Plans for a State remediation scheme to fix construction defects in homes, mostly built in the Celtic Tiger era, are set to be submitted to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien within weeks.
A working group on defects in housing, which reported last July, found a lack of fire safety material, structural defects and water ingress are likely to affect up to 80 per cent of apartments and duplexes built between 1991 and 2013, which equates to between 62,500 and 100,000 homes.
The average cost of remediating defects was €25,000 per apartment, or up to €2.5 billion, the report commissioned by Mr O’Brien found.
The Department of Housing has confirmed that an inter-departmental/agency group tasked with developing a remediation scheme for homeowners is expected to bring forward “specific proposals to Government by the end of the year”. These proposals will be submitted to the Cabinet subcommittee on housing which includes the leaders of the three Government parties, the Minister for Housing, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, before being brought to the full Cabinet.
“Legislation will be required to underpin any proposals agreed by Government,” a spokesman for the department said.
A spokesman for Mr O’Brien said: “The Minister will give full consideration to requests for safety measures that may be appropriate.”
Construction Defects Alliance, an advocacy group for affected property owners, said the extent of the problem remains unknown.
“It is probably fair to say we are still in the terrain where we are dealing with estimates. The estimate of the working group on defective homes is that there are likely to be in the region of 100,000 affected by defects, 90,000 of which are fire safety defects,” alliance representative Pat Montague said. “But the majority of apartment developments haven’t had assessments carried out in them in relation to fire safety defects. It is likely that the majority of defects have not yet been uncovered.” However, Mr Montague said he suspected there were systemic issues in many apartments built during the Celtic Tiger era.
Many property owners worried about the potential costs of work, insurance excesses and plummeting property values may be deferring investigations of their apartments, Mr Montague said.
“A lot of people will be holding on to do those assessments until the scheme has been put in place by Government to deal with them. People are afraid of consequences because it is difficult to sell defective apartments. Lenders won’t lend, they would be limited to cash buyers and having to take lower values, so a lot of people are sitting tight.”
The alliance has asked the Government for interim supports to facilitate essential works in advance of the remediation scheme, he said.
“We have asked for support for upgrades to alarm systems, and in bigger developments to fund the employment of fire wardens, and for emergency grants to do safety work, particularly in places where there may be timber-framed developments – they’re most vulnerable.”
The Irish Examiner this week reported fire safety defects have been uncovered in blocks of up to 550 apartments in the Phoenix Park Racecourse development in Dublin.
The defects relate to the common areas and apartments in the first phase of the development, built between 2006 and 2008 by Flynn & O’Flaherty, the newspaper reports.
Flynn & O’Flaherty did not respond to contacts from The Irish Times.