Exo, Dublin’s highest office block, gets planning approval

The Exo, Dublin’s highest office block will have its structure on the outside.


See? Get it?

Exo. Exoskeleton. Get it?

Clever or what?

So clever they had to put it in the name, since no other building in history has ever had an externally-expressed structure.

Apart, of course, from the Pompidou Centre.

Centre Pompidou

Oh all right then. But apart from the Pompidou Centre, no other building in history has ever had an externally-expressed structure.

Bush Lane House?

Bush Lane House

All right. I’ll give you that. But apart from the Pompidou Centre and Bush Lane House —

The Irish Central Bank? In Dublin?

Central Bank of Ireland

In this bizarre what-did-the-Romans-ever-do-for-us kind world, the developers (I won’t blame the architects) seem, like ten-year-old children, to have been carried away by the notion that you could actually see the steel frame of a building. I’m surprised they didn’t call it the Look! Look! A digger! building.

I’d be more inclined to call it the 40 Benson & Hedges building because as far as I can see it just looks like two cigarette boxes on a pub table. In the old days, this would have been known as a bold, uncompromising architectural statement. People believed that sort of thing once upon a time, but today it’s better known as lazy, derivative dross.

Admittedly, the designers were somewhat constrained by the fact that they had to construct the new building on foundations already poured for Harry Crosbie’s failed Watchtower project, but that didn’t force them to build a pair of drab, Soviet-style cuboids. Nobody is fooled by steelwork on the outside: it’s still a horrible pair of glass cigarette boxes and it’s not as if Dublin hasn’t already suffered enough from such architecture. I give you the dreadful Hawkins House and O’Connell Bridge House.

O Connell Bridge House

Who will save Dublin from this sort of nonsense?

On the positive side, of course, the high(ish) rise is a welcome aspect of the scheme. For years, Dublin administrators proudly boasted of their low-rise city while conveniently overlooking the corollaries that it was also a high-sprawl city, that its dispersed population made an efficient mass-transit system uneconomic and that the cost of providing infrastructure including roads and sewerage was grossly out of proportion to the population. Typical Irish hubris, in other words, disconnected from the experience in every other European country.

It’s not as if, at 17 storeys, the Exo is particularly daring but at least it’s a move in the right direction. Now all we need is creative design to complement that tendency until eventually we begin to see a commercial and residential centre of appropriate height, combined with a human scale and attractive buildings.

Horrible cuboids, even those wearing an exoskeleton, we can do without.

We’re no longer the credulous untravelled Irish of the 1960s when any old huckster could throw up a Soviet-style panelak in the name of modernity and get away with it. People no longer believe old-fashioned architectural waffle and nobody is impressed by glass cubes, apart from the purists at an architects’ piss-up.


Longboat Quay – a modest proposal

It’s delusional to think that Longboat Quay and Priory Hall are in any way unique. The chances are that Ireland is full of such developments, constructed by slipshod, incompetent and often dishonest, builders. We’ll see many more of these disasters and each time there will be calls for the government (in other words, the taxpayer) to cover the cost of repairs, even though neither the government nor the local authorities had anything to do with building these things.

If you listened to our national broadcaster, you might think that the local councils are responsible for fixing the problems because they certified the buildings as fire-safe, but you’d be wrong. Local authorities do not certify buildings. They have never certified buildings. They don’t sign off on newly-constructed developments.

What about the fire safety certificates? you might say. Didn’t the council give them a certificate?

They did indeed, but for what?

Well, if you were one of our cutting-edge high-profile national journalists, you’d be telling the nation that they issued certificates for the buildings, and you’d be quite wrong. They did not.

A fire safety certificate is a document based on the plans and specifications for a proposed new building. All it does is confirm that the development will comply with the building regulations provided it’s constructed strictly as set out in the plans, calculations and specifications submitted.

That’s all. Under the law, that’s what a fire safety certificate is. An approval for a design. Nothing more.

All right, you might say. In that case, where were the council inspectors? Why did they miss these problems? Brown envelopes maybe?

Well actually, the truth is more prosaic.

The truth is that successive governments made a very deliberate decision to keep the number of inspectors to an absolute minimum, for several reasons. Professionally-qualified staff are expensive and what’s more, they disrupt the smooth running of a builder’s empire when they find faults. On top of that, the public have for years been fed the false narrative of the bloated public service, resulting in Ireland having one of the most undermanned public sectors in Europe.

