Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (567)

Bernard Durkan


567. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if having regard to the building control regulations in operation over the past ten years, he is satisfied that the various buildings or heavy structures such as underground car parks or bridges of a pre-cast nature are constructed in such a way as to conform to best practice, stress and load distribution and movement arising from expansion or contraction with particular reference to the strength at an overlapping joint which might erode with the passage of time; if any particular issues in this regard have arisen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23234/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Building regulations, which are primarily concerned with the safety and well-being of persons in and around buildings, set down the minimum, legally enforceable standards that must be applied to the design and construction of buildings. The statutory requirements are set out in twelve parts (classified as parts A to M) included under the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations 1997-2013. Technical guidance documents (TGDs) are published to accompany each of the twelve parts in order to demonstrate how the statutory requirements may be achieved in practice.

The twelve parts of the regulations and the accompanying TGDs are subject to review and improvement in the light of on-going technical progress and developments within the construction industry. Part A of the Building Regulations sets out the legal requirements for the structural performance of buildings. It covers issues such as loadings on buildings, ground movements and disproportionate collapse. In particular, the legal requirement at paragraph A1 states : “A building shall be designed and constructed, with due regard to the theory and practice of structural engineering, so as to ensure that the combined actions that are liable to act on it are sustained and transmitted to the ground - (a) safely, and (b) without causing such deflection or deformation of any part of the building, or such movement of the ground, as will impair the stability of any part of another building.”

TGD A provides guidance on how to comply with Part A and currently calls up the harmonised EU structural design codes for building and civil engineering works, known as the Eurocodes. Designs carried out to in accordance with the Eurocodes, and the accompanying National Annexes governing their application in Ireland, will indicate, prima facie, compliance with Part A. Civil engineering structures such as bridges may not come within the scope of the building regulations although they come within the scope of the Eurocodes as mentioned above. National policy in relation to such structures is a matter for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the National Roads Authority.

Responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations is a matter for the owner, designer and builder of a building. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is the responsibility of individual Building Control Authorities which are empowered to carry out inspections and initiate enforcement proceedings, where considered necessary. I have no direct role in relation to compliance checking or enforcement and my Department is not aware of any concerns along the lines suggested.

The careful selection of competent building professionals and contractors should help to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in accordance with the Regulations. Where the construction of a building is the subject of a contract between the client and the builder, compliance is also a contractual obligation.