Pyrite Situation in Co. Louth

The Irish times have published an interesting article about homes with pyrite in co. Louth. Click the link to read the full story.

New Dublin Office.

After lots of time and planning I’m happy to announce that our new Dublin office located at, Unit E6, Centrepoint Business Park, Oak Drive, Dublin 12, is currently up and running, and is being run by two of our experienced Engineers, Colin Scott (Head of the Dublin office) and Tom Walsh.

For any questions or information regarding Pyrite or other construction needs, don’t hesitate to contact them by calling (01) 4243035

All our contact information can be found in the contacts section on the web-site for both the Dublin Office and our Head Office in Portlaoise.

Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB) Update 17th September 2013

Query from AOC Ltd to the PRB:

Can you please confirm one simple query.

Will the homeowners be given a copy of the geological test results for their property if it is tested by the PRB. This is a critical question for them. Can I assume that the testing will be done in accordance with IS398.


Reply from the PRB:

Dear Aidan,

The issue of the results of the geological tests has not been raised by any homeowners with the PRB thus far. However it is intended that homeowners will be informed of the outcome of all stages of the process.

Testing will be carried out in accordance with I.S 398 Part 1. 

Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB) Update 17th September 2013

Query from AOC Ltd to the PRB:

From the presentation given by Mt Noel Carroll last Tuesday I gathered some information. For clarity I note what I perceived to be the facts. I set them out below. If I am incorrect you might advise me.

  • The PRB is deviating from IS398 Part 1 as follows:
  • Architects will be allowed to do the inspections and reports
  • Full reports are not required as Directed by IS398.
  • Normative Sections of the Standard will not be required to be submitted to the PRB.
  • Testing of the infill will not be done by independent testing company retained by the homeowner.
  • Pyremco will do the testing and the homeowner will not be informed of the results. “Mr Carroll stated that as Pyremco will be paying the homeowner will not see them”
  • The PRB do not want to see any additional pages other than no 28,33. “Submission of a full report would require the PRB to review same and they don’t have the resources to do that”.

Overall it became very clear that IS398 is being thrown in the bin and that the testing of the infill will be directed and controlled by Homebond, CIF and ICF. Full complete reports in accordance with the standard will not be prepared or submitted to the PRB.

I wonder why NSAI were even asked to prepare such a standard and waste our time on it.


Reply from the PRB:

Dear Aidan,

We wish to express surprise at the negative tenor, interpretation and presentation of the issues raised in your email dated 01/07/13. We believe that previous correspondence, together with the issues discussed at the CPD module, had fully address these matters and that the details of the remediation scheme published by the PRB are clear.

Nevertheless, I will endeavour to reiterate the details of the operation of the scheme as follows:

A competent person can undertake the Building Condition Assessment (See Section 5 and the definitions in I.S. 398). Therefore, registered Engineers, Architects and Building Surveyors that satisfy the criteria outlined in my previous email, can undertake the Building Condition Assessment.

For the purposes of making an application to the PRB, a Building Condition Assessment in accordance with I.S. 398 Part 1 must be undertaken. It is a matter for the professional concerned, to comply with I.S. 398 Part 1 in this regard.

Typically the report template in Annex A would be used, however it should be noted that pages 28 and 33 of Annex A are required to accompany the application. Where it considers it necessary, the PRB will request any documentation upon which the assessment was based. This may include full reports, Annex A and Annex B (normative) of IS 398.

As you are aware, in order to complete Annex A, evaluation of the visual damage as per Annex B (normative) is undertaken first, in order to assign attributable values to the damage observed and to arrive at a Condition Damage Rating.

Applications that are validated will be passed to Pyremco for Building Categorisation. Pyremco will be responsible for arranging testing and categorisation. Owners will not be arranging or paying for the testing of the hardcore and will be informed of the outcome.

We believe that competent persons will have little difficulty with regards to the operation of the scheme.

The response from professionals so far, has been very supportive and we believe that they will contribute to the process in a positive manner to ensure early remediation of affected dwellings.

The focus of the Pyrite Resolution Board is directed towards the early remediation of houses with significant damage from pyritic heave.

Pyrite Resolution Board Update 17th June 2013

Aidan O’Connell has asked the following question of the Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB);

“It is being suggested by some Engineering Practices seeking work under the IS398 process that the PRB will not be requiring drawings / sketches of the internal wall elevations or the external walls. This is in contravention of the specifics of the standard IS398 Part1.

