Red tape is stopping a boss in Kerry building homes to sell to his staff at cost price.
Tony Walsh was so moved by his employees’ stories of the housing crisis that he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Four years ago, he applied for planning permission for 13 homes in Castleisland, Kerry and told his staff he would sell them on at cost price.
“We just wanted our staff to be comfortable, pay for their house when they’re working and have their own house when they retire -it’s a very basic idea,” Mr Walsh told Lunchtime Live.
Thirteen homes have since been completed - but only 10 have been sold on to Mr Walsh’s employees.
“When we built the houses, we operate under the BCMS operated by the Government - there’s a rigorous procedure where you have to get your house inspected by a chartered engineer,” he said.
“So, we hired a chartered engineer; he supervised all the builds, he supervised the foundations, the building of the blocks, the roof, the underfloor heating, electrics, plumbing - the whole lot.
“He signed off on everything, we paid him well for it and in return we got €1 million insurance from him - say, like if anything went wrong, every house would be covered.”
Having bought this insurance, Mr Walsh decided not to take out HomeBonds, feeling they were already covered; it was a decision that is “coming back to bite us now.”
“We got by with the first  houses but I think Bank of Ireland had a change of heart before Christmas,” he said.
“They insist now on HomeBonds.”
Bank of Ireland has declined to give Mr Walsh a mortgage for the final properties and - as a customer for 55 years - he is reluctant to change banks.
“We’re just caught in limbo,” he said.
“We need to move this on straight away and I just can’t understand why somebody can’t just say, ‘Just give them the mortgage.’
“We’re insured for €1 million, what can go wrong?”
'Worse than the actual building of the house'
Some 120 people work for Mr Walsh’s two companies and he wants to sell the houses so he can get on with building homes for his other employees.
He feels the red tape is “worse than the actual building of the house” but is determined to press on for the sake of his employees.
“They’re more our friends than our employees,” he said.
The median price of a home in Kerry is €227,500 - a 5% increase in the space of a year.
Main image: Tony Walsh (L) and Wojciech Socha (R) at one of the homes built by Walsh Printing for workers. Image: Domnick Walsh.