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