BRegs Blog

A blog to debate the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR): The BRegs Blog presents an opportunity for free expression of opinion on BCAR and their implementation. The blog is not representative of any professional body or organisation. Each post represents the personal opinion of that contributor and does not purport to represent the views of all contributors.

Pyrite blocks in Donegal- October 2013.

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following news article and radio interviews date from 7th November 2013. In “Donegal Homes Crumbling” Emma Cawley reported in pyrite in blockwork in a number of Donegal homes. Contrary to recent statements it appears pyrite on blockwork has been known for some time. According to the following article these cases first came to light on 17th October 2013.

Some members of the construction industry have been quite critical of the handling of this problem, fearing that defective blockwork should have been withdrawn from the market as soon as a problem was identified, and an alert issued immediately. Many fear the blockwork in question may have been used up to quite recently on projects.

The industry alert regarding on possible pyrite in blockwork was issued on May 29th 2014 by representative bodies for engineers and architects (ACEI & RIAI).

Extract to follow:

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Donegal Homes Crumbling – Thursday 7 November 2013

Everyone’s aware of pyrite and the misery and stress it’s caused, now Donegal could be facing a similar problem.

At this stage – everyone’s aware of pyrite and the misery and stress it’s caused for people.

Now there are fears that hundreds of Donegal homeowners could be facing a similar crisis.

Damien McKay is a chartered engineer based in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. He did an interview on Highland Radio on the 17th of October on the issue of pyrite. Very quickly, the station was swamped with callers- all describing similar structural problems in their homes. In the two days after the interview Damien was called out to inspect 200 affected buildings.

In most cases, structural problems become apparent four or five years after construction. At first, fine webbed cracks appear in the plaster of outer walls. These usually appear on gable walls as exposure to the elements accelerate the problem. As the problem progresses, cracks get wider and lateral displacement can be seen as the blocks underneath the plaster disintegrate.

Rather than a simple diagnosis of pyrite – defective building blocks seem to be at fault. These blocks appear to have been used in the construction of homes and buildings throughout the country. As yet, the exact problem within the blocks has not been established and testing is underway. It could be pyrite, but Damien says a number of factors could be at play – such as a low cement content in the blocks, fine stone or Muscovite Mica.

The potential scale of the problem is only just emerging, and Damien says many homeowners may not yet even be aware that their homes are at risk. The cost of repairs could run into the thousands, and with so many homeowners already struggling with their mortgages, the question remains how will the situation be resolved?

Emma Cawley went to Letterkenny, Co. Donegal to investigate…..(click link for audio clip here)

On Thursday we heard from another affected homeowner in Donegal, Garvan.  Garvan home is ten years old, but realised the extent of the problem about 6 years ago.  At that time he tried to plaster over cracks in the external walls of his home, only to find the blocks underneath crumbling away in his hands.

You can listen to what he had to say here.

Other posts of interest:

Dáil debates: Mick Wallace and Minister Hogan- Pyrite – click link here

Quick history of pyrite- press articles – click link here

Dáil Questions: Minister Hogan and Pyrite – click link here

Radio: Drogheda houses affected by pyrite – click link here

PYRITE & THE ASSIGNED CERTIFIER – click link here

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80 – click link here

RTÉ Radio: Pyrite Alert – click link here

Building Control Officers need help! BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

RIAI PRACTICE ALERT: Pyrite in blocks – click link here

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification? – click link here

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel – click linkhere

Assigned Certifiers facing jail? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

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Senator Mooney letter to Minister Phil Hogan

by Bregs Blog admin team

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On 16th April after a Seanad Debate Senator Paschal Mooney wrote to Minister Phil Hogan on behalf of the Irish Association of Self Builders. The IAOSB separately had written a letter of complaint to the Minister and have requested a formal investigation into statements made in the Seanad (see post here).

In his letter Senator Mooney noted the following IAOSB issues to the Minister:

  • The IAOSB had written a letter of complaint to the Minister that they were not part of any stakeholder group and were, quote “ astonished that you (Minister) mention that self builders and our organisation have been kept informed and participated in the formation of the regulation”.
  • Why did the Minister give architects, engineers and surveyors a monopoly on certifying and getting money for every new house and every house extension over 40 Sqm.
  • The IAOSB noted that between preliminary costs, builder’s attendance, main contractor’s profit the extra-over for a typical residential project is in the region of over 12% of the cost of the build- for a typical house this would be over €22,000. Between the extra for additional professional certifier roles and a main contractor’s fees and profit costs could be in excess of €40,000.
  • How was it possible to have a mandatory contractor’s register while allowing self building to continue (by non-builder owners)?
  • Could the Minister amend the SI.9 to indicate the words “Building Owner” or “Self Builder”. The Minister  has included the words CIRI the Register of Builders of CIF in the SI.9 yet it is claimed it is not mandatory to enter this CIRI number. Why are they written into legal documents?
  • Would the Minister  now consider the UK system of a list of approved inspectors to be answerable to Building Control Authorities? This system would be low-cost to implement and would resolve controversial issues associated with SI.9 relating to self build.
  • The Law Society had suggested Assigned Certifiers not to take on the role of Certifier for Self Builders. Did the Minister have any solution to a potentially major problem?
  • Senator Mooney noted that SI.9  could lead to a significantly increased cost especially for those in rural Ireland where there is a tradition of self build. Those who build their own houses are more likely to ensure they are built to the highest standards and he was not aware of any complaints of sloppy building standards in this sector.

 Senator Mooney concluded by requesting the Minister to instigate an immediate review of SI.9 taking account of the issues relating to the self build sector.

Here is Minister Hogan’s response (3rd June) to Senator Paschal Mooney regarding S.I.9 of 2014 – Click here 

Other posts of interest:

Complaint to Minister re Seanad Debate: BC(A)R SI.9 (SI.105)- click link here

Listen to Seanad Debate: SI.9 (si.105) – click link here

Architectural Technologist: Minister “disrespectful and misleading” in Seanad – click link here

Radio Clip: Senator Mooney- BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists – click link here

Minister Hogan concerned at exploitation by professionals: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here