October 5, 2022

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The cost of remediating fire-safety defects at a large Celtic Tiger-era apartment complex in west Dublin have tripled, rising from €5 million to more than €15 million.

The Crescent Building in Dublin12 comprises 10 blocks of 257 apartments and was built by a third-party contractor in 2003 as part of the larger Park West campus developed by Harcourt Developments.

The property company, headed by Pat Doherty, is currently building more than 2,000 homes across Ireland and the UK and was the developer of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Stanley Dock apartments in Liverpool and the entire Park West business and technology campus.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at the Crescent Building are part of the larger Park West Pointe group of apartment blocks, which first sold for €199,950-€425,000 in the early 2000s.

In June 2021 managing agent Keenan Property Management (KPM) – acting on behalf of the owners’ management company (OMC) – informed residents of the result of a fire-safety survey which found non-compliance with the fire-safety certificate in various parts of the building.

A lack of fire-stopping material was found in both the common areas and inside the apartments, while the entire fire alarm system needed to be replaced. It is believed there is a large cavity under the roof and in all of the outside walls, where fire-stopping material should have been placed. This is a problem which would have occurred at the time of construction.

The cost of remediating these issues was then believed to be in the region of €5 million. However, residents were told on Tuesday that the cost had now risen to €15.9 million, with the cost per apartment estimated at €68,500.

This cost includes a 30 per cent contingency fund in the case of inflationary surge.

In a number of weeks apartment owners will be asked to vote to approve a five-year schedule of works, with an initial levy of €15,000 per unit payable within six weeks of that egm should the proposal be passed.

A landmark report by the Government’s working group on defects in housing, commissioned by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, was published last month.

That report found the average cost of remediating defects was €25,000 per apartment, making the €68,500 bill per unit at the Crescent far larger than is standard.

While the owners’ management company at the Crescent Building previously told residents it would seek legal advice throughout the process, the Government’s recent report on the general issue found “the likelihood of success in legal actions is low, and the costs of action are considered to be prohibitive”.

Under Irish construction law, homeowners usually have only six years from the time a defect becomes “manifest” to take a builder or developer to court.

In cases of missing fire-stopping or defective balconies, it is typically argued that the damage becomes “manifest” the day it is built. This means that for most houses and apartments built during the Celtic Tiger, the time frame in which the builder is liable has run out – often before owners were even aware of the damage.

When asked by The Irish Times if it would be contributing towards the cost of remediation, Harcourt Developments said: “The Crescent Building at Park West was constructed in 2003 by a reputable third-party contractor and the building was certified as fully compliant with building and fire regulations at the time.

“In 2009, at the request of the residents, the building management was transferred to a third-party management company who have been responsible for the building services and maintenance issues ever since.”

KPM was asked why the cost of remediation had increased so significantly, and responded with a comment from the OMC. It said “the owners bear no responsibility for this” but were left to deal with the huge costs associated with the repairs. “We are adding our names to tens of thousands of others calling on the Government to establish a redress scheme for apartment homeowners in the upcoming budget.”

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