Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions
There was a gas boiler in our house when we moved in 16 years ago, and we have had it serviced every year. During the last visit the engineer advised us to change the boiler as it is obsolete and liable to break down during the winter. He said the best one is a 'condenser' version and it would cost around €4,000. I'm not sure how reliable his information is; we got his name from a neighbour but he was registered with the Registered Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII). Could he be right and how long is a boiler supposed to last? Would a new one really cost that much?
A. I think you've been lucky. According to Bord Gáis, the average boiler tends to last 10 to 15 years.
But this is dependent on the model and rest of the heating system.
A new boiler can be had for around €2,000 to €2,500, they tell me, but if you're replacing an old boiler like yours with a modern Band A condensing model, there may well be additional works required to upgrade the gas supply pipework and this would increase the cost.
It sounds to me like your engineer knows what he's talking about, and the RGII is the governing body, so if you are getting work done, it would be essential to use someone who is a member. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is responsible for gas safety and overseeing the RGII.
What you could do is apply for a grant via the SEAI (seai.ie/betterhomes) which will pay for a third of the costs.
The work can be done by a local, registered contractor. You'll need to get a BER cert afterwards, which usually costs €150, but there is a €50 grant toward this also.
Neither grant is means tested, and there's no waiting list, so you can go right ahead.
Q. There's a low brick wall separating the houses in my estate. I'm on a corner site. The topper bricks have been cracking and falling off as kids repeatedly kick balls against it and the builder went bust years ago, so they haven't been repaired. Last week a child fell after missing his footing while jumping off my wall. He cut his leg quite badly, and although his parents were absolutely fine, and apologised for the child, I am concerned that someone else may not be. Would I have any legal responsibility if someone hurts themselves, even though this is clearly not my fault?
A. The first thing I would do is contact the residents' association if you have one and set out your concerns.
I'm sure you're not the only one and it might remind parents to talk to their kids about appropriate ball play. Secondly, contact your local authority about taking the estate in hand; if the builder is gone, the authority should have your estate it on its list; admittedly this can be a long process.
Solicitor Cara Walsh of Mullany Walsh Maxwells adds: "Owners of corner sites usually love their large gardens but, unfortunately, often end up with longer walls than the other walls on the estate.
"You have not said that this is a managed estate. Unless there is a management company, this wall more than likely belongs to you.
"Although the builders may have repaired it in the past, the repairs are now your responsibility, regardless of how the damage was caused.
"As the owner (or 'occupier') of this wall, you have a duty to ensure that it is safe.
"This duty of care extends to 'trespassers', such as a child who is on the wall without your permission.
"You should arrange to repair the wall so that it is no longer dangerous.
"Finally, if you are notified of an injury on your property, even where you do not believe that a claim will be made, you ought to notify your insurance company or broker immediately, as otherwise you may not be covered."