Mr. Paudie Coffey, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, together with Minister Alan Kelly, T.D., have just announced a review of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 9 of 2014).
The new Regulations commenced in March last year and the Department is now initiating a review, as the regulations have now been operational for 12 months. The review will focus particularly on the cost burden involved for one-off houses, including self-build, and extensions to existing dwellings.
Minister Coffey said “The Regulations were introduced last year to ensure competence and professionalism in construction and to bring accountability to bear within the industry following the scourge of defective building works that had become all too common. Owners, builders, construction professionals and local authorities have gained a lot of practical experience of the new regulatory requirements on some 6,000 projects, big and small, that commenced since 1 March 2014. I am confident that a lot of learning will come through in the review that will allow me to refine and streamline the regulatory process so as to ensure that the building process can work effectively to serve the needs of industry and of consumers.”
“Our objective is to empower consumers to get a fair price for the actual inspection work they require”, Minister Kelly said. “A number of cases have been brought to my attention and my colleague Minister Coffey whereby consumers have been quoted outlandish charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects. It is worthwhile for homeowners to have the home they invest in checked and inspected but, they should not have to pay an inflated rate for excessive inspection services”.
The Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government is publishing a suite of documents today to inform the Review, including a sample inspection plan drawn up by the Department to inform the market in relation to offering realistic and appropriately priced professional services, and the Department’s own calculation of the costs involved. Also included for consultation is an information note setting out options for addressing the cost burden of the regulations for single dwellings and extensions to existing dwellings.
The Ministers said they are open to the view that broadening the pool of persons who can design, inspect and certify buildings could also help the one-off housing sector of the market. This is one of the options being put forward for consultation as part of the review. The Department continues to work with Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, as the statutory registration body for architects and with representatives groups such as the Architects Alliance of Ireland to secure greater representation of practically trained practitioners on the register of architects.
Plans are also advancing for the statutory registration of architectural technologists and both Ministers welcome the decision by Quality Qualifications Ireland to set up a working group to identify a common standard for architectural technology in line with the National Qualifications Framework. Noting that this is a critical step in the development of a statutory register, the Minister Kelly added:-
“We will do everything in our power, consistent with domestic legal arrangements and at EU level, to fast-track the new register and to ensure that the routes to registration more generally are fair, open and broadly-based.”
Another issue to be examined in the review is the option of establishing a “Minister’s List” for practically trained architects, whereby they could be facilitated to continue in their work, subject to defined criteria.
The review of the S.I. No. 9 of 2014 formally begins today followed by a consultative forum to be hosted by Minister Coffey on 15 April 2014. The forum will consider the key features of the building control reforms and invite participating stakeholder representatives to contribute their views. Stakeholders will then have a month to follow up with a full written submission reporting on their experiences to date and recommending any further changes they think would be helpful.
Written submissions will also be welcomed from members of the public and industry in general, and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org