Thursday 8 December 2016

Home economics... answering your property questions

Published 30/10/2015 | 02:30

Flat roof leak has caused damage.
Flat roof leak has caused damage.

Advice from our property expert on a leaky flat roof and what to do to reduce disruption from builders next door.

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Question: I have a flat roof on my house extension, a converted garage by the previous owners. The problem is that it's leaking and has caused damage to the interior walls. Can these roofs be repaired or is replacement the only option? It's a felt material and while I don't know how long it's been there, it's at least 25 years.

Sinead replies: Flat roofs are prone to leaking but it's usually down to the underlying structure rather than the roof fabric itself. If the joists are not strong enough, the fabric can sag and pool water, which then finds any egress it can - in this case, it seems, to tiny cracks underneath and into your room. Merely fixing what's there is just covering with a waterproof coat, but that won't fix the problem itself.

Michael Gaynard of ArdCo Construction says: "With felt roofs over 25 years old, it's best practice to replace both the felt membrane and the wood sheeting underneath, in some cases the ceiling joists would have to go as they too would also be damaged.

"Felt membranes have increased in their durability over the years but are now used less frequently due to design and labour costs. There are many new products on the market, each as reputable as the next.

"Lightweight membranes can come in a variety of colours to blend in with the background but those made from fibreglass detail have proved very popular and durable of late. You can expect to pay around €120 per square metre and they should come with a guarantee of up to 30 years."

Do get at least three quotes before commencing work and bear in mind this is the type of work covered under the Home Renovation Initiative, meaning you can claim the VAT of 13.5pc back if the contractor is registered under the scheme. This will dissipate some of the costs for you and you can include the decorative elements to restore the room itself if you engage a painter or plasterer.

Question: My neighbour is planning a double height extension to his house - he has planning permission and I have no problem in principle with it. However, I work nights and sleep during the day - the building work will be taking place a few feet from my bedroom wall with noise from trucks, hammers and drilling. Do I have any right to insist on quiet during certain hours? I get in at 6am and sleep until lunchtime and really need it as I work in healthcare and need to be rested.

Sinead replies: The time to consider this was when the planning process was being undertaken, when you might have put in an objection on noise grounds to be dealt with.

As it stands, the permission notice given will set out the times for work - typically Monday to Friday, 8.30am-6pm or similar. It will also state when works cannot take place, e.g. Sunday or bank holidays, says solicitor Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard.

"There are no set times though for working hours on a construction site, however if works do take place outside the hours mentioned in the planning permission, it can be deemed to be a nuisance and you can, if necessary, take an action in the District court."

However, none of this really matters as the works will probably be taking place within 'normal' working hours, rather than the ones you require. I think the best option in this case is to appeal to your neighbour's better nature. See if they can minimise heavy or noisy work until the afternoons.

Most people building on to their homes usually want to keep their neighbours onside, and they may be able to comply or at least provide you with the days where disruption is unavoidable.

It would be worth getting a works schedule from him to know this anyway. It's unlikely he'll want to incur further costs though just to keep you happy, so you may have to make other arrangements.

The Ryan review

The appointment of Professor Philip Lane to Governor of the Central Bank wasn't a rushed affair.

With Patrick Honohan still in situ, the interview panel could take time to sift through the reported 100 applicants.

He nips in ahead of Department of Finance official Robert Watt, whose insider status was viewed as poor optics.

A career academic, Prof Lane will find himself in a largely management role. There will be calls on his decision-making skills - not least to look at the mortgage deposit requirements laid down by his predecessor.

They are causing angst, especially in the Dublin market, where first-time buyers have challenges to meet the criteria. Elsewhere sales are slowing at the mid-range market, where trader-uppers not only have to find 20pc equity, but are limited to 3.5 times their salary.

Banks aren't any happier. Although they can go outside these limits in 15pc of cases, the committees who divvy out the valuable exemptions have to tread carefully. Pity the professional good risk-taker who buys in the last quarter, when quotas may already have been met.

Will Prof Lane suggest a 'Dublin Deposit', lower than the rest of the country? Will he relax the income limits?

Or will he view it from a 'helicopter' stance and not fix something which ain't broke… from the Central Bank's point of view anyway?

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