The introduction of a staged payment to the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund Scheme could be transformative for prospective homeowners, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Garret Ahearn said that while the Vacant Property Refurbishment grant is to be increased substantially for vacant and derelict properties, in a majority of cases, prospective purchasers need access to funding at the starting point of purchase and refurbishment.
Introducing a staged payment option for the provision of the grant would eliminate this most significant barrier.
“The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant will be increased from €30,000 to €50,000 for vacant properties and from €50,000 to €70,000 for derelict properties,” Senator Ahearn explained. “In addition, it will be extended to cover houses built up to 2007 and will be available for properties intended for rental as well as owner-occupied.
“This is very welcome news to anybody considering refurbishing or restoring a property in their own or a nearby community. However, in its current formation, the grant is only paid to homeowners after they have completed works to their property and an inspection has been carried out.
“While I understand the rationale behind this, that State funding must be protected and utilised for the purposes it has been intended for, the works being carried out on a property are no different to any other domestic construction works.
In the vast majority of cases, builders require payments at each stage of the project, subject to an engineer’s inspection. This process should be applied to the Croí Cónaithe (Towns), with funding being released as remedial works are carried out.
“Successful applicants to the scheme and prospective homeowners would have huge peace of mind to know that the job will be paid for in instalments, and they don’t have to embark on interim funding options, either through using their own savings or borrowing off the credit union or family members with the intention of repaying them when the grant is paid in full at the end. Staged payments would eliminate all that stress.
“This week has seen more progress on the plan to make it cheaper to build and refurbish a home. We’ve increased grants and made it easier for people to apply for these schemes. I’d like to see us build that momentum by removing any existing roadblocks to people who may be ideally positioned to take on a refurbishment project. Changing how the grant is paid out and introducing staged payments is clearly one way to do just that.”