By Keith Bourke
A Crossmolina housing estate has been left devastated by pyrite and distraught residents are now being forced to foot the bill for the severe damage caused to the roadway into their homes.
Homeowners in Church View in Crossmolina have seen their homes crumble around them due to the presence of pyrite in their properties. While not all homes have been tested, it is believed that the entire estate has been impacted by pyrite.
“Every single house in the estate will have to be knocked. They all have pyrite,” said local councillor Michael Loftus. “It’s devastating,” he added.
Residents have also seen the roadway into their 24-home estate destroyed as it used as a ‘turning point’ for motorists in the area. Cllr Loftus has called on Mayo Co Council to take the estate in charge and deal with the roadway issue.
Church View homeowner Andy Gray is the first resident in the estate to demolish his home.
“I don’t think every house has been tested yet, but I’d say every house has it,” said Andy. “I now own a hole in the ground at the moment,” said Andy, who began demolishing his home in February.
“It has taken me seven years to get to this stage,” he added.
He and his wife bought their home in 2002. Eight years later they realised something was wrong with the structure.
“After the big freeze of 2010, when there was a thaw you started seeing cracks appearing,” said Andy.
When a builder was doing work on Andy’s roof a few years later he told the homeowner that he suspected the house had pyrite.
“I hadn’t even heard of pyrite at this stage,” said Andy who contacted a local engineer.
“When the engineer came around, he said this whole estate has got pyrite. He knew just by looking at them,” he added.
He said other residents, including his next-door neighbour, started to realise they had the same issue.
Andy, who applied for the original redress scheme, said it was a long battle to try and get remediation for his home.
“The first thing you had to do was come up with €5,000 to get your house tested. So if you didn’t have that money you couldn’t get your house tested. Luckily enough we hadn’t a spare €5000 but we had the money to get the house tested.”
He said the whole situation is even more unfair for those who may not have the savings or income to ensure they can rebuild their homes.
Andy said he knows a single woman in another part of the county who is ‘fretting’ about how much the process is going to cost her.
“She says she is going to have to extend her mortgage. It definitely isn’t one size fits all.
“I have a light at the end of the tunnel owing to the fact that I have a good reputable builder and he will do a good job for me but I will have to pay him good money and that’s the other side of it. I will be out of pocket unless the new redress scheme helps me out,” he added.
In the photograph that accompanies this article, the windows and wooden trusses from his original home are left to one side, ready to be reinstalled in the new home.
Andy hopes to return to his rebuilt home by Christmas. He said he was fortunate to secure rental accommodation in the meantime.
“We are paying rent but we aregrateful to have what we have. It’s a real struggle to get accommodation.”
Residents are angry and frustrated over the condition of the road into Church View. Andy explains it isjust another unnecessary issue tobe dealing with in an already difficult situation.
“Our estate is a big turning point for anyone going to the post office or going down Mullenmore Street,” he says. “At 3pm at any day of the week and in the mornings, parents collecting their kids from the tech are all parked here.”
After the builder of the estate wentout of business, Andy and his fellow residents have been left with anunfinished estate. He accused Mayo County Council of failing to chase the developer and says the already hard-pressed residents have been left to foot the bill for the maintenance of the estate. “We are now left with an estate that the council will not take over and they will not maintain,” he says. “We have to maintain it ourselves. The road is used by every car going up and down that street and parents in the tech and we are left to foot the bill.” Andy says the council mustassist residents in Church View.
“To bring that road up to a reasonable state you are looking at €80,000 to €100,000. Where are we supposed to get that? We are the same people who have to pay to get their houses done because of pyrite.”