HomeBussinessMisuse of new building products ‘storing up’ trouble, says new SCSI president

Misuse of new building products ‘storing up’ trouble, says new SCSI president


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Kevin Hollingsworth of the SCSI

The incoming President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) says a cultural shift in government is needed so that building inspection is seen in terms of the potential billions of euro of damage it can prevent and not millions it costs.

SCSI President Kevin Hollingsworth said Ireland’s approach to the enforcement of building regulations requires a cultural shift and a new proactive approach by local authorities backed by Exchequer funding.

He warned that poor storage or mishandling of some innovative construction products is creating new risks that need to be monitored, such as the potential damage to pre-fabricated products if they are left out in damp conditions after delivery that might not become apparent for years.

“Unless quality control measures with regard to modern methods of construction are addressed, we are storing up issues for the future,” he said.

He contrasted those bills for redress, compensation and rebuilding associated with defects in some Celtic Tiger apartment blocks as well as the mica and pyrite scandals with the relatively modest investment in prevention.

“The Government’s estimate for dealing with the financial cost of the mica, pyrite and apartment defects issue is about €5bn, made up of €250m for pyrite, €2.2bn for mica and €2.5bn for apartment defects. However, this should be viewed as a minimum figure with more recent media reports indicating a figure in excess of €7bn to be more realistic,” he said.

“In 2022, local authorities spent a fraction of this sum, around €20m in total, on enforcing building control regulations. If you subtract the €5m they made from fees, the figure is just €15m with €5.4m of that being spent by Dublin City Council.”

In some counties less than 12pc of new buildings are being inspected, he said. Local authorities are only required to inspect between 12pc and 15pc of new buildings notified to them. According to the National Oversight and Audit Commission’s Local Authority Performance Indicator Report, two local authorities – Mayo and Sligo – did not meet this low bar in 2022 with many others just reaching the minimum target.

Mr Hollingsworth, who is a chartered fellow of the SCSI as well as a registered building surveyor, project management surveyor and conservation surveyor, said an adequately resourced and funded system of building control is fundamental to achieving safe buildings.

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