On 31 May 2017 the Construction Industry Federation announced that it has received government approval for the drafting and publication of new legislation requiring builders, contractors and specialist subcontractors wishing to carry out certain construction works to register with the Construction Industry Register Ireland (“CIRI”). This constitutes another step in the increasingly regulated environment surrounding the Irish construction industry.

CIRI was established in March 2014 with the objective of being recognised as “the primary online resource used by consumers in the public and private procurement of construction services” through a register of members that “commit to delivering excellence in every aspect of their work….are competent and capable to deliver the job at hand….run their business in a professional manner and they sign up to continuous professional development to stay at the forefront of construction best practices”.

Until now, entry on the register has been on a voluntary basis. However, the General Scheme of the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) (CIRI) Bill 2017 (the “Bill”) will in time see CIRI placed on a statutory footing. This means that any builders, contractors and specialist subcontractors wishing to carry out certain construction works must by law be registered with CIRI.

When it was introduced the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (“BCAR”) obliged building owners carrying out certain works to appoint a competent design certifier, assigned certifier and builder. Whilst the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works that accompanied BCAR gave some guidance to building owners as to the minimum qualifications required for persons to discharge the role of design certifier or assigned certifier (albeit with no particular guidance on what constitutes ‘competence’), none was provided in the context of builders.

The establishment of CIRI plugged this gap and is a useful consumer protection measure as building owners appointing a builder, contractor or specialist subcontractor from the register can now expect a minimum level of competency, professionalism and commitment to best practice. This will be of particular comfort to domestic building owners who have traditionally viewed the construction industry with a certain degree of mistrust.

However, CIRI is still only a register of contractors and sub-contractors fulfilling the minimum qualification criteria for entry upon the register. Building owners carrying out large scale or complex works will still need to ensure that the contractor they appoint has the necessary competency and capacity for such works. Whilst the Bill does contemplate the division of the register into different divisions of categories and classes, it seems unlikely that it will distinguish contractors’ competencies by criteria such as project value.

As noted above, the placing of CIRI on a statutory footing constitutes another step in the increasingly regulated Irish construction industry but it is a positive one nonetheless. Like BCAR, the Bill and the legislation that will ultimately follow will have its critics, but its aim is increased consumer protection in the construction industry which must be welcomed.