Environment Minister John Gormley has made an Order to commence the first phase of the Building Control Act 2007.
Minister Gormley said: â€œAs the Minister with responsibility for the national Building Regulations, safeguarding and improving building standards is one of my core commitments and I am, therefore, pleased to be able to announce today a range of new measures which will reinforce that commitment.
â€œWith effect from 1 March 2008 the enforcement powers of local Building Control Authorities will be considerably strengthened by the commencement of relevant provisions of the Act.â€ The relevant provisions are:
*increase the maximum penalties for breaches of the national building regulations from Â£800 (punts) to â‚¬5,000 on summary conviction; with fines for ongoing offences from Â£150 (punts) to â‚¬500 per day after summary conviction; and from Â£10,000 (punts) to â‚¬50,000 on conviction on indictment;
*introduce the option for Authorities to bring summary prosecution for all building code offences in the District Court, rather than by way of prosecution on indictment by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Circuit Court;
*provide for the recoupment of costs incurred by Building Control Authorities in taking enforcement action for breaches of the building code and to obtain the benefit of fines resulting from prosecutions brought by them.
*widen the right of building control authorities to seek an Order from the High Court or the Circuit Court to stop work on buildings where there is non-compliance with the building code
"I have no doubt that, by simplifying the prosecution process and increasing fines, we will see increased enforcement activity by local Building Control Authorities to ensure that Ireland's high building control standards are fully adhered to,â€ said Minister Gormley. â€œI regard these new provisions as a major consumer protection measure, in that the enforcement powers of the Stateâ€™s 37 Building Control Authorities will be greatly strengthened.â€
Question is whether the number of building control officers and inspections will increase. Compliance with Part L 2007 will be performance rated, Architects opinions of compliance may need to be radically changed or an alternative system of certifiying that builings if tested on completion will match the design specification or minimum regulation standard. Perhaps it will go the way of fire certs where outside consultants handle compliance.