Here’s a fact worth repeating: Belfast has more building inspectors than the entire republic. As somebody pointed out on radio, we have more dog wardens than building inspectors.

When a builder sells you a new apartment, they have an obligation to deliver a dwelling that complies with the building regulations in every respect, and if they don’t, you have a legitimate case against them under contract law, but of course, if the building company goes out of business, you’re stuck.

This is the situation with Longboat Quay, built by Bernard McNamara, who subsequently slid off to England, went through a one-year bankruptcy process and then returned to Dublin to start building again using a new limited company. Bernard is in the clear while you’re stuck with a dangerous apartment.

Dublin City Council have been painted as extremely hard-hearted for threatening the throw these unfortunate residents out on the side of the street with nowhere to go, and it’s true that the situation is utterly appalling, but let’s just examine the alternatives.

The council have been made aware of serious fire safety defects in the building, threatening the lives of as many as 900 people. What are they supposed to do with that information? Should the CEO or the chief fire officer take it on themselves personally to ignore that fact? If a catastrophic fire does occur, what should the chief fire officer tell the court when he’s being prosecuted for criminal negligence or even manslaughter?

What council manager in their right mind would volunteer to hang on a cross erected by a bad builder?

The local authority are stuck. They have no choice but to issue a fire safety notice specifying what needs to be done, and if that work is not carried out, under the law, the complex must close. That’s the law.

So what’s the answer?

Let’s take a step back.

New houses and apartments are bought and sold under civil law. A builder owes you a duty of care.

Somebody signed off on this building. It might not be the banks’ valuers on behalf of individual clients, but somebody periodically certified for the developer that the building complied with the regulations so that the banks could release funds to continue construction.  Some professional person informed the banks that their money was safe. That means the banks might have failed to perform due diligence and therefore carry some share of responsibility. It also means that a surveyor failed to detect the construction  flaws and presumably that surveyor has professional indemnity insurance covering such eventualities.

That’s all in the sphere of civil law but the building regulations, or more specifically, the Building Control Acts, are essentially criminal law. If you fail to comply with the regulations, you can be prosecuted.

Combine these two things. The local authority has the power to prosecute anyone involved in construction who fails to comply with the regulations. They can prosecute individuals, and it seems to me that if they decided to prosecute under indictment each and every person involved in the construction of Longboat Quay, from the former company owner to the lowliest foreman, regardless of what bankruptcies had been concluded we might see money magically materialising to settle the civil claims and pay for the repairs.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest and it would strike me as a far better outcome than the taxpayers yet again having to bail out bad practice as they were forced to do for the investors in the failed banks.

It is a well-established principle in law that nobody is protected by the veil of incorporation.



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Arbeit Macht Frei, says Irish property developer Johnny Ronan

arbeit macht frei johnny ronan

Johnny Ronan, an Irish property developer, made a submission in June to the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis.

Johnny’s submission might, or might not have contained useful information. It might, or might not, have contained pertinent facts. For all we know, Johnny’s submission contained the secret to creating cold fusion, but none of that is relevant in light of the final line in his document.

“Arbeit macht frei” nó, i nGaeilge, “Tugann saothar saoirse”

(Arbeit macht frei, or in Irish, work brings freedom).

Where did this quintessentially genocidal catchphrase come from?  What on earth was Johnny thinking? He didn’t put a swastika at the end of his document but he might as well have done so. He might s well have ended his submission with Heil Hitler.

Johnny Ronan must have discovered the term Arbeit Macht Frei somewhere or he would not have included it in his submission, so did he just find it and decide it simply meant Work brings freedom? If that’s true, Johnny Ronan is a deeply ignorant and limited man with no understanding of recent European history.

Did he allow some PR adviser to include the phrase in his submission? If so, that PR adviser should be fired and Johnny should immediately buy a history book.

Finally, did he realise exactly what Arbeit Macht Frei means and did he decide to use that expression anyway?  If so, then Johnny Ronan has given our national parliament a direct insult by using the most appalling Nazi terminology possible.

I don’t think Johnny Ronan is a Nazi though. I think the first hypothesis is closer the mark. Johnny, despite being an efficient moneymaker, is essentially a limited, ignorant man incapable of understanding that Nazi catchphrases are not an appropriate way to end a submission to a national parliament.

Johnny Ronan, it seems, got all the money but none of the class.

