HomeNewsPyrite nightmare is a wide awake reality for Limerick homeowners

Pyrite nightmare is a wide awake reality for Limerick homeowners

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by David Raleigh

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LEONARD Croxton felt shell-shocked and isolated when his neighbours’ homes began to crack and move due to pyrite in their foundations in 2008.

As their futures came crumbling down around them, residents in some of the 14 affected homes in The Meadows, Lower Park, Corbally, wrongly saw the genial Welshman as being part of the problem.

“I was the general foreman and site manager on this site, and do you think I’d have bought a house if I’d have known about the pyrite?” he asks.

“Because of what was happening, a lot of the residents wouldn’t speak to me. We were just ignored, shunned, because they thought, ‘oh, he did all of this, and all of these cracks are down to him’.

“Nobody knew about pyrite when these houses were built in 2003,” he states.

They began to suspect something was very wrong when footpaths outside the house lifted several inches, and tests confirmed the distortion was caused by pyrite.

Croxton and his neighbours, who have since rallied together to seek redress for the damage caused to their homes, say the process before the Pyrite Resolutions Board appears to have stalled, putting them under ever more stress.

“We’ve been through the mill, and then we thought, okay, we’ve been accepted by the pyrite remediation board, but they’re kicking the can down the road.”

He says it may or may not be a coincidence their the remediation process slowed, just as the government began to hear the call for a 100 per cent redress scheme for people in Donegal whose homes have been destroyed by defective blocks or mica.

“While we feel so sorry for the Donegal people, we were making a nice bit of progress until they marched to Dublin and then all of a sudden our situation has come a screeching halt”.

His Limerick-born wife, Majella, adds: “I can’t account for why it has come to a sudden stop. Like Leonard said, it was going well, and then it just seems to have faded off into the background.”

Now in his mid-70s, and recovering from both the death of his son from cancer and his own surgery to remove a tumour in his brain, Croxton says the pyrite grenade that was lobbed into their lives has left him and his wife emotionally drained and feeling “hopeless”.

The couple have forked out thousands of euro testing their home and on plastering over pyrite’s destructive path, and they have been told they will need to dig out a new foundation, put their roof and their first floor on stilts, and rebuild their ground floor.

Croxton shows the cracked walls, dropped floors and window frames, and smashed eaves, as if the property has been hit by a small earthquake.

Pyrite has uprooted their gas and water pipes several times and they are fearful someone will get seriously hurt.

“All we are sitting on here is a plot of land and it isn’t even a plot of land until we get rid of the debris that lies on top of it, so we have got this awful lost feeling.”

“We have our home where all our memories are and, at the end of the day, we have got nothing. It’s a terrible strain on us.”

“You can see yourself the damage. The kitchen has moved completely out of kilter; the floor you’re standing on has lifted up and come out, and this wall has popped itself out an inch and half – Everything has moved.”

“We patched up the cracks because we got so fed up with waiting, but they’ll come back. We can’t sell, it’s worthless.”

Mike Hobart, another resident whose home is impacted by pyrite, says: “It’s affected our quality of life, it’s very hard to live in the house.

“Some houses are affected and have no heating. I know of a lady here who has had no heating for two years. We have fierce problems with our heating with pipes being cracked underneath the flooring and some of our doors won’t open; they have to be pared on a regular basis for us to try and get in and out of rooms.

“We’ve had cracks in the walls of our kids’ rooms, one of our kids got his finger caught in one of them a couple of years ago. We’ve had problems in our bathroom with tiles coming off the walls and our windows are dropping, there’s cold coming in through our windows,” said the father-of-two.

Mike Hobart, Corbally resident whose home has been affected by pyrite

“Our window in the kitchen has dropped a few inches and there’s a huge gap so there’s wind coming in through that and we are trying to block it up with towels and whatnot.”

“It’s depressing, it can get depressing from time to time, and we want to try and get it fixed. These are our homes at the end of the day, it’s not just bricks and mortar. This is where we have reared our kids and we are trying to make the best of it but we need a bit of help to get these houses fixed and get us back to a place where we can live safely.”

“I’ve two kids and they want to bring their friends over and they go up to their rooms and you’d be afraid the doors are not going to open when you go back. That’s how bad it gets from time to time. That might sound ridiculous to people but that can actually happen.”

“You might go into a room at night and the following morning you might not be able to get out of it because the roof has lifted or the floor has lifted.”

The residents were informed in October 2019 that the government scheme would meet the costs of their repairs however, Mr Croxton and Mr Hobart and others impacted by pyrite in the estate are still waiting for repair works to start.

Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne, who led the campaign for the residents to be accepted for redress, said she was investigating the delay and would update the Corbally residents accordingly.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is due to brief the cabinet on a revised mica redress scheme this week and a revised financial package to support families affected by the defective block crisis in Donegal and Mayo.

However, a growing number of homeowners across Limerick and Clare and Tipperary are reporting similar problems and they are still awaiting some signs of resolution.

For them, the uncertainty continues.

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