The Building Control Act 1990 provides, inter alia, for the making of Building Regulations in respect of the construction of buildings. The aim of the Building Regulations is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. The Building Regulations apply to the design and construction of a new building (including a dwelling) and certain works to an existing building.
The minimum performance requirements that a building must achieve are set out in the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. These requirements are set out in 12 parts (classified as Parts A to M). Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) are published to accompany each part indicating how the requirements of that part can be achieved in practice.
There is an overarching requirement under Part D (Material and Workmanship) of the Building Regulations which requires that all works should 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.
- With a proper standard of workmanship and the appropriate use of any material to achieve compliance with the requirements of the Regulations.
- By competent persons with sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work he or she is required to perform and having particular regard to the size and complexity of such works so as to ensure a proper standard of workmanship.
Responsibility for enforcement is delegated to local building control authorities who are independent in the exercise of their statutory powers and any person who believes that an offence has been committed is encouraged to report this to the local building control authority in whose area the offence is alleged to have been committed. Building control authorities have strong powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts. Authorised officers of each local building control authority have delegated powers to: -
- scrutinise proposals and inspect works in progress;
- serve enforcement notices on owners and builders for non-compliance;
- institute proceedings for breaches of any requirements outlined in the Acts, or any
- regulations made thereunder; and
- seek High Court orders to mitigate danger to the public where serious non-compliance poses risks to public safety.
Failure by an owner or a builder, at the request of a building control authority, to demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations or the Building Control Regulations, or to rectify any such non-compliance, may be an offence under the Building Control Acts. If successfully prosecuted in court, such offences may lead to a fine and/or a term of imprisonment. The use of these powers is, however, subject to a statute of limitations of five years from the date of completion of the buildings concerned.
Other significant pieces of redress and producers’ liability legislation which may apply to construction products are the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980; and the Liability for Defective Products Act 1991.
The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of addressing building defects. Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030, reiterates this commitment. In this regard, in 2021 I established a Working Group to examine fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 and 2013. The Working Group will report to me later this year following completion of their consultations and deliberations. Once I receive the report I will give full consideration to its contents.
Finally, the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021 is currently being debated in the Oireachtas. This legislation will put the Construction Industry Register Ireland 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. The legislation will require providers of building services to register with the appointed statutory body. This will apply to entities or individuals who hold themselves out for consideration as a provider of building works for both residential and non-residential buildings that are subject to the Building Regulations.