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The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Building Survey in Donegal

Donegal is one of my favourite counties, the scenery is spectacular, the people are great fun and the pubs are a whole lot cheaper than Dublin!

Another great thing about Donegal is the property prices. You can get a 200m² detached house on a half acre of land just outside Letterkenny for well under €300k... I won't even mention what the equivalent would cost in Dublin!

On top of that, more properties than ever in Donegal can now access fast broadband services making it very attractive for people who can now work fully remote.

But property in Donegal is also going through a dark period. Over the last few years, as the Mica scandal has hit the headlines, it has become very apparent that Donegal is by far the worst-hit county. Mica has been confirmed in just about every corner of the county from Killybegs to Malin Head, but very heavily concentrated in the east and north of the county.

Most of the defective blocks can be tied back to one supplier who reportedly supplied blocks for the majority of homes built in the east and north of Donegal in the 1990s and early 2000s. Their blocks contained Mica (Muscovite) far beyond acceptable levels. Over time, as the Mica causes blocks to absorb water and bond poorly with concrete, thousands of properties have started to crack and crumble with serious damage or even been deemed beyond repair.

So how can a pre-purchase building survey help you avoid buying a Mica affected property?

When you get a pre-purchase building survey, the surveyor will know if the property was built during high-risk years and if it was built in a known affected area.

They'll also know the warning signs and cracking patterns that could indicate the presence of Mica.

Although a building surveyor, structural engineer etc. can't test for Mica themselves - that requires samples to be sent for lab testing - they are experts in identifying damage caused by Mica and know the warnings signs.

If they identify any of these flags, it will be outlined in your written report along with a suggested course of action.

At we are lucky to work with one of the best surveyors for identifying Mica risks who is based right in the middle of Donegal. Over the last few years, our reports have identified clear signs of Mica risk also with some instances of attempted coverup or poor repair of the damage.

When you buy a second-hand property in Ireland, "buyer beware" comes into play and once the sale is complete, you have no legal comeback if something like Mica is discovered. This is why it is vital you give yourself as much information as possible before committing to buying and a pre-purchase building survey is the first step in doing just that!


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