The ROI Department of Housing is in the process of putting the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) on a statutory footing from 2024.
This means that all entities providing building services will have to register with CIRI from 2024. Home builders and builders of non-residential buildings will have to register first, then the various trades.
The Department expects statutory registration to start early 2024 for these first categories. The Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021 has just been published and needs to be enacted before becoming law.
In operation on a voluntary basis since 2014, CIRI is administered by the Construction Industry Federation – the representative body for builders.
CIRI currently has about 800 builders on their register, mostly medium to large businesses. The Department expects the figure to hit at least 5,000 “initially”.
Under the legislation, the CIRI will have a statutory Admissions and Registration Board who will be appointed by the Minister It will consist of a chairperson, nominated by the Minister, and 10 ordinary members 5 of whom will be nominated by the Minister. It will also have an Appeals Committee.
The Bill will also provide for the CIRI to receive complaints against registered builders to be made on a number of grounds, including complaints against an entity providing building services in a category in which they are not registered. The Bill provides for a range of proportionate sanctions to be imposed after investigation.
“The Bill aims to benefit consumers and the general public by giving those who engage a registered builder the assurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator.”
However, critics have argued that handing over building control to representative bodies is tantamount to “putting the foxes in charge of the hen house”.
No register in NI
The move comes as the UK government recently shelved plans to licence domestic building companies.
“While the Government’s failure to back the Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill is disappointing, its commitment to work with stakeholders and industry and find a solution to stamp out cowboy builders is at least welcome news,” Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders said in a statement in November.
“With almost one third of homeowners having been put off undertaking major home improvement works due to the fear of hiring a dodgy builder, it’s clear we need to licence UK construction companies. It simply can’t be right in a modern economy that anyone can call themselves a builder without any form of licensing or registration to check they are competent. This is not only a serious question of consumer protection, but also one of promoting economic growth in the building industry.”
“77 per cent of small, local construction firms back the principle of a licensing scheme so it is encouraging that many Conservative and Labour MPs are joining forces in support of tidying up the building industry,” he added. “A licence to build would protect not only consumers but also quality builders from being undercut by unscrupulous and, all too often, dangerous cowboy builders.”