One might imagine that any new dwellings presented to the market would be compliant with Building Regulations. However, this might not always be the case and some high profile failures such as Priory Hall and Longboat Quay provided more than enough evidence to government that things had to change.
Up to 2014, professionals would only need state, through non-statutory Certificates of Compliance that, in their opinion, the building substantially complied with Regulations. Furthermore, independent inspections were not mandatory. To address this, the government introduced the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 which introduced new controls including mandatory site inspections and certification.
Some construction (and design!!!!!) during the boom was poor and an embarrassment to our industry to say the least. Substruck were employed to complete a homebuyers drain test at a ‘new’ residential property in Co. Cork. This was in effect completion of units in an unfinished ‘ghost’ estate so BCAR did not apply. However, the Building Regulations still did.
In drainage investigation, you can always judge a book by its cover. Before any testing or CCTV equipment was brought onto site, direct observation showed us that the construction of the drains was pretty poor, both in terms of compliance with current Building Regulations and good practise.
The photos show how the drainage was finished at ground level during more recent patio works. And I think they speak for themselves. It is clear that no test was completed on the drains either during the original drainage works or the remaining completion works. Out of five sections, one passed, while two could not be tested due to the absence of any access points!!!!
This was just one series of defects identified in the survey. Others included absence of access to a WC, trip hazards, a hole in the drain to accommodate a new gully, deformation, open joints and water holding.
BCAR is not without its weaknesses and these were identified in the Oireachtas report ‘Safe as Houses? A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls & Consumer Protection’ in 2017. However, it is still a huge improvement on the previous regime and should help to significantly reduce this type of workmanship.