The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify


From top: Priory Hall; Kevin Hollingsworth, chartered building surveyor

This morning.

On RTÉ One’s Morning Ireland.

In her fourth of a four-part series on the construction industry in Ireland, journalist Jackie Fox recalled the sub-standard housing developments that were built during the boom, namely Priory Hall and Longboat Quay.

In her report, Ms Fox sought to find out if standards are being met today and spoke to Cian O’Callaghan, from the Geography Department at Trinity College Dublin, and Kevin Hollingsworth, chartered building surveyor.

Ms Fox said that, over the past three years, Mr Hollingsworth has been involved in the remediation works of 29 developments which she did not name.

During the report, Mr O’Callaghan recalled:

“One of the main problems during the boom was that there was so much being built, from 2006, there was something like 90,000 housing units built in the country so local authorities didn’t actually have the staff to regulate the standards properly and what was happening then is there was a process of certification that was brought in to play, where developers would hire their own architect, their own surveyor to sign off on the safety standards for the building, the building regulations.

“So, in the 1990s, the building control regulations relaxed and this kind of allowed developers to self-certify. So this is quite an unusual circumstance. You wouldn’t have it in the UK for example. You’d have an independent body who would be responsible for building controls and responsible to ensure that the quality of things was being kept.”

And Mr Hollingsworth said:

The building control amendment regulations have been put in place and they’re a large step forward. The assigned certifier has to be there to sign off on critical things so that’s a massive step forward.”

But, he added:

The assigned certifier can be an employee of the developer, the assigned certifier is also just a professional – they do get paid by the end user. They don’t act independently. They’re supposed to act independently but, once there’s that financial link, that leads to a lack of independence.”


Listen back to the report in full here

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22 thoughts on “The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify

  1. ollie

    Developers didn’t self certify. They employed professionals who didn’t do their jobs properly and as with all white collar crime I Ireland they got away with it.
    I know of a development in North County Dublin where the owners paid €3k each to carry out fire safety works, the developer is still trading but too much time has elapsed for him to be sued.
    There’s also a role for Homebond which was compulsory but thanks to Government they don’t pay out on anything!
    If I did a trench in a public road to lay a pipe I have to pay a bond to the Local Authority to cover future damage, why isn’t this imposed on developers? Because white collar crime is not punished in Ireland.

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      +1 to your comment, Ollie.

      Although I’d point out that one good thing in the new regulations is that assigned certifier now has to be an actual professional. Before this, anyone could sign off on a building – they didn’t have to be a qualified architect/ engineer/ surveyor.

    2. brownbull

      You are entirely wrong Ollie, in the vast majority of residential developments from the era in question the developers didn’t hire Architects, Engineers or Surveyors to work up a detailed design beyond planning stage, to pull together works requirements, to review works proposals, to provide inspections during the works, or to certify compliance. Opinions on Compliance with Planning and Building Regulations where Inspections were not provided were provided for a lot of developments but this is not certification merely a professional opinion based on very little evidence. Where proper design, inspection and certification services were not provided on projects the developers essentially certified their developments through their obligations under common law and potentially through contract law to buyers and lending institutions. An Architect, Engineer or Surveyor cannot certify something if they were not hired to provide the service, this is the root of the problem.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Please nelly, not the Chinese. They have NO concept of even rudimentary morality – “a great bunch of lads”.

      1. nellyb

        you’re being bit harsh, but point taken, we need a referendum for the nation’s preferred choice of master. Or “administrator” rather, seince we’re the best euphemisers on the planet :-)
        You have a lovely weekend under brief sun’s management :-)

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Sick or what, “displacement”? Other counties have inspection and certification regimes – why not here?

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        Upsetting the rich and powerful is hard. Let someone else do it.
        That is the mantra of all politicians in power here.

      2. Increasing Displacement

        Things in Ireland take forever to do
        Forever to fix
        And require 20 years of tribunals and waste before anything is done
        We are back in 2006…just now the houses are A rated

  2. Sheik Yahbouti

    Any thoughts at all on the refusal of ‘de Nordies ‘ to recognize ‘Humanist marriages ‘? There are people on this site who want to “unite” with these people!!!!

    1. nellyb

      norn ‘conscience refugees’ working in Dublin are sound and hard workers too. Would give them Leave to remain here. But christian crusaders should stay where they are, under management of greasy Frank Cushnahan, they are made for each other.

  3. DavidT

    Same happened in UK. Certifiers who fail developers are not going to get any work.

  4. Otis Blue

    I’m familiar with one residential development that secured the triple whammy of non compliance with planning, building control and fire safety.

    The Local Authority to whom I’ve complained couldn’t care less. Not about it’s appalling quality nor indeed the fact that the development is in an architectural conservation area.

    Despite its shit and presumably downright dangerous quality, the DSP sees fit to contribute to towards the rental costs of many of the tenants.

    And just to add insult to injury, AIB seized the asset in lieu of unpaid loans by the developer. It was subsequently sold by Allsopp Space at a distressed asset auction. It was bought by the developer’s wife on a 10% yield, most of which, from what I can see, comes directly from the DSP.

    Best small country in the world in which to do business

Comments are closed.

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