I have read the report entitled Safe as Houses: A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection, published by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on 24 January 2018.
It should be noted that in response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been working on a building control reform agenda, including the following:
- the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification;
- working closely with the Local Government Management Agency on the oversight and governance of the local authority Building Control System to improve its effectiveness; and
- progressing primary legislation, the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017, to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector.
I will, of course, consider the recommendations contained in the report with a view to identifying any additional reasonable and appropriate measures that may be taken in the interests of strengthening the building control reform agenda underway, as well as increasing accountability and compliance in the construction industry.
With regard to private limited companies providing structural defect insurance cover for new houses, their operations are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. As is the case for any private company, their operations are a matter for the management and Board of Directors. I have no function in this regard.
In general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved: the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.
Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers.