Home Economics: Answering your property questions
Q: I had problems with staining down the walls in our house from the neighbour's chimney and was advised to employ a building surveyor to investigate. The fee was over €300 for a visit, photographs and report, and was paid. There was then a need to investigate next door's internal walls, flues etc, and also some clarification mails, liaison with a solicitor, etc.
There was no mention of fees except for the initial report. Now I have a bill for a report on next door's property (visit/photos etc) for €455. Is this how surveyors work and is it buyer beware or is there any code of conduct/ regulation/ trade association to protect the consumer in this case?
A. First of all, I presume you didn't expect the work of a professional to be provided for free? I think the charge of €300 for your own survey was reasonable, given the work involved and the report produced, and it seems in line with what I'd expect.
You then say, "there was then a need" to investigate next door. Who said so? If it was in the first report and a recommendation was made that your neighbour's house also needed a survey, I believe it's reasonable to assume there would be an added expense for this, as the surveyor would need to repeat the work involved in a different house. You must have discussed this with your neighbour to allow access to his property and he must have given permission, thus allowing the second survey and report to be generated for you.
That said, it's always annoying when professionals don't lay out their costs fully before work. Certainly, upon being contracted, the surveyor should have stated upfront what the report would cost and definitely given you an option to have your neighbour's house surveyed as a separate action, also laying out associated costs.
The appropriate trade body is the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (www.scsi.ie) and they have a good dispute resolution and mediation service, as long as the surveyor is a member. I'd clarify the position regarding the two costs directly with the surveyor, then contact SCSI and bring your complaint.
You could also check with your house insurer to see if some of the costs can be recovered due to the damage caused, however, they would normally expect to supply their own loss adjuster rather than have you engage one yourself.
Q. My son has just recalibrated his CAO form and his top three choices for college are all outside of Limerick, where we live. He's now on to Dublin universities and I'm extremely concerned about the cost of accommodation if he gets one of them. What can we do to prepare now, and are there loans etc, available?
A. I'm sure you're caught between wanting him to get his top choices but being anxious about the consequences of his success. Accommodation in Dublin is at a premium and extremely expensive. According to the latest Daft.ie research, the average rent in the city centre is €1,581 per month for an apartment. However, there are other choices.
Most universities have on-site campus accommodation, reserved specifically for out-of-Dublin students. Contact student offices to enquire about this, but it will be on a first come, first served basis in any event.
UCD, for instance, has 908 beds for the coming year on its Belfield site but you should apply before July 11 when a random selection will be ranked on the waiting list. Separately, consider 'digs' accommodation in a family home - getdigs.ie, collegecribs.ie and the Union of Students in Ireland websites are good places to start.
Your son should also go online to student forums and boards and start actively searching for shared accommodation.
In terms of cost, yes, banks will make loans available to students but they are for low amounts, say €1,000-€5,000. You would need to borrow in your own name for higher amounts.
The Ryan Review
Summer is traditionally a sleepy time for property transactions. Builders go on holidays in August and developers are slow to launch new schemes. As such, it can sit dormant for a few months while everyone regroups.
But this year, things may be different. The CSO monthly figures show house price growth up another 0.2pc for May, adding to the previous four months where it rose from 2.6pc to 4.6pc.
Savills economists say this is accounted for by continuing pressure on supply and the ongoing tightening of Central Bank lending rules.
However, bearing in mind that the CSO figures don't include cash sales, which still make up over 40pc of all transactions, it's difficult to rely on them.
One thing which will affect house inflation is the increase in rent supplement payments, especially in Dublin where an average of 29pc extra will be made available from this week.
Notwithstanding the welcome move, it is sure to add pressure on what is still fixed stock. What is given with one hand, is taken by the other, but is it enough to encourage recalcitrant owners to get off the fence and let or sell up?