Builders guilty of constructing homes with defects should pay — advocacy group

Reluctance on the part of Government officials to fall out with developers persists, it is claimed

A representative of Construction Defects Alliance has called for a shift in the balance of legal rights towards the owners of defective homes away from protecting builders and developers who “sail off into the sunset with no consequences”.

Pat Montague, a representaive from the advocacy group for affected property owners, was responding to the report of the working group on defects in housing, commissioned by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and published on Thursday.

It warns remididation work will cost billions and “it will take many years to address all buildings affected”.

While an industry levy has been considered, the report states “that it is not feasible retrospectively to impose a penalty on the individual firms that were responsible for the defects”.


It says a general industry levy would target those who did not cause the issue and would face legal issues and knock-on impacts on the current construction costs.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, Mr Montague said that the findings of the report were not a surprise. The reality was that “serial offenders” who were responsible for “shoddy buildings” remained in business. There remained “deep institutional resistance” by “certain parts of public administration” (senior civil servants) to any changes in the law, he said.

“They are loath to do anything that will affect builders. They need builders to build homes. They are very reluctant to do anything that might stop the flow of new homes. Because there have been no consequences, the process (of building shoddy homes) was continuing, he said.

There needed to be “a considerable shift” in how regulations were enforced and better remedies needed to be made available to consumers when difficulties arose.

The Home Bond scheme had paid out “diddly squat” and had done nothing for people even though money had been paid into the fund, he said.

There was a resistance, he suggested, to making latent defects insurance mandatory (as was the case in other European countries).

Mr Montage said he did not understand why there was such resistance when people could not drive a car without insurance. he argued that it should be the same when it comes to building a home.

It would be better for people to pay into a scheme that actually helps, he said.

Retrospective financial assistance for the 34,000 homes where fire safety remedial work was required should be included in the forthcoming Budget, urged Mr Montage.

If such assistance was not available then the works could be stalled which would create an enormous risk for the people living in those homes. The veil of incorporation also needed to be lifted so that assets could be pursued in cases where defects were found. This could be key along with the need to “ratchet up” the enforcement of regulations.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter