Building control regulations

 

Sir, – I strongly reject the assertions in the article by Frank McDonald suggesting that recent amendments to the building control regulations are leading to a decline in building activity. The only source used appears to be an online blog with a clear vested interest to discredit the new regulations (“Dramatic fall in number of buildings being started”, Home News, May 19th). There has been no attempt to provide balance or at the very least check the accuracy of the assertions of the blog. The article is disingenuous with respect to the decline in the construction sector, inferring that the new regulations have further contributed to that decline.

The fact is, as noted in the Construction 2020 Strategy published last week, commencement notices have been falling year on year from about 1,450 per week at the peak of the building boom in 2006 to about 100 per week last year. Around 840 commencement notices have been validated or are at various stages of lodgement in the 10 weeks since the new regulations were introduced. That is about 80 notices per week, which does not constitute a dramatic fall in building starts.

Claims that architects, surveyors and chartered engineers are reluctant to take on the assigned certifier role are completely unsubstantiated. The fact is that over 2,000 registered construction professionals have set up user accounts on the Building Control Management System (BCMS) to date. And the BCMS, far from creating an avalanche of paperwork, has streamlined the administration involved, providing local authorities with easy access to the information they need. Indeed, I am aware that building control staff are already using the BCMS to intervene in a number of projects currently under way in relation to compliance matters that may previously have gone unnoticed.

Furthermore, the new regulations do not prevent self-build or building by direct labour. They do not require the appointment of a main contractor. Self-build projects are known to have been lodged on the BCMS, so the new regulations are clearly workable in such scenarios.

Perhaps Mr McDonald is against providing better building regulations and would prefer to continue with the same sloppy practices that led to the terrible outcomes, such as the disastrous living conditions experienced by the residents of Priory Hall? I am on the side of the home owner and better protection for the consumer. – Yours, etc,

PHIL HOGAN, TD

Minister for

the Environment,

Custom House, Dublin 1.