Q We moved into our detached house in north county Dublin about three years ago and everything was fine. However, in the past few months this has changed and we are very concerned about it. Some of the doors no longer close properly and cracks have begun to appear on the walls. Could we be affected by pyrite and how would we know for sure? Where can we get more information on this issue?
A There is a lot of confusion around pyrite and what it is. Pyrite (FES 2 – iron sulphide) is a very common, naturally occurring mineral. Traces of it are found naturally in the sedimentary rock that is used to make crushed stone for backfill used in construction.
However, in the presence of moisture and oxygen, pyrite oxidises and produces sulphuric acid. The acid reacts with the calcium carbonate (for example limestone) found in the crushed stone.
This chemical reaction produces sulphate and can form gypsum, whose crystallisation will cause the stone to burst, the backfill to swell and the concrete to crumble and swell.
This, in turn, puts pressure on concrete floors and foundations, and can result in structural damage to a property.
This can cause damage to property including:
- a “spider web” pattern of cracking to a concrete floor, or star or cross shaped cracks that gradually spread;
- floor “heave” (bulging, rising);
- needle-like white crystals near cracks, which disintegrate when touched;
- bulging or horizontal cracking of external walls at low level;
- cracking of internal partitions or walls: horizontal cracking at ceiling level, or vertical cracking above door openings;
- more significant or major cracking to internal load-bearing walls resting on concrete over pyrite-bearing material;
- bulging of internal walls;
- internal doors sticking or jammed in an open or shut position;
-kitchen worktops or other internal surfaces sloping.
There are some online supports to help you with your situation including the Pyrite Resolution Board (pyriteboard.ie). The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government recently announced a €10 million contribution to 1,000 homes affected by pyrite although these appear to be the worst-affected. From the symptoms you describe, it appears that you may be affected by pyrite but only a professional assessment can confirm this.
Krystyna Rawicz is a chartered building surveyor and a fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie
Q I live in a development where there have been parking issues for years. However, the management company is talking about introducing clamping, to which I am opposed. Do I have a say in any of this and does the management company, which is made up of residents, have the right to introduce this without a vote?
A An owners’ management company (OMC) is empowered by Section 23 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 to draft house rules for the effective operation and maintenance of the development.
At least 21 days’ notice for a general meeting must be sent out to each member of the OMC along with a copy of the proposed house rules. The proposed rules will be considered and approved or rejected only by the members of the OMC at a general meeting.
Assigned parking in a development is where a unit owner has a specific parking space and they are the only person entitled to park their vehicle in that space. Where a lease prescribes that a parking space does not form part of the common areas, written permission will be required from each parking space owner to allow clamping of a vehicle on their space.
If the development has unassigned parking, the OMC must have the common areas transferred to their ownership, so as to be in a position to draft binding house rules such as the use of clamping in common areas.
If the common areas have not yet been transferred, the permission of the owner of the common areas will need to be sought before proposing the draft house rules to the OMC at a meeting. Section 13 (1) of the Muds Act 2011 arguably will afford an OMC without ownership of the common areas, the right to enforce clamping in say emergency access points subject to Section 23 of the act.
If clamping is approved by the members at a meeting, written copies of the house rules must be sent to each unit owner and to each unit in the development. Adequate signage must also be erected on site warning of the parking policies in place.
Paul Huberman is a member of the Property and Facilities Management Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland
Q We are confused about property tax. When exactly must we pay the tax for 2014?
A There has been some confusion recently in relation to the payment date for the local property tax (LPT) 2014 following letters issued to almost one million people which outlined a number of dates.
The Revenue Commissioners have clarified the situation, however. According to the Revenue Commissioners’ website you do not have to pay your 2014 LPT now, or at any stage before Christmas. The tax is not due until January 1st, 2014.
All that Revenue is asking you to do is to let them know now how you want to pay for next year, fill in the payment instruction on paper and send it online by November 27th.
You can choose to pay in one lump sum or by a phased payment method over the course of the year.
You can pay over the year by way of direct debt or deduction from salary.
You can make regular payments via An Post, you can pay by credit card on January 1st or you can pay by cheque.
My advice, if you have any doubts, is to review the Revenue Commissioners website or call 1890-200255, from 8am to 8pm.
The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and the Irish Taxation Institute also published a guide to Local Property Tax earlier in the year, which is available from scsi.ie.
Simon Stokes is chairman of the residential agency professional group of the SCSI
Got a query?
Send your queries to
The Irish Times,
24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2.
This column is a readers' service.
Advice given is general and individual
advice should always be sought