Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Defective Building Materials

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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266. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will give a definitive date when the working group specifically tasked with examining the issues of fire safety and structural safety defects in apartments and duplexes built between 1991 and 2013 will deliver it’s report which was due in March 2022; if his attention has been drawn to the immense stress and anxiety that homeowners impacted by these defects continue to experience as a result of significant payments they have been requested to make to remedy defects they are in no way responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32351/22]

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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269. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will give a definitive date when the working group specifically tasked with examining the issues of fire safety and structural safety defects in apartments and duplexes built between 1991 and 2013 will deliver it’s report which was due in March 2022; if his attention has been drawn to the immense stress and anxiety that homeowners impacted by these defects continue to experience as a result of significant payments they have been requested to make to remedy defects they are in no way responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32501/22]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 266 and 269 together.

I understand the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.

The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of addressing building defects. These include a commitment to to examine defects in housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing’s report "Safe as Houses?" and to assist owners of latent defect properties, by identifying options for those impacted by defects, to access lowcost, long-term finance. Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030, reiterates these commitments.

In this regard, I established a working group to examine defects in housing. This working group has been meeting monthly since March 2021 (except for August). In addition, regular subgroup meetings take place to advance elements of the work.

The group’s terms of reference, adopted in May 2021, are focused on fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 and 2013. The full terms of reference of the Working Group are to:

1. Examine defects in housing having regard to the recommendations in Item 4 “Addressing the legacy of bad building and poor regulation” in Chapter 4 of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government report - ‘Safe as Houses? A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection’.

2. Establish the nature of significant, wide-spread fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects in purpose built apartment buildings, including duplexes, constructed between 1991 – 2013 in Ireland through consultation with affected homeowners, homeowner representative organisations, owners’ management companies, relevant managing agents, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, industry stakeholders, insurance providers, mortgage providers and other relevant parties. Including such matters as:

- Identification and description of defect,

- Nature of defect – design, product, workmanship,

- Non-compliance with building regulations or actual damage,

- Severity/risk to life or serviceability of dwelling,

- Period of construction affected,

- Type of dwelling affected,

- Location of dwellings affected.

1. Establish the scale of the issue – estimate number of dwellings affected by the defects identified including those already remediated.

2. Consider a methodology for the categorisation of defects and the prioritisation of remedial action.

- In the case of defects with fire safety implications, consider how the framework for enhancing fire safety in dwellings can be applied to mitigate the risks arising from fire safety defects pending the remediation of defects and the Code of Practice for Fire Safety Assessment of Premises and Buildings, which is currently being developed by National Directorate of Fire and Emergency Management.

1. Suggest mechanisms for resolving defects, in the context of the legal rights, duties and obligations of developers, builders, building professionals, insurers, mortgage providers, building control authorities, fire authorities, owners’ management companies, owner occupiers, renters and landlords, including:

- Technical options for the remediation of dwellings,

- Efficient means of carrying out work,

- individual dwellings or whole building approach,

- routine maintenance/refurbishment or remediation,

- Structures or delivery channels needed to facilitate resolution – advice and support.

1. Evaluate the potential cost of technical remediation options.

2. Pursue options on possible financial solutions to effect a resolution, in line with the Programme for Government commitment to identify options for those impacted by defects to access low-cost, long-term finance.

3. Report to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the Examination of Defects in Housing.

The working group is currently concluding its deliberations in support of the delivery on its extensive terms of reference and working towards finalisation of its report. Once I receive the report I will give full consideration to its contents.

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