Property clinic: Rain is getting into our bathroom – what should we do?

Your property queries answered by the experts

Q We have an ongoing issue in a second floor bathroom. When there is a lot of rain (as recently) and presumably when the wind blows in a certain direction, rain appears to get in through the outside wall extractor-fan vent cover. This is causing damp and water damage in the bathroom. Is there an external extractor-fan vent cover that could be fitted to prevent this from happening?

A Ventilating a bathroom is essential to reduce the propensity for water vapour to condense within a home and is a requirement of the building regulations (Part F – ventilation).

On second floors, mechanical fans are usually provided through ceilings as it is more difficult to install them through walls.

Through-wall vent fans sold in Ireland must be CE marked and tested for weather tightness by the manufacturer to avoid the symptoms you describe.


Looking at your photo it’s hard to see what exactly the difficulty is. Could the louvre be upside down?

Your problem is possibly a result of poor installation allowing water to run along the outside of the unit having entered via the seal between the wall and the external louvre flashing which seems to be dislocated.

If the wall is extremely exposed or prone to swirling gusts caused by nearby buildings then the manufacturer’s weathering design may be exceeded by these local conditions or rain could be forced up the wall and past the louvres.

If so then consider fitting a proprietary plastic or metal weather hood sealed to the wall.

These units may also contain a “back draft shutter” to further reduce weather ingress.

These can be noisy in windy conditions so take care in selecting an appropriate unit. Search online, you’ll find there are many types available from just a few euro.

A huge amount of energy is extracted with the stale damp air from bathrooms and kitchens by mechanical extract fans.

In new houses extraction from bathrooms is increasingly specified with “heat recovery ventilation units” such as Nilan or Vent-axiawhole-house systems.

Single room models are also available and are well worthwhile installing if you are considering replacement of your existing extract fan to resolve your problem or as a comfort and energy improving solution.

They also cut down on noise problems.

If you still have concerns don’t hesitate to contact a building surveyor: they are trained in building pathology and will study the problem to arrive at a resolution.

Fergus Merriman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,

Building tax credits

Q In relation to the HRI (Home Renovation Incentive) scheme can you please clarify if I can reclaim the VAT retrospectively? I had a a variety of works carried out by a registered contractor in 2014 costing over €5,000 and had window panes replaced by a different contractor in early 2015 costing almost €3,000. Recently I had solar panels installed costing over €4,000 after deducting grant received. I wasn't aware of the HRI scheme until recently and am wondering if I can apply under the scheme now.

A Yes you can retrospectively claim the tax credits under the HRI scheme. The condition in respect of “qualifying expenditure” remain the same ie, that the works are repair, renovation or improvement works to your principal residence.

To be eligible for the scheme the contractor who undertakes the works needs to be tax compliant.

In order to claim tax credits for the HRI scheme, you need to give the contractor your Property ID (which is included on your Local Property Tax letter).

In addition you need to request that the contractor who undertook the works on each occasion goes onto the Revenues website and enters the details for the works that were carried out for you.

They will also need to log the payments made by you for the works.

Based on the information provided, your total expenditure on the renovation works (assuming that they were carried out by compliant contractors) is over €12,000.

However in order to calculate the tax credit applicable to you, you would need to provide information on the energy grant received for the solar panels and the total cost of this work.

The energy grant will reduce the overall qualifying expenditure amount under the HRI scheme by three times the grant amount and this information is required when the contractor is registering the works on the Revenues website.

The tax credit for qualifying works will be included in your tax credits over the following two years (ie, 2016 and 2017) if the claim is registered this year.

More information can be found on the SCSI website at or the Revenue’s website

Kevin Brady, is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,

Garage conversion

Q I plan to convert a garage into a bedroom and bathroom. The property is in Dublin. I understand that there is a new requirement for minimum ceiling heights for habitable rooms. Is that true?

A Tall ceilings add an open feeling and sense of spaciousness to a room.

This, combined with higher window head heights, to increase daylight and sunlight, can be a real way to add value to a property.

However, tall ceilings are not without their downsides.They may increase the volume of space within a room to be heated and, from a maintenance point of view, they are a little more difficult to clean and paint.

Minimum floor-to-ceiling heights are needed for a couple of reasons. First, and quite obviously, from a health-and-safety viewpoint, there needs to be adequate headroom.

Second, ceilings need to be of the necessary height to permit satisfactory ventilation.

In this regards, Part F of the Technical Guidance Documents “suggests” a minimum of 2.4m, which is generally the accepted minimum, except in cases where there are sloped ceilings such as with dormer roofs.

Here, a ceiling height of 2.4m is only required for a certain proportion of the room area.

In the case of a garage being converted, you will, in many ways, be restricted by the dimensions of the existing structure.

Notwithstanding this, my recommendation to clients is to keep ceiling heights as tall as possible, within reason. 2.5m to 2.7m would be ideal.

While the local planning authority may comment on such matters (when planning permission is required), ceiling heights are generally enforced via building control legislation. Andrew O’Gorman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland