The days of the cowboy builders could be numbered as the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) is in the process of being placed on a statutory footing.

The ROI Department of Housing published today (31 May 2017) the General Scheme of the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) (CIRI) Bill 2017 representing the first step towards introducing an official, mandatory builder’s register.

CIRI was established by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) as a voluntary register of builders and contractors in April 2014. To date approximately 800 building and contracting entities have registered, and these mostly consist of companies as opposed to tradesmen.

The fee is €738 to register but according to the Department of Housing’s Impact Analysis the new statutory register will be run “on a cost-recovery, not-for-profit basis” adding that it was “anticipated economies of scale will significantly reduce the registration fee”.

The fee charged will be approved by the Minister and based on the cost of administering the register.

Gas installers and electricians, which already have accreditation bodies regulating their work, are exempt from registering.

All builders must register if they undertake work that is subject to the Building Regulations, apart from self-builders. In the case of a self-build, contractors and sub-contractors employed by the self-builder must be registered.

‘Incompetent workmanship’

Housing Minister Simon Coveney told a recent CIF gathering that a mandatory CIRI represents “an additional essential consumer protection measure giving consumers who engage a registered builder the assurance that they are dealing with a competent and compliant operator”.

“I see CIRI as an important and necessary step in restoring public confidence and trust in the Construction Sector given the legacy of the building failures that came in the wake of the construction-related economic collapse,” added Coveney.

Hubert Fitzpatrick, Director of Housing for the CIF said: “It is not acceptable that a person or company without adequate training or experience can portray themselves as a builder to the public. All registered builders on the register will be required to undertake continuing training and development so that they keep abreast of new building regulations requirements and building standards.”

Welcoming the Government decision approving the drafting of the Building Control Bill, Minister Coveney said:

“Public tolerance for incompetent workmanship has been well and truly exhausted; the establishment of a robust, mandatory, statutory register is critical for the development of a culture of competence and compliance in the construction sector and will complement the reforms which have already been implemented by the Government. I believe that the proposed CIRI register will help to deliver the quality of homes and buildings that people expect and deserve.”

The move to make CIRI mandatory has been promised by the Department of Housing since the register’s inception but now seems likely in 2018.

The Bill needs to be debated in the Oireachtas before it is enacted.