Thursday, 22 September 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I am happy to provide an update on the working group. I acknowledge the considerable challenges and stress this has placed on families. I acknowledge the difficulties that homeowners and residents of many apartments and duplexes are facing, and the stress that is caused when defects arise in their buildings. The Deputy will be aware that there have been many incidents of failures and non-compliance concerns coming to light in apartment buildings built during the building boom. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, has repeatedly said that this is a nettle which the Government needs to and will grasp, and that the Government is committed to helping affected homeowners.
One of the first tasks of the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, following the formation of the Government was the establishment of an independent working group to examine defects in housing under the chairmanship of Mr. Seamus Neely, the former chief executive of Donegal County Council. This followed a commitment in the programme for Government to examine the issue and bring forward reforms. This commitment was further supported by actions contained in Housing for All.
The group’s terms of reference were focused on fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose-built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 and 2013. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, received the report of the working group at the end of July.
The content of this report confirms what we already know, which is that there is a significant and widespread issue with defects in a large number of apartments and duplexes that were built during the Celtic tiger years.
The working group estimates that of apartments and duplexes or associated common areas constructed between 1991 and 2013, the number that may be affected by one or more fire safety, structural safety or water ingress defects is likely to range between 50% and 80%. This equates to between 62,500 and 100,000 apartments or duplexes.
In addition, the working group estimates that the average cost of undertaking the remediation of defects is likely to be approximately €25,000 per apartment or duplex. This translates into a potential overall total remediation cost ranging from approximately €1.56 billion to €2.5 billion.
The working group concluded that there is no single cause of defects. They tend to arise due to a variety of design, product, inspection, supervision and workmanship issues, occurring either in isolation or in various combinations.
The working group made recommendations on the planning, prioritisation and resourcing of all remedial works. It identified approaches to fire safety protection, inspection and certification. Where necessary to enable continued use of affected buildings, interim measures should be carried out, pending the implementation of full remedial works.
The working group’s recommendations along with the evidence gathered and options for potential supports contained in the report will be of considerable assistance in informing the Government's next steps.
Taking into account what has been learned through the development and operation of other schemes such as the pyrite remediation scheme and the defective concrete blocks scheme, the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, will now, in consultation with Government colleagues, develop a plan to address the situation in which many homeowners find themselves through no fault of their own. The Minister looks forward to keeping the House informed of developments in this regard.