Longboat Quay – who is responsible?
Sir, – Eoin O’Cofaigh (October 7th) claims that the system of building control by self-certification, introduced by Phil Hogan in 2014, is unique. Mr Ó Cofaigh is incorrect. In 1997 Norway introduced a similar system of building control based on self-certification. Due to a consequent decline in the quality of construction, the system was abandoned as a failure in 2010.
In its 2013 report on construction regulation reform, the World Bank asks what has been learned from Norway’s experience. Ireland appears to be unique in having learned nothing from Norway, nor anything, it would appear, from the experience of the increasing number of residents who are the innocent victims of the absence of a functioning and independent system of building control. – Yours, etc,
Broadstone, Dublin 7.
Sir, – What is needed is a properly functioning building control system, which should include detailed design approval prior to construction commencing and mandatory inspections during the course of the construction works. Ideally this should be carried out by the relevant local authority or perhaps by independent professionals engaged by the local authority. Even an active local authority inspectorate will not catch all defects, as much building work is covered up or buried from inspection and human error can never be fully eliminated, so such a vigorous approval and inspection regime should be backed up by latent defects insurance to provide a fund to cure defects when they occur. But as Eoin Ó Cofaigh (October 7th) points out, the insurance industry will stay away until it sees a properly functioning building control system. There will no doubt be a cost associated with a local authority approval and inspectorate system, especially if backed up with latent defects insurance, but with all of the existing statutory fees for commencement notices, disability access certificate applications, fire safety certificate applications, the various levies levered through planning permissions, as well as multiple insurance premiums sloshing around the system, the additional cost, if any, might not be large.
Mr Ó Cofaigh suggests that this can be done at zero cost to the public purse and while I am a bit sceptical about that zero-cost claim, if there is no public cost then there has to be a private cost, so the cost will ultimately be borne by the consumer through the cost of construction.
This will be unpopular with building purchasers and has already given government the jitters, as the cost of Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) 2014 was, I believe, the very reason given to justify the 2015 BCAR opt-out for dwellings. – Yours, etc,
Corcullen, Co Galway.
A chara, – I have always sought to refrain from the use of the word “scandalous”, as it should be reserved for situations of the very greatest outrage. Now, however, I feel that I am left with no other choice but to use that word, because there is none other in my vocabulary to describe the situation relating to Longboat Quay. It is little wonder that the lawmakers and regulators are held in such low esteem. They have once more failed the decent people of Ireland. – Is mise,