Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (1169)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1169. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on recent reports regarding defects and poor quality in some concrete products being supplied to the construction industry; and if his Department monitors the quality of residential and commercial construction in view of problems with aggregate and insulation in the Celtic tiger era. [45137/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The design and construction of buildings is regulated under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, in order to ensure the safety of people within the built environment. The Act provides for the making of Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations.

In relation to products, Part D of the Building Regulations sets out the legal requirements for materials and workmanship. It requires that all works must be carried out using “proper materials which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used” and in a workmanlike manner to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations. Technical Guidance Document (TGD) D provides guidance on means of demonstrating products are fit for purpose, this includes products which bear a CE Marking in accordance with the provisions of the Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC).

Under the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) manufacturers are required, when placing a construction product (which is covered by harmonised European standards or European Technical Assessments) on the EU market, to make a Declaration of Performance and affix the CE mark. In broad terms, this means that manufacturers are required to provide robust and reliable information in a consistent way for construction products. For many construction products, the application of the CE mark will require the involvement of a third party (known as a ‘notified body’) to undertake certain tasks as specified in the harmonised European standard. These tasks may include activities such as initial type-testing of products, inspection of factory production control and surveillance of factory production control.

In addition, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has also produced additional guidance to some harmonised European standards in the form of National Annexes or Standard Recommendations, which set out appropriate minimum performance levels for specific intended uses of certain products in Ireland.

Currently, there are a number of harmonised European standards, and accompanying Standard Recommendations, in place in respect of insulation products, aggregates, as well as for precast concrete products and masonry products which may require aggregates for their manufacture.

In the first instance, it is a matter for owners, designers and builders, with responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulation, to specify the particular project specific performance requirements of products in the context of the conditions in which they are to be used. In addition, during construction such steps as are necessary should be taken to ensure that the products provided meet these specifications and are suitable for the purpose for which they are intended. Guidance is provided in relation to this in the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, which is available at the following link:

https://www.localgov.ie/sites/default/files/2016-10-21_code_of_practice_for_inspecting_and_certifying_buildings_and_works_final_version-2016.pdf

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. Building control authorities are also designated as the principal market surveillance authorities for construction products that fall within the scope of the CPR. Similarly, market surveillance authorities are provided with wide-ranging powers to ensure that construction products placed on the market comply with the requirements set out in the CPR. These include the issuing of a notice to require corrective actions and in the event of a serious risk being identified, powers that would lead to prohibiting or restricting a construction product from being made available on the market. Issues that arise in relation to products and materials, have been and continue to be dealt with by the relevant local authorities using the powers above, this has been the case in particular in relation to product such as aggregates, concrete blocks and insulation.

The National Building Control Office (NBCO), within Dublin City Council, provides oversight, direction and support for the development, standardisation and implementation of Building Control as an effective shared service in the 31 Building Control Authorities. My Department is working with the NBCO and other relevant authorities to strengthen the market surveillance function. For example, work is being advanced with Geological Survey Ireland, as a competent authority, to address quarried products.