Irish Water: Home buyers bear brunt as levy jumps from €600 to €6,000

Connections fees are soaring but delivery is sputtering, claim home builders

 

“A nightmare to deal with, and bolshie to boot.” That’s what one house builder had to say when describing their experience of Ireland’s newest and arguably most unpopular utility provider, Irish Water.

Having beaten an unfortunate retreat from the imposition of water charges on Ireland’s existing householders, the company (part of Ervia, which also includes Gas Networks Ireland) appears to have been throwing a spanner in developers’ efforts to deliver much-needed new homes.

Water used to be supplied to homes, and waste water removed, by local authorities. Irish Water’s assumption of that role has, according to several leading house builders, reduced the speed of delivery to a trickle.

The average water levy has soared from about €600 per new home to about €6,200. Developers are feeling the financial impact, thanks to Irish Water’s requirement that the fee be paid before construction starts – and the real cost of the increased levy is ultimately borne by those buyers forced to pay thousands of euro more for their new homes.

Irish Water’s insistence that only companies from its panel of regional contractors be used to install connections is proving another bugbear for home builders, with claims that the utility company’s nominees have been charging huge multiples of the fees charged by the contractors that developers used to employ directly.

Irish Water says that it has been through a detailed public-consultation process and that the new policy has “provided a single clear, transparent and fair connection-charging framework” and a “consistent, safe and end-to-end connection service to customers nationally”.

As for the stark increase in the water levy: “As Irish Water is harmonising the charges nationally, and standardising the service being offered, there are some charge increases and some charge decreases across the country.”

It adds: “Irish Water currently estimates that it takes on average 16 weeks to issue a connection offer from the date a complete and valid application is received. This time frame is indicative, as some connections are straightforward and are completed quicker, while more complex connections may take longer.” In the meantime, developers just have to go with the flow.