Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (541)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

541. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify the existing statutory position relating the self-building of their own homes by those who wish to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22567/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Building Control Act 1990 places a clear statutory obligation on owners, designers and builders to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in compliance with the building regulations. This applies to all sectors of the construction industry, including the self-build sector.

Neither the Building Control Act nor any regulations thereunder, including the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, 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 their work to other parties, must assume legal responsibility for ensuring that the building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of building regulations.

The reply given to Question Nos. 432 and 434 of 4 February 2014 addresses some of the practical considerations that arise for an owner in meeting their obligations as owner and as builder in a self-build situation. An Information Note on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the Self-Build Sector issued by my Department on 26 February 2014 has also been placed in the Oireachtas library.

A number of local authorities have in recent weeks brought it to the attention of my Department that valid commencement notices for self-build projects have now been registered on the new online Building Control Management System. In all such cases, the owners have assigned themselves as builders (taking on the legal responsibility that this entails) and have found registered construction professionals to take on the roles of designer and assigned certifier.   Any doubts about the operability of the new regulations in the self-build sector are therefore clearly unfounded.

The major concern for families intending to build their own homes remains the cost of doing so. A number of cases have, however, been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects. The new regulations support improved competence and professionalism which will provide additional work opportunities for competent practitioners and construction professionals. While it is worthwhile for homeowners to have the home they invest in checked and inspected, they should not have to pay a inflated rates or for excessive inspection services.

In this regard, I have asked my Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and the construction professional bodies, to prepare guidance on an appropriate inspection plan for a single, stand-alone dwelling. This will inform the market in relation to offering realistic and appropriately priced professional services for such work. I understand that the construction professional bodies are already well advanced in terms of providing similar guidance on this and other matters relevant to the new arrangements for building control. I have asked my Department to keep the issue under close and continuing review.

Question No. 542 answered with Question No. 515.