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Will a Structural Survey tell me if a property I am buying has Pyrite?

A structural survey is not a test for Pyrite, but the surveyor is looking out for any signs of defects which could be a result of Pyrite in the foundation backfill causing heave.

Some of the telltale signs include a distinctive cracking patterns, usually visible on gable walls, cracks in the floor as the slab heaves, jamming doors, uneven worktops etc.

If any defects are identified which could be related to Pyrite and if the property is in a known impacted area and year, Pyrite testing would be recommended.

What is Pyrite and how does it cause damage to properties?

Pyrite is a natural mineral which is found everywhere in small quantities. However it causes problems when the levels of Pyrite exceed a certain limit. For example, when the material used to fill in the foundation, the backfill, contains high levels of Pyrite, the backfill can expand over a number of years and pushes up on the ground slab and out on the wall.

This causes the common cracking pattern which we have all seen on the news over the last number of years.

In severe cases, it can cause the walls to become structurally unsafe and even collapse.

How does a Pyrite test work?

To test for Pyrite, a specialist company will need to remove part of the downstairs flooring and drill through the concrete slab and into the foundation backfill. They will do this in several locations ensure they get a wide sample of

These samples are sent to a lab for testing which will determine if the level of Pyrite in the backfill exceeds safe levels or not. If it does, remediation work will be recommended.

Because a Pyrite test is so invasive, it would generally only be conducted if the property is starting to show signs of potential heave caused by Pyrite.

How is Pyrite removed form a property?

There are 2 steps to this.

First, the downstairs of the property is dug out. Yes, that is as severe as it sounds! The full slab may need to be removed and then the backfill (material under the slab) needs

Then after the backfill is replaced, any damaged which was caused by the heave needs to be repaired. This work can range from minor structural works to rebuilding parts of walls.

After all of this work is complete and signed off. A Pyrite Green Cert is issues.

What can I do if I suspect my property has Pyrite?

You should have the property inspected and then if the damage does indicate possible Pyrite then testing may be recommended. Depending on the results you may be eligible to participate in the Pyrite Remediation Scheme.

After the Pyrite crisis, the government established the Pyrite Resolution Board which oversees a Pyrite Remediation Scheme. The scheme outlines steps which needs to be followed and works along the way can only be carried out by approved companies.

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