herald

Thursday 27 November 2014

We can't wait years for repair works say pyrite families as funding announced

PYRITE-hit homeowners must not be kept waiting for years for funding to fix their homes, a leading campaigner has warned.

PETER Lewis, chairman of Pyrite Action, said thousands of homeowners were "absolutely delighted" that the Government is setting up a funding mechanism to fix homes at no cost to owners.

But they are not prepared to wait for years for the work to be done.

"The devil is in the detail and the hard work begins now," he said.

Pyrite, a naturally occurring mineral present in materials used in the foundations and under the floors of homes, can expand and crack floors and walls if present in excessive quantities. The average cost of excavation and repair work will be €45,000 per home.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan's fulfilment of a promise of upfront funding for homeowners was "a great Christmas present," said Mr Lewis, a founder of the homeowners' group.

The Government announcement on December 18 of a levy on the construction and insurance sectors to pay the €50m cost was a welcome honouring of its promises, he added.

But many householders were "shocked and angry" that the HomeBond new home insurance scheme will be involved because of the "shambolic" way it treated affected home-owners in denying any responsibility, he said.

The Government's decision not to impose a household tax on pyrite-hit homes was also welcome.

Mr Hogan decided to impose a levy to pay for the costs of the scheme after builders, insurers, and banks failed to agree on a method of paying for the repair work.

Those involved included the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation, HomeBond, the Irish Banking Federation, and the Irish Insurance Federation.

More than 12,000 homes are believed to have pyrite in their ground floors which causes concrete to crack and walls to buckle. Many householders were dismayed when significant numbers of builders and insurance bodies sought to deflect responsibility for expensive repairs.

Most of the damaged homes are in North Dublin with large numbers in Meath, Kildare and Offaly.

Mr Hogan declared recently the affected homeowners in 74 residential estates that homeowners have waited "far too long" for a solution but their wait was "now coming to an end."



Cracks

While more than 800 homes need immediate repair work in excavating the underfloor area, other homes that exhibit cracks in the coming years must also be included in arranging to fix them when cracks begin to appear.

Senator Darragh O'Brien represented several homeowners in North Dublin. He had continued to seek support for the Home Remediation Bill 2012, which he introduced in the Seanad.

His Bill sought a new law that will remove time limits on householders in bringing claims for compensation to fix their homes.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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