Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Building Regulations Application
491. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the implementation of the new building regulations introduced in March 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44764/14]
492. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he has considered mandatory project insurance in view of the new building regulation regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44765/14]
493. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if his Department has undertaken a study of the additional costs for one-off houses generated by the new building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44766/14]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 491 to 493, inclusive, together.
Over 4,700 new construction projects have been notified to Building Control Authorities across the local government sector since the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 regulations came into operation on 1 March 2014.
Evidence to date suggests that the Construction industry is responding well to the new regulatory framework. Oversight of activity by industry and by local building control authorities has improved immeasurably and authorities have ready access to detailed data on projects via the online Building Control Management System. The online system streamlines building control administration and enables authorities to identify risks and track progress.
A Framework for Building Control Authorities was adopted by the City and County Management Association on 17 July 2014 – these common protocols add clarity, efficiency and consistency to building control activities across the local government sector.
I am satisfied that the new regulatory framework represents a reasonable and appropriate response to the many building failures that occurred in the past decade. The enhanced professionalism and accountability arising from the arrangements under the new Regulations will lead to improved quality and reduce risk within the construction sector. This will in turn lead to market conditions more conducive to insurers and a wider availability and use of latent defects insurance. However, the Government has undertaken to explore the potential for latent defects insurance on construction projects as part of the wider reform of building control arrangements and this matter is currently being progressed within my Department.
In relation to the issue of cost, I refer to the reply given to Questions Nos. 259, 268, 269 and 285 of 4 March 2014 which sets out comprehensively how the impact of the regulations, including the cost impact, was viewed by my Department in the context of the comprehensive public consultation that informed and preceded the making of the regulations. A number of cases have, however, been brought to my attention whereby consumers have been quoted exorbitant charges for professional services in relation to residential construction projects, particularly single house projects. The new regulations support improved competence and professionalism which will provide additional work opportunities for competent practitioners and construction professionals. However, the consumer should not have to pay a premium for such services and, if concerns about value for money for consumers prove to be well-founded, I will consider any reasonable and appropriate steps that may be required to address the issue.