Thursday, 10 April 2014
Building Control (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014: Motion
The Minister is very welcome. We accept that Ireland needs a very strong regulatory system to maintain a high quality standard of building for family homes. I am sure the Minister will clarify the matter, but it appears the proposed statutory instrument is a response to the Priory Hall debacle. I do not mean in any to take away from the hurt and pain experienced by those living in Priory Hall and I have welcomed the swift response of Government. However, I wonder if the Minister is aware of the potential devastation the regulations will cause in rural Ireland.
That Seanad Éireann resolves that Statutory Instrument No. 105 of 2014 Building Control (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 be annulled.
It may sound like hyperbole, but I sat with a man in the last couple of weeks who has spent his entire life in the building industry. He has worked as a draftsman and been involved in the planning, design and execution of many one-off houses and small developments in towns and villages in County Leitrim. His family and income will be wiped out as a result of the regulations. He instanced to me a recent example where a young man in a rural part of the county decided he wanted to build an extension to the family home following his recent marriage. He and his father were to carry out the building work. He has been told he cannot do that. Under the regulations, he will have to employ an architect and a person who is legally obliged to sign off on the building. He will also have to employ registered labour. The estimated extra cost of the exercise is between €40,000 and €50,000. That is what I mean when I refer to the potential devastation of rural Ireland.
The example I have set out is typical of what will happen as a side-effect of the regulations, which seem to have been introduced to address a primarily urban issue. The potential difficulties they will cause in rural Ireland have been neglected and ignored completely. It comes on top of every other decision the Government has taken on rural Ireland, although I will not go into the litany now. When the people go to vote in next month's elections, I wonder if they will continue to be sleep-walked into believing the Government is considering their best interests. The decisions that have been taken by the Government on rural Ireland have not been in the best interest of the people who live there. If the Minister disagrees with me, I would like him to explain how the regulations will not place an unnecessary financial burden on many people who will be involved in one-off houses or extensions such as the one I referred to. A further example is where someone has a residence which has not been properly processed and now seeks retention permission from the local authority. While the local authority might - and it is a big might - grant the permission, the house cannot be sold by the family in future as it will not be insured. As the local authority will be aware of the potential risk in this regard, it is likely it will reject the retention application. The only option left for the family or individual is demolition.
I understand that local authorities are not geared up to take the new regulations into account and are reluctant to get involved in this area. They do not have the necessary resources or will to take on much of what the Minister plans to implement in the proposed statutory instrument. To recap, I note - allowing for the usual exemptions - that anyone who wishes to build anything will be required by law to employ an assigned professional engineer, architect or surveyor to inspect the property. Does the Minister know how many people there are in Leitrim who could sign off on this? There are two, one of whom I know is reluctant to be involved in this area at all. That person has other business and does not want to get involved in this. The regulations will place a hefty and disproportionate financial burden on one-off housing in the countryside. I understand that the inevitable increase in building costs has been recognised by the Department but no action has been taken.
There has been no public information campaign, leading to speculation about the consequences of changes which may harm the construction sector. The level of resources being provided to local authorities to handle the deluge of information and paperwork that will result from the new system is questionable. Perhaps the Minister has a view on foot of his relationship with local authorities.
Perhaps the Minister has a view on his relationship with the local authorities. Even someone who understands every technology installed in the building would have to be on-site full time monitoring every building activity to make the claim on the certificate and this will increase costs.
They may have a broader impact on insurance. The warranty is potentially uninsurable as it relies on warranting the work of a third party without any concession to the principle of reasonable inspection. There needs to be a broader suite of measures to enhance the protection of building standards to make sure all construction is up to scratch and to avoid the worst excesses of the boom time building. We propose that there should be a national building inspectorate examining at least 40% of the buildings under construction, a system of licensing or registration of builders and information on builders should be shared among the relevant local authorities with full prosecutions of any designers or contractors who are negligent in their duties. We have other proposals and Senator Ó'Domhnaill will expand on them.
