Chartered Surveyors welcome Working Group Report on Defects in Apartments
Report indicates up to 100k apartments built between 1991 and 2013 have defects
SCSI says any financial support package should be retrospective and apply to homeowners who have remediated apartments
Need for continuous monitoring, strengthening of current regulatory regime
Thursday 28th July 2022: The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has welcomed the publication of the Defects in Apartments – Report of the Working Group to examine Defects in Housing and called on the Government to act on its findings without delay.
The Report found that up to 80% of apartments constructed between 1991 and 2013 have Fire safety defects, Water ingress issues, Structural safety issues or a combination of all three.
The SCSI says that up to 100,000 of the 125,000 apartments built over those 22 years have defects demonstrates the widespread nature, seriousness and scale of the problem and the inadequacies of the building control regulatory regime in place at that time.
Kevin Hollingsworth, Chartered Building Surveyor and a member of the Working Group, said the SCSI had been calling for an independent review since January 2017, when it published the SCSI’s “Defects in our Built Environment” to the Department of Housing.
Mr Hollingsworth said, “Many SCSI members – property managers to building surveyors – have seen first-hand the defects highlighted here and the toll it has taken on individual homeowners and their families over many years. Now that the scale of the problem has finally been quantified, we look forward to the Government acting on the recommendations of this Report. They need to put in place a scheme that will allow these defects to be remedied as quickly as possible, beginning with the ones that pose the most danger.
“Up to 12,000 apartments have been remediated already, and we believe any agreed support packages should apply to these homeowners that took the right action quickly. However, it’s equally important that homeowners should not hold off on any remediation work currently planned or ready to start because of the risk to the health and safety of the occupants”.
“Government should promptly confirm that support packages will apply to all who commence work before any potential funding is put in place. As the Report states, this will prevent a moral hazard arising should necessary safety works be delayed or deferred to ensure the ability to avail of any potential remediation support scheme that might come into effect,” Mr Hollingsworth said.
The SCSI says the systemic failures during this period, especially during the Celtic Tiger era, show the cost of light touch regulation in human and financial impact. Before improvements in building control regulations were introduced in 2014, the regulatory framework allowed for developments to be constructed without professional oversight and certification. During that period, inspections from building control authorities were the only statutory quality assurance mechanism, and insufficient resources prevented the necessary level of inspections for such a system. The SCSI believes that the new building control regulations brought in 2014 (Building Control Amendment Regulations – BCAR) need to be continuously monitored and strengthened; for example, by increasing resourcing of building control departments to enable more building control authority inspections on sites. The SCSI believe the Construction Industry Register Ireland, which puts that register of competent builders on a statutory footing, is essential to increasing standards in the industry.
“The SCSI would like resources for building control authorities ramped up significantly to oversee compliance within the sector. The exemption open to one-off houses should also be removed to improve standards and compliance within this dwelling type, which currently delivers one-third of all new homes each year,” Hollingsworth said.
The President of the SCSI, Kevin James, said that with the legal redress challenges raised in the Report, a levy on the construction industry might seem appealing to many, but the impact of any such levy needs to be considered carefully and viewed through the lens of what is best for the overall public interest.
Mr James said, “Affordability and viability are two of the critical issues we are facing in relation to increasing the supply of badly needed housing. Both are under mounting pressure due to record increases in construction inflation caused by the war in Ukraine, supply chain shocks and covid lockdowns. At a time of high price volatility, we need to consider the impact of any potential levies on the sector and the knock-on effect it would have on the cost of new builds, renovations and retrofits.
“Our members look forward to continuing to help affected homeowners remedy their defective apartments, directly or through their OMCs. To this end, the SCSI will soon publish a directory of Chartered Building, Quantity and Project Management Surveyors providing consultancy services on the remediation of apartment defects and a guide to the process for OMCs and owners,” Mr James concluded.
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