IS465 – AOCA Experts in Pyrite/Mica

Pyrite/Mica in block-work has, and is, causing serious damage to numerous properties all over the country, with most of them in the North West.  Due to the extent of the problem, the NSAI set up an expert committee to produce a standard to deal with it.  Aidan O’Connell, a Fellow of Engineers Ireland and Managing Director of AOCA Engineering Consultants, and Colin Scott, a Chartered Engineer, MSc. LLM C.Eng, MIEI, AMI StructE, MICE, MCIArb and Associate Director of AOCA Engineering Consultants, were both asked to sit on an expert committee and were heavily involved in the compilation of the new standard IS465.

The Expert Panel was of the opinion that: “the reason for the widespread pattern cracking in private dwellings in Counties Donegal and Mayo is primarily due to the excessive amount of deleterious materials in the aggregate used to manufacture the concrete blocks.  The deleterious material in County Donegal was primarily muscovite mica, while in County Mayo it was primarily reactive pyrite.”

Concrete blocks manufactured from aggregates containing certain potentially deleterious materials, and subject to substantial ingress of moisture and or freeze thaw conditions, can have reduced strength and durability, resulting in disintegration.  Concrete masonry which remains in a dry state will not suffer from freeze thaw effect.

Click on the Link to view the full standard.

While the primary locations of the problem have been identified as Donegal and Mayo, AOCA has been involved in cases in numerous other counties including ones in the South West and South East. It is clear therefore that the problem is a national one rather than a regional one.

AOCA are perfectly situated in the centre of the country to service the entire island – and we would be more than happy to assist you in any queries that you may have in relation to this issue.


Aidan O’Connell        –           057 8663244 or via email at

Colin Scott                  –           01 4243035 or via email at



CLIENT: B. Braun Medical








This stand alone purpose built satellite Renal Care Centre will greatly improve the lives for many living in the Midlands. It will significantly reduce travel times and costs for those currently travelling to Tullamore and further afield for Dialysis treatment. We are honoured to have worked as the Civil & Structural Engineers on this project and wish all the new staff & patients health and wellness for the future.  A fabulous addition to the area.

NSAI Concrete Blocks Committee formed

This is a welcome development in the regulation of the concrete industry after many years of heartache for homeowners and business owners affected with substandard blocks.  This new committee will forge the way forward and new standards will ensure that the Pyrite and Mica problem in block work in Ireland never repeats itself.

We are delighted to announce that Aidan O’Connell, Managing Director of AOCA Engineering Consultants, is one of those committee members and will attend the first committee meeting on Monday 11th September.  Aidan became a Fellow of Engineers Ireland in July 2014 and Engineers Ireland are happy for him to represent them on this new Concrete Block Committee.  Aidan has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry and with particular knowledge of the Pyrite problem in Ireland.  Aidan is currently overseeing the process of assessment, design and supervision of the structural remediation, consisting of over 1000 properties affected by Pyrite

Shortlisted for Laois Business Awards

We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Laois Business Awards.  There were 87 entries for the 9 categories and 28 have been shortlisted and the winners will be announced at a Gala evening at the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise on Friday 28th April 2017.  The 28 Finalists will compete for the prestigious awards and will be selected from the following categories:

  • Tourism & Hospitality Award
  • Retail Excellence Award
  • Agri-Business of the Year Award
  • Innovation in Business Award
  • Export of the Year Award
  • E-Commerce Award
  • Environmental Award
  • SME Business of the Year Award
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award

AOCA has been shortlisted for the SME Business Award Category and is up against stiff competition.  “We would like to congratulate all the companies that entered and wish all the finalists the best of luck on the night” Aidan O’Connell Managing Director

Aoca Engineering Consultants

An acorn which has grown is the metaphor which Aidan O’Connell employs to describe the development of his Engineering and Project Management consultancy business, since its inception in Portlaoise 21 years ago.

Aoca Engineering Portlaoise

The Portlaoise office and staff of AOCA at Lismard House

The company, now re-branded as AOCA and based at Lismard House on the Timahoe Road, has established itself as one of the leading Consulting Engineering practices in the country.
Its growth and success is reflected in the company’s re-branding as AOCA. This followed a four-month consultation period, and an in-house marketing exercise, conducted by Business Manager Lisa Morrissey.

“The rationale behind the re-branding was the creation of a title which would be more inclusive of the people working with us,” explains Aidan.
“Our ethos here is that people do not work for us, but with us.”
“We started out as a regional company, but we have expanded exponentially. We are now national, and this includes Northern Ireland.”

Indicative of this is the fact that AOCA opened a Dublin office in 2014 at the Centrepoint Business Park, Oak Drive.
It has also now secured a major contract in the UK, something which heralds a major coup for the business, and which Aidan is very enthusiastic about. This has led to an adjusted structure with Aidan now the CEO and Director for the UK, while Brian Byrne is Director for Ireland

“We have undertaken consultancy work in the UK before, but this is a major service contract which should last for at least a minimum of ten years, and will also involve some work in Spain.”

Aidan estimates it is worth between €20 and €30 million.

“We won this contract based on the level and quality of the service we provide.”

AOCA’s remit in the UK will include structural defects in buildings, fire, explosions and a whole gamut of other insurance related issues.

AOCA is presently setting up its infrastructure in the UK, and they expect to open six regional offices to deal with the huge volume of business that comes in this market.
It’s an exciting and major new chapter for the business which Aidan established in 1996, with a mere three people. Now there are 15 staff based in Portlaoise and 8 in Dublin.

Domestically, AOCA is performing very well. It has recently undertaken two large primary care centres in Balbriggan & Celbridge for private companies and also an equine facility in Lucan for South Dublin County Council.
It also does the largest volume of pyrite remedial work in the country.
This portfolio complements all the other work that the company undertakes, including a range of one off jobs which can include anything from private houses to hotels and warehouses.
Aidan notes that the demand for them to move into new areas is always present, and recently they have initiated a motor accident investigation section.
Returning to the acorn metaphor, Aidan is justifiably proud that the business has grown two and a half times since 2007.

“We grew through the recession. We have never had to let anyone off. Everyone who works in Portlaoise is from Co. Laois or lives here. We have always been acutely aware of where we started out and our local clients are our most important, despite our growth.”

AOCA undertakes the planning, engineering and construction management of numerous one off houses, extensions and more in the local area.