A poor man indeed.

There is no way to back out from saying Arbeit Macht Frei.





Construction Crime

Berkeley Balcony Disaster

Six young people are dead and seven more are in hospital, some with  injuries described as “life-changing”.

The balcony these kids were standing on didn’t collapse because of anything they did but because it was rotten and yet the victims continue to be blamed for their own deaths and their own injuries, though there is no evidence to support such prejudice.  Even the New York Times ran an article about drunken Irish students on J1 visas, resulting in a storm of criticism and a grudging apology from the paper.

Some people on Twitter tried to claim that the deaths and injuries were due to kids crowding the balcony and even, as one individual asserted, falling over the edge.

For the avoidance of all doubt, here are the facts: the balcony collapsed.  Nobody fell over anything.

The balcony collapsed because it was rotten.  The balcony collapsed because it was built with timber that rotted — a most perplexing thing in an 8-year-old building in a city afflicted with drought.

The balcony collapsed because the joists projecting from the wall simply crumbled under the weight of the people standing above, as the photographs show. The joists fell apart like damp dust.

berkeley balcony

Now, some people have suggested that the balcony was therefore overloaded, and I’ll deal with that presently, but first, I have to point out that since the balcony was plainly rotten, the builder has no defence.  He constructed a new building that, within eight years, killed six young people and catastrophically injured another seven.  There’s no escaping that fact.

As for this talk of overloading, let’s dispose of it immediately.

What is overloading?  Simple. It’s when a structure carries more load than it was designed to support.

How much load should a balcony be designed to support?

Simple. It’s as many people as the balcony can physically fit, plus the same again, just to be on the safe side.

That’s responsible design.

The engineer should have designed, and the builder should have constructed, a balcony that could hold not thirteen, not fifteen, not even twenty, but twice that many, just in case the circumstances arose.

Why?  Because not to do so might lead to the deaths of people and because it would be very cheap to make sure nobody died.

The kids went out on the balcony because they relied on the builder to construct a safe building. The ordinary citizen is entitled to rely on the expertise of a professional such as a builder or a structural engineer.  There is no responsibility on a 21-year-old student to usurp the expertise of professionals and second-guess the loadbearing capacity of a balcony or anything else.

And yet, this is all academic since the issue isn’t even the original strength of the structural members used to construct the balcony.  This is about the manner in which those components deteriorated.

It’s not  that the joists weren’t strong enough on the day they were fitted.  It’s that they rotted in less than eight years, in a dry climate.

These kids who lost their lives didn’t die because they were irresponsible or because they were drunk.

They died because they placed their faith in professionals, as we all do in the course of our daily lives. Unfortunately, the professionals failed these kids badly.

These deaths were foreseeable, and somebody should do time in jail for it.


Construction Politics

Post-Referendum Business Opportunities

Now that the unfortunate business of the marriage equality referendum is out of the way, it’s time to reveal my true agenda.  It’s time to start fulfilling the worst fears of the Iona Institute and the Muttering Fathers.

The plans have been under preparation for a long time.  Vast armies of kidnapped biological fathers have been slaving in a vast and beautifully-decorated subterranean cavern under the watchful eyes of my fanatical Gayhadist guards and now at last I’m ready.

A week from today, my people will open a shop in every city and town across Ireland selling designer surrogate babies.

They’ll be organic, locally-produced and fully traceable.

I’ve formed an alliance with an evil multinational to genetically modify them so that you can select a baby that looks like, for instance, David Quinn or Breda O’Brien but a court has ruled against making a baby that looks like John Waters on the grounds of excessive cruelty.

The business model is simple.  We’ll use poor women from the Third World as surrogate mothers, and then we’ll brutally force them to give up their babies and throw them out on the streets in the normal way.  In future, we hope that our teams of gay Nazi scientists will find a way to grow babies in a tank, so that you can pick one out while you enjoy a nice meal in one of our restaurants.   You get to try out your baby for a month and if you don’t like it you can bring it back with no questions asked, but the offer is limited to a maximum of three babies in any calendar year.

I think this idea will catch on, given the hundreds of thousands of ravening gays that the Ionanists and the Muttering Fathers warned us about.

I’m calling the company IonaBaby.

Other products include Iona lesbian pouring-chocolate and Rampant Bigot fun toys.


Proof-reading the Bernal building

Anyone who knows me will be familiar with my obsessive attention to detail when it comes to the printed word.

