Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (133, 134)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

133. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he consulted with the architects’ representative body before announcing that the cost to a self-builder of employing a design certifier and an assigned certifier in respect of a domestic project will be between €1,000 and €3,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14237/14]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

134. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is concerned that the uncertainty surrounding the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 regarding project completion may have a detrimental effect on small and medium sized enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14238/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Question Nos. 133 and 134 together.

An extensive public consultation process was undertaken in 2012 to inform the development of the revised building control regulations which came into effect on 1 March 2014. Comprehensive consultation documents were published, including Strengthening the Building Control System - A Document to inform public consultation on Draft Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2012 which sets out the context in which the reforms – as later signed into law in the form of S.I. No. 9 of 2014 – would operate and the regulatory impact of these for building owners and industry stakeholders. This document remains available on my Department’s website, www.environ.ie.

In summary terms, it can be said that the arrangements being put in place for the control of building activity may result in additional design, inspection, certification and, possibly, insurance costs which must ultimately be borne by the building owner/contracting authority. Such additional costs would be justified by the enhanced quality and standard of design and construction of the building project concerned in light of several notable instances of non-compliant buildings which failed to meet minimum building standards. It is anticipated that the statutory inspection process will reduce the incidences of defective works on site and the resultant associated costs of carrying out remedial works will reduce accordingly.

Owners/developers will now be required to assign a competent person to inspect and certify the works. For buildings where this would not previously have been the case, it was estimated that this requirement could add between €1,000 to €3,000 per housing unit to the overall building costs. On practice, the costs of construction activity and related professional services are determined by market forces and I am precluded by trade and competition law from introducing any measures which would interfere with the normal functioning of the market in that regard.

The construction industry in Ireland and the residential sector in particular includes an unusually high number of SMEs. A large proportion of the work of such firms involves repair, renewal and renovation work or extensions to existing dwellings. Such works less than 40 square metres do not come within the scope of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. In addition such firms, operate as sub-contractors on larger projects. In such cases the impact and the administrative burden of the proposed regulations falls on the principal contractor. The impact of the proposed regulations on SMEs has thus been kept to a minimum.