Families with deposits on homes costing up to €360,000 blame Irish Water delays in connecting the properties for preventing them from moving in.
At least 17 families poised to buy houses in Cornerpark, Newcastle, in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, say they are waiting months for the State utility to connect them to the water supply and waste systems.
They have paid deposits on the homes, costing between €330,000 and €360,000, but accuse Irish Water of “stonewalling” when they query progress on connecting the properties to its networks.
"It's causing a lot of frustration," said Dean Shallow, one of the people who have paid a deposit on a home, on Wednesday.
He and his partner paid the deposit several months ago. “We have been waiting for the last year for the houses to be built,” he said.
Mr Shallow said that the delays were creating extra problems for some of the buyers, including pressure from landlords to move out of their current homes.
He said that Irish Water gave “very generic” replies to questions from the group, while it failed to make any progress on connecting the properties.
At the same time developer Alanna Homes and selling agent Sherry FitzGerald were telling the buyers that the problem lay with Irish Water, he said.
Mr Shallow said that the problem was not limited to Cornerpark, but was hitting other new estates in the area as well.
Sherry FitzGerald said it understood that its client, Alanna Homes, was in the final stages of standardising paperwork with Irish Water, and expected the problem to be dealt with imminently.
“All parties are endeavouring to complete this as a matter of urgency,” a spokeswoman for the real estate agency said.
Irish Water did not comment on the delays in Cornerpark, but said that it prioritised housing developments.
“In many instances, we will work with developers to identify local solutions in order to facilitate the construction of new housing,” said a statement.
The company explained that water and wastewater infrastructure in new housing estates had to meet the right standards, and staff regularly checked to ensure this.
“Once the developer has addressed any issues identified, the connection will be made,” Irish Water said.
James Benson, director of the Irish Home Builders'Association (IHBA), said the State's failure to invest in infrastructure for 10 years had left developers and Irish Water with problems that led to delays in connecting new homes.
Builders pay Irish Water €5,600 to connect each home to the supply and waste systems.
Both parties establish if connection is feasible before homes are built, when it often emerges that builders need to pay to upgrade the local water infrastructure.
This can add from €15,000 to, in extreme cases, up to €30,000 to the cost for each home, according to Mr Benson. “That is enough to lock someone out of buying a property,” he observed.
Mr Benson pointed out that where developers paid for upgrades, it benefitted not just their projects, but the area as a whole, including any subsequent estates built by rivals, who then sell their homes at cheaper prices.
He argued that Government had not given Irish Water the funds it needed to improve its networks. “They are in a difficult situation,” he said.