• 28 Jun 2021

Statement from the RIAI

A large percentage of Irish families live in one-off houses, largely in rural communities. These developments are no more immune to non-compliant work than any other sector and the consumer deserves a realistic level of oversight to ensure their homes adhere to current building regulations.

In a 2015 submission to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the RIAI put forward the position that the new process being introduced under the BC(A)R statutory certification system for single houses and extensions would result in increased non-compliance with Building Regulations. The RIAI also highlighted at the time that the opt-out of the S.I. 9 route would require a greater level of risk assessment by Building Control Authorities and would result in a far greater requirement for Building Control Authority inspections.

Under the process that was introduced for single houses and extensions, BC(A)R – SI..365, building regulations still apply to all construction, and the Local Authority still has a duty to carry out random inspections, and, importantly, the Construction Products Regulations apply in full. A Commencement Notice is still required as is documentation demonstrating compliance with building regulations.

The main difference with S.I. 9 is that an Assigned Certifier (AC) is not involved, and a Certificate of Compliance at Completion (CCC) is not required. However, it should be noted an Assigned Certifier would not have picked up that there was mica in the aggregate that went into the concrete blocks, if S.I.9 had been in force for single houses and extensions during this time. 

Customer protection and redress

While effective building control systems can greatly reduce the incidence of serious building failures, they will not eliminate them entirely. In circumstance where the consumer becomes the victim of a building failure, the system of redress should provide for addressing the problems in a timely manner without having to resort to lengthy and costly litigation with uncertain outcome. This is particularly important for residential buildings given the daily stress caused to residents by serious building defects.

The RIAI has proposed to Government that they examine the introduction of mandatory Latent Defects Insurance (LDI) for new houses, which exists in many other countries. LDI is a one-off insurance premium, typically paid for by the Developer, which would allow the homeowner to fix a problem under the insurance cover, with the responsibility on the Insurer to pursue the parties who have contributed to the problem. It is time that concentrated and effective effort was put into providing LDI as standard in Ireland and for lending institutions to insist that Developers take out the cover before they sell a house or apartment.

This is prudent and appropriate risk management of consumers’ largest investment. It also provides the quickest redress with greater certainty and less cost than legal action.

The Government has drafted legislation to put the Construction Industry Register (CIRi) on a statutory footing however seven years after the introduction of this enabling legislation, it is still not mandatory that builders are on a statutory register. The RIAI would welcome a commitment from the Government to move CIRI to a statutory footing. 

Click here to read Builders of one - off houses still able to opt out of professional checks - Published, The Business Post, 27/06/2021.