Construction industry professionals are at odds as to whether new regulations, introduced after the Longboat Quay development had been built, would prevent similar safety problems emerging.
According to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), the regulatory regime that had been applied when the Dublin apartment block, at the centre of fire safety concerns, was built was “entirely different” to the current controls.
“Under the new regime, for any development which started after March 1 last year, there is a requirement to submit an inspection plan during the construction process and this is where the assigned certifier is going to undertake the required inspections to confirm the building is being built in accordance with the design drawings and according to building regulations,” said Hubert Fitzpatrick of CIF.
“The big difference now is that a mandatory certificate must be submitted to the building control authority and registered by the building control authority before any new building can be used.
“It would have ensured [at Longboat Quay] that there was adequate professional oversight of the building process underway and the key milestone inspections would have been undertaken to confirm it was built in accordance with the fire standard requirements and the building regulations.
“There should not be scope for [Longboat Quay] to happen again because the compliance with fire safety requirements would be a high risk item and that should feature prominently in any inspection plan that the signed certifier would submit to a building control authority. No professional should be putting their name towards a certificate confirming that the building has been built according to the regulations unless they are satisfied it has been so built.”
Paul Kelly of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland said no professional should certify a building they were not satisfied with. However, he said the issue of what was submitted to building authorities was a “red herring” as, while the drawings and paperwork are submitted, they do not contain enough detail. There is no inspection of what they contain, especially by local authorities, he said.
Mr Kelly expressed a fear if Longboat Quay was built today, “in a couple of years’ time the residents could be in the same predicament”.
“RIAI has been expressing concerns about the inadequacy of controls since 2004, if not before,” he said.
“Since Priory Hall, the State has introduced a new form of building control to absolve the State from any responsibility for buildings that are wrongly built.”
Mr Kelly said there was a need for effective engagement by local authorities and the creation of a register of competent contractors. He also said there was a need for a greater degree of independence in the certification and inspection of buildings.
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