I second the motion. I welcome the Minister. While we fundamentally support the need for a stricter building regime to make sure what occurred in Priory Hall never happens again, such a regime cannot be put in place if it means people will be unable to afford building a house on their own land. The broad brush approach used by this statutory instrument endeavours to treat large scale developments in the same way as one-off rural houses and that is wrong. Senator Mooney highlighted the position in County Leitrim but it is the same in every rural county where people want to live in their baile fearainn or townland. It is estimated that the new regulation, which the Minister signed into force on 1 March, will increase the self-build costs for individuals who want to build one-off houses by approximately 25%. Senator Mooney mentioned a sum of between €40,000 and €50,000. It is amusing that while the regulation applies to one-off houses, multi-unit developments and agriculture sheds, hospitals and schools may be exempt. Will the Minister address this? The words "may be" are used in the statutory instrument. Why is that the case?
A promise was made to carry out a regulatory impact analysis on this measure. Was that done? If not, why not?
Anyone wishing to carry out any building work from now on, with a number of exceptions, must by law employ an assigned professional - an engineer, architect or surveyor - to inspect the property on-site. An owner who intends to self-build and who contracts elements of the work to various parties must assume legal responsibility for ensuring the building or works concerned will comply with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the building regulations. The new regime will require an owner to assign a competent registered professional to certify the design prior to commencement and to inspect the works during construction.
The other issue is a person cannot build his or her own house because the person taking responsibility to sign off on the development must be a builder. For example, I supervised the building of my own house, as many people from rural farming backgrounds have done down through the generations, but I would be precluded from doing that now because the house would have to be signed off by a builder and an architect. That will result in difficulties and increased costs.
There are major anomalies in this regulation. We have several alternative proposals, which include a national register, a broader suite of measures, a national building inspectorate and a national register of inspections abd prosecutions. It must be ensured there is a score against the performance of anyone registered is a builder. If the regulation remains in place, ordinary people in rural Ireland will be faced with two scenarios: having to pay an additional cost to build their own house to employ the services of professionals or to take the easy option and live in a town or city. That will drive another nail into rural Ireland.
I welcome the Minister. The previous speakers have confused SI 105 with another statutory instrument. SI 105 deals specifically with compliance and applies to a limited range of publicly owned buildings. Self-build and private builds are not covered by it. I am a member of the environmental committee, which dealt with building control regulations. I have become well acquainted with the subject over the past 18 months and it has been a learning curve. The Fennelly report makes good recommendations and the changes that are being implemented are intended to strengthen building controls and, most important, to protect consumers. The emphasis placed by the Minister on consumer protection throughout Bills, statutory instruments and regulations is paramount and he should be commended for that.
Fianna Fáil Members say they want regulations, certification and so on but it is a bit like "Make me holy but not yet". There is a great deal of scaremongering as well similar to during the debate on septic tanks about how many thousands of euro they would cost, which was not the case.
The new building control regulations had to be implemented because of the legacy of a poorly regulated and non-existent inspection regime during the housing boom. We are well aware of the unacceptable cases that have been highlighted in recent years. Consumers were crying out for more stringent regulations and certification systems. Unfortunately, there were not in place and many residents were left in, at best, shoddy living conditions and, at worst, dangerous conditions. This should not be accepted in a developed country and the Minister has acted to introduced amendments to the legislation. This statutory instrument applies to a limited range of public and privately owned buildings.
I was a member of a local authority for 20 years. I want to ensure the Minister will look into the issue of inspections. Such inspections place an additional onus on local authorities. The Minister has stated in the past that the Department will continue to work with all concerned to ensure local authorities understand their obligations and take the steps necessary to meet them.
I would like the Minister to comment on that. It is important that the local authorities be facilitated and that they be able, ready and willing to carry out the stipulated duties. The alternative need of compliance applies to a limited number of buildings.
