Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (1377, 1378)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

1377. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish a new building standards and consumer protection agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12994/19]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

1378. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish a redress scheme to assist homeowners with latent defects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12995/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1377 and 1378 together.

In the first instance, I would like to acknowledge the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.

However, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved: the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. In this regard, it is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and/or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners.

It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers. When a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for fire safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. In multi-unit developments, the "person having control" is generally the owner management company. Under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, the owner management company must establish a scheme for annual service charges and a sinking fund for spending on refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature of the multi-unit development.

While it is not intended to establish a new Building Standards and Consumer Protection Agency, stronger compliance with building standards has been a key priority for Government in response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade. The Building Control Reform agenda was initiated in 2011, when a high level working group reviewed the existing building control regulatory framework. The key deficits identified in the regulatory regime were the lack of involvement of construction professionals on site and lack of accountability in relation to compliance with the Building Regulations.

In response, a three pronged Building Control Reform Agenda has been developed:

1. Reform of the Building Control process;

2. Establishment of a National Building Control Management Project; and

3. Putting the Construction Industry Register Ireland on a statutory footing.

These reforms, while some are still in progress, have already brought, and will continue to bring, a new order and discipline to bear on construction projects, creating an enhanced culture of compliance with the Building Regulations.