Planning and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey
One-off homes and house extensions will be exempt from regulations introduced just last year to prevent shoddy building work, it has been confirmed.
The Government will today announce that from September these properties will not be subject to a formal sign-off from a building professional to ensure they are built in line with the building code.
However, they will be subject to inspection from local authorities, according to Planning and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey.
The regulations, introduced in May 2014, will also be extended to local authority housing developments and will be required for all multi-unit developments comprising two or more units.
The move to exempt one-off homes comes amid concerns that the cost of inspecting a property was too expensive, with suggestions that complying with the regulations costs up to €16,000, and was adding considerably to building costs.
Last year, some 5,171 homes – almost half the total constructed in Ireland – were one-off.
“I am satisfied that the new arrangements will level the playing field for individuals and families planning to build or extend their own home,” Mr Coffey said. “They will no longer be held to ransom by excessive quotes for design and completion certificates. Owners who wish to invest in statutory certification may of course continue to do so and I believe many will do so where reasonable and affordable prices can be obtained.”
Under existing regulations, each home under construction is obliged to be inspected by an “assigned certifier” – which includes an architect, engineer or quantity surveyor – to ensure that building regulations are complied with. If a problem arose, the certifier was held legally responsible. However, the regulations will be changed from September, exempting one-off homes and extensions.
At the same time, however, a rigorous inspection regime will be rolled out in the local authorities to prevent a re-occurrence of the Priory Hall development, which had to be abandoned on fire safety grounds.
Property owners may be asked to demonstrate that what they have built is in line with the regulations, and these homes will be subject to inspection. At least 15pc of all new builds, including one-off units, housing developments and commercial buildings, will be inspected – including those funded by local authorities, which are currently exempt.
Education courses will also be developed to allow people become assigned certifiers.
The move comes despite industry sources cautioning against removing the requirement, given that so many one-off homes eventually come back on to the market. The lack of certification means that the purchasers of these properties might not be afforded the same protection as someone buying a home in a development.
Meanwhile, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) will today announce that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will provide up to €500m to finance property development. Up to 90pc of the development costs can be borrowed and repaid on commercial terms.
The fund has indicated it will invest up to €1bn into commercial developments, social housing, private housing and student accommodation.
It will also work with Nama to identify projects.
By: Paul Melia – www.independent.ie