On the self-build projects that the Minister mentioned, there has been a lot of speculation in the media. I have received queries on the perceived increased cost and the new regulations. On having done some research, I understand there is no change at all in the technical performance standards that a newly finished home must meet. The statutory obligations that currently exist in a self-build scenario are not new. They already apply under the Building Control Act 1990. I ask the Minister to confirm that the result of my research is true.
As before, buildings must be built in accordance with the building regulations. The change that will occur is in the certification costs outlined. I do not know where the additional building cost arises but I am not a builder. It has been stated there is an additional cost but I do not believe there is one. Certification, if carried out properly, competently-----
There is nothing in the new regulations that prevents direct labour. Owners are required to satisfy themselves that the persons they engage are competent. If I were getting a house built, I would want to ensure the builder is competent and that this will continue to be the case. There are very good self-builders and they will continue to be able to build.
The Minister's Department has engaged with the Irish Association of Self Builders to ensure the self-build sector can and will continue to play its part.
Very many practically trained architects are concerned about a certain point. The Fennell report has addressed this. I hope we will see changes in respect of access and registration so as to address the very laborious system that obtains. I look forward to these changes.
I look forward to the remarks of the Minister. I compliment him again on putting the consumer first.
I did mention the architects who are disenfranchised. The Fennell report makes recommendations and the Minister has stated the full report will be taken on board to ensure ease of access and facilitation. A review in one year would be beneficial to ensure the system actually works.
I welcome the Minister. I am sorry to be opposing to him again. I have a rather soft spot for this Minister and have always found him decent and approachable but, on a matter of principle, I must oppose the regulations. I support my colleagues very strongly.
I am not interested in what the Senator has to say; I listened to him before.
What occurred in 1990 was a panic reaction to the Stardust disaster. Panic reactions are never much use. The measure under discussion will not protect the consumer. Why has the Government found it necessary to exempt some of its own developments?
I, too, have received a lot of correspondence, including from two people who were presidents of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, RIAI. One is president of the Architects' Council of Europe, an RIAI council member since last January and an honorary member of the American, Russian and German architectural institutes, and was a member of the Government's building regulations advisory body from 2000 to 2007. The members of the architects association voted 500 to eight that this was a dangerous proposal. We seek its annulment.
It is not just a question of rural matters. However, they are significant. Requiring a competent builder to be appointed closes down the centuries-old tradition that flourishes in rural areas and still flourishes in well-regulated countries such as the United Kingdom and Sweden. It does nothing for the new house buyer except set up an artificial paper trail. Self-certification does not work, will not work, has never worked and should be withdrawn.
Two sectors, in particular, are affected by the proposal. One is the contract building sector and the other, which will actually be protected by the proposal, is the very speculative sector that brought this country to its knees. The new building regulation, SI 9, creates a new bureaucratic and untried system for the industry. It is 27 pages long and there is no requirement that the Building Control Authority should inspect either the information to be lodged or the work on-site. How practical is that? The certificate of compliance must be validated and registered by the Building Control Authority before the building is opened, used or occupied.
The nub of the matter, which I would like the Minister to take very clearly on board, is that there is no provision for a retention fund, as there was in the past. How is this protecting the consumer? There is no provision for a defects list and remedial works 12 months after completion. I refer to the checklist we all know about. Anybody who has bought a house will have got a checklist from the builder. The sensible, successful system developed over almost 200 years and which has served the country well has been abandoned with regard to the vast majority of buildings for a system that is close to the discredited one used by speculative builders. That is the problem.
There is another really dangerous element. The certificate does not contemplate the existence of fraud, dishonesty, fraudulent concealment, defects or omissions that a reasonable inspection would not have disclosed. In addition, the architect used to be able to rely on the advice of consultants. The SI certificates hold the certifier to be solely responsible. We are actually to criminalise architects. This may happen because of a bureaucratic delay within the system. The Minister is shaking his head but this is what I am advised.
