To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to assist residents of multi-unit developments and housing estates that do not meet fire safety standards and building defects.
Primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. As such, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved; the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.
It is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and/or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners. In addition, when a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. The person having control is required to take reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire and to ensure the safety of persons in the event of fire.
In multi-unit developments, the "person having control" is generally the owner management company. Where apartment buildings that are defective from a fire safety perspective come to the attention of the local authority fire services, they work with management companies and other stakeholders to ensure that appropriate levels of fire safety are achieved to minimise the risk to life.
In response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been driving a comprehensive building control reform agenda. The measures involved include the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the establishment of a National Building Control Management Project and progressing primary legislation, the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill. The aim is to promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector and this will continue to be the subject of focused attention in the months and years ahead.
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