Minister English announces the Repair and Return of 1,000 Properties under the Pyrite Remediation Scheme

Mr Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Development, today (4 April, 2018) announced that the Pyrite Resolution Board has repaired over a 1,000 homes under the Pyrite Remediation Scheme which is funded by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

This month, three and a half years after commencing the Pyrite Remediation Scheme in 2014, over 1,000 homes have been have successfully returned to their owners.

To reach 1,000 properties is a significant milestone for us. We understand that there’s still plenty of work to do but this shows we are delivering for the participants in the scheme. The budgetary provision for 2018 is €30 million to fund the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme in 2018. This allocation will facilitate the remediation of some 430 additional dwellings in 2018 and is a clear signal of the continuing importance attached by Government to addressing the issue of significant pyritic damage in private dwellings.

Ultimately, the Pyrite Resolution Board, together with the Housing Agency, will arrange for all eligible dwellings to be remediated to a high standard and at no additional cost to the affected homeowners. Remediation works will continue to be carried out at the earliest possible opportunity having regard to the existing demands of the scheme and the optimum use of available resources,” said Minister English.

Pyrite (Iron Sulfide FeS2 ) is a naturally occurring mineral comprised of the elements iron and sulfur. In general, pyrite may be described as either being reactive or non-reactive. Reactive pyrite is not usually visible to the naked eye. This is the form that is predominantly responsible for the pyritic heave in Ireland. Pyrite is a fairly ubiquitous mineral and it occurs most commonly in sedimentary rocks.  Pyrite itself is not a problem but when it is exposed to moisture and oxygen a series of chemical reactions can occur which can have the effect of prising open cracks and causing further expansion. When this expansion occurs in hardcore that is well compacted  (e.g. in a dwelling) it may result in: the cracking of floors, internal partitions and external walls; outward movement of external walls; and/or the heaving of ground floors and bulging of internal partition finishes.

By the end of March this year over 2,000 applications had been received under the pyrite remediation scheme.  1,600 dwellings have been included in the pyrite remediation scheme and the applicants notified accordingly.

The average all in cost of remediation in 2016 was in the region of €70,000 per dwelling. There can be significant variation in costs, with one-off houses generally having larger ground floor areas being the most expensive.

‘Remediation works will continue to be carried out at the earliest possible opportunity’

The pyrite remediation scheme has been in operation since 2014. The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” for affected homeowners who have no other practical option to obtain redress and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.

The Board may be contacted by phone at Lo call 1890 252842 or by email to info@pyriteboard.ie or alternatively at oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

About the Pyrite Remediation Scheme

The scheme is applicable to dwellings, which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave established, in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2013 – Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol.  In this regard, it is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2.  Dwellings which do not have a Damage Condition Rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme.  This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings which are most severely damaged by pyritic heave.  There are no proposals to amend this eligibility criterion.

The Report of the Pyrite Panel (June 2012) recommended a categorisation system as a means of prioritising pyrite remediation works in recognition of the expensive and intrusive nature of pyrite remediation and the unpredictability of pyritic heave. The independent Pyrite Panel was clear in its view that only dwellings with significant damage due to pyritic heave should be remediated and that it would be unreasonable to expect dwellings not exhibiting such damage to be remediated.

Dwellings which have no significant damage but have reactive pyrite in the hardcore material should be monitored and only remediated if they display significant damage due to pyritic heave. This remains the position with regard to dwellings which do not display significant pyritic damage.

On foot of this recommendation of the Pyrite Panel, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) published I.S. 398-1:2013 Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol in 2013.The standard provides the means by which dwellings that may be affected by pyrite can be tested and categorised.

The standard was recently updated by the Pyrite Resolution (Standard for Testing) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 556 of 2017) on 6 December 2017.  These Regulations provide that pursuant to section 14(9) (a) of the Pyrite Resolution Act 2013, the “standard for testing” for the purpose of the Act shall be Irish Standard 398-1:2017 Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material —Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol, as published by the National Standards Authority of Ireland on 4 August 2017.

Completions by Local Authority Area

Local Authority Area            No of Dwellings Completed
Dublin City 16
Fingal 666
South Dublin 10
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown 3
Kildare 19
Meath 268
Offaly 21
Total 1,003