If the Minister can address my problems, that is good. This is what debating in the Seanad is all about.
Legal opinion holds that the SI 9 ancillary certificates furnished by consultants and contractors cannot be relied on. There is no protection for the architects, therefore. The certificates do not have let-out clauses for fraud, dishonesty or concealment. In other words, an honest professional architect could be trapped by dishonesty and become a criminal as a result. The SI 9 certificates must be issued without provision for a defects liability period, a retention fund or continuing architectural authority to deal with post-completion problems.
Anybody who has bought a house, particularly a new one, will know that a certain amount is held back from the builder, thus protecting the consumer. The defects list must be completed and certified within a year. That system is gone, which is mad. Senator Cáit Keane, an old friend of mine and a very valued contributor to this House, made the point, probably on Government instruction, that this protects the consumer. I have pointed out that it does not and actually brings us back towards the very speculative behaviour that created the difficulty we are in.
I am very glad Fianna Fáil has learned from the mistakes and disasters in which this House was complicit. A few people, particularly my former Seanad colleague, Joe O'Toole, were continually sending warning signals about this. I supported the former Senator. I am very worried about the impact of the introduction of the regulation.
I will finish on a point I believe is significant. If the Government introduces regulations and then exempts some of its own operations from them, there is something pretty fishy about it.
On a point of clarification, having listened to the debate I noted the proposer and seconder are speaking to a statutory instrument that is completely different from the one we should be dealing with, namely, SI 105 of the Building Control (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations. The statutory instrument about which they have spoken in proposing and seconding the motion is SI 9 of 2014, which is not on the Order Paper. I remind the Opposition that it is speaking about something that the motion is not about at all.
I thank the Leader for his helpful intervention. I certainly understood we were talking about SI 9. If not, let us do that.
In particular, I wish to ask him whether he will give specific consideration to providing a direct route under which not just chartered architectural technologists but architectural technologists might undergo assessment to undertake the roles outlined under SI 9. I know it is not what we are talking about. I raised this matter on the Adjournment a while back when the Minister could not be present so when in Rome, one might as well take advantage of it.
Exactly. I know that in order to protect the consumer, all those who take an active part in the construction process should be assessed on their own merits and within their own competence and then regulated as necessary. The building control regulations zone in on the very essence of architectural technology, namely, building regulations but I do not think they see a role for those who are trained and experienced in that area. I know it is felt that the skill set of the architectural technologist, while relevant to the construction industry and more importantly, in terms of the building regulations, is outside the terms of the current Act. As a result, the situation of architectural technologists, while alluded to in the Act, is not adequately catered for. In order to play a lead in this new regime, professional architectural technologists who have many decades of experience in that area must now deny their primary qualifications in architectural technology, claim to be either architects or building surveyors and seek entry into those statutory registers. I think the Minister said that those who have been operating within the scope of the Act should now declare themselves architects or building surveyors and submit to registration in those fields. It is felt that this is deeply flawed and will lead to many unsuccessful applications and many problems for the Department. To present it as a solution to those faced with retraining or an exit from their profession is far worse.
Based on my understanding, professional architectural technologists carry out some, but not always all, of the duties of architects or building surveyors. They do so on the basis of multiple shared competences. Such individuals possess varying degrees of academic training but with a very different focus than either of the regulated professions. While many architectural technologists will have completed a wide variety of construction projects on the basis of their qualifications or as part of the team, it is often without the necessity of using any of the protected titles so there would be a reluctance on their part to make a declaration regarding the breadth of their duties in comparison with those of an architect or a building surveyor on foot of the scope of the services they have provided.
I am raising this issue because time is a major factor given that in May 2014, two years after the public consultation on the matter will have ended, another raft of architectural technology graduates will enter the employment market with no defined role or context under the legislation. Again, we will see another intake into the same cycle in September. Could the Minister tell me whether we will give consideration to providing a direct route for these architectural technologists?
