The RIAI has submitted a detailed proposal to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Review of S.I.9 on Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014. This follows a period of consultation both with architecture profession and other stakeholders.
Commenting on the Review, Robin Mandal, President, RIAI said ‘While many aspects of the new Building Control regulations introduced in March 2014 are having a positive impact, the RIAI has strong concerns that consumers are still not adequately and appropriately protected by S.I.9. We are also very concerned that the correct balance of responsibility and liability has not been achieved within the Building Control Regulations. We ask Minister Kelly and his department to review the current Building Control Regulations and focus on solutions to these important issues.’
The RIAI has included eight proposals in their submission to the Department, which focus primarily on the organisation’s overriding concerns around home buyer protection and better quality buildings for consumers, five of which are detailed below.
The RIAI is calling for the following:
(1) It should be a legal requirement for Defects Insurance, known as LDI (Latent Defects Insurance), to be put in place by each Developer so that consumers are completely protected should a defect arise in the building they have purchased.
Effective Building Control systems can greatly reduce the incidence of serious building failures but will not eliminate them entirely. In circumstance where the consumer becomes the victim of a building failure, the system of redress should provide for addressing the problems in a timely manner without having to resort to lengthy, costly and uncertain legal action. This is particularly important for residential buildings given the daily stress caused to residents by serious building defects. Defects Insurance (LDI) allows the consumer to resort to an insurance policy that has been paid for by the Developer and is a form of redress available widely in developed countries.
(2) That inspections and certification should be carried out by a competent, objective, professional that is completely independent from the building developer.
Currently, speculative developers are able to effectively self-inspect and self-certify by directly employing their own Design and/or Assigned Certifier. That is not in the interests of the consumer or the State, if we are to avoid further building failures. In addition, building control authorities need to be fully resourced to enable them to contribute an effective layer of oversight of construction in these and other high risk projects
(3) No relaxation or removal of Building regulations Compliance for Single houses or Extensions
The RIAI is very concerned at the suggested undermining of consumer protection and building standards for single houses or extensions. The RIAI has detailed in its submission the many problems encountered in the single house and house extension market, such as lack of radon barriers, non-compliant septic tanks and inadequate fire precautions. The Minister must not remove regulations intended to protect consumer and public interests.
(4) The current VAT rate of 23% for Design or Assigned Certifier fees should be reduced to 13.5% to reduce additional building costs from the consumer and allow them to invest in higher quality homes.
Statutory requirements such as S.I.9 2014 are necessitating the need for additional professional services for consumer. These services currently incur a 23% VAT rate, which applies to items such as Drinks & Cigarettes, Hiring/Leasing and certain services such as architecture. This is adding a substantial additional cost to those looking to build a new home or extend their current home.
The 13.5% VAT rate should be applied in its place. The 13.5% rate is currently used for new houses and the construction sector; electricity, gas, home heating oil and fuel for domestic use; general locally-supplied, labour-intensive services and certain agriculture and horticulture services, and it makes sense to apply this to Certifier services to allow consumers to invest in high quality homes.
(5) That a Public Awareness Campaign be delivered by Government. A public survey by the RIAI has shown that 71% of the public had not heard of the new Regulations.
The RIAI believes that it is critical to inform the public about the important changes that have been made in the Building Regulations aimed at protecting consumers. The RIAI believes the campaign will help to foster a culture of compliance with the new building regulations.