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Legislation aimed at keeping ‘cowboy’ builders out of industry published

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Legislation aimed at keeping ‘cowboy’ builders out of industry published

January 13
12:47 2022
Legislation will put the Construction Industry Register Ireland on a statutory footing but it will continue to be operated by the Construction Industry Federation. Photograph: iStock

Legislation aimed at keeping so-called “cowboy” builders out of the industry has been published by the Government.

The Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021 requires builders to sign up to a statutory register. However, registration will not be compulsory for another two years.

A voluntary register was established by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) in 2014. Legislation will put the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing but it will continue to be operated by the CIF.

The system will give those who engage a registered builder assurance they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said.

“Everyone should be confident in the knowledge that their homes are built to the highest standards and that any professional services they use are also of a certain standard,” he said. “This legislation will ensure that the construction sector operates to the highest standard and that people have confidence in its workforce and practices.”

The Government was taking “firm action” to guard against a recurrence of housing defects that were “legacies of poor construction design, workmanship and materials,” he said.

“By driving regulation in the construction sector, the State will ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and we have a more sustainable housing system and construction sector in the future.”

CIF director general Tom Parlon said while the legislation still has to progress through the Oireachtas, the register already operated “very strict” criteria.

“There is a very tight independent admission and registration board. The competence and experience criteria is set out, if they fail on any of these things they don’t get through. They have to show they are fully compliant with all regulatory and statutory provisions and sign up to continuous professional development,” he said.

Appeals

There is an appeals board to which people can make complaints about a registered builder, but “there isn’t any redress, it’s not an insurance scheme” he said. Learn more

“It’s in the selection process. By selecting from the register the customer has the comfort of knowing they’re getting a competent person who is fully compliant and has all the skills to do a professional job. The combination of the building regulations and CIRI should give massive comfort to customers in the future that they are going to get a good job done. “

Orla Hegarty assistant professor in the UCD School of Architecture, said the new system “must have teeth” if it is to be anything more than a marketing tool for builders.

“What we need is consumer protection, so if someone hires a builder and there is a problem with the work, or the company folds, they should have the same consumer rights as when they buy a pair of shoes. Otherwise this is just a badge for marketing.”

She was concerned the register could be used to keep builders from other jurisdictions out of the market.

“We must ensure this doesn’t turn into protectionism, limiting who can participate in the market. There is no such job as a ‘qualified builder’ and I would have concerns about the CIF being the gatekeepers, deciding who in the European Union and outside the EU including Northern Ireland, will be admitted for entry.”

Statutory registration will start in early 2024 the Department of Housing said to give the industry “time to adapt to these new requirements”.

Source The Irish Times

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