Kelly and Coffey announce reforms to the Building Control Regulations

Mr. Paudie Coffey, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, together with Minister Alan Kelly, T.D., has announced arrangements that will ease the application of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 9 of 2014) for single dwellings and for domestic extensions.

Following a review of S.I. No. 9 of 2014 after 12 months in operation, Minister Coffey has decided to make new amendment regulations that will remove the mandatory requirement for statutory certificates of compliance in respect of a new dwelling on a single unit development or a domestic extension.   An owner, which includes self-builders, of such projects will be given the choice to opt out of statutory certification and may instead demonstrate by alternative means that they have met their general obligation to build in accordance with the minimum requirements of the building regulations.  Additional guidance, including a Sample Preliminary Inspection Plan, will be published to assist with this process.

To ensure that building standards do not slip in respect of these types of builds; a new fit-for purpose local authority inspection process will be developed.  The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government will now engage with The County and City Management Association to ensure inspection capability is developed and resourced over time with definitive targets and timelines for delivery, to ensure progressive improvement by local authorities in all sectors, i.e. single dwellings, multi-unit residential developments and commercial buildings.

In 2014 new, more stringent building regulations were implemented for all dwellings.  The purpose of these new regulations is to ensure that we never had another Priory Hall or poorly built housing estates around the country again.  The S.I.9 regulations will remain mandatory for all multi-unit developments in the country.

Minister Coffey said “I am satisfied that the new arrangements will level the playing field for individuals and families planning to build or extend their own home.  They will no longer be held to ransom by excessive quotes for design and completion certificates.  Owners who wish to invest in statutory certification may of course continue to do so and I believe many will do so where reasonable and affordable prices can be obtained.” 

“This approach restores the balance of power to consumers”, Minister Kelly said.  “Nobody who invests in their own home would spend money on substandard work but people should not have to pay at inflated rates for excessive inspection services.”

The review also focused attention on broadening the pool of persons who may certify building works for building control purposes.   In this regard the Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to providing an alternative to the technical assessment procedure for registration open to certain practice-trained architects under the Building Control Act 2007.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee Report on the Title of Architect (2013) and the Fennell Report (2013) the Department will continue to work with stakeholders to identify a special entry route having due regard to the practice-trained experience and subsequent career circumstances of such candidates for registration.

Plans are also advancing for the statutory registration of architectural technologists which it is anticipated will further broaden the pool of certifiers for building control purposes.  Local authorities will no longer be exempted from S.I.9 regulations.

Minister Coffey said  “I firmly believe that local authorities should be setting the standard when it comes to the construction of homes; and given the roll-out of the Social Housing Strategy, we must ensure that we have well-built homes for families across Ireland.”

The review of SI No. 9 of 2014 was opened to public consultation on 2 April 2014 and the closing date for submissions was 15 May 2015.  Some 171 submissions were received and have been reviewed by the Department.   Both Ministers thanked all those who had made their views known through their participation in the public consultation process and now look forward to the continued development of a robust and credible building control framework based on strong and effective oversight of construction activity by industry and by local authorities, underpinned by the administrative arrangements now in place under SI No. 9 of 2014.    The new regulations will come into effect from 1st September 2015.

A copy of the Report on the Consultation Process is available here.