I can’t help it.  This is some kind of perceptual disorder that causes typos and grammatical errors to jump out of the page and poke me in the eye with a big red finger that says Look at me, you bastard!

I didn’t ask for this.   I didn’t ask to be the poor swine who can’t read a menu without noticing the badly-spelled French, though I have learned to be the thoughtful one who doesn’t mention it to his fellow diners, and that surely has to be progress, however trivial.

Of course, there’s an upside to my quasi-OCD, in the fact that I do merciless, painful but highly-effective proof-reading.  You might be in pain after your PhD thesis has passed through the Bockalysation process, but at the end, your thesis will not only be readable but also entirely free of typographical errors.  It might not be free of things that irritate silly faux-grammarians though.  The infinitives might tend to be horribly split.  Your sentences will begin with prepositions. They might lack subjects and verbs. Maybe. But on the other hand, their lengths will vary in a pleasing way, causing a vague, intangible word-music to tickle your reader’s optic nerve.

I once proof-read a novel for a victim client and when the work was done, every page had between fifty and a hundred yellow highlighter marks. It was dispiriting, but we slogged our way through it together page by ponderous page until in the end we got there.

When we finally wrapped it up, the victim client asked me that overwhelming question.  What’s that going to cost me?

And I couldn’t help myself.

It depends, I told him.

On what?

Well, I could charge you by the page.

You could.

Or I could charge you by the day.

You could.

Or I could charge you by the number of years this thing took off my fucking life!

What they’ve been sayin’ all these years is true, Mama.  I can be a bit cutting at times.

Where’s all this going?

Here.  Here is where it’s going. I’ve proof-read all sorts of things and I still do.  Theses. Books. Technical reports.

But I’ve never, ever proof-read a building until today.

Today was the first time something jumped off the face of a new building and poked me between the eye, hissing Look at me, you bastard!  But that’s precisely what the Bernal building in the University of Limerick did to me, not once but twice.

University of Limerick

I’d been following this job for a while, fascinated by the way they were fitting the panels.  We used to have a door when I was a child with glass that had the same sort of pattern so it grabbed me straight away.  I like this sort of thing.

University of Limerick


University of Limerick

Marvellous, I thought.  Every last detail worked out.  How easy they make it look.

Well, actually no, Ted.

Here’s what I noticed this morning, or to be more specific, here’s what jumped out and poked me in the eye with a big red dry finger.  Look at me, you bastard!

University of Limerick


Do you see it?  Do you?  Aaaaarrrggghhhh!!!!

And it’s not alone.   Here’s another one.  Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!

University of Limerick


In my world, if you write a page on a silly old blog, it’s worth getting right even when it costs nothing.

How much did this thing cost?  €52 million.

This is a structure dedicated to science and engineering.   It’s all about accuracy and precision.

Fix it, lads.


Millfield Manor fire could expose a severe defect in thousands of Irish houses

Six houses in Newbridge, County Kildare, burned to ashes last Tuesday after a fire broke out in one of them.  Luckily, the fire happened at 4pm so that all the occupants were able to evacuate safely and even though the people lost everything they owned, they’re still alive. But it was only a matter of chance that nobody died. If the fire had broken out at four in the morning it’s likely that many people would have lost their lives and we would now be in a convulsion of recrimination on a par with 1981, when the Stardust fire took 48 lives.

After the Stardust disaster, the fire service was fundamentally restructured, and the Fire Services Act was passed into law, giving fire authorities draconian powers of inspection and prosecution — except in relation to private houses. The fire service was given no powers in that area.

Later, with the Building Control Act, 1990, local authorities were empowered to carry out random inspections of building sites, but were only given resources to inspect 12% to 15% of all developments. This was light-touch regulation, in tune with the wishes of developers, much like the later non-regulation of the financial institutions. Instead of local authorities having the people and the money to inspect every single building multiple times, a decision was made to place responsibility for compliance with the building regulations on the builders and designers, with predictable results.

Amid much talk of the bloated public service, here’s an interesting fact. Belfast city council has more building inspectors than the entire Republic of Ireland.

Timber-frame and other similar lightweight forms of construction, such as steel-frame housing, have an obvious advantage for builders. The various panels can be made in a factory, brought to the site and rapidly assembled into a weather-proof shell where workers can carry on with their jobs under shelter from the elements.

