Property Clinic

Heating surveys, noisy neighbours and tax implications for building in the garden

A complete heating system survey can be carried out by a consultant mechanical services engineer to identify problems. Photograph: Thinkstock

A complete heating system survey can be carried out by a consultant mechanical services engineer to identify problems. Photograph: Thinkstock


Q We moved into a new house in 2008. We are looking for a competent person who will come up with solutions for a building/ heating problem. One room on the ground floor and a room directly above are much colder than the rest of the house and uncomfortable to use. We are trying to locate competent professionals who will diagnose the cause of the problem and find a solution . In addition, we would like to have a complete heating survey carried out to establish if our system is performing adequately . We are finding it difficult to locate professionals in these areas of expertise and would be grateful for any advice . We live in the Athlone area of Co Westmeath.

A A new house bought in 2008 will have been constructed at the time of the boom when the construction industry was under considerable stress and standards often fell below requirements in many areas including the mechanical or heating installation.

You do not say what type of heating or the type of property you have but it is clear from your question that at least two rooms are failing to reach or maintain comfort levels of heating. This might be caused by a number of factors – not just the heating system – and, as you say, discovery of the cause is important from the outset.

A complete heating system survey can be carried out by a consultant mechanical services engineer, and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers in Ireland (CIBSE) can provide you with a list of competent persons in the Athlone area. (Email

Apart from the heating system being inadequate in these rooms, another reason that temperature may not be reached could be a lack of insulation, either wall, floor or at ceiling level in each space, together with the extent of exposure to the elements outside of these surfaces.

Air tightness might also be a problem, usually draughts caused by ill-fitting windows or doors can suck out heat faster than the heating system can provide it.

Often it is difficult to see what insulation is present in these areas or where draughts might exist, and so I would recommend getting a chartered building surveyor to inspect and carry out a survey of the property.

An infra red, thermograph or thermal imaging survey is a great way to detect where insulation is deficient and will (to a certain extent) show where heat is leaking out of the building by draughts. The image shown, courtesy of FLIR cameras ( shows a house where insulation is missing at floor levels as indicated by the orange horizontal strips and heat is bleeding out.

Fergus Merriman is a chartered building surveyor and member of SCSI,

Q My wife and I are owner-occupiers of a two-bed apartment and have a three-month-old baby. The apartment beside us is rented out and recently new tenants moved in. They are very loud; talking loudly late at night ( the walls are quite thin) and having late-night parties regularly. I have tried approaching them and explaining the situation but have had little success. I have also addressed the issue with the owner of the apartment but he hasn’t done anything about it – we get the impression he is happy as long as they are paying the rent. We’re at our wit’s end. Where can we go from here?

A An owner’s management company (OMC) lease agreement binds the company to its members and would indicate the lessee’s covenants. You should review your lease with the OMC to identify the conditions therein. It is likely that there are conditions for the allowed times for loud noise outside the premises. The OMC house rules may also be used as an instrument by the OMC to protect the members’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their property and the members may consider such rules and regulations at a general meeting. The property owner is responsible for their tenants’ actions and behaviour during their tenancy inclusive of House Rule and Lease breaches.

The Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Noise) Regulations, 1994 (S I No 179 of 1994) provides redress in the case of common types of noise problems. A guide to noise regulations is available to download on or can be collected from their offices. It is also possible for you to contact the Environmental Protection Agency or your local authority to take an action in the D istrict Court so as to seek a court order to resolve the issue . The court will provide you with a form to fill out and will then hear your case and that of the defending party.

As the property is rented you may wish to consider taking an action with the Private Residential Tenancies Board. The PRTB will only review a complaint about a landlord if the case is not before the District Court so both actions cannot be undertaken at the same time. The Private Residential Tenancies Act 2004 allows for a person to take a complaint to them in the event that a landlord fails to ensure that their tenants observe their lease agreement.

It is important to maintain detailed records of the noise. This will ensure a comprehensive record of events for use at a PRTB adjudication or communication with the local authority.

It might also be best to consider adding another layer of dry lining to your apartment which will act as a sound insulator and would preserve good relations with your neighbours.

Paul Huberman is a member of the property and facilities management professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

Q I currently own an end of terrace dwelling (my PPR) which I purchased in late 2006 and have recently obtained permission to construct another dwelling in my side garden. What are the tax implications if I build this dwelling and use this as my PPR, renting out my existing dwelling? Alternatively, could I avail of the property purchase incentive (in respect of the first seven years of ownership as per the Finance Act 2014) and sell this site to myself and ensure that I avail of the exemption from CGT? It should also be known that I am getting married in the summer and my fiancée also owns a dwelling (her PPR).

A You should always obtain specialist tax advice but in summary: Your principal private residence on land up to 1 acre (PPR) is normally exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

When the PPR comprises development land and the consideration exceeds €19,050, the PPR relief is restricted. This restriction effectively works as follows: where a dwelling house or garden/part of a garden, is sold for greater than its current use value, then this constitutes the sale of development land and principal private residence relief will apply only to the current use value.

This means you would pay CGT on the difference between the current use value and the sale price. You can only have one PPR at a time. Revenue attach various conditions to the seven-year CGT relief including: the land or buildings must be acquired during the period December 7th, 2011 to December 31st , 2014; the land or buildings (including rental property) must be situated in an EEA state (including Ireland); where the land or buildings are acquired from a third party, the consideration provided must equal the market value of the land or buildings; where the land or buildings are acquired from a relative, the consideration provided must not be less than 75 per cent of the market value of the land or buildings; the acquirer must continue to hold the land or buildings for a period of seven years from the date of acquisition; any income, profits or gains generated from the property within the seven-year period must come within the charge to Irish income or corporation tax, eg where an individual rents out the property during the seven-year period, the rental income must come within the charge to Irish income tax; and the transaction must not come within the anti-avoidance provisions which deal with artificial capital loss arrangements.

The last condition is important as Revenue will look closely at any transfer to related parties or transfers that appear to be for the purpose of tax avoidance. Selling anything to yourself is not a transfer but you might look at setting up a separate entity to develop the site. The element of the gain covered by the seven-year period of ownership is exempt from CGT.

Therefore, where a property is to be held for, say, 10 years, 70 per cent of the gain will be exempt from CGT. You should consult a tax specialist or accountant to explore the most tax-efficient way of developing the site and dealing with the ownership of your existing house and your fiancée’s. It is important to consider your long-term plan regarding ownership of the three properties. This should be considered not just in terms of rental income over the next few years but also in terms of securing your pension and retirement income. Many people are looking at self-administered pensions involving property purchase. Remember though that your pension cannot buy your house and cannot let it to you or a related party.

Simon Stokes is chair of the residential property professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,

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Property Clinic,
The Irish Times,
24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2.
This column is a readers’ service.
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