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Ireland reacts to backfill induced heave with new standards for damaged homes

Home owners and remediation specialists this week welcomed publication of new standards from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to deal with ground heave caused by pyritic backfill material on residential properties.

The new standards cover the testing and categorisation of affected properties and remediation methodologies.

They were written in response to a government-commissioned report on the issue published last summer.

The Irish government estimates that over 12,000 properties are at risk of pyritic heave and that only 1,100 have been remediated.

The pyritic heave problem is known to have affected newer properties in County Dublin, Kildare, Offaly and Meath.

It was first identified as being caused by the presence of reactive pyrite in quarry waste used as hardcore to backfill under the floors of houses in 2007.

Ireland’s new house warranty provider Home Bond first saw the effects of the problem in 2005 and initially repaired affected properties.

But in August last year Home Bond withdrew cover for homeowners, which led to the launch of a government investigation into the problem.

“The development of these standards represents another important step in the advancement and implementation of solutions for homeowners who have been waiting a long time for a resolution to the pyrite problem,” said minister for environment, community and local government Phil Hogan.

In addition to the new standards, the government has also announced that it will establish a Pyrite Resolution Board.

It will operate a remediation scheme that will be operated through a special purpose vehicle, funded initially by an up front loan of €50M (£43M) from six banks and mortgage providers.

The loan will be repaid from a mandatory levy that will be imposed on the quarrying and insurance sectors.

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