The deregulation of new construction supervision in the Building Control Acts of 1990 has to be one of the most catastrophic follies the government has ever committed. Experts warned of dire consequences, but could hardly foresee the extent of the disaster described in the report by the expert working group on housing shortages.
The report estimates that up to 100,000 dwellings, or 50-80 percent of units, built in the Celtic Tiger era have serious deficiencies ranging from missing or ineffective fire safety measures to structural problems and water intrusion. Thousands have destroyed their lives and paid up to 50,000 euros per apartment to have the defects repaired.
According to the report, there was a lack of understanding of the complexities of constructing buildings in accordance with building codes, insufficient supervision and inspection, and experience among builders, contractors and subcontractors, property developers, insurers, financiers, etc. lenders. A damning indictment of the industry and the system. However, this ruling is of no use to homebuyers unless the state that initiated the problem compensates everyone affected.
So was it incompetence or a cynical exploitation of the lack of oversight to save money? Objectively there was an element of both and it is worrying that most of the problems are shortcuts to firefighting work that were hidden by walls and ceilings and not visible. It’s shocking that anyone in the industry would risk their lives to save money.
In reality, the industry is likely to fall apart into maybe 5 percent “cowboy builders” who willingly take advantage of weak oversight, another group who have built well in the past but have not been able to keep up with changing regulations, and one group who generally did everything right, but may have fallen short in some areas. The Keyis regulation and most of them will only enthusiastically comply if it is clear that the bad apples are being forensically monitored.
The hoped-for solution is the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. These require certificates of compliance to be completed by ‘assigned certifiers’ and the contractor. Local authorities are empowered to inspect works but as they have been shut down by the government this will not happen often. Credit, however, goes to Dublin City Council, which has reassembled a team of six experts to inspect high-risk projects.
So are all buildings developed since 2014 free of defects? I doubt it, but I suspect things are a lot better. Note that the industry standard requires “assigned certifiers” to be 10 parts of characteristics such as: For example, inspect a fire safety detail that can be replicated hundreds of times in a building.
Certified building surveyor Kevin Hollingsworth, managing director of Omega Surveying Services, who was a member of the expert panel, told me that building inspection resources should be significantly increased.
If I were a developer, I would pay my assigned certifier to triple the number of inspections during construction. If I were a management company for a new home, I’d take down some ceilings and partitions and check for problems before the statute of limitations on building enforcement and Homebond’s warranty for fire defects expires in just five years.
https://www.independent.ie/business/commercial-property/when-it-comes-to-building-standards-you-cant-have-too-much-of-good-thing-41952101.html When it comes to build standards, you can’t have too much of a good thing