Can you please confirm if the PRB is deviating from the aforementioned standard and now not requiring annotated drawings / sketches as per the standard? This obviously will have a major impact on the cost of preparing the Building Condition Assessment.”

Unfortunately at this time I have not had any reply or even an acknowledgement of my Question. We await their earliest response.

The importance of this query relates directly to the proposed house survey by engineering companies on properties suffering pyrite problems. This property survey known as the Building Condition Assessment under IS398 Part 1 currently requires detailed annotated sketches / drawings to be part of this report. Aidan O’Connell & Associates Ltd has always produced these drawings as our normal procedure and in accordance with IS398. However, if the Pyrite Resolution Board decides to accept a lower standard then that should be published immediately to save cost to the homeowner. Competent structural engineers with experience in pyrite problems and related damage are necessary to do these property surveys and such chartered engineers are currently not very common in Ireland.

Pyrite – why it is only a problem in the Greater Dublin/North Leinster Area

Strictly speaking, damage caused by pyrite is not isolated to the greater Dublin area and has been recorded worldwide. Pyrite damaged properties have been recorded as far away as Canada and Japan with up to 1000 homes being damaged by pyritic heave in Japan. Canada has a more on-going pyrite problem with an estimated 10,000 buildings having been affected.

So why has pyrite in Ireland only caused problems in the greater Dublin/North Leinster area? Pyrite is an iron sulphide that is a commonly-occurring, but minor constituent of the sedimentary rock group, particularly in mudstones and shales. It is a particular type of pyrite, known as framboidal pyrite, that causes the damage in homes seen in Ireland. This particular type of Pyrite is present in high percentages in the mudstone rock formation called the Tober Culleen formation, which lies around North Dublin extending into North Kildare. Stone from quarries in this area was used as backfill for homes in North County Dublin, Kildare, Meath and parts of Offaly leading to the pyritic heave seen in the groundfloor slabs.

 It is the size and characteristics of this formation which has led to such widespread damage across the greater Dublin area. As of now only a few isolated cases have been recorded in other parts of Ireland.

 Link to the Geological survey website for people to look this up.

Pyrite Action Group Meeting on the Pyrite Resolution Board 11th June 2013

A very successful meeting of the Pyrite Action Group took place on the evening of the 11th of June 2013 at the ALSAA Leisure Complex at Dublin Airport. Once more this was chaired by Peter Lewis of the Pyrite Action Group and it was a very successful evening with a number of local politicians present including Clare Daly TD and Helen McEntee TD. Their presence certainly brought clarity to a number of issues and questions raised by the audience particularly in relation to the workings of the Pyrite Resolution Board. Some of the questions that were raised are as follows:

Continue reading

Building Condition Assessment Report

The Building Condition Assessment Report (BCAR) is an Engineering Report that must be carried out in accordance with IS398-1 and must be undertaken by a “competent person” (i.e. a Chartered Engineer). This report must be carried out in order for a homeowner to submit an application to the Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB). As quoted from the PRB websiteA copy of the Building Condition Assessment Report (in pdf format) must be attached to the application”.

The report is a large detailed document usually consisting of between 50-70 pages and includes photographs of the internal/external cracking as well as drawings of the internal/external elevations.

The report is carried out in order to determine the cause of cracking or damage in a property. Cracking etc. may not always be caused by pyrite heave as cracking to a property can occur for a number of non-pyrite related reasons;

  • Expansion/contraction
  • Shrinkage
  • Render issues
  • Design and construction defects

It is for this reason that it is essential that a competent person with experience in this area of expertise carries out the report.

A detailed survey will be carried out from which an accurate and detailed floor plan will be drafted. A ground floor level survey will also be carried out and this forms an important part of the report. Every elevation and ceiling/floor of every room on the ground floor of the house will also be drawn with the cracks clearly highlighted on them. The same procedure will be completed for the external elevations and cracks.

All cracks on the ground floor will be recorded and categorised according to IS398-1. The Engineer will then categorize the property according to IS398-1 giving it a category 1 or Category 2 rating. In cases where a Category rating of 2 is determined, the homeowner can lodge the (BCAR) as part of their application to the PRB.

Feel free to book a survey or contact one of our Engineers who will be happy to answer any queries you may have.