Politics

Mica homeowners still out tens of thousands under new grant system


Mica homeowners will “still be out tens of thousands of euro” under a new system of calculating grants to be considered by the Government,

Michael Doherty of the Mica Action Group in Donegal said he it had not been a surprise to his group when it emerged that the Government was set to drop a controversial sliding scale, which had been opposed by the group.

Mr Doherty told Newstalk Breakfast the group got a letter from the Minister in December to say the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) “would be respected, there would be independence and we knew from talking to SCSI they had never used a sliding scale, so it wasn’t a big shock to us the revelation that the sliding scale would be removed.”

The main issue for his group was that the SCSI would be operating under 2007 regulations. “So we’ll be building homes and they’ll be pricing homes to regulations that are 15 years old,” he said.

A new model proposed by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) will see payments made based on eight different types of houses. This ranges from a two bed terraced estate house to a five-plus bedroom rural house. The Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will likely adopt the measures suggested by the SCSI when they submit their report before February 28th.

Mr Doherty said there were caps “right, left and centre” and that the devil was in the detail. “We’ve said that all along. What we’re dealing with now is a hundred percent headline but underneath that families will still be out tens of thousands of euro”.

“There’s exclusions within the scheme already, for example the cap of €420,000 that’s in there sounds like a lot of money until you go to work with today’s building costs,” he said. He said a third of people were not going to be able to put their house together for less than that money. “These people are not in a position then to go and find 50 percent of a retrofit grant – that’s icing on the cake that we simply can’t afford when they’re going to struggle to put the roof over their head in the first place.”

Mr Doherty described the plan to fund retrofit grants for mica houses as “counter intuitive”. This was a much more expensive approach than doing the work to a house when it was brand new.

“Remember this is a grant scheme that is being offered as a 50 percent grant scheme and only some will be able to afford to use it, it’s not the same as everybody else getting it, people who are in a mica or pyrite home already have to spend €30,000, €40,000,€50,000 to start with and then find the rest of it.

“These houses are different because you’re starting from a mica, pyrite baseline. You already have to find €50,000 plus before you start to put your house together to get a roof over your head.”

Mr Doherty explained that mica home owners faced €40,000 to €50,000 in costs to demolish these houses, because all the waste has to be segregated, “this is not like a house that was burned to the ground and then a digger arrives on site, there’s a lot of hidden money associated with this.

“There’s a lot of red tape money that’s buried in this before you start to put a block on top of the ground again.”



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