Questions for Minister for Environment and Local Government

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Dáil Issues, Environment, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government noting that the €10 million of taxpayers money committed to the pyrite remediation scheme, if he will remediate 200-250 damaged houses; will the position regarding the additional funding required and if he will levy Homebond who walked away from their supposed structural guarantee and whose accounts show a surplus of €25 million.

– Clare Daly. 
  

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 12th March, 2014. 
  
Ref No: 11849/14 
 REPLY   

  (Mr. P. Hogan) 
  
The Pyrite Resolution Board commenced accepting applications   from eligible homeowners   for inclusion in the pyrite remediation scheme   on 26 February 2014. The Board is committed to moving as quickly as possible to the works phase of the remediation process and I understand that it is their intention that this phase will commence in the second half of the year. 
  
The initial phase of the remediation programme will deal with approximately 1,000 dwellings which, it is estimated, are in need of repair. In October 2013 the Government approved initial funding of €10 million for the implementation of the scheme in 2014 and 2015 . Further funding will be provided over the next two years following consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and me and in the context of a further capital stimulus package.   It is not possible at this point to look beyond the figure of 1,000 dwellings   which may be in need of repair but there are a number of positive indications , including the number of expressions of interest registered with the Pyrite Resolution Board,   which suggests that this figure is credible and the number of dwellings requiring remediation may not be as great as initially anticipate d. T he post-2015 funding requirement will be dealt with at that stage having regard to develo pments over the interim period. 
  
HomeBond is a private company whose operations are governed by company law and which has the same protections in law as are afforded to any other private company; neither I nor my Department have any legal basis under which a levy could be imposed on the funds held by HomeBond.   However, the Pyrite Resolution B oa rd is in discussions with HomeBond with a view to finalising an agreement , shortly , whereby HomeBond will make a non-financial contribution to the remediation process . This will involve making s taff available to assist in the provision of certain services to the Board, including   testing, proje ct management and other service s as agreed ; all services will be provided at no cost and will be carried out under the direction and supervision of the Board and / or the Housing Agency. 

             
  
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of the fact that the Building Control Amendment Act has come into force on 1 March 2014 and that these regulations are of no benefit to the tens of thousands of victims of shoddy builders, homeowners who purchased during the building boom and who are left with drainage and plumbing problems, leaking roofs and dampness, non-compliance with fire safety regulations and structural damage,   the action he will take to help these victims of bad building and lack of adequate building control.. 

– Clare Daly. 
 

  
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 12th March, 2014. 
  
Ref No: 11848/14 
  
 REPLY 

  
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr. P. Hogan) 
  
The Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007 set out a clear statutory framework for the control of building activity based on:·   clear leg al standards as set out in the B uilding R egulations; 
·   detailed Technical Guidance Documents to outline how these standards can be achieved in practice; 
·   the burden and responsibility for compliance resting first and foremost with developers/builders; 
·   a statutory responsibility for professionals who are engaged by developers to ensure that construction at least mee ts the legal minimum standards.   
In cases w here a contract exists between the owner of a building and the relevant builder/developer, the resolution of problems is a matter for the parties concerned, namely the building owner, the relevant builder/developer and the builder/developer’s insurers, and where a resolution cannot be achieved through dialogue and negotiation enforcement may become a civil matter. Where professionals have been involved in the design and/or the supervision and certification of works the legal responsibility in relation to the resolution of problems would extend to the professional and the professional’s insurers. 
  
In addition to the above, local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007, the Fire Safety Act 1981 and the Planning and Development Acts, all of which may be relevant in relation to the instances of non-compliance cited. Local Authorities have used such powers on a number of occasions in recent times. 
  
I have urged, and will continue to urge, local authorities to use all of the powers available to them to address failures to com ply with statutory requirements and my Department continues to liaise closely with local authorities in this regard.