Letter to Dept – Consultation on Building Control Regulations 2014

DNiFhloinn Submission to DECLG re Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute

Trinity College

Dublin 2

15 May 2015

 

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Building Standards

Custom House

Dublin 1

Re:      Consultation – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Dear Sirs,

I refer to the consultation process in relation to the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (“the 2014 Regulations”) initiated by the Department in April 2015. I now enclose a submission for consideration in the context of that consultation process.

Rather than dealing with specific amendments to the 2014 Regulations, I have highlighted in the attached document a number of significant characteristics of the legal environment in which the 2014 Regulations operate, in order to highlight the significant prejudice to Irish home-buyers in accessing remedies for defective housing. In my opinion, the 2014 Regulations do very little to improve that situation.

I call upon the Minister to review the outcome of the most serious building failures that have come to light in Ireland in recent years from the perspective of whether the home-owners affected were able to obtain a financial remedy in order to rectify their homes.   The solution to these failures will take some time to devise and to implement, and will involve a package of law reform. I have set out the main issues and potential solutions in the attached submission.

I also call upon the Minister to consider the establishment of a National Building Control Authority in order to centralise inspection and enforcement functions of building control authorities under the 1990 Building Control Act, to administer the Building Control Management System, and to administer the register of building contractors that is to be put on a statutory footing later in 2015.

I am in my first year of a PhD at TCD on the topic of ‘Consumer remedies for defective dwellings: devising a model for effective redress’, for which I have been awarded a scholarship by the School of Law.

I was in practice for 14 years before starting the PhD, including 10 years as a specialist construction lawyer.

The starting point of my research is the lack of legal remedies available to home owners when defects emerge in housing; for example, because actions are statute-barred (as they were for many of the owners whose houses were damaged by pyrite), because the builder/developers are insolvent, or because the homeowner is not the first purchaser of the house/apartment, and thus has no remedy in contract against the builder.

The outcome of my research is likely to be an outline of the main law reform measures that I believe will be necessary to re-balance the relationship between consumers and builders in the Irish housing market, in order to provide effective, accessible remedies.

I am happy to meet with the Department in order to discuss any of these issues.

Yours sincerely,

 

Deirdre Ní Fhloinn

 

Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute

Trinity College

Dublin 2

15 May 2015

 

 

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