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In the following letter send on 1st April 2014 to Minister Hogan and Taoiseach End Kenny self-builder Amanda Gallagher reiterates the concerns of self-builders with Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). Minister Hogan has confirmed only 100 commencement notices lodged for march 2014. Approximately 70 residential commencement notices only- this is an 80% drop from March 2013 levels (March 2013 there were 320 residential commencement notices).

Re: Self Build Queries that still require answers!

Dear Minister,

I wrote to you on Thursday last and as of yet you have not acknowledged my letter. Maybe you didn’t understand how urgent those questions were, therefore I want to draw your attention to a couple of issues that have yet to be resolved by you regarding self building in Ireland under SI 9.

I have been told that your Department have informed Building Control Offices around the country that the SI 9 is part of a European Directive – what nonsense. Every country in the world, USA, UK, Australia,South Africa, all of Europe even North Korea and the Developing World allow self builds! Some of these countries have strict Building Control laws – but these accommodate the self build situation.

Ireland is now THE ONLY country now to ban self building a family home – does An Taoiseach know that we have become an International Joke? Who wants to do business with a Dictatorship? Any fool can see that SI 9 protects nobody, it will not stop another Priory Hall situation – all it does is line the pockets of the CIF, building contractors and generate Revenue for you – this is unbelievable.

Now I know that you are ‘telling’ the Nation that ‘self build / direct labour can continue as before under SI 9′. If this is indeed factual, as you claim it to be, then I’m going to ask some questions to you once more, in simple terms:

Now Minister, the next issue I have is with the Assigned Certifier under SI 9. You seem to have burdened the Assigned Certifier with an enormous weight of responsibility – in light of this a person who intends to ‘self build’ in Ireland today will not find an Assigned Certifier to work alongside them and even if they did find one it would add an extortionate amount of professional fees on to their budget – fees that they never envisaged – and would therefore put them so far over budget that they will abandon their planned build totally. This is in no way the fault of the Assigned Certifier – you have forced them to reject potential clients because it would be too risky to their livelihoods. I believe their workload has increased tremendously with the implementation of these Regulations and I believe many architects – those great ‘artists of buildings’ never imagined that you would ‘morph’ them into Building Inspectors. There is a better solution to this burden you have placed on them. If you click the link below you will see how easy this would be for you to implement:

I don’t know why you would punish the self builder, the Architects (not with RIAI), the Architectural Technologists, the Draughtsmen, the Assigned Certifiers, the Farmers, the SMEs, the Tradesmen, the local Builders Merchants and the children of the future for the mistakes of the ‘cowboys of the Celtic Tiger’ – and to think it is so simple for you to revoke SI 9 and implement an Independent List of Approved Inspectors that would remedy the self build issue – why you refuse to do this defies logic.

You know there is an inherent human desire – a human right – to provide a home for one’s family. The birds in the air search until they find a suitable ‘site’ where they construct a most intricate, beautiful, perfect ‘home’ for their young. It is a natural instinct in us all.

For you, to take away this right from the Citizens of this country is a most serious, grave mistake. Would Minister Quinn remove the right to an Education from the children of this country just because he couldn’t manage to put together a proper School Inspectorate? Not at all – it would be an outrage and would not be tolerated. I am afraid Minister Quinn is an educated man and would not be so brazen or so flippant to the Citizens he was elected to protect. This is exactly what you have done to the self builder in Ireland – and this will not be tolerated either. It is not our fault you and your officials can’t ‘pull your socks up’ and put an Independent Inspectorate together – this is why you are a Minister – show the Nation that you are ‘competent’ and sort it out.

You have put building a home so far out of many self builders’ reach – they couldn’t even begin to try to find the money for their project. Not only have you taken the dream of building a home away from many citizens in this nation – you have also taken the possibility of realising their dreams from them – what will life be like for them now? How can you think it is okay to burden people with an enormous mortgage when it is not necessary – has not the current state of the nation taught you nothing about the dangers of debt?

