CIF calls for register to blacklist shoddy builders
Builders' lobby group the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has called for the Government to put in place a statutory builders' register which would effectively blacklist shoddy companies.
CIF President Michael Stone has also criticised the coalition for removing building regulations which require one-off homes to be certified by an independent professional, saying the changes needed to be reversed to protect consumers.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Stone said that when standards were reduced, quality suffered.
"When you reduce standards, you don't get quality. We need to improve regulation. I don't believe self-regulation has served us well," he said.
His comments come after fire safety issues emerged in apartment developments including Longboat Quay in Dublin, which will cost almost €5m to rectify.
It also comes amid deep concern from professionals about a relaxing of building standards for one-off homes. Last August, the Government decided that these homes would not be subject to a formal sign-off from a building professional to ensure they were built in line with the building code.
But Mr Stone said that the move would promote the black economy as the lack of inspection would allow unscrupulous builders to submit cheaper bids because they would not be building in line with best practice.
"We think it's a mistake and it needs to be revisited," he said. "We want high standards and there's no place for people who don't comply with higher standards.
"Taking one-off houses out of the regulations promotes the black economy. You want a level playing field when you're tendering for work. We want people to have good working conditions, benefits and pensions and this leads to a second tier of people working outside that.
"I don't think it serves the customer well. In five or 10 years' time you'll have a house you built, beside one built by someone signed up (to the standards), I think that house will be worth more."
In July 2014, the CIF established the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) which includes main contractors, builders, specialists, sub-contractors and sole traders of all sizes.
The register was due to be placed on a statutory footing last October, but this has not yet happened.
Mr Stone said that some 800 companies had already registered, with another 1,000 in the process of doing so.
But he said until it was a requirement, unscrupulous operators would continue to escape sanction.
"We believe the CIRI is a form of regulation. The industry needs for it be statutory," he said.
"I (as a registered member) have to prove I have a tax clearance cert and can't build without it. I have to have the required qualifications. I have to demonstrate that I'm aware of the updated regulations, including fire safety. I have to show that my staff and people are being continually trained.
"I believe the fundamental of doing business is that if you do something and there's a fault in that, then it's your duty to rectify that.
"If they don't, they should have no place in our industry. There is a mechanism in the CIRI where if an issue arises with quality, you won't get your membership renewed. If it's statutory, it gives the customer that level of protection. CIRI is the way forward to improve our image," he added.
The Department of the Environment said it was hoped to have the register formally established by early next year.