Will insurance cover removal of bees’ nest?

Your property queries answered

Q We have a problem; a swarm of bees has got into our house, under one or more roof tiles, this summer. We suspect there is honey there, just below our roof which is very difficult to get at. Our house is insured. If it is costly to correct the problem, is it likely to be covered by our insurance? We would be grateful for any help or advice you can give.

AThe first thing is to confirm is whether it’s a bees’ nest or a wasps’ nest. Wasps are more commonly found in attic spaces. Bees are less aggressive and generally considered highly beneficial to the environment. It is believed that some species are under threat. Unlike wasps they should not be killed and beehives should be left undisturbed whenever possible.

If you have to remove them, either because a family member is allergic to bees or they pose a risk to the occupants, then you should contact your local beekeeper but expect to pay for this service. All steps should be taken to avoid harming bees and the beekeeper will use a method of smoking, which calms the bees down, to remove and relocate the nest.

If, however, it is a wasp nest, this can be removed. It will be vacated in early spring and will not be re-inhabited. If you need to remove it, call a pest control company.


A wasp nest can sometimes cause damage to a plasterboard ceiling as the nest over time can become damp thus causing the plasterboard to soften. Wasps can also chew material in close proximity to the nest.

Regarding your insurance question, the presence of bees and their removal is unlikely to be an insured peril. Bees can enter a gap as small as 8mm (a third of an inch) so the source of entry is usually the result of shrinkage or ageing of building materials or some form of building defect. Check your insurance policy.

It should be relatively inexpensive to repair the entry point usually involving some form of filling which could be tied in with a redecoration programme. Check the ventilation strip to the soffit board at the eaves. This could be a 10mm-15mm gap with no mesh protection and a simple proprietary plastic ventilation strip could seal this potential weak point.

Pat McGovern is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the SCSI’s Building Surveying Professional Group

Plan for open area

Q We purchased our three-bed semi-detached house in 1968 and have maintained the house to a good standard. The house is painted and decorated every couple of years and structurally the house is in very good condition. However, the downstairs area looks very tired and outdated. What we have in mind is to knock down the wall between the TV room and the diningroom making it an open-plan area. We are hoping to install a wood-burning stove to complement our oil central heating. Can you advise us how we should approach this project? I would be also interested to hear your views on wood-burning stoves, are they worth the effort and expense?

AVirtually any wall can be removed, however, in most circumstances some compensatory works will be required to make up for its removal. The first thing you need to do is to establish whether or not the wall is a load-bearing wall and whether or not it is supporting the first-floor structure together with any walls at first-floor level.

This can be determined by checking the direction of the timber joists at first floor level. If the joists are spanning parallel to the wall in question, then it is unlikely to be supporting the floor. However, if the joists are perpendicular to the wall then most likely the wall is supporting the floor.

You will also need to check to see if there are any walls at first-floor level directly over the wall which might be depending on the wall in question for support. When you know the level of load being carried on the wall, you can then take account of the level of compensatory works required.

This will most likely involve having to temporarily support the floor and walls over, removing the wall, inserting a suitably sized steel beam and all the associated making good works as a result of the removal of the wall.

On the one hand this is a simple building project. However, given the potential for problems to arise and the current need for complying with health and safety legislation together with the need to be able to sign off on compliance with building regulations on completion of the works, then work of this nature should be carried out under professional guidance .

As regards the wood-burning stove, this is an extremely useful and efficient way of heating a space and more often than not it is well worthwhile going to the trouble and expense.

They are also an attractive feature which can greatly enhance the room. Considerable attention will have to be given to the sizing of the stove and the flue arrangements to make sure that the stove is working safely and efficiently and is appropriate for the room in question.

Val O’Brien is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the SCSI’s Building Surveying Professional Group

Fence crosses a line

Q We recently discovered that our neighbour's fence crossed on to our side of the property line. Our neighbours built their house about five years ago and when we discussed this with them they demanded that we remove the 3 sq ft of our concrete driveway which lapses on to their side. What is the best solution for us? Is it possible to reach some sort of compromise as we are anxious not to ruin our relationship with our neighbours?

AFew issues escalate as quickly into a dispute as a boundary issue between neighbours, and the situation you outline appears to be heading this way – you say, “they demanded”.

Of the three issues to be considered, the fence encroachment, the 3 sq ft driveway encroachment, and your relationship with your neighbours, the latter is of prime importance as, not only is a good relationship desirable but it may be crucial to reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the boundary-related issues. You should take whatever steps you can to maintain a good relationship and the issues concerning the fence and driveway should be considered in this context.

Consider the fence encroachment. You have only recently discovered it, yet their house was built five years ago. The degree of encroachment is therefore unlikely to be significant. If it consists of an expensive construction and the encroachment is marginal and is not interfering with your use or enjoyment of your property you should consider accepting the fence as it is.

Your efforts to rectify it may prove difficult if contested, in particular if the encroachment is marginal and your deed map is not sufficiently detailed to confirm it.

If, however, it is significant and you feel you must have it rectified and your neighbour proves unco-operative you may find yourself heading towards litigation. In such instances reliable evidence including a site survey and a definitive deed map will be necessary. You should avoid litigation if at all possible.

In relation to the driveway, the area appears to be insignificant and should not be the subject of, or be used to escalate the issue to a dispute.

Your best solution is to obtain evidence, preferably including your deed map, and then explain the basis of your concern to your neighbour. You should advise that it is in both of your interests that both properties are in accordance with their respective title documents. Demonstrate your willingness to achieve this by agreeing that the driveway should be adjusted accordingly.

The alternative is to leave things as they are, if it’s not too late. Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, civil engineer and a member of SCSI.

Send your queries to propertyquestions@irishtimes.com or to Property Clinic, 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