The Pyrite Resolution Board, established by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., has been engaged in developing a scheme for homeowners who have no other viable means of undertaking the remediation of significant pyrite damage to their dwellings.
The development of the Pyrite Remediation Scheme is progressing satisfactorily and the Board has today launched a website www.pyriteboard.ie <http://www.pyriteboard.ie> to inform homeowners and the general public of the outline of the scheme. This is a significant first step in putting in place an effective remediation programme.
The website summarises the scope of the scheme, the qualification criteria and the various steps involved in the remediation process. It also provides answers to questions that have been raised by homeowners and their representatives. Importantly, it includes an information leaflet for homeowners on how to identify significant pyritic damage and on the steps involved in the assessment of such damage. Generally it will provide affected homeowners with sufficient knowledge and direction to enable them to consider if they will qualify and what steps they can now be taking to avail of the scheme.
The qualification criteria are largely based on the conclusions and recommendations of the Pyrite Panel report of June 2012. Dwellings affected by pyrite heave have been identified in the local authority areas of Meath, Kildare, Offaly, Fingal and Dublin City in houses or apartments built since 1997 and predominantly in the period 2002 to 2007. The scheme applies where homeowners have no other viable form of redress open to them. It will not apply to dwellings that have not been sold and occupied. The scheme will be kept under review by the Board.
Significant damage caused by pyritic heave must be established through the methodology established in a recently published NSAI standard, I.S. 398:2013. Prior to application, the homeowner will be required to have a building condition assessment carried by a competent professional. This is largely based on a visual inspection and report which establishes the required damage threshold. Following submission of a valid application, sample testing of the underfloor hardcore will be carried out and evaluated to confirm that significant damage was caused by pyritic heave. The cost of the initial assessment will be recouped, subject to a maximum limit, if the subsequent confirmation is certified.
The remediation programme will be carried out under the direction of the Pyrite Resolution Board by a not-for-profit company, being established by three construction industry organisations; Irish Concrete Federation, Construction Industry Federation and HomeBond, who have each nominated two directors. Mr. Jim Farrell, Managing Director, Roadstone Wood Ltd. will chair the new company, now named “Pyremco”.
Consideration of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Pyrite Resolution Board and Pyremco is under way, while the necessary operating system specification is in development. It is intended that all applications will be submitted online and that all operations will be handled electronically. This will facilitate tracking for applicants and optimise communications and efficiency at all stages of the process.
Visitors to the website can register their interest and will be notified when applications go live. The aim is to have the application system available in July and that remediation programmes would be commenced later in the year. Meanwhile a dedicated phone line (1890 252842) will be available for questions and an email service is also provided (firstname.lastname@example.org). The website will be updated as the scheme is further developed.
Remediation of dwellings is a significant operation which includes removal of the concrete ground floor and all of the subfloor hardcore. Therefore it is necessary for the household to vacate the premises. Homeowners will arrange their own alternative accommodation and removal and storage of furniture and other items. Vouched costs, subject to maximum limits will be recouped to homeowners.
The remediation programme will include sampling, testing, reporting, specification, tendering and construction of works. The aim is to return dwellings to their condition prior to the occurrence of the damage caused by pyritic heave.
The remediation scheme will be funded through levies to be imposed on construction aggregates and non-life insurance policies. The Pyrite Resolution Board notes the progress made by the Minister in preparing the necessary legislation to underpin the scheme. This legislation will provide for the levies and the role of the Pyrite Resolution Board. Up front financing will be arranged to allow remediation to commence as early as possible.
The Pyrite Resolution Board will oversee the effective implementation of the remediation scheme in the interests of effected homeowners and in the public interest. The board invites feedback on the website.
The Chairman of the Pyrite Resolution Board Mr. John O’Connor said: “I am very conscious that many homeowners have been very badly affected by the pyrite problem over a prolonged period and the aim of the Pyrite Resolution board now is to make good the damage as soon as possible so that these people can get on with their lives . This is our clear priority. The launch of the website is a very important step in putting the remediation programme in place and I believe it will assure homeowners that a resolution is underway.
Finally, I would like to assure all concerned that the Pyrite Resolution Board is determined that the scheme will operate in a manner that is fully transparent and respects fair competition.”