Pyrite redress scheme gets 418 applications

Almost 70 per cent of applications to €10m fund relate to Dublin houses

Cracks is seen in a house at Avila Close, Finglas, due to   pyrite in the cement. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Cracks is seen in a house at Avila Close, Finglas, due to pyrite in the cement. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 15:21

Half the number of householders entitled to remediation of pyrite damage to their homes have made claims to the €10 million State-funded redress scheme, two months since it became operational.

Some 418 householders, more than two thirds of whom are in Dublin, have completed applications, and a further 146 have begun the process.

More than 10,000 homes were identified by the Pyrite Resolution Board as having been damaged by “pyritic heave”, where the presence of the mineral in the foundations has caused subsidence and cracks in the structure.

However, the board estimated that fewer than 1,000 cases - the most severe - qualify for repairs, which are expected to cost €40,000 to €50,000 per property.

To qualify, properties must be assessed by the board’s “damage verification process” as having significant damage due to pyritic heave. The audit process has now been completed for over half of applications received, the board said.

“While there can be some differences in attributing values to various elements of the dwelling, overall the damage condition ratings recorded have been satisfactory in all cases audited thus far.”

The Housing Agency is due to sign contracts with builders next month to carry out the work for successful applicants.

Only homes built and completed between January 1997 and December 2013 in Meath, Kildare, Offaly and the Dublin local authority areas of Fingal and Dublin city - areas where pyrite has been found in housing - qualify for the scheme.

Of the applications completed so far, 288 relate to houses in Dublin, 110 are from Meath, 11 from Offaly and nine from Kildare.

Since the problem was identified the effects of pyrite have made some properties uninhabitable. The scheme does not compensate owners for work already undertaken.

In its first progress report the board notes that submitted applications “declare little by way of actions taken, whether by applicants themselves or builders/developers, to seek redress from others who may have liability”.

Applicants “may be slow to declare such actions as they would worry that this might affect their eligibility for remediation” particularly homeowners who have been living with “severe damage for a considerable period of time”, the board said.

There had been a number of legal settlements in favour of builders and developers and their representatives had been in contact with the board with a view to getting the necessary cooperation from homeowners.

“It also seems that settlements being negotiated in some cases might not meet the full costs of remediation, but that the builders/developers wish to find a mechanism that would contribute towards the Pyrite Remediation Scheme,” the board said.

“ It remains to be seen what these efforts will achieve, but it seems appropriate that the Board should agree that as much funds as possible be contributed from those liable for the pyrite damage, while not unduly delaying or frustrating homeowners in their need to have their damaged dwellings remediated.”

Homeowners and their representatives had sought assurance that they would not be disadvantaged by cooperating with builder or developers the board said. “This has been tacitly acknowledged subject to receiving satisfactory proposals that can be legally recommended.”

The Government had planned to levy the insurance and quarrying industries for the cost of repairs but Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last year announced that, following legal advice, the levy could not be applied and the State would have to foot the Bill.