Legislation requiring providers of building services to register with Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) has been published and is aimed at ensuring greater compliance within the sector.

The Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021 applies to builders of both residential and non-residential buildings that are subject to Irish building regulations.

Currently, such building providers can voluntarily register with CIRI, which has operated since 2014. But, once the legislation is enacted, they will be required by law to register with CIRI.

Approximately 800 building and contracting entities are currently included on the register but once it operates on a statutory footing, it’s expected that initially at least 5,000 entities will be required to register, according to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH).

A spokesperson for the department told Agriland that building contractors involved in agricultural construction will come under the scope of the new legislation, if they are constructing structures that are not exempt under Irish building regulations.

The most relevant exemptions, in terms of agricultural buildings, the spokesperson said are: a single storey glasshouse used solely for agriculture and; and a single storey building, not exceeding 300m2 (used exclusively for the storage of materials or products, for the accommodation of plant or machinery or in connection with the housing, care or management of livestock). Further information on building regulations and exemptions is available via the electronic Irish Statute Book.

CIRI was established by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), which is expected to operate the statutory register – a similar model to that of registration for Registered Architects and Surveyors.

Employees of building firms will not be required to register but sole traders will.

Eligibility for registration can be achieved through qualifications, experience or a combination of both. The criteria required for registration will be clear and transparent and will be set out in regulations, according to the DHLGH.

Once enacted, the statutory register is expected to help develop and “promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with building regulations”.

The new measures will also address shadow economic activity in the construction sector and ensure fairer competition for compliant operators.

Commenting on the legislation, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien said:

“This legislation, promised under Housing for All, will help improve our housing system over the longer term.

“Everyone should be confident in the knowledge that their homes are built to the highest standards and that any professional services they use are also of a certain standard.

“Likewise, companies and people buying or renting commercial buildings should be able to expect that they are built by service providers of a certain standard. This legislation will ensure that the construction sector operates to the highest standard and that people have confidence in its workforce and practices.”

The minister also referred to the issue of “housing defects and the legacies of poor construction design, workmanship and materials”.

“It is something which has impacted so significantly on the lives of so many of our people. By driving regulation in the construction sector, the state will ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and we have a more sustainable housing system and construction sector in the future,” the minister said.