Couple claim house will have to be demolished over allegedly defective insulation

By Ann O'Loughlin

A couple who claim their home will have to be demolished and rebuilt as a result of allegedly defective cavity wall insulation works has sued the insulation company.

Michael and Silvia Gunning, Rathconrath, Co Westmeath, have sued Permagreen Insulation (Ireland) Ltd, Euro Innovation Park, Little Island, Cork, which was employed to provide insulation for their house, construction of which began in 2009.

They claim that Permagreen provided the cavity wall insulation over a number of days in October 2011 while the house was still under construction.

They say that afterwards, significant cracking became apparent and that this was due to the insulation product.

Permagreen denies the claims.

It initially admitted that "certain damage" was caused by it, but later sought to amend its defence and pleaded that while it was responsible for some damage, other damage was due to defects in the design and/or construction of the property for which it (Permagreen) was not responsible.

Permagreen also claimed that due to the Gunning's failure to carry out remedial works to the property in intervening years meant further damage was caused.

When Permagreen sought to amend its original defence, it also claimed the Gunnings were responsible for failing to ensure the house would be constructed in compliance with building regulations and code of practice. This was particularly so in relation to the provision of adequate ties and wall restraints for which Permagreen said it was in no part responsible.

The Gunnings opposed the application to amend the defence primarily because Permagreen's insurers, Zurich, confirmed in 2012 it was not disputing liability. The Gunnings said an amendment would cause significant prejudice to them as Permagreen was now blaming other parties which they (Gunnings) would be out of time to bring proceedings against.

Today, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said he was permitting Permagreen to amend its defence.

He said if the defendant had conceded it was liable for all the damage, he would not have allowed the amendment. However, the carefully drafted defence was that it admitted: "certain damage" had been caused by its wrongdoing, the judge said.

He was satisfied the amendment would not unfairly prejudice the Gunnings and it will clarify issues which will have to be determined at the trial of the action, he said.

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