County council under fire for building project fees

Kilkenny County Council has been criticised for sanctioning excessive fees to design a housing project.

When the 15-unit social housing development was completed last year, a fifth of its construction budget went on consultancy costs. Architects got the bulk of fees.

More money was spent on drawing up plans for the development than on buying the €200,000 site on Nuncio Rd. Procurement rules were not followed when the consultants were hired.

The council admitted the design fees were too high, and that this should have been spotted before funding was approved.

The project was proposed by the SOS Kilkenny Housing Association to cater for residents with special needs, and funded by the council.

The Local Government Audit Service put building costs at €830,400 but design fees came to €202,994.

The council accepted the criticism of the auditor. “In Nov 2007 it should have been recognised that the design fees of 17.38% were excessive,” it wrote.

The council said a further increase in fees, to 24.45% of building costs, occurred because of a need to redesign parts of the scheme.

A breakdown of the consultants’ cost, released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed the largest bill came from the architects’ firm that also prepared the health and safety document.

The company, Bluett & O’Donoghue, was paid €114,000 — 9% of the total cost of the project.

Quantity surveyors McGarry Associates were paid over €41,000 and specifications for the site cost almost €25,000 to draw up.

The council said it did not have any comment beyond its response to the Local Government Audit Service.


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