I must take this opportunity to point out to you that there is no difference whatsoever in a self builder and a building contractor – we both study the plans, shop around for materials, employ some trades, listen to the advice of the professionals – the only difference the building contractor gains a hefty profit and puts a lot less ‘love’ into the build.

Yourself and the CIF continually bang the ‘competence’ drum. You are ‘hell bent’ on putting the CIRI on a statutory footing next March. You have made a provision on the SI 9 Certificates for the ‘builder’ to state his CIRI number even though you claim that it is not mandatory to do so – if this is the case then why put it there? Why ‘highlight’ CIRI? We are done with the days of ‘cronyism’ Minister – this is modern Ireland. By the way, ‘competent’ is too flimsy a word to use in relation to construction, I want a ‘competent’ person to make my cappuccino in a cafe, I want a ‘competent’ person to serve me in a shop but when I am looking to construct a home worth hundreds of thousands of euro, a home that will be passed on to the future generation, the word I would be looking for would be a more robust word like ‘qualified’. You must stop all this nonsense about competence – a building contractor may not know a hammer from a nail – he may be merely a business man – there is no proof he can show that would guarantee his competence – the real ‘builders’ of houses, apartments, hotels etc are ‘Qualified Tradesmen’ – these men (and women) can indeed prove they are competent as they have a qualification that tells me so.

On the FAQ section of CIRI it states ‘This is THE ONLY register being supported by the Government’ – Minister, I don’t know if you are aware of it but we already have a Register of ‘competent’ Builders and Tradesmen – they are called the National Guild of Master Craftsmen – what is wrong with them? They are only 295 euro to register with – compared with 738 euro to join CIRI. We are in a recession Minister so I think you should have a word with the CIF regarding their pricing structure.

For the Certificates within SI 9 to show only a provision for CIRI is most unfair to the National Guild members as it should have a provision for their registered number also – you can’t ‘advertise’ CIRI on these certificates and omit to mention the National Guild. You are going to have to amend these Certificates to include them asap.

I don’t know why the CIF state ‘CIRI is THE ONLY Register being supported by the Government’ – this is very snobbish – why don’t you ‘support’ the National Guild of Master Craftsmen – are they not good enough to be included on the Certificates? Are they like the Architectural Technologists, the Draughtsmen, the Architects not on RIAI register – those people that are not good enough to become Assigned Certifiers? Are they like the self builder – just not good enough to construct their own homes – even though they do exactly the same thing as the building contractor – the self builder also who is not good enough to be included on the Certificates or in the Code of Practice? This snobbery will not be tolerated either.

In the light of the fact that you are adamant that self build can continue in Ireland as before – and for the Nation to actually believe what you are ‘saying’ I think the best thing for you to do is revoke SI 9, implement the alternative solution that has been handed to you and also put up some information on the website for the general public to view regarding self building in Ireland. I have put the following link up to give you some ideas as to how it should look:

By the way Minister, before you shred all your copies of SI 9 keep one aside so that it can be placed in a glass case in the National Museum for the future generations to view the nonsense that their ancestors had to endure in 2014.

It is very fitting that today is April Fools Day, as you continue to make fools of the Citizens of this country by implementing a scandalous sham – the SI 9. You parade it to the nation wearing the ‘mask’ of a bright new dawn in building control, meanwhile in reality there are no changes whatsoever in the regulations regarding controlling ‘cowboys’. When one peels back that ‘mask’ one clearly sees the same wake of vultures hungry for ‘a piece of meat’ from the poor men and women that they swooped down on in the last decade. I do believe the nation will not be ‘fooled’ for much longer and when the truth finally surfaces and the Irish people realise that they can no longer self build or use direct labour to construct their family homes it will be you, Sir, and your friends in the CIF who will be the Fools!

Regards to you at this most difficult time in Building Control and looking forward to your answers to my queries – I am sure there is someone in your Department who is ‘competent’ to answer them.

Mrs. Amanda Gallagher

Co. Sligo

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