Johnny Paddy’s

The recreation of a family home in Ireland

November 24th – the Radon barrier

November 24th, 2010

Another peek at the viewThe first time I noticed radon gas mentioned was when we put our house on the market in February.  One of questions our solicitors sent us was whether we were in an area known to have high radon levels.  We hadn’t a clue.  Radon, apparently, occurs naturally as part of the decay chain of uranium, which the earth is full of, according to Wikipedia, and is the single largest contributor to a person’s lifetime background radiation dose.  Not healthy then.  Hence, where the levels of radon are higher than average, modern building regulations now require a barrier and sump to be sunk into the foundations of houses to stop the gas accumulating where it oughtn’t.  And this is what we found Pat doing when we turned up today.  radon barrier

Pat is very much a ‘belt and braces’ man.  Most builders will simply lay a layer of sand over the thick polythene membrane to protect it until the flooring material is laid, but Pat says this is all very well until it rains and then it is a “pure mess” – added to which, by the time the builders have trampled all over it, raked out the sand, erected scaffolding and dropped tools, the whole thing is full of holes and utterly useless.  So Pat uses a weak mix concrete instead.

Site canteenOur visit today was principally to see our neighbour, over whose land our right of way runs.  In theory, we already have his permission to run water pipes down his road, but it is good to talk and we also wanted to ask his permission to level an unsightly mound on his side of the boundary.  As usual, the 11.30am appointment was delayed by an hour or so, and 12.30pm also came and went with no sign of yer man.  Pat and his foreman, John, repaired to the site canteen for their lunch. (As I took this photo, John said “now don’t be putting that in the Champion”.”Oh no”, I said, “just the Internet”. “Well that’s ok then.”)Meet the neighbours

When yer man did, eventually, show up, he was helpful to a fault, allowing us to run our water pipes under a corner of his meadow rather than force us to employ a rock breaker to dig a trench in the road. Equally, he didn’t seem to mind in the least if we pushed the mound of overgrown earth over the escarpment to improve our view. We don’t know what to make of our neighbour really. He owns a lot of property all over the county, but he seems to have remarkably bad luck doing anything with it. He was particularly anxious that we shouldn’t disturb the meadow too much as he had spent a lot of money draining and re-seeding it.  It didn’t seem a particularly profitable enterprise though, as it had cost 100k to do and produced just 16 bales of silage. Such is farming, perhaps. However, he had also been in trouble with the county council over a percolation bore hole that had been left uncovered and had crossed swords with the ESB over re-routing some electricity lines underground. All over the county there seem to be planning applications started and abandoned, where, in the face of an apparently minor setback, he seemed to have simply thrown in the towel and given up, often leaving himself out of pocket in the process.