New building rule to save homeowners thousands
Housing extensions and one-off homes will be exempt from tough new building regulations aimed at preventing shoddy work, under proposals being considered by the Government.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly has ordered a review of regulations introduced a year ago, amid concerns that householders are paying up to €16,000 to have their homes inspected, which is adding to construction costs.
The move, if it goes ahead, would result in almost half of all homes built in a given year being exempt from the rules.
However, if the changes are made, it will also result in buyers of these homes being given no protection whatsoever.
Construction work has begun on 1,000 one-off homes since new regulations were introduced on March 1 last year.
These oblige an "assigned certifier" - an architect, engineer or building surveyor - to certify that building regulations have been complied with at key stages of construction.
In the event of a problem, the certifier is held legally responsible.
Making the regulations "advisory", rather than "mandatory", is one of the changes proposed by the Government.
This 'opt out' clause would give owners a choice and would mean "they need not be held to ransom by unaffordable quotes for professional services", the documents state.
But industry sources cautioned against removing the requirement, as most one-off homes eventually come back on to the market.
One expert told the Irish Independent that without certification, buyers of those properties would not be protected.