Except of course, the walls between the houses, which have to be non-combustible to comply with regulatory guidance. If you’re a developer, you don’t want to do that. You’d prefer if the entire building could be made in a factory. You don’t want to be paying block-layers good money to build solid concrete walls between the houses, just on the off-chance that the odd fire might break out, and you don’t want to be paying for the heavy foundations needed to support those walls.

What do you do? You lobby government, that’s what you do. The same Fianna Fáil government that gave you the light-touch regulation of the Building Control Act who duly oblige by changing the rules. Where the technical guidance documents used to insist that walls between houses must be non-combustible (in other words, concrete) it now suddenly, magically, becomes possible to have party walls of timber, sheeted with plasterboard on both sides and maybe with a sheet of fibreboard in the middle. A wooden fire-wall, in essence, with the added advantage that, should you have a delinquent neighbour, he can get into your house using only a bread-knife.

That’s not a joke. That’s a fact, and we saw the consequences in Newbridge last Tuesday when a fire in one house rapidly spread to five more, due to flaws in the construction of the party wall, and possibly due to the fact that nobody bothered to put in any cavity barriers.

What are cavity barriers? Well, you see, the house has an inner structure of timber, and then it has a skin of brick or block, literally a veneer to maintain the illusion of solidity. There’s a cavity between this brick skin and the timber frame, and if it’s not sealed at strategic locations, a fire can simply skip between one house and the next through this unprotected cavity.

There was no tradition of timber frame construction in Ireland before the boom, and most builders had no appreciation of the finer details such as cavity barriers, which were often simply omitted unless some vigilant local authority inspector or conscientious architect spotted their absence and forced the builder to fit them.

The same is true of the timber party wall. When you’re relying on plasterboard to save lives, it’s important to get the details right. The plasterboard is simply screwed to timbers and the screws have to be close enough to each other.  They also have to be applied properly, without breaking the paper skin of the plasterboard.

That’s right. Paper.

There are other details that must be constructed properly but let’s leave it at that for the moment. If you live in a timber-framed house, and if that house happens to be semi-detached or terraced, you are relying for your safety on a wooden frame with plasterboard on both sides to protect you from a catastrophic fire in your neighbour’s home.

As we saw in the Newbridge incident, none of that worked out too well, and the implications are horrifying.

Tens of thousands of such houses were built all over Ireland during the boom and while the Millfield Manor residents were lucky enough to be awake when their homes caught fire, it’s only a matter of time before a major disaster happens.

That disaster will be a consequence of weak government, underfunding of enforcement and political cronyism. It will be on the heads of politicians and certain weak-willed officials in the Department of the Environment who slavishly obeyed the diktat of their political masters and changed the rules to permit this inherently flawed method of construction.

There’s another national scandal brewing.


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Construction Crime Law

Former IRA Man Asks Court For Stay on €10-Million Repossession

You might be familiar with Tom McFeely, the former IRA hunger-striker, who built a shit apartment block in Dublin, among other things  The unfortunate occupants of that block are unable to occupy the homes they bought from McFeely because those homes are a death trap.   I refer to Priory Hall, a place so dangerous the owners of the apartments had to evacuate the building, as I wrote about here.

The people who spent their life savings buying these apartments from Sinn Féin patriot Tom McFeely are now living in rented accommodation because they can’t live in the flats he sold them.  Why?  Because the flats this freedom fighter sold them are shit.  They’re rubbish.  Indeed, it seems that everything this selfless patriot put his hand to turned out to be rubbish.

Now, whatever about the unfortunate inhabitants of Tom McFeely’s shit buildings, you couldn’t expect a bona fide freedom fighter to suffer any more hardship, and that’s why his wife was asking the court for a stay on the repossession of his €10 million house.  That’s right.  I said ten million euros.  Tom is currently living in the land of the Old Enemy and couldn’t be present in court, leaving that responsibility to Nina, Mrs McFeely.

What was the pressing reason why they should retain possession of the ten-million-euro house, according to Mrs McFeely?  Simple.  One of their kids is doing the Leaving Cert.

Are you staggered by the effrontery of a former Provo, at a time when children in Dolphin’s Barn can’t go to school at all because their council flats are so squalid they’re killed by asthma?  I am.

Tom McFeely wants to keep his ten-million-euro house until one of his children finishes the Leaving Cert.  Jesus, how could you do the Leaving if you weren’t living in a ten-million-euro mansion?

