Why we need Building Regulations
Sir, – In your editorial(“Building regulations: Politics over planning”, August 17th) you refer to the proposed exemption of one-off houses from the requirements of the Building Regulations as a “bonus to the one-off houses . . sucking the life out of towns and villages”.
Recent experience in Ireland has demonstrated that the problems of defective housing go well beyond this. The cost to the State of repairing Priory Hall and of the pyrite remediation scheme runs to tens of millions.
One of the disappointing aspects of the recent report on the regulations was the failure to consider why professional fees for building site inspections can be so much more expensive here than in the UK, where inspection of a one-off house typically costs less than £500 (€700).
Instead, it was decided to exempt one-off houses from the regulations altogether. One-off houses are not inherently lower-risk; the report itself notes that “small houses carry big risks”, for example in relation to radon, subsidence and septic tanks.
The result will be that houses will be built without any inspections, with potentially disastrous consequences for owners, future purchasers, and the public purse. Defects are often impossible for purchasers to see when deciding to buy. This is why inspection in the course of construction is mandatory in other countries.
It beggars belief that we would now choose to exempt new houses from inspections, given the misery that poorly-built housing has brought to so many. – Yours, etc,
DEIRDRE NÍ FHLOINN
School of Law,
Trinity College Dublin,