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Defective Building Materials

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 March 2022

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Questions (315, 317, 318, 339)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

315. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when the report by the Inter-Departmental Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing will be published; the progress of the Working Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14036/22]

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Seán Canney

Question:

317. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when he intends to publish the report by the Independent Working Group on defective housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14130/22]

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Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

318. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing; and when the group is due to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14138/22]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

339. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the working group on defective homes will be completed by the end of March 2022 as previously advised; if his attention has been drawn to the importance of the working group's report meeting this timeline in order that there is sufficient time for the report's recommendations to be considered by Government and acted upon in Budget 2023; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14456/22]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 315, 317, 318 and 339 together.

The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of addressing building defects. It commits to an examination of defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing’s report "Safe as Houses?". Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030, reiterates this commitment. 

In this regard, I established a working group to examine defects in housing. This working group has been meeting monthly since March 2021 (except for August). In addition, regular subgroup meetings take place to advance elements of the work.

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.

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

2. 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.

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.

1. Evaluate the potential cost of technical remediation options.

2. 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.

3. Report to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the Examination of Defects in Housing.

As part of its deliberations, the working group is consulting with a wide range of relevant stakeholders.  As part of this stakeholder engagement, the Working Group conducted a series of online surveys between 31 January and 14 March 2022 seeking the experiences of homeowners, landlords, Directors of Owners’ Management Companies and Property Management Agents. These submissions are currently being analysed.  

The insights gained through engagement with stakeholders as well as the outcome of the online consultation will inform the ongoing deliberations of the Working Group and support the delivery on its extensive terms of reference and finalisation of its report. 

I am satisfied that the Working Group is working effectively and efficiently on this complex matter, and will require sufficient time to complete its work beyond the end of this month. In that context, I look forward to a report later this year following completion of their consultations and deliberations. Once I receive the report I will give full consideration to its contents.

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