24 Jan 2018, 11.30

The Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government has today published a report calling for higher building standards in new builds, as well as increased protections for homeowners and tenants who experience defects in their homes.

Building on the consumer protection measures established in this area in 2014, the Committee hopes that their report will contribute towards an even more robust consumer-centred approach to building and maintaining housing developments.

The report, entitled ‘Safe as Houses? A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls & Consumer Protection’, makes a number of key recommendations, including:
• Create a new Building Standards and Consumer Protection Agency along the lines of the Food Safety Authority and Environmental Protection Agency;
• Local authorities should not be allowed to self-certify their own social housing developments. This would be contracted out via the Building Standards and Consumer Protection Agency;
• A bar on the awarding of publically funded construction project tenders should be introduced to prevent such contracts from being awarded to developers/builders or associated construction professionals found to be in serious breach of building standards or fire safety regulations;
• The government should establish a redress scheme to assist home owners with latent defects.

Committee Chairperson, Maria Bailey TD said, “Following a number of years of stagnation in housebuilding in Ireland, the sector is beginning to increase once more. While this is a positive development, it is vital that the mistakes of the past are not repeated, namely that the poor quality housing constructed in Ireland during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom years does not happen again. With that in mind, the Joint Committee, led by Rapporteur Eoin O’Broin TD, has produced a report that makes significant proposals to ensure that home owners and tenants are protected. The Committee acknowledges that progress has been made since the Celtic Tiger years; the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and proposed legislation placing Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing will undoubtedly contribute to a cultural change in compliance with building regulations and controls. Our report examines these measures to assess if they are still robust enough to adequately protect consumers from poor quality building and inspection regimes.”

Committee Rapporteur, Eoin Ó Broin added, "In the coming years we are going to see a significant increase in the level of public and private residential construction. We have a responsibility to ensure that our building control and consumer protection systems are robust enough to ensure that there will never again be another Priory Hall. This means strengthening our current system and putting greater safeguards in place for home owners and social housing tenants.
"The 26 recommendations contained in this report provide the Government with a series of reforms which if implemented would represent a real turning point in our building control system. They would create a genuinely independent regulatory authority; break the link between developers and the inspection and certification regime; provide future home buyers and social housing tenants with greater legal protections and insurance against latent defects; and provide real support for those left living with the legacy of the failures of the past.  Given that this report secured the unanimous support of Oireachtas Housing Committee I hope the Minister will listen carefully to our recommendations and act accordingly."

Read the report here

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Committee membership

Deputies

Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil

Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit

Fianna Fáil

Independent

Sinn Féin

Fine Gael

Senators

Independent

Fine Gael

Green Party