Tenants evacuated after pyrite damage go home

Fri, Apr 13, 2012, 01:00

RESIDENTS EVACUATED from a Dublin senior citizens’ complex more than a year ago following the discovery of the mineral pyrite in its foundations will be able to return to their homes next week.

Dublin City Council has spent about €700,000 removing the defective building material and refurbishing the 20 apartments at Clancarthy Court, beside Donnycarney church in north Dublin.

The complex of three two-storey blocks was built less than six years ago by Shenick Construction at a cost to the council of about €3 million. The residents had to be moved out of their homes after floors began to rise and cracks appeared in the walls.

The defects began to emerge within 18 months of the completion of the development but they were not initially attributed to pyrite.

Damage became more significant over time, with floors rising by up to 40mm in places. Kitchen countertops bent and tiles cracked as a result, leaving unsafe surfaces underfoot.

Stone samples that were taken in 2009 revealed that pyrite, a component in building materials linked to structural damage in houses across north Dublin, had been used in the foundations of the building.

The council began rehousing residents in 2010 but it was early 2011 before suitable temporary accommodation could be found for all tenants.

By this time Shenick had gone into liquidation, leaving the council to foot the bill.

The Department of the Environment agreed to fund the work which, in addition to removing the pyrite and replacing it with sound material, involved installing new flooring, blinds, furniture and electrical appliances.

It is understood that the council is pursuing the liquidator in an attempt to recover the costs.

Clancarthy Court is just the first of several city council-owned properties damaged by pyrite to be repaired.

The council is facing costs of more than €10.5 million for the removal of pyrite from newly built Ballymun regeneration homes.

Three developments with 274 houses and apartments that were built to rehouse tenants of the Ballymun flats have pyrite problems.

Remedial work to fix the problem in the largest of these developments, an estate of 124 housing units known as Sillogue 4, will cost about €10.5 million.

Further tests are shortly to begin on the other two developments, Carton Terrace, which has 94 units, and Owensilla, which has 58 units, to determine the extent of the work that is required and the costs involved, the council said.

Extensive pyrite damage also required the evacuation of a Traveller housing scheme in Finglas. Work to fix the six houses is ongoing and the final cost is expected to be more than €660,000.

The presence of pyrite in building materials began to spark concerns about three years ago when private houses built by Menolly Homes in an estate in north Dublin began to show signs of structural damage, including cracks in walls and floors.

Pyrite, sometimes known as “fool’s gold”, is a mineral which naturally occurs in stone, but when it is exposed to air or water it becomes unstable and can cause structural damage, including cracking and buckling of walls and floors.