Homeowners Call for Mica Redress Scheme

Homeowners Call for Mica Redress Scheme

Homeowners in Donegal have called for a Mica Redress Scheme to be set up and implemented ‘straight away’, to compensate those affected by defective concrete blocks.

The call was made at a special Seminar in the An Grianán Hotel, in Burt, Co Donegal last night. Around 300 homeowners attended the seminar organised by the Mica Action Group, with local elected representatives also in attendance.

The meeting was addressed by Engineering and Building Defects Expert, Damien McKay of HD McKay Consulting Engineers. Damien gave a presentation on the contents of the recently published Government Report on defective concrete blocks.

Speaking after the seminar, Damien said that the “general consensus was that although the report was a step in the right direction it doesn’t provide any great assistance to homeowners. Ultimately homeowners say a Mica Redress Scheme is urgently needed, particularly for those owners facing the loss of their home as a result of the defective blocks.”

“Many of these homeowners are facing serious financial difficulties because they have had to leave their homes while still paying the mortgage. They need help now, so immediate action is vital.”

“Some homeowners are also facing serious problems with work being carried out on their homes, because proper Certified assessments weren’t carried out at the start. They are now in limbo as they are paying for work to be done, which will not resolve the damage. This is because the source of the problem – Mica – wasn’t identified at the outset.”

300 homeowners attended the seminar organised by the Mica Action Group
300 homeowners attended the seminar organised by the Mica Action Group

KEY FINDINGS OF THE MICA REPORT

During the seminar, Damien took the audience through the report, including its findings on the Scale of the Issue, the Cause, Recommendations and Next Steps.

  1. The expert panel estimates that up to 4,800 private dwellings are potentially affected in Donegal.
  2. The concrete blocks are not fit for purpose.
  3. There are little, if any, options of redress available to homeowners at present.
  4. Regrettably, the report doesn’t make any recommendation of a Mica Redress Scheme.
  5. Recommends that you should get a proper assessment carried out by competent Engineer before deciding on any remedial action.
  6. The report doesn’t identify where liability rests even though the purpose of this report is to assist the parties directly involved in their efforts to reach a satisfactory resolution of these matters.
  7. One of the recommendations is that existing building controls are fully enforced for all house building to give confidence to individual homeowners that their significant investment is not wasted.
  8. The panel concludes that the nature of the problem is manifested primarily by the disintegration of the concrete blocks used in the construction of the affected dwellings.
  9. The panel suggests that the extractive and concrete products industry assess their onsite quality control measures to ensure full compliance with their legal obligations, relevant harmonised standards, that their products are always fit for purpose and suitable for the conditions in which they are to be used.

BACKGROUND TO THE MICA REPORT

The expert panel was established to investigate the problems that emerged from defective concrete blockwork in Donegal and Mayo homes. It was chaired by Mr. Dennis McCarthy, on behalf of the Minister for the Environment. Mr. McCarthy is a former director of services with Waterford County Council.

The expert panel had the following terms of reference:

  • To identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the Counties of Donegal and Mayo.
  • To carry out a desktop study to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings – this included consultation with affected homeowners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties.
  • To outline a range of technical options for remediation, and the means by which those technical options could be applied.

Read more about the Mica Report from our blog, or download the full  report here.

MICA REDRESS SCHEME OMISSION

What I would like to see happening now:

  • Ultimately an announcement by the Minister that he will be setting up a redress scheme like the Pyrite Redress Scheme.
  • A full detailed comprehensive investigation carried out by the Department of Environment into the suspected suppliers of these blocks.
  • Proposals on how to address the appropriate remedial building work for the homes affect and how to certify that work, once it has been completed. At present, homeowners cannot afford to pay for the kind of detailed investigations they would need to help them determine remedial work.
  • Follow-up action to ensure this issue doesn’t occur again- which doesn’t rely on self-regulation by the industry: I feel we need a Regulatory body over the entire Construction Industry as exists for the financial services, insurance and food industries.

WHY HOMEOWNERS NEED A MICA REDRESS SCHEME

Defective blocks have created a huge a nightmare for homeowners -many of whom have had to leave their homes. They are facing:

  • Huge costs associated with remedial works.
  • Diminished market value consequent to the defect.
  • Difficulties in renewing home insurance on their property.
  • Getting certification from Engineers on partial remedial works.
  • Limited redress options as some have purchased their home from a Developer who is no longer in business or previous homeowner with no traceability or proof of which company supplied the materials.

Are you concerned that your house may be affected by Mica? Check out our blog on how to tell if your home has defective concrete blocks.

If your home has been affected by Mica, then please feel free to call us on +353 74 9129243 or email damien@consultingengineers.ie

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