Friday 09 June 2017

End of the road for the cowboy builder?


End of the road for the cowboy builder?

 

End of the Road for the Cowboy Builder?

 

 

On 31 May 2017, the Irish Government approved the drafting and publication of the General Scheme of the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017 [‘the Bill’].

 

The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government, Simon Coveney T.D. in heralding in the Bill 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 purpose of the Bill is to provide for a mandatory statutory register of builders, contractors and specialist sub-contractors, and subject to a limited number of exceptions, a builder will only be permitted to carry out building works in respect of which he or she is registered. Entry on the CIRI register will be open to all builders, whether sole traders, partnerships or registered companies, who can demonstrate that they are competent to carry out works in the category for which they are seeking to register.

 

 

Scope of the Bill

 

 

The Bill applies to all builders carrying out building works under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 which are subject to the Building Regulations 1997 to 2017. However, there are exemptions in respect of:

 

  • Building works which are carried out solely and exclusively by an owner or an occupier involving the construction of a new single dwelling on a single unit development or the extension, alteration or upgrading of an existing dwelling (this exemption does not apply to any contractor or sub-contractor engaged by such an owner or occupier);
  • Electrical works to a building undertaken by a registered electrical contractor pursuant to the Electricity Regulation Act 1999;                    
  • Gas works to a building undertaken by a registered gas installer, registered with the R.G.I.I. pursuant to the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006;            
  • Building works undertaken directly by the employees of a public body on a building in public ownership;
  • Building works undertaken directly by the employees of an approved housing body on a building under its control;
  • Building works undertaken directly by the employees of the OPW on a building under its control.

 

 

Admission to the Register

 

 

The Bill requires the Construction Industry Federation [‘CIF’] to establish a register known as the Construction Industry Register Ireland. The CIF must also establish an Admissions and Registration Board for the purpose of registering builders.

 

 

In order to be entered on the register, builders must prove to the satisfaction of the Admissions and Registration Board that they possess the requisite competence by submitting evidence of:

 

  • Relevant work undertaken or relevant educational qualification or a combination of both; or
  • Employment of a construction professional with experience or an educational qualification or a combination of both.

 

 

The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government will prescribe by way of Regulations the level of previous experience or educational qualification or both that is required for entry to the register.

 

 

The registration fee will not exceed the costs of administering the register. Entry on the register will last for twelve months, after which an annual renewal form will be sent to registered members.

 

 

If registration is refused, an application can be made to have the decision of the Admissions and Registration Board reviewed.

 

 

Consequences of Registration

 

 

The Minister will prepare a Code of Conduct specifying the standards of conduct and practice that registrants must adhere to. The Bill lays out a number of areas this may cover, including professionalism, continuous professional development, quality customer service, and records, data and documentation.

 

 

If a registered member fails to observe a provision of the Code of Conduct, this shall not of itself lead to civil or criminal proceedings. However, the Admissions and Registration Board, the Appeal Board or any court or tribunal may, in any proceedings under the Bill to determine whether improper conduct, poor professional performance or a breach of their registration requirements by a registered member has occurred, have regard to provisions of the Code of Conduct where relevant.

 

 

Members of the public may complain to the Admissions and Registration Board concerning an action by a registered member which is alleged to amount to improper conduct, poor professional performance or a breach of their registration requirements. Grounds for such a complaint shall include:

                                                     

(a)  Where a registered member undertakes works in a class or division of the register for which they are not registered and are not exempt from registration under the Bill;

(b)  Failure by a registered member to notify the registration body of material matter which is likely to have a bearing on their registration;

(c)  Where a registered member failed, in connection with the carrying out of building works for which they are registered, to meet the standards of competence required for such registration;

(d)  Failure by a registered member to implement an acceptable plan for Continuous Professional Development;

(e)  Where a registered member has been convicted and disqualified from signing and submitting certificates of compliance pursuant to s.17(7) of the Building Control Act 1990;

(f)  Failure by a registered member to declare any previous convictions under the Building Control Act 1990 – 2014 or the Health and Safety Act 2005.

 

 

The Admissions and Registration Board may then carry out an investigation pursuant to the complaint. After the investigation it has the power to, inter alia, remove the registered member from the register or impose conditions upon the member. The Bill sets out an appeal process from this decision.

 

 

Registered members must notify the CIF if they become aware of any material matter relevant to their registration. This includes changes to any registration or licence by a regulatory body, any conviction for an offence under health and safety or building control legislation, any change to competence relied upon for registration purposes, any change in insurance cover and, in the case of bodies corporate or partnerships, any change in the principal officers of that body corporate or partnership.

 

 

Sanctions

 

 

A builder who is not registered in accordance with the Bill, and who carries out building works or represents to the public that they are entitled to carry out such building works, will be guilty of an offence, and will be liable to a class A fine or an imprisonment of up to twelve months or both.