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Dáil debates

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Paudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)

The Deputy is correct in pointing out that these regulations also apply to extensions. Many years ago, I built my own house in Waterford by direct build. I know the challenges that people face, but people generally set out to build the best quality home for themselves.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that inspections cost between €5,000 and €16,000 which is unacceptable and I am determined to do something about it in the short term and the medium term. In the short term, I will publish guidance stating that inspection regimes should appropriately cost no more than €3,000 to €3,500. However, it is important to maintain standards and accountability in terms of construction. I am sure Deputies will agree we cannot go back to the days of putting up houses that are substandard; I know that many professionals signed off on these in the past. Under the new regulatory regime, they are now accountable. It is important that we maintain that element.

I acknowledge that the technicians and practitioners the Deputy mentioned have vast experience in this area and I believe they can contribute in a more enhanced way. I am sympathetic to the Deputy's views in this regard. I am preparing a review of SI 9 generally and this review can consider one-off houses and extensions. I envisage an increased role for the practitioners to play a more proactive role in the inspection regime. I will do this because I believe there is a role for them in this. However, we need to have appropriate standards and appropriate recognition of experience in this area. I hope that as part of the review we can come up with a model that recognises this experience and recognises technicians' contribution. I believe they can play an important role as they have done for many years regarding one-off houses and extensions.

I expect progress on the matter in the coming weeks and months.

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