22 June 2012

It never rains but it pours...

Stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down.
Not actually our ceiling, but our floor is just millimeters above that. Literally. Friday June 22nd
Sometimes that ominous crashing sound that wakes you up from your slumber at 6am is actually your house falling down around you.


Having just said goodbye the builders less than a fortnight ago who were repairing the damage from the last heavy rain incident, we were jolted awake by what sounded like someone falling down the stairs just after 6am this morning. We had a look around but couldn't see anything, and so chalked it up to overly amorous pigeons nesting outside our bedroom.

Our downstairs neighbours had an equally pleasant morning, being greeted by the contents of their ceiling relocating themselves to the floor.

These two incidents, unsurprisingly, are somewhat connected.

It would appear that many shortcuts were taken when the building's original plumbing was installed, not least of which was the decision by the now conveniently out-of-business construction company to forgo the usual rubber washer arrangement when attaching pipes to things, using instead lashings of silicon sealant that would appear to have a maximum shelf-life of about six years.

In other news, our building will shortly be celebrating its sixth anniversary.

It all makes me wonder what else is about to come crashing down around our heads.

The sealant failed sometime in the last week or so and the pipes started leaking, allowing water to pool up in the cavity between our floor and the ceiling below. Of course the cavity wasn't empty, it was full of cellulose insulation. Cellulose is made from recycled wood-fibre (including newspaper) and is incredibly good at preventing heat-loss in high humidity, which also means that it is rather good at absorbing water. Lots and lots of water. Soaks it up like the world's best sponge. Somewhere between twenty-five and thirty litres of water judging by the amount of sodden cellulose that was hauled away ignominiously in black sacks.

So now mere days after bidding a fond adieu to one set of builders we can say hello to a new set as we look forward to emergency repairs to the pipes and plumbing this weekend, followed by an extended period where the walls, ceilings and floorboards across two floors are removed, repaired and replaced. Once again the contents of multiple rooms are stacked up in piles in our office like a shut-in's birthday treat, threatening to topple-down on top of us like, um, a ceiling full of sodden cellulose.

Our building was designed and its construction was overseen by two very dedicated architects who still have their office in the building. The building was built for a guy who still has his own office in the building. It was by no means an inexpensive build because ecological materials suitable for this type of construction don't come cheap in Ireland, and yet still the builders themselves look like they cut corners at every single opportunity when the architects and owner weren't standing directly over them.

If this is what happens in a unique and bespoke building that had a serious amount of oversight, what on earth must the situation be like for those trapped in the thousands of cookie-cutter apartment blocks and exurban housing estates? Priory Hall must surely be the tip of the iceberg, in another three years time this whole country will literally be crumbling down around us.

It would appear that with a very few exceptions, the Irish construction industry is and was as rotten to the core as the shoddy buildings they knocked together with a bit of plaster and dodgy silicon sealant. They made millions off the media-stoked vulnerability of the masses, and now their failures are being wiped clean by the Government at the taxpayers' expense while we all sit in the rubble of our dreams mortgaged up to the hilt and doomed forever to a life of unforgiving and unmanageable debt.

Sometimes I feel so ground down by the injustices of this country that the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is my nuclear rage.

That and the sound of the ceiling below me collapsing down into a pile of sodden rubble.



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