Pyrite victims facing €45,000 bill for repairs
CRACKS caused by the mineral pyrite have appeared on the walls of every room in Niamh Byrne and Richard Feely's home.
The married couple were first-time buyers when they took the plunge in 2003 and bought their home in Thornchase in Rush, north Dublin.
Two years later, the first cracks appeared in the hall, and they now riddle their two-storey home.
A report released by Environment Minister Phil Hogan yesterday estimated that 12,250 homes in 74 estates are contaminated by pyrite, with the cost of fixing each house at about €45,000.
It said about 1,100 homes have so far been repaired, while 850 have a claim with a guarantee provider.
Mr Hogan stressed the State was not responsible for the problem, but Ms Byrne and her husband said it could not wash its hands of the problem.
"How could we afford that much money?" Ms Byrne (37) asked. "It's not our fault. We didn't cause this problem. It was a lack of inspection and regulation and that falls back on the Government's door, as much as they hate to admit it.
"If inspections were taking place, we wouldn't be in this mess. It's the same with Priory Hall."
Ms Byrne works as a teacher and her husband is employed as an engineer. The couple have a boy and a girl aged eight and four. She said the front door of their home was badly damaged as a result of the cracks caused by the use of the mineral in construction, which expands when exposed to air and water.
She said gas pipes under the floor were being pushed and buckled due to the cracks.
Ms Byrne said the builder behind the development had gone bust. The building insurance agent HomeBond is no longer accepting liability or paying out on claims, although it originally made the couple a small monetary offer, Ms Byrne said.
Mr Hogan established an expert working group last September to help the thousands of householders whose homes may have been affected by the use of the mineral in their construction.
Headed by former secretary general of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Brendan Tuohy, the report of the panel set out 24 recommendations.
Mr Hogan said building, supply, finance and insurance firms have until September to strike a deal on how to resolve the problem.