This man landed his purchasers in hell by selling them sub-standard apartments.  He failed to support them when the problems with their homes emerged.  And now he hides behind his children when called on to pay his bills.

What a patriot.

I’d be interested to hear what Gerry Adams has to say on this debacle.  So far there has been a remarkable silence.


Construction Politics

Priory Hall Builder, Tom McFeely, Gets UK Bankruptcy

Tom McFeely doesn’t look much like a hunger striker these days, but in his IRA phase, back in 1980, he went 53 days without food in support of demands for political-prisoner status.  Those were the times when the Provos justified every murder and robbery they committed on the grounds that they were fighting for Irish freedom from the tyrannical jackboot of the United Kingdom.

When McFeely came across the border in 1989 after 12 years in jail, he had just £240 to keep him going but he was a busy and industrious young man and before long he had created a lucrative construction business.  Unfortunately for Tom, his years in jail deprived him of many opportunities, and when he came out, he had no idea how to build anything but we Irish are forgiving people.  We’ll buy any old junk as long as it’s packaged properly, with a glossy brochure and some Flash Harry salesman touting it as the last word in elegant living.

Tom’s £240 proved remarkably elastic, allowing him to grow and grow, and not only in the waistband department.  Sadly, however, by 2006 the strain was beginning to show.  His Priory Hall building site was closed down after the Health and Safety Authority secured a High Court order.  The HSA inspector described the site as one of the most dangerous he had ever seen.

That same year, Offaly County Council took High Court proceedings to force McFeely’s company, Coalport, to carry out remedial work on Na Cluainte,  near Portarlington, an estate where 88 houses had been flung together.

Last year, Dublin City Council first evacuated all its own tenants from the 188-unit Priory Hall and later issued a closure notice on the complex because of serious fire-safety defects.

As we speak,  bankruptcy proceedings are before the courts, taken by  Theresa McGuinness who won a High Court award of €100,000 in 2009, because of structural defects in  a house constructed by Coalport.

Isn’t it ironic then, to learn that McFeely, patriot, freedom fighter and hunger striker, has sought the protection of the United Kingdom courts whose bankruptcy terms are far less penal than those in the Republic?

Isn’t it remarkable that a man who once took up arms against the Crown should now throw himself on the mercy of that very same oppressor, while at the same time there is no escape for the hundreds of homeless people who can’t live in his death-trap apartments but who must continue paying the banks for them?

After a year, Tom McFeely will be discharged from bankruptcy and free to start again, unlike those people who are burdened with crushing mortgages for the rest of their lives.  It will be a tight year for Tom, but at least he can fall back on that endlessly elastic £240 he brought across the border with him back in 1989.


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Dublin City Council to Buy Priory Hall Apartments?

The Priory Hall  apartments are a heap of junk  and those who bought them were sold rubbish.  This is beyond doubt.  The apartments are so dangerous that Dublin’s chief fire officer felt compelled to serve a fire safety notice on the complex, closing it down, despite the fact that it was home to dozens of families.

But let’s be clear about something.  Dublin City Council didn’t make these people homeless.  What made these people homeless was the fact that their homes were dangerous.  Dublin city council didn’t build the apartments, nor did it have any obligation under the law to make sure that the buildings were constructed properly.  That responsibility, under Irish law, rests exclusively with the builder.

That’s how matters stand with regard to the building regulations, but we can take it a step further.  The people who bought these apartments were in the same position as anyone else buying a dwelling.  They had every right to survey the building before making a financial commitment.  They were free to hire surveyors and I imagine some, if not all, of them did so.  If the fire inspectors, after a visual inspection, were able to identify fundamental safety problems, why weren’t the surveyors hired by the purchasers able to spot the same problems?

What did these surveyors say about the Priory Hall complex?  Did any of them say that it was a fire trap, and if not, why not?  What are their contractual obligations to the people who hired them?  And if the purchasers didn’t have the specialised knowledge to assess their homes before buying, why did they not hire an expert to advise them?

I hear that the local authority is now under pressure to buy the apartments from the owners and I have to wonder why.  If it turns out that my house is uninhabitable due to subsidence or dampness, will my local authority buy it from me to save me from the consequences of my failure to check it out properly before buying it?

I suspect not.

So what exactly is the difference between the Priory Hall owners and any other householder who happens to be sold a defective dwelling?


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