Architects say Building Regulations need review


Seven former presidents of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) who’ve been leading objections to the proposed Building Regulations have said that their implementation should be deferred by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan pending a review involving consumer and other affected groups.

In a statement the RIAI representatives said they want the proposals to be revised “to provide a system that will improve the quality of design and construction, and protect the consumer” against the repetition of such disasters as Priory Hall and “the widespread instances of defects in speculative apartments and houses which, many believe, were due in large part to the lack of any effective building control system in Ireland in the past 30 years”.

The new regulations, which are due to take effect from March 1st next, were drafted following consultation between construction industry stakeholders and officials from the Department of Environment. “Other interest groups, such as representatives of consumer interests, building control officers, apartment owners or building management were not included in this process,” say the architects.

Latent defects
The seven former RIAI presidents – Eoin O’Cofaigh, Michael Collins, Padraig Murray, Peter Hanna, Sean O’Laoire, Arthur Hickey and Joan O’Connor – say the most significant failing of the proposed regulations is that it will be left to house or apartment owners “to pursue whoever they deem at fault through the courts” if latent defects are found in a building.

“It is incomprehensible that the State should legislate for a system which relies on a homeowner proving negligence by some wrongdoer in the courts after a defect has been discovered as the sole deterrent to defective design and construction, and as the sole means of getting it rectified,” the seven said in a joint statement on the proposed self-certification regime.

“What is needed is a system that prevents defects from occurring in the first place and provides protection to home owners without having to go to court, should the system fail. Such systems operate successfully in many other countries . . . with inspection of design and construction by independent, private sector inspectors acting under the control of the building control authorities.”