As the Leader indicated, we are discussing SI 105 of 2014 which provides for alternative but equivalent means of complying with the requirement under the building control regulations 1997 to 2014 to assign a person to inspect and certify the works in line with a plan lodged at commencement and implemented during construction. This requirement is one of a number of reforms to the regulatory process for the oversight of building control activity originally signed into law in March 2013 which came into operation with some modification on 1 March 2014.
I am not surprised that my colleagues in Fianna Fáil are against these provisions because after 14 years, they did nothing about it. There have been very serious and important developments over the past number of years which go to the heart of why this Government is trying to put the consumer first. I am taking a bit of latitude to address some of the issues that were raised in respect of other statutory instruments. These regulations have been the subject of consultation for the past two years. People in the business knew that these were coming down the track on 1 March 2014. The alternative means of compliance, SI 105, applies to a limited range of public and privately owned buildings classified that as first, second or third-level places of education; hospitals; or primary care centres. I will explain what an alternative means of compliance is. It only applies to projects subject to each of the following circumstances: planning permission, where applicable, has been obtained before 1 March 2014; contract documents have been signed before 1 November 2014; and a valid commencement notice has been lodged with the building control authority no later than 1 March 2015.
The background to the making of the regulation we are discussing arose in the lead up to the implementation on 1 March 2014 of the new building control requirements. The Minister for Education and Science wrote to me asking that SI 9 of 2014 be deferred by at least 12 months to avoid delays to the school building programme. It would be very remiss of me if I slowed down the public capital programme in any way because I did not take a pragmatic view and draw up an alternative means of compliance. My Department immediately raised the matter with relevant Departments and agencies represented on the Government contracts committee for construction, GCCC. Several Departments and agencies, including the Department of Education and Skills, the National Development Finance Agency and the HSE, were concerned the new requirements might delay the public capital programme. Large-scale public projects, in particular, are prone to costly delays and strict national and EU procurement rules do not allow the same room for manoeuvre as with comparable private sector projects. Other agencies, notably the OPW, reported that the necessary arrangements were in place to administer contracts in line with the new requirements. On this basis, I made SI 105 of 2014 to allow for an alternative means of compliance for a limited range of public or privately owned buildings along the lines I have just already outlined. The regulations are administered by an oversight group that is already in place and composed of registered construction professionals from the public sector and private industry.
The sole accommodation given is an alternative means of compliance with the inspection and certification requirements fulfilled by the assigned certifier. The other new regulatory requirements - certified design, lodgement of compliance documentation, validation and registration of relevant notices and certificates - continue to apply to all projects availing of the provisions of this particular statutory instrument. SI 105 of 2014 does not therefore amount to a deferral or a derogation. Public sector projects always involve inspection and certification requirements and compliance with building regulations is not negotiable. The House might be interested to know that 250 commencement notices have been lodged under the new regulatory requirements since 1 March 2014, which suggests that the new arrangements for building control are already working fairly well in practice. I will come back to some of these as they have been raised. Clearly, the concerns raised in respect of implementation did not warrant a deferral even though I can assure the House that I came under a lot of pressure to defer them. When I make these decisions, I usually implement them unlike others who want to defer everything.
While relatively few projects will avail of the alternative means of compliance provided for in SI 105 of 2014, it nevertheless provides a useful safeguard against contracting authorities being held to ransom by consultants or contractors who may seek to delay a major project citing the new arrangements for building control for their own personal gain. I did not want to see a blockage in the system that would allow that to happen. To annul SI 105 of 2014, therefore, makes no sense.
I will return to matters that have been raised in the wider debate. In respect of self-certification, people involved in self building have been consulted all along. The organisation that allegedly represents them certainly did not make any particularly strong submission to suggest that these regulations should not be introduced in the interests of the consumer. I would have thought that whoever is building a house, which is the largest investment in a person's life, will want the highest level of professionalism in order to sign off on these matters. Direct labour will continue the way it always have. A person does not need a registered contractor. Contrary to what Senators might have been told, it just applies to new builds and does not apply to extensions under 400 square feet or refurbishment. I know what Senator Mooney is probably getting at. There is a limited number of people in some counties who have been worried for a considerable period of time that they would be taken out of this business because of the new regulations we are bringing in on a national level. I have brought in new regulations to deal with that whereby the route to become a member of a professional body is being eased considerably. They have had a difficult experience in the past when applying to the Royal Institute of Architects but they can also apply to the professional bodies such as Engineers Ireland or the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.
If people become registered members of those bodies, they can undertake the necessary certification or be classified as assigned certifiers. I encourage draftsmen, some of whom I know well in my constituency, to apply to the registered bodies. The technical assessment route was quite expensive and could have cost up to €15,000 just to apply to the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, RIAI. I have taken that issue on board and discussed it and others at length with the registered bodies. I have asked the chairman of the admissions appeals board, Mr. Garrett Fennell, to do a report. This is signalled and on the website. Many recommendations could be made to make it easier for people to register with the professional bodies and allow them to continue their work. They have built up a great deal of case work over the years. That work can be taken into account when registering.
I am conscious of the fact that professional bodies have not been good at accepting applications in a way that helped people into the system. Some of them have set up exclusion zones. I will continually monitor that situation to ensure that the recommendations of the Fennell report are implemented so as to reduce the cost considerably and to take account of people's case work in the technical assessment route to registration.
I am also monitoring what implementing these regulations will cost self-builds and direct labour. Many professional bodies have made outlandish quotations in my constituency and around the country. I will not allow any professional body to view this as an easy way of engaging in financial extortion of people in rural Ireland who wish to build their own houses through direct labour by seeking extraordinary amounts of money to certify compliance with SI 9 of 2014. I assure the House that, for the first time since the Act was passed in 1990, everything possible is being done to ease the burden on people who wish to comply with the regulations or become members of the registered bodies, having built up experience in the construction business, particularly during the boom times.
For the first time, there is a chain of responsibility in the consumer's interests. From the beginning to the end, a consumer will know that he or she will get a much better deal in terms of mandatory certification of the work done. Anyone who gets a mortgage from a financial institution requires sign-off from an architect, engineer or chartered surveyor, be one's property a self-build or an urban development. A number of examples involving costs and insufficient numbers to make the market for quotations in particular areas competitive, particularly as regards self-builds, have come to my attention. I will monitor them carefully.
Senator Reilly mentioned a number of valid issues, for example, architectural technologists. The Building Control Act 2007 provides for the registration of persons entitled to use the professional title of "architect and building surveyor". The title of "chartered engineer" is protected by separate legislation, but the registration of title is necessary in order to protect consumers from unqualified persons passing themselves off as construction professionals. The best interests of the consumer should be our starting point. Unqualified persons passing themselves off as construction professionals is now less likely to occur, as the statutory certificates required for building control purposes must be given by registered professionals following the regulations that have come into effect.
The profession of architectural technologist is unregulated in Ireland. Any such person who possesses the requisite competence in design and construction may seek inclusion on the statutory register. It has been brought to my attention that a number of chartered architectural technologists have succeeded in becoming registered architects or building surveyors in recent times. It is a question of having the confidence in the new arrangements to re-apply. If someone does not succeed, he or she can appeal that decision. I have put in place all of the appeals bodies that were lying dormant when I became Minister so as to ensure that people who believe they have the professional competence can become registered under the relevant bodies.
