Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (677, 678)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

677. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take to ensure full compliance with the 2014 building control regulations in view of recent reports in the media (details supplied) that a defective housing estate in County Kildare built in 2017 was not BCAR compliant; if he or his officials have had contact with building control staff in Kildare County Council; if moving to a fully independent inspection and enforcement regime for building control as recommended in the report Safe As Houses by the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37497/19]

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Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

678. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that residents at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare have not been issued with copies of the BCAR certificates of compliance despite having requested same from Kildare County Council; and the steps he will take on behalf of the residents to ensure the council provides the documentation requested. [37498/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 677 and 678 together.

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.

In relation to the specific case referred to by the Deputy, my Department understands from the relevant local authority that their Building Control Officer is actively engaging with the builder and the assigned certifier to ensure the issues involved are remediated and compliance with the Building Regulations is achieved, as a priority.

The Safe as Houses report referred to has been considered by my Department and while I can subscribe to many of the principles in the report, I believe that the established building control reform agenda, with its many initiatives, already provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of compliance and accountability within the construction industry and for strengthening the building control framework generally.

It was through the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, known within the industry as BCAR, and accompanying code of practice that the roles and responsibilities of owners, designers, builders, assigned certifiers have been set out and clarified. BCAR requires the owner to assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify building works he/she has commissioned. They in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates.

If and when issues arise whether pre, during or post construction, it is clear who has held the designated roles and who is responsible for addressing the issues. This facilitates and simplifies the inspection, implementation and enforcement role of the Building Control Authority.

The building control function has been strengthened by the establishment of the National Building Control Office, which provides oversight, direction and support for the development, standardisation and implementation of building control in local authorities. The inspections policy has been reviewed and developed to support local authorities identify risk and make the most efficient and effective use of the resources available.

In addition, the Government has committed to placing the Construction Industry Register Ireland, or CIRI, on a statutory footing. The Government approved the draft heads of a Bill to place the CIRI on a statutory footing and the Bill was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Committee’s report has since been received. The Department is currently working through the Committee’s recommendations and engaging with the Attorney General's Office, with a view to achieving publication of the Bill in early 2020. The main objective of the legislation is to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with Building Regulations within the builder community.

The building control reform agenda’s focus has primarily been on ensuring strong and effective regulation in the building control system and the construction industry and on improving compliance in the Building Regulations. This reduces the risk and the incidences of defective buildings and has provided insurance underwriters with sufficient confidence to introduce new latent defect type products in Ireland, despite a general retrenchment and conservatism in the wider insurance industry. These new insurance products are first party insurance policies which cover damage and non- damage (breaches of building regulations) claims, to varying degrees. This means that the purchaser does not have to make a claim through the builder but can submit a claim directly to the insurer.