I want to acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when defects occur in their homes.
Building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, that is the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. The statutory position is very clear in terms of where responsibilities lie under the Building Control Acts, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts, the Planning and Development Acts and the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, all or some of which may be relevant in individual cases of building defects. The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, in particular, have brought further clarity in relation to the respective roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in construction projects.
Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under many of the legislative codes referred to in order to ensure that parties discharge their statutory responsibilities. But it would not be appropriate for local authorities to take on a role of the kind suggested in adjudicating or providing mediation on the matters involved, particularly when the issues arising when homeowners discover defects in their homes can involve complex legal matters, with potential implications also for insurance.
The State has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings. Nor could the taxpayer afford such a role. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.