Improved mica redress scheme to come before Cabinet

Details yet to be finalised on defective blocks plan but homeowners aware of development

Paddy Diver outside his mica-affected home in Co Donegal. File photograph: PA

Paddy Diver outside his mica-affected home in Co Donegal. File photograph: PA

 

An enhanced scheme for homes affected by defective mica blocks is set to come before Cabinet on November 9th, but the details of it are yet to be finalised, homeowners have been told.

A meeting was held on Friday between Government TDs from affected counties such as Clare, Mayo and Donegal and representatives of the homeowners.

The representatives were told that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien was still working on the proposal, but it is hoped that an enhanced defective blocks scheme will go to Ministers for approval on November 9th.

Government sources believe plans for industry levies to part fund rebuilding affected homes will proceed, but details of it have not been agreed either. In terms of redress, one source said it is likely that a cap on the costs of remediation or rebuilding would remain in place, but it would likely be in the region of €350,000 rather than the €500,000 figure previously mooted.

The existing Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme covers €50,000 worth of repairs in cases where a house can be saved, and up to a maximum of €275,000 in cases where houses have to be demolished and rebuilt. The largest grant payable is 90 per cent of the maximum cost allowed under the scheme, or 90 per cent of the actual cost of the qualifying works carried out, whichever is less.

Politicians are keen to ensure that homeowner availing of the current scheme and now undertaking works will be allowed to access the enhanced model.

The new scheme is expected to be run by the Housing Agency rather than local authorities and a panel of engineers will likely be asked to assess the affected homes.

Crack and crumble

Micas are naturally occurring minerals that can absorb and store water, which have been found in building blocks and can cause them to crack and crumble over time. Thousands of homes in the west and northwest have been affected by the problem and owners are seeking redress. The Department of Housing has estimated that some 6,600 homes may require remediation.

Eileen Doherty, a homeowners representative, attended Friday’s meeting and said homeowners had sent “detailed material on costings and detail on each of the issues identified over the course of the working group” to leaders of the Government parties.

She said homeowner representatives spoke about the importance of putting in place plans to get families out of homes that are in danger of collapsing.

“We cant afford to wait around for months on end while senior civil servants discuss this whilst each day these homes come closer and closer to falling in on an innocent family.”