Wednesday 24 October 2007

Construction cost and quality to be investigated

CONSUMER watchdogs are to investigate whether tougher laws are needed to protect homeowners from builders and repairers.

Yesterday, the National Consumer Agency began an investigation into whether Ireland’s construction industry is working to the detriment of the public.

The study will also see if homeowners are overpaying for work on their homes and what can be done to address the issue.

Last year, the NCA’s predecessor, the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, fielded 2,120 complaints about construction work or buying a home.

Now the consumer watchdog is inviting the public and the trade to contribute to its home construction industry study.

“Given the costs and complexity of buying or renovating a home, we want to evaluate the consumer’s experience when purchasing a home or when engaging in construction, maintenance and renovations,” said chief executive Anne Fitzgerald.

“Our study will identify if there are specific issues where we may need to intervene on behalf of consumers and if there are areas requiring legislative or regulatory change.”

Among the topics the study will cover are:

* quality control and how builders put right problems.

* the planning applications process and how building laws are enforced.

* whether consumers are able to get enough information before employing a builder.

The NCA said the construction industry was chosen for the agency’s latest investigation as the trade had undergone massive expansion on the back of the booming economy.

The cost of buying a new home or getting work done presents consumers with tough choices so the NCA wants to see if the law offers enough protection.

The NCA aims to finish its report by March, 2008, and hand its findings to Trade and Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin, who will study the recommendations.

* Anyone wishing to comment is asked to write by November 16 to John Maher, the Home Construction Industry Study, the National Consumer Agency, 4 Harcourt Road, Dublin 2.

Comments may also be sent by e-mail to

Irish Examiner

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