Property Health Check does not provide pyrite testing, or any certification in relation to pyrite testing. However, clients often ask when they are thinking about buying or selling a property, should they consider getting a pyrite test carried out before selling or purchasing? The following should hopefully give a little more insight into pyrite and how it can affect homes.
Pyrite in Houses
There are believed to be well in excess of 20,000 properties in Ireland that are contaminated with pyrite back-fill. When damage occurs as a result of pyrite under the floors it can be a very stressful time. Unfortunately, some insurance companies and builders can make it both difficult and expensive for you to prove beyond doubt that there is pyrite under your floors before they will accept a claim from you. Many homeowners are finding that the cost associated with complying with these high standards is preventing them from getting a basic diagnosis or test carried out on their home. These delays in some cases will lead to greater damage to the floors, walls and foundations, consequently resulting in higher repair costs.
It is not unusual for cracks to be visible in foundation walls, structural walls and floors in your home that have no relation to pyrite.
Impact of pyrite
These cracks could potentially stop the sale of your house, as potential buyers will not take a chance in buying a property that may have pyrite under its concrete floors. Reading the information provided in the page “What is Pyrite in homes?” will give you a better idea of whether the cracks and settlement in your property is the result of pyrite, or settlement or movement to the foundations or structural walls.
From our experience, some Insurance Companies and Builders are likely to take advantage of property owners who are not very familiar with what to do if they suspect that contaminated pyrite back-fill may have been used under their property. Having worked with clients with pyrite problems since the problem was first understood in Ireland, we have found that one of the biggest problems is that some builders and insurance companies make it expensive for property owners to submit a claim before they will accept the complaint.
Building surveyors who are familiar with pyrite identification are aware that most builders and one insurance company now claim that they are not able to pay to repair the damaged property. Our Government has said that they will not subsidise the cost of repairing pyrite-damaged houses as they do in Canada where contaminated pyrite back-fill problems also exist.
How long before you see pyrite damage?
A current misconception about damage caused by pyrite is that the damage to your concrete floors will become very evident within a couple of years. This is not the case. Research from Ontario in Canada shows that pyrite in the back-fill can continue to expand on a gradual basis for twenty-five years plus. The research carried out in Canada (which has been dealing with this pyrite issue for going on thirty years) shows that slow pyrite expansion can continue for at least thirty years. This will create similar amounts of damage (as explosive pyrite expansion) but spread over a far greater time period. As a result of this misconception that pyrite problems show up within the first few years, many property owners believe that they do not have a pyrite problem under their property until after their ten-year insurance policy has come to an end.
In summary, many homeowners will, unfortunately, find that the quarry supplier of back-fill, their builder, or insurance company will not fully pay to repair their home. At best they may only get a small contribution towards the repair costs if they are lucky.
Some further information can be obtained through www.pyriteboard.ie