may assign as a builder once the owner is satisfied that the builder is competent to undertake the works involved. An owner who intends to self-build, and who contracts out elements of the work to various parties, must assume legal responsibility for ensuring that the building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of the second schedule to the building regulations. The owner must also undertake to do everything necessary to achieve this and to ensure they are in a position to certify the building or works on completion thereby taking legal responsibility as builder. The new regulations also require an owner to assign a competent, registered professional to certify the design prior to commencement and to inspect the works during construction so that the assigned certifier is in a position, in conjunction with the owner-builder, to sign a certificate of compliance on completion. A building project cannot proceed until such assignments (which may be one and the same person) have been made. Confidence in the builder will be a key factor influencing a professional’s decision on accepting a role as assigned certifier, in particular, and owners who intend to self-build will need to be aware of this.

In regard to the references to direct labour and the use multiple contractors, it is my Department’s understanding that the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013, which do not come within my remit, require project supervisors in circumstances where a construction project involves more than one contractor, or a particular risk, or more than 30 days/500 person days. Owners should therefore be advised to have regard to all statutory obligations and to seek advice from competent builders and competent, registered professionals where necessary and appropriate.