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Construction Industry

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 16 June 2021

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Questions (114)

Catherine Murphy


114. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the new measures that are required to ensure the construction sector is regulated in view of the issues that have arisen in terms of building defects with both pyrite and Mica; the initiatives he plans to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32222/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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

I believe that the ongoing building control reform agenda, with its many initiatives, already provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of real compliance within the construction industry. The reform agenda includes:

- Amendments made to the Building Control Regulations;

- Establishment of a shared services National Building Control Management Project; and

- The ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill

Specifically relating to product legislation, since 2013, the Construction Products Directive (CPD)- 89/106/EEC has been replaced by the Construction Products Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 (CPR). It sets out rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU. Where a construction product covered by a harmonised standard is being placed on the EU market, the CPR requires the manufacturer to draw up a ‘declaration of performance’ and affix a ‘CE’ marking to the product. In order to do so, manufacturers must test and declare the performance of their construction products using a common technical language prescribed in the harmonised standard.

The manufacturer is responsible for compliance with the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and in particular for the Declaration of Performance/CE marking of the construction product he/she is placing on the market, having full knowledge of the raw material (as is legally required by the CPR via the relevant harmonised European Standards) and having regard to the end product’s suitability for use in construction works in accordance with the relevant Standard Recommendations published by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

Under the European Union (Construction Products) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No.225 of 2013), each of the building control authorities have been designated as the principal market surveillance authorities for construction products that fall within the scope of the CPR, within their administrative areas. In addition, Dublin City Council has been appointed as a competent authority for the carrying out of market surveillance functions across the country and has created a Market Surveillance Unit within Dublin City Council-National Building Control Office, (DCC-NBCO). Building control authorities will liaise with DCC-NBCO national market surveillance unit to support compliance with the CPR and to determine appropriate action on enforcement matters, as they arise.

The National market surveillance programme 2021 provides specific details on the market surveillance of construction products and outlines a market surveillance campaign led by DCC-NBCO, which has recently commenced, to perform risk assessments of selected quarrying and pit operations, follow-up inspections, sampling and testing as appropriate to ensure compliance with the CPR.

Separately, the Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of building defects and provides for an examination of defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, "Safe as Houses".

In this context, I established a working group to examine defects in housing. The group’s terms of reference have recently been adopted and include:

1. Examine defects in housing having regard to the recommendations in Item 4 “Addressing the legacy of bad building and poor regulation” in Chapter 4 of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government report - ‘Safe as Houses? A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection’ .

2. Establish the nature of significant, wide-spread fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 – 2013 in Ireland through consultation with affected homeowners, homeowner representative organisations, owners’ management companies, relevant managing agents, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, industry stakeholders, insurance providers, mortgage providers and other relevant parties. Including such matters as;

- Identification and description of defect,

- Nature of defect – design, product, workmanship,

- Non-compliance with building regulations or actual damage,

- Severity/risk to life or serviceability of dwelling,

- Period of construction affected,

- Type of dwelling affected,

- Location of dwellings affected.

3. Establish the scale of the issue – estimate number of dwellings affected by the defects identified including those already remediated.

4. Consider a methodology for the categorisation of defects and the prioritisation of remedial action.

- In the case of defects with fire safety implications, consider how the framework for enhancing fire safety in dwellings can be applied to mitigate the risks arising from fire safety defects pending the remediation of defects and the Code of Practice for Fire Safety Assessment of Premises and Buildings, which is currently being developed by National Directorate of Fire and Emergency Management.

5. Suggest mechanisms for resolving defects, in the context of the legal rights, duties and obligations of developers, builders, building professionals, insurers, mortgage providers, building control authorities, fire authorities, owners’ management companies, owner occupiers, renters and landlords, including:

- Technical options for the remediation of dwellings,

- Efficient means of carrying out work,

- individual dwellings or whole building approach

- routine maintenance/refurbishment or remediation

- Structures or delivery channels needed to facilitate resolution – advice and support.

6. Evaluate the potential cost of technical remediation options.

7. Pursue options on possible financial solutions to effect a resolution, in line with the Programme for Government commitment to identify options for those impacted by defects to access low-cost, long-term finance.

8. To report to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the Examination of Defects in Housing.