Over 100,000 Homes Affected
During the Celtic Tiger years around 170,000 apartments were built and it’s estimated that – of those – around 70% – or almost 120,000 – are affected by construction defects.
The defects largely relate to water ingress – or leaks – and fire safety defects. In relation to fire safety, the defects mainly consist of a lack of fire stopping – the material that stops the spread of fire from one home to another. Clearly this is vital in the context of apartment developments where – without proper fire stopping – fire and smoke can quickly spread from one home to another.
In Breach of Regulations
The defects – particularly the lack of fire stopping – are in breach of the Building Regulations and occurred because of shoddy building and the weak system of enforcement and compliance building in Irish construction.
During the Celtic Tiger years there was no effective system of independent inspection of construction works to ensure it was being carried out in accordance with the Regulations. Those involved in the construction process self-certified that their work was carried out in compliance with the Building Regulations. It’s clear in relation to the vast majority apartments built during the '90s and noughties that this was not the case.
Costly to Rectify
Rectifying the defects caused by shoddy construction is a very costly and time-consuming process. Costs vary from between €3,000 per apartment up to over €100,000 with the average for fire stopping seeming to be between €15,000 to €20,000.
And here’s the real issue. Apartment owners are being left to pay for these defects – which occurred through no fault of theirs – because most of those involved in the original construction process have gone bust or set up joint venture or special purpose vehicle companies that have since been liquidated. The State, which let the owners down by its failure to ensure compliance with its own Regulations, has – to date – refused to assist the apartment owners concerned as they say it is a private contractual matter between the owners and the those involved in the construction process who are bust or are long since gone.
This is clearly unfair and unjust and the Construction Defects Alliance is working to change this.