My child has been diagnosed with asthma - do I need to lift all my carpets?

Pulling up floorboards, an unused retail space and assessing building/upgrading costs

Carpets can harbour huge amounts of dust. Photograph: Thinkstock

Carpets can harbour huge amounts of dust. Photograph: Thinkstock


Q Our child has been diagnosed with asthma and the consultant recommended we remove the carpets in our home as they harbour a huge amount of dust and this could be a trigger to his asthma attacks. We have carpet in the bedrooms only so the work will not be too extensive. We would like to polish the floorboards so we pulled the carpet up to see what needed to be done, only to find that the previous owner has cut away large sections of the timber floorboards in two of the rooms and replaced them with chipboard.

Are we going to have to pull the floorboards up in the entirety of both rooms and replace them or will it be possible to just replace the affected areas? If the cost will be considerable, we might just replace the carpet with linoleum.

We were considering selling our house when the market picks up, if we leave it the way it is (with linoleum covering it), would it be considered a defect if it is detected by potential buyers?

A The answer really depends on the standard of finish that you want to achieve and the extent of floorboards that have already been replaced. It is fair to say that the better option is to replace all of the floorboards to a standard, consistent finish, however a skilful carpenter using salvaged floorboards could be able to achieve a reasonable finish.

Notwithstanding the above, covering the existing floorboards is perhaps a better and more economical solution. This is why most floorboards are considered as a base to support a more suitable floor finish and one would normally expect to have to provide a floor covering/finish such as carpet, marmoleum tiles or timber finishes on top of the original floor sheeting. Accordingly, putting a linoleum down on top of the floorboards here is also a very pragmatic solution, however we would question the suitability of linoleum for a bedroom and would suggest alternative finishes. For example, there are reasonable quality veneer floor finishes that look like timber and are very effective. These would, in our opinion, be more suitable than a linoleum and are easy to lay and also achieve a smooth, clean finish.

As regards selling the house, I do not feel that you need to concern yourself with this issue. An experienced surveyor would expect that the original floorboards under most finishes would have been previously damaged due to earlier works such as laying electrical cables or inserting pipework for the heating installation, and whilst it would certainly be considered a bonus to find that the floorboards were in good condition, it would be unreasonable to consider this as a defect.

Val O’Brien sits on the Building Surveying Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

Q I am a retired shopkeeper but kept the shop and rented it out to a close friend a number of years ago as I still live upstairs with my wife and the money coming in was my pension.

My friend has recently emigrated to the s outh of France and the shop is now vacant. I am finding it difficult to get someone else to rent the unit as a well-known retailer opened up around the corner about two years ago. Earlier in the year I received a rates bill from the council which I cannot afford. As there is nobody in the shop do I have to pay this?

A Where a rateable property is vacant on the date that the annual rate is struck by the local authority then the liability for the payment of rates rests with the person entitled to occupy the property. Essentially the leaseholder pays or if there is no lease the property owner pays, as is the situation in your case. Section 71 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act 1930 provides for rates vacancy relief, subject to one of the following conditions prevailing at the striking of the annual rate; if a property is vacant despite bona fide attempts by the landlord to obtain a suitable tenant at a reasonable market rent or if a property is vacant for the execution of planned repairs, alterations or redevelopment.

You will be required to complete a prescribed vacancy relief form, and submit a personal declaration along with supporting documentary evidence, confirming the fulfilment of one of the above conditions. In your case, the evidence should include correspondence from your letting agent, together with copies of newspaper advertisements or web placements.

Generally local authorities will only deal with vacancy relief applications a year in arrears, by granting a credit against future rates payments in the following calendar year.

In respect of every completed month during which the property is unoccupied, the vacancy relief equals one-12th of the annual rates, in the case of Dublin, Cork and Limerick City Council administrative areas, the refund equals one-24th, of the annual rates.

Under section 31 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, local authorities may now use their own discretion as to the amount of vacancy relief to be granted for qualifying properties in pre-designated areas.

I am not aware of your property’s characteristics but if as you say the leasing options look bleak, you might be better served looking at other uses for the property, including a change of use to residential.

Eamonn Maguire is chair of the SCSI commercial agency professional group .

Q My wife and I built a house in the countryside in the late 1970 s which was added to / upgraded over the following years.

We are unsure of the original cost but probably under €12,000 . Again we are unsure what the cost of additions / improvements were subsequently.

It remained our PPR from 1979 until 2006 when we bought another property. Our son continued to live in the original house from 2006 and now resides there with his wife and family (rent free for the duration).

Our son is planning to build a house and when this is completed we intend selling the property he now lives in.

I understand we will get relief from CGT pro rata to the period it was our PPR versus total ownership, however how do we assess the original cost from a capital gains tax perspective given that we are unsure what the building / upgrading cost amounted to etc.

A Firstly, you should always get specialist tax advice from an accountant or qualified tax practitioner on these matters. The Irish Tax Institute has useful information on its website

I can appreciate that it is not easy to find records dating back to the 1970s but you should, however, have some bank or other records of payments that you could use as a starting point to check some of the costs involved in the upgrades to the property at the time.

A chartered quantity surveyor could also advise you on what the likely costs were at the time for completing such upgrades, additions and improvements to the property. (To find a chartered quantity surveyor, visit the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) website

The Revenue Commissioners website provides a range of information and relevant details including multipliers applicable to construction or other costs when calculating Capital Gains Tax liability.

You are correct, of course, that you should have PPR exemption pro rata for the years the house was your principal private residence. Given the significant drop in property values since 2006, it is unlikely that there would be any capital gain since then but you need to speak to the relevant professionals given that this is a very specific situation and inform them of all the relevant details.

My advice is to firstly speak with a taxation specialist and your local chartered surveyor about getting the required valuations on the property completed.

Simon Stokes is chair of the residential property professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,