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Pyrite Resolution Board Now In Operation January 2014

Thousands of homes and commercial premises in the Dublin and in the surrounding counties have been affected by pyrite damage in recent years.  Forensic investigation into the causes of damage as it began to emerge uncovered chemical reactions in the aggregate used in foundations of houses and buildings, the most significant effect of which was vertical heave in internal and external walls. Millions of euro of damage has been caused by the use of aggregates with excessive levels of pyrite, and the resulting litigation is still working its way through the Courts.

Following significant public pressure, the Irish Government announced on the day of the last Budget that it would make a fund of €10million available for remediation of pyrite related defects in homes, and abandoned its original plan to fund the remediation scheme by a levy on construction operations.  

The Pyrite Resolution Board (‘the PRB’) was established by the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013, which came into force on 10 January 2014. The Act established the Pyrite Resolution Board, which will direct and oversee the pyrite remediation scheme. (‘the Scheme’).

The Board announced in January 2014 that the Scheme was being finalised and that the Board expected to be in a position to start accepting applications shortly after the Scheme is made. The Scheme will deal with the following matters:

  • Eligibility criteria for inclusion in the Scheme, and criteria to be applied to determine priority as between different dwellings
  • Assessment of units for pyrite damage
  • Compliance with a standard for remediation, where a dwelling is covered by the Scheme, and certification of pyrite remediation
  • Recovery of costs by the applicant
  • Scope of remedial works.

The Scheme shall also deal with arrangements between applicants and the Board for the applicant to consent to the Board bringing proceedings on their behalf to try to recover the cost of remediation of the dwelling.  Such proceedings could, for example, be instituted against the original builder of the dwelling by the Board.

The Act contains details of information to be included in applications to the Board, for which the Board will presumably provide standard application forms once the Scheme is in place. It is an offence to furnish false or misleading information with an application.

There are a number of stages to the procedure:-

  • An application is made to the Board by the homeowner.
  • A member of the Board decides whether or not the home is covered by the Scheme.
  • If the application is not rejected at that stage, the decision maker must refer the application to the Housing Agency, who may arrange for testing of the dwelling by a competent person, to establish the cause and level of damage to the dwelling.
  • The Housing Agency will then make a recommendation to the decision maker as to whether or not to include or exclude the dwelling from the Scheme.  The recommendation may include a recommendation as to the priority to be afforded to the dwelling.
  • The Board must then consider the recommendation of the Housing Agency, and notify the applicant of the decision to include or exclude the dwelling from the Scheme.

An appeal process is provided for in the Act.

In exceptional circumstances, the Board may include a dwelling in the Scheme which would otherwise be excluded.

A standard for the carrying out of inspections and assessment of pyrite damage was published by the NSAI in 2013, Standard IS 398:2013 (‘the Standard’).  The Standard sets out a means of categorising the homes that have suffered ‘significant pyritic damage’, and it is only these homes that will come within the scope of the Scheme.

The Housing Agency is charged with implementing the Scheme, subject to the direction of the Board. The Board may not make any payment for pyrite remediation works unless the remediation is being carried out in accordance with the standard for remediation, with the appropriate certification to that effect.

The Act only applies to houses, apartments, duplexes, and maisonettes — commercial premises are not covered by the Scheme. The Scheme will only provide a remedy for the units that have suffered significant pyrite damage.

Residential properties which have significant pyritic damage (established by testing in accordance with the Standard) are exempt from local property tax.

Full details of the application process and eligibility criteria should be included in the Scheme when it is published.

If you have any queries on any issues raised in this article please contact Deirdre ní Fhloinn at deirdrenifhloinn@reddycharlton.ie


Keywords: Construction, Commercial Litigation, Deirdre Ní­ Fhloinn, Publication

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