I am surprised that Senator Norris would take the side of a vested interest - the RIAI - and believe everything it told him. The majority of architects are not against these proposals. In fact, the majority are in favour of them. Some media speculation may have misconstrued the situation. The former president of the RIAI, Ms Michelle Fagan, is on the oversight group that is monitoring these regulations and has come out in their support. I am surprised that people are taking a certain view about the concerns expressed by the RIAI, Engineers Ireland, the Society of Chartered Surveyors and so on. These concerns have been part and parcel of the discussions for two years and bodies have had plenty of opportunity to make a case and comment on the regulations. Indeed, they have been changed a number of times. If people want to support a closed shop mentality, that is their business, but I am coming from the point of view of the consumer. As Senator Power mentioned, we do not want to revert to the days of Priory Hall. There are many Priory Halls around the country where a coach and four were driven through our modest regulations and professionals - architects in particular - signed off on buildings as matters of opinion rather than as part of a mandatory certification and chain of responsibility process.
Yes. I am delighted to have been in a position to change the regulations in the interests of the consumer and to rid ourselves once and for all of the shoddy development that passed for good development in the past ten or 15 years. I make no apologies to the professional bodies for doing so.
The Building Control Act has not changed, but the regulations have. They are much stronger and more robust. Senator Mooney raised a nonsense about €40,000. It was the same with the septic tanks, which were supposed to cost €20,000. People have not even applied for grants yet, as they can comply with the septic tank regulations on the basis of desludging. This point came out in the recent EPA report. The scaremongering does not reflect the real world. It might be fine for political purposes, but €40,000 is nowhere near the real world figure I am expecting. Taking account of the new regulations, people should be able to do this for a modest average of approximately €3,000 in rural Ireland. I aspire to ensure this is the case, particularly where, as the Senator rightly pointed out, only a few people in some areas are registered with a statutory body.
I will not apologise to anyone for amending these regulations over a two-year period. People have had sufficient time. We have taken a practical approach to ensuring that the customer comes first, and it is about time.
No more than the Minister, I will not take up all of my time. He went to the core of the issues that I raised, which were primarily based on an individual in my county whom I know and who outlined to me the impact of these regulations countywide. I stand over the figure that the individual provided of just two people in the county being eligible to sign off on work.
I am particularly heartened by the Minister's attitude towards the professional bodies and by his assurance that he will monitor them so that they do not take advantage of the regulations. The figure of €40,000 to €50,000 was given to me by the individual concerned based on his assessment. I did not pluck it out of the air and I used it in good faith. It was the cost to a father and son who were building a house extension in a rural area of County Leitrim. I was given to understand that they would have to register as builders, but I hope I heard the Minister correctly when he stated that this would not be the case. That is reassuring.
My party and I fully support the overall thrust of what the Minister has said about shoddy development and the need to tighten up the regulations. I graciously acknowledge that is part of what he has been doing in this regard. I hope it will ensure that many of the bad examples of that nature that Senator Landy and others outlined will never happen again. What is the usual reaction when we see images from other parts of the world of buildings that have collapsed as a result of natural disasters in the Far East, for example? It is usually because of shoddy development, poor building regulations, etc. We never want that visited on this country and I applaud the Minister for having done that.
The core of what I am saying is that there are upwards of 500 professionals in this country who will be affected by this. This applies to my county. That is the figure I have been given and it seems to have been widely disseminated in this debate. I am heartened by what the Minister said. I got some indication that he was thinking along those lines to ensure there would be an ease of passage for those people and for the individual I am talking about who genuinely believes that his livelihood will be impaired. I do not want to single out anybody in particular, but Senator Keane knows who I am talking about because she met the individual concerned. I hope she gave him some comfort and reassurance in this regard because he will be out of work. She will know this because he put those arguments to her in very good faith.
I am hoping that people like him will have ease of passage to ensure they can continue to earn their livelihood. I hope the Minister will continue to monitor that. From our side of the House, we will be looking at it to ensure that is the case and that the professional bodies do not ride roughshod over such good people who have been providing a very valuable service for decades without any complaint. The Minister said he knows of similar people in his county. I hope he will be strongly influenced by that to ensure those people can continue to earn a livelihood.