A new report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection recommends a redress scheme for homeowners whose pre-2014 properties were later found to have significant defects.
The report, entitled Safe as Houses? was published by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, and Local Government.
Independent Shannon councillor Gerry Flynn has welcomed the report’s findings, particularly in light of developments at the Brú na Sionna scheme of apartments, offices and shops.
Owners of property at the complex have been asked to contribute significantly towards a costly repair bill estimated at €2.25m for the 10-year-old buildings.
Cllr Flynn, who is chairman of Clare County Council’s Social Development SPC, responsible for housing policy, said the new report addresses a key issue where it states: “ordinary owners who purchased in good faith should not be liable for the costs of remediation caused by the incompetence, negligence or deliberate non-compliance of others.”
In addition, he said a recommendation by the committee to make Latent Defects Insurance a legal requirement for builders and developers, should be introduced by Government as soon as possible.
According to committee chairperson Maria Bailey, numerous housing defects have come to light in recent years and as the building industry starts to increase again, “building regulations and controls have a key role to play in ensuring that we do not see a repeat of past mistakes in this area.”
Noting that buying a home is the most expensive purchase in a person’s life, Ms Bailey said, “If a homeowner does experience a defect in their home, it is vital that a system is in place to remedy the situation swiftly and comprehensively.
“However, what we have witnessed is a lack of effective and accessible legal remedies for homeowners who discover defects in their home.”
Committee rapporteur Eoin O’Broin pointed out that a decade after the housing boom collapse, many people still live with the legacy of poor building standards, ineffective controls and non-existent consumer protection.
Mr O’Broin also speculated that people continue to live in homes with various defects that have yet to be discovered.
The Committee’s report listed 26 recommendations for Government, including the creation of a new Building Standards and Consumer Protection Agency.
It has also proposed that developers found guilty of breaching building standards or fire safety regulations, should be prevented from being awarded contracts for publicly-funded construction projects.