Do I need to worry about pyrite remedial works?

February 2011

Question

I am living in an apartment development in north County Dublin and am worried about pyrite which I have heard a lot of rumours about. I understand there are remedial works taking place in other parts of the development. How do I know if my apartment is affected? Can you give me any advice on checks I can do or what to look for as I am very worried?

Answer

This question is difficult to answer without looking at the apartment in question and the development overall. In the first instance, I would recommend liaison with the management company, which will be in a much better position to answer questions about the development overall.

In relation to your own apartment, if yours is on an upper floor, then you are unlikely to be directly affected by the problem, although there may be some indirect effects.

Pyrites occur in the stone used for hard fill under foundations, and pyrite-contaminated fill can cause swelling and cracking of ground floors and foundations, and upward pressure on walls and ceilings and internal fittings such as kitchens.

There are signs to look out for, especially if you have ground-floor apartments. Symptoms include:

  • Cracks to the floor which are spreading, often with a spider web pattern.

  • Floor heave.

  • Sticking of internal doors.

  • Bulging or cracking walls externally below damp-proof course.

  • Cracking of walls or partitions.

I recommend liaison with the management company in the first instance and if you have specific concerns about your own apartment, you should arrange an inspection by a chartered building surveyor or qualified engineer.

Krystyna Rawicz is a chartered surveyor and member of the Building Surveying Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland