Changes to building regulations

 

Sir, – In your editorial comment (“Politics over planning”, August 17th) you correctly point out the blatant political short-term thinking that is affecting building control regulations.

One of the benefits of these new regulations was to be the professionalising of the building industry. A cornerstone of that was the setting up of the construction industry register for builders and sub-contractors. Ministers Phil Hogan and Alan Kelly in turn committed to putting this on a statutory basis by this year and in Construction 2020 it is a firm commitment by Government.

However it now appears that it will not happen. What a great boon for the black economy and irresponsible “builders”. The figures quoted by the ministers for inspections by qualified professionals bear no relationship to the facts.

Every year, an estimated 150-200 people die of lung cancer related to radon gas, mainly in houses; a properly installed radon barrier would prevent that happening. There were 37 fire fatalities in 2014, 26 of which were in houses. Nearly a quarter of a million people are supplied by private water schemes; ground water contamination by septic tanks and badly installed drainage is the EPA’s first port of call when tracking down problems; 250 older people die from falls in their homes each year and a further 7,000 require hospital treatment with an average stay of 12 days.

In that context, it is clear that consumer protection is not foremost in the minds of the ministers. – Yours, etc,

JOE KENNEDY, FRIAI,

Hon secretary,

Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland

8 Merrion Square,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – It is difficult to understand why people who struggle to buy their homes, as opposed to those who build for themselves, must pay to have their houses subjected to building control, whereas those who build for themselves may do so without any obligation to invest in competent design, construction or oversight.

While the short-term political benefit of this discrimination may accrue locally, the cost of the deficient housing which will inevitably result will be borne nationally in the long-term, and not just in the ministers’ constituencies.

– Yours, etc,

PAUL KELLY

Broadstone,

Dublin 7.