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Monday 5 December 2016

Shocked Dublin homeowners face €28k bill each as fire safety flaws emerge at city apartments

The Distillery apartment complex near Croke Park, which was completed in 2005 Photo: Arthur Carron
The Distillery apartment complex near Croke Park, which was completed in 2005 Photo: Arthur Carron

Homeowners will have to foot a massive bill up to €2.2m after serious fire safety issues were discovered in a city centre apartment complex, the Herald can reveal.

The Distillery apartments in north Dublin - finished in 2005 at the height of the boom - is the latest development where severe issues have been found.

Problems have been identified with fire compartmentation (to prevent rapid fire spread), fire doors, protection of the structural elements of the building, and fire alarms.

The issues affect both common areas and individual apartments.

There are 78 apartments and duplexes in the building.

Bill

This means that the owner of each apartment could have to pay up to €28,000 for the works, based on estimates.

A private meeting of anxious apartment owners was held last week and the Herald understands that residents were informed they will have to cover the costs.

Several people renting in the development told this newspaper that they had not been informed of the risks found in the building, although investigations into the defects were carried out in April.

Early estimates have been provided to owners, warning that "unforeseen works are inevitable therefore the actual price will change as works progress".

It estimates that the cost of the remedial work will be between €1.5m and €2.2m.

The owner of each apartment will need to pay between €19,000 and €28,000 for the works on that scale but there is a fear that this number will climb.

Engineers have completed some "opening up" works to investigate the defects and photos of some of the faults were distributed.

They include images of the common area fire door and compartmentation issues.

A handful of apartments also house Dublin City Council tenants.

The summary of the concerns, outlined in a document distributed to owners and seen by the Herald, are as follows:

• Fire compartmentation/separation found to be inadequate

• Defects to fire doors

• Protection to escape stairs not complete - smoke ventilation

• Additional work required to common areas fire alarm

• Inadequate protection to elements of structure (steel beams/columns).

• Changes required to improve escape efficiency (particularly car parks)

• Testing of fire main outlets and pumps

• Adequacy of door at entrance (in relation to apartments)

• Adequacy of partition surrounding entrance hallway (in relation to apartments)

• Adequacy of apartment-specific fire alarms (in relation to apartments)

Further investigation is required to fully determine the scale of the issue, including examination of the external walls of the complex.

Apartment owners have also been advised that extra costs may occur for redecoration or possibly alternative accommodation, should the need arise.

Residents have been warned that the works will be disruptive, and while the issues mostly affect the common areas, some of the work on those areas will have to be undertaken from inside individual homes.

The Distillery complex was developed by the now-dissolved Albion Property Holdings, of which boom-time developer Pascal Conroy was a director. The company went into receivership in 2012.

The homes lie in the shadow of Croke Park and were completed in 2005.

The Herald understands that senior Dublin City Council management are aware that there are fire safety issues in the complex, but the council had not responded to queries for a comment last night.

A statement on behalf of Distillery Road Management Company Ltd has been released to the Herald.

It confirmed there has been "full dialogue between the members of the management company, their fire engineering consultants, and representatives of Dublin City Council together with Dublin Fire Brigade in relation to the fire safety issues".

"The board of the management company has been proactive during this matter and have liaised closely with the appropriate authorities at all times," it said.

"All of the above parties have agreed to a programme of works which will commence shortly. There is an approved method of payment by the members of the OMC (Owners Management Company) with no requirement to vacate the property," it added.

They confirmed that the fire officers have approved a "phased repair programme", which will be adhered to by management.

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