Properties affected by defective blocks will have to meet damage threshold to access new scheme

Expert group says there should be extensive pattern cracking of at least 1.5mm

Properties affected by defective blocks will have to meet a damage threshold in order for owners to get access to an enhanced grant scheme, in a move which has been met by opposition from homeowners.

A report by an expert working group set up to give advice to the Department of Housing on the new scheme said the property should have extensive pattern cracking of at least 1.5mm.

Homeowners warned the inclusion of a damage threshold “must serve no other purpose than to allow an opportunity to support the applications of worst first to be processed”.

“All homeowners impacted by mica, pyrite, deleterious materials must be accepted onto the scheme, without exceptions. We can accept that a home must be ‘damaged’, however, there can be no entry limit to the damage.”


Under the existing scheme, there is no threshold of damage for entry.

Last November the Cabinet agreed to finance an enhanced €2.2 billion scheme to rebuild and remediate an estimated 7,500 homes which have been structurally damaged by mica.

Ministers agreed that 100 per cent redress would be available to affected homes up to a limit of €420,000 per home.

The legislation to give effect to the enhanced scheme is due before the Dáil in the coming weeks. Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien was advised there should be a damage threshold and the working group advised pattern cracking of at least 1.5mm.

The homeowners also submitted concerns to the working group about the effect that such damage limits would have on the sale of a property.

They said any home that has verified mica or pyrite damage cannot be sold. “Any homes excluded from the scheme due to a ‘damage’ threshold must be permitted to be sold with a guarantee that if the home shows damage, the new homeowner will then be accepted on to the scheme,” they said in a submission.

Mr O'Brien and the Housing Agency will also have to decide how damaged dwellings are prioritised, including semi-detached and terraced dwellings.

The working group also recommended there be an 18-month time limit on grant approvals whereas the homeowners requested five years.

The report said they cited “difficulties such as lack of suitable temporary rental properties, limited number of contractors available to carry out the remediation work and difficulty in funding any shortfall in monies to carry out the works”.

The report also flags concerns around the pumping of cavity walls which have been raised with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) who are responsible for the national retrofit plan.

“There has been a suggestion for some time now that the pumping of cavity walls has potentially exacerbated the defective concrete blocks issue in homes which are susceptible to the issue. The concerns raised by homeowners in this regard with the working group were also flagged by Engineers Ireland in their submission to the working group where the potential for moisture trap in the cavity and the prevention of drying associated with this work has been highlighted.

"The issue has been brought to the attention of SEAI and will be the subject of discussion between the department and the National Standards Authority of Ireland, Geological Survey of Ireland and SEAI."

“NSAI in consultation with SEAI who are responsible for the national home retrofit scheme, will satisfy themselves that installation of such products are fit for the purpose in which they are intended and in the conditions which they are used and being installed correctly.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times