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RIAI broadly welcomes report of Oireachtas Housing Committee on protection of consumers

Published: Friday, January 26, 2018

January 26th, 2018: The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) are pleased to see that many of its recommendations to strengthen the protection of consumers and homeowners are being included in the Safe As Houses? report issued today by the Oireachtas Joint Housing Committee.

The RIAI welcomes the Committee’s support for mandatory Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) for housing and apartment developments to provide effective redress for the buyer. LDI is taken out in respect of specific new-build premises or building works to provide cover in the event of an inherent defect in the design, workmanship or materials becoming apparent after practical completion and is a form or redress available widely in developed countries.  It is important that the LDI cover is appropriate to the needs of home owners and the RIAI will work with Government to define what should be covered within a LDI policy.

The RIAI also welcomes other recommendations included in the report, including:

  • The mandatory registration of builders, subcontractors and suppliers. However, the RIAI would be concerned about any delay by Government in the enactment of the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) Bill. CIRI is urgently required on a statutory basis; the construction industry is operating at capacity bringing new entrants to the market who, along with existing practitioners, must be assessed to have the required knowledge skill and competence to deliver on construction projects.
  • Mandatory independent third-party Building Control Authority inspection for housing and apartments to eliminate the developers employing or acting as their own certifier. The RIAI have long argued against the developer acting as its own assigned certifier particularly in the construction of housing and apartments.
  • The expansion of the role of the Building Control Management System to oversee all aspects of Building Control.

Joe Kennedy, RIAI Spokesperson, said, “Having stringent construction standards are a matter of life and death. For example, there are approximately 250 radon gas related deaths in this country every year; deaths which could be prevented if the necessary safety standards were in place across all construction projects. We need a well-regulated construction sector that protects consumers and homeowners. With the increase in house-building, we need to ensure that home-owners are protected by strong independent oversight of contractors and a pathway to resolution if disputes arise.”

While the RIAI welcomed many of the report’s proposal, there are a number of additional measures that the RIAI would have wished to see in the report and believe are necessary for a well-regulated built environment. These include:

  • The establishment of clear risk assessment procedures to ensure Building Control compliance for all developments. This involves ensuring that more stringent inspection regimes are put in place for buildings which are in higher risk categories such as housing and apartments as well as assessing developer and builder’s previous compliance with Building Regulations. 
  • Adequate financing for Local Authorities and relevant state agencies to ensure that defective materials do not enter the market e.g. pyrites, blockwork etc.
  • The amendment of Compliance Certificates, on which the public rely, to accurately reflect the reality and responsibility of the various parties.

Joe Kennedy added, “Ireland has a good culture of compliance with new health and safety legislation when the compelling need for new standards is communicated to all stakeholders. This has worked very well in the areas of Health & Safety and Road Safety. A new Government information campaign should be implemented in order to build public awareness and to improve compliance in relation to a workable Building Control system for this country.”

Editor’s Note: Joe Kennedy is available for interview and further comment


For media queries, please contact:
Fiona O’Connor, Drury | Porter Novelli, fiona.oconnor@drurypn.ie, 087 694 9601 or
Anna Kavanagh, RIAI, anna.kavanagh@drurypn.ie

About the RIAI
Founded in 1839, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland supports and regulates the architectural profession and promotes the value that architecture brings to society for everyone’s benefit. www.riai.ie

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