Owner refuses to leave subsiding home

The owners of an apartment in a block of 21 units hit by subsidence has pledged not to move out until he is properly compensated by its builders.

Carpenter Gordon Cash is among several occupants of the troubled building yet to leave. The apartment block’s builders, O’Brien and O’Flynn, this week again asked for people to vacate their homes but pledged “the building will be saved”.

However, distressed owner-occupier Mr Cash said all he wanted at this stage was his money back.

“I’m expected to keep paying a mortgage of €1,200 a month and move out of an apartment I paid €310,000 for four years ago, and which has been giving problems almost since the moment I moved in. This has had an awful strain on my personal life, it’s hard to get up every day and face into this,” he added. “I just want my money back.”

He and his wife, Amanda, have a ground-floor apartment in block 1a at the Garrane Darra complex in Cork’s Wilton suburb. They are expecting their second child next year.

At the start of November, O’Brien and O’Flynn asked 12 residents in one end of the block of 21 units to vacate their homes by November 15, to allow them investigate and solve the serious subsidence issues. They now say it could take six months to tackle.

As the liability issue digs in between the builders, piling contractors, engineers, and ground surveyors and their respective insurance companies, O’Brien and O’Flynn have – without admitting liability – offered between €875 and €1,000 a month for three months’ alternative accommodation.

For now, though, Gordon Cash isn’t moving despite any possible dangers and engineering ground works starting outside his apartment window. He said he can’t use the shower because of sprung wall tiles, and has dirty water coming into his bath.

The cracking started over two years ago, he stated, and as recently as six months ago the builders’ engineers and Homebond “had put the cracks down to settlement”.

Now, he has had to plane the doors inside to keep them opening and closing in their frames, has cracked walls and floors and feels the place isn’t safe – but won’t move until he knows exactly what he is being offered.

“I rang builder Denis O’Flynn a year-and-a-half ago and said I wanted out. He said he wasn’t going to go down that road,” Cash recalled, asserting “they should do the right thing and give people back their money”.

Another owner, Wayne Pinfield, said he had cracks, leaks and smells in his home, and out of concern is moving out this week with his girlfriend.

“It’s very stressful for everyone,” says Pinfield. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to strip out all my stuff and I’m not coming back.”

In their first public comment on the issue, O’Brien and O’Flynn engineer John Fitzgerald yesterday said they had again asked for affected residents to leave.

“For us to get access, we need people to move, every effort is being made to rectify this.”

He added there was an underpinning solution to the building’s subsidence. “It will be saved,” Mr Fitzgerald stated.

He stressed that they had attempted to deal with Gordon Cash’s particular problems on a number of occasions but weren’t able to get into his apartment to do so.

A statement on behalf of Garrane Darra’s management company said they acknowledged the efforts being made by O’Brien and O’Flynn “in relation to this unfortunate situation” and said they are “anxious that the position of their members be clarified and hope the contractors involved, and more importantly their insurers, will meet their responsibility speedily and fairly”.

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