I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 119 together.
The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of building defects, including support for the pyrite remediation scheme and the examination of defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, "Safe as Houses".
Firstly, in relation to the pyrite remediation scheme, the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. It is a scheme of “last resort” applicable to dwellings, which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave. The full conditions for eligibility under the Scheme are available on the Pyrite Board’s website at www.pyriteboard.ie. Up to the end of 2021, 3063 applications have been received under the Scheme and 2530 dwellings have been included. Of the dwellings included, the works in respect of 2292 are complete with the rest at various stages of progress. A budget of €20 million has been provided for in 2022, with an expectation that approximately 270 homes will be remediated.
Separately, I have established a working group to examine defects in housing which has been meeting monthly since March 2021 (except for August), in addition to subgroup meetings. The group’s terms of reference, adopted in May 2021, are focused on fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 and 2013. The full terms of reference of the Working Group are to:
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. Report to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the Examination of Defects in Housing.
In regard to the working group’s deliberations, the group is engaging with a wide range of interested parties. The first round of stakeholder consultation commenced in July 2021, with more detailed follow up and additional stakeholder consultations ongoing at present. In addition, preparations are being made to launch an online survey, in the next couple of weeks, seeking the views of homeowners, landlords, Directors of Owners’ Management Companies and Property Management Agents etc.
I am satisfied that the group is working effectively and efficiently on this complex matter and I look forward to a report later this year following completion of their deliberations. Once I receive the report I will give full consideration to its contents.
Finally, in response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade, a three pronged Building Control Reform Agenda has been developed which focuses on ensuring strong and effective regulation in the building control system and the construction industry and on improving compliance with Building Regulations. The three elements include;
1. Reform of the Building Control process;
2. Building Control Management Project and establishment of a National Building Control Office; and
3. The publication earlier this month of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021. The legislation will put the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing and aims to benefit consumers and the general public by giving those who engage a registered builder the assurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator.
I thank the Deputy for introducing the Defective Dwellings Bill 2021 which I will continue to consider in the context of the ongoing implementation of the Building Control Reform Agenda and the upcoming report of the Working Group examining defects in housing.