RIAI welcomes Building Control (Amendment) Regulations

logo_riaiThe RIAI has welcomed Building Control (Amendment) Regulations but says more needs to be done for consumer and to ensure building standards. The RIAI has welcomed the newly amended Building Control Regulations which were given legal effect when they were signed into law by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD. RIAI Director, John Graby, said that the 12-month implementation period announced by the Minister will give the Government and the country’s Local Authorities the time they need to get their inspection and monitoring systems operating effectively.

“The new Building Regulations – prepared by Minister Hogan and his Department – represent one of the most significant efforts to strengthen the country’s building control system since the introduction of the original Building Regulations over 20 years ago and they are to be commended on this. Recent events have highlighted the importance of strengthening our regulatory processes, it is vital that we get the system right so that we can prevent as many difficulties as possible from arising in the future,” John Graby said.

RIAI Director John Graby also acknowledged the fact that the Minister and the Department had consulted with the various stakeholders in the construction sector and he argued that the Regulations have been improved as a result.

“We particularly welcome the Minister’s support for the introduction of the RIAI’s recommendation of a system of Latent Defects Insurance. Such insurance will ensure that when things go wrong – and even with the best enforcement systems in the world mistakes happen – consumers would be able to get a remedy for their problems. We look forward to working with the Minister and his Department over the period ahead to ensure that this much-needed form of consumer protection is put in place. In the absence of proper building Defects Insurance there will be no real redress for the consumer affected by bad building practices.”

Returning to the issue of the effective inspection and monitoring of compliance with the Building Regulations John Graby said: “It is essential that the new monitoring and inspection systems provide for planned and random audits – on a risk analysis basis – of the documentation submitted to a local authority before building work actually commences, as well as inspection of buildings during construction. In this context, Local Authorities will have increased funding in 2014 as a result of the Local Property Tax and some of this should be ring-fenced to provide resources for an effective building control system. “If such systems of inspection and analysis by building control authorities are not in place, then the danger remains of shoddy building practices continuing with consequent risks to the consumer. “The RIAI welcomes the commitment in the Code of Practice to e-lodgement of construction information which will lead to a more effective building control system. This system will particularly benefit future home buyers who will be able to easily access information on the construction of their dwellings.”

John Graby also addressed the issue of the registration of building contractors.“Since the introduction of the Building Control Act in 2007, construction professionals are required to be registered and in order to be included on the register the professionals concerned have to demonstrate that they meet the required standard through an independent assessment process. This provides consumers with an important protection as they know that those on the various professional registers have demonstrated their competence. The CIF is engaged in putting in place a voluntary registration system for builders and it is vital that this process is concluded as quickly as possible in order to provide appropriate consumer protection. Such a system will require external oversight, defined entry standards, effective sanctions and a Code of Conduct.

John Graby concluded by saying that the RIAI welcomes the independent review of the operation of the Register of Architects by Garret Fennell, Solicitor, Chair of the Admissions Board relevant to Register of Architects.

“We share Minister Hogan’s concern at the limited number of registration applications from practically trained individuals since the Register of Architects was set up in November 2009. In this context, we welcome the review that will be carried out by Garret Fennell and we look forward to seeing his recommendations on how the registration of practically trained individuals can be further encouraged.”