Couple fear moving out for a THIRD time to fix new-build house problems
PUBLISHED: 08:34 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:04 15 July 2019
A couple fear they will have to move out of their home for a third time after repair works failed to fix problems.
IT worker Justin Revell, 41, claimed homebuilder Taylor Wimpey has failed to properly insulate his five-bedroom house at Queen's Hill in Costessey.
Mr Revell, of Peter Pulling Drive, moved into the £300,000 property with his wife Tracy in October 2016 and within two years found 300 problems in the house.
The couple moved out once and then for a second time for three weeks in October 2018 in order for repair works to take place.
Despite most of the problems being resolved, Mr Revell suspected the insulation had not been done after a thermal report showed there were still issues, and so, in March this year, he cut a hole in his wall in order to inspect the work.
And although Taylor Wimpey assured him all the work had been completed, Mr Revell found there was still no insulation in the ground floor walls.
"They hope you don't know and hope you move on," he said.
"As far as your rights are concerned you have more buying a tin of beans - the tin of beans you can take back.
"You can't sell it in its current state and you don't really feel like it's a home because you're sitting there waiting to potentially move out for the third time. We are sitting tenants, for a property I am paying a mortgage for it's quite bizarre.
"The longer the builders get away with it the longer this will continue. Taylor Wimpey tells me they are not directly responsible for these failings, the subcontractor is responsible. But I own a business and the buck stops with me."
He added: "We are buying substandard properties, in 10 to 15 years time there is going to be huge remedial works because they are not built properly."
Taylor Wimpey has denied not completing the works, stating: "We have made every effort to resolve the issues Mr Revell has reported to us and, as agreed, have completed necessary works which are in line with building regulations."
Mr Revell is now in contact with warranty and insurance provider, the National House Building Council (NHBC) and said he is considering taking legal action.
A spokesman from NHBC said: "We are in contact with Mr and Mrs Revell and the builder and we are looking into matters as part of our resolution service.
"A resolution meeting with the homeowners has taken place and we are working with the builder to hopefully reach a satisfactory conclusion.
"However, we do understand that it can be very distressing for a homeowner when problems arise with their property."
- Desperate teacher resorts to Judge Rinder
Outside Michelle Kent's home in Southery, a wall lays unfinished at the end of her road and a disused portable toilet sits a few steps from her driveway.
It has been a year since teacher Miss Kent, 50, moved into her property built by a small developer called VRC Homes Ltd and she is still waiting for the numerous snags in her house to be fixed.
The mother has claimed she has been left high and dry after finding 160 defects.
But VRC Homes Ltd director Michael Philpott claimed the defects are yet to be fixed due to disagreements on how the works should be carried out.
Miss Kent's three-bedroom house in Harrington Gardens has been left in a sad state - a noticeable bulge sticks out of her kitchen floor and lumps of cement - known as snots - hang off her walls both in and out of the house.
Her patio has yet to be laid and piles of rubble remains scattered in the back of her garden.
The nightmare began even before the house was built.
Miss Kent, who bought the property for £225,000, was initially told she would move in by November 2017 but she did not move in until July 2018.
"They stopped building my house between December and March," she said. "I had to take a month off work to speak to solicitors and find out what was going on."
Mr Philpot said the delay was caused by the sale of another house on the site falling through.
Miss Kent was desperate to move into her new home, but once the house was completed she found around 30 defects around the property, which she was told would be fixed by August 2018.
That list has now grown to 160 defects after a visit from an independent surveyor in February this year.
She was told arrangements were made for workmen to fix her uneven kitchen floor on June 16, but when Ms Kent called the workmen just two days beforehand they said they had not been contacted.
Mr Philpot disputed this and said he believed work had been scheduled to take place as planned.
Miss Kent has spent more than £1,000 on a building inspector and solicitors in a bid to get VRC Homes Ltd to fix her house.
She has been unable to get help from insurance providers National House Building Council (NHBC) or the trade association Federation of Master Builders as VRC Homes Ltd is not registered with either.
Although the house is insured under a warranty after the first two years, this mainly covers structural damage affecting the stability of the house.
Miss Kent said: "I feel like every avenue I have been to I'm having doors shut in my face. It has been exhausting emotionally and depressing."
After exhausting all other options, Miss Kent contacted the reality show Judge Rinder as a last resort.
Mr Philpot said the subcontracted builders "got it wrong" and he has tried to make arrangements with Miss Kent to fix the problems.
As to why other defects have not been fixed in the year since Ms Kent moved into the property, Mr Philpot said the floor had to be fixed first.
"I responded to every email," he said. "I want to do the floor first. We haven't been given the opportunity to go in and do it.
"It's up to us in the first two years to fix anything. It's up to us [to decide] how to fix what we deem to be wrong.
"We have suggested what we are going to do, she hasn't given us the opportunity to fix the issue.
"I'm sorry that it's got to such a grumpy stage."
In response to the portable toilet and unfinished wall at the entrance of the site, Mr Philpot said: "The toilet is left there for when the builders eventually come and the wall has nothing to do with Michelle."
- What are your rights as a buyer?
Homebuilders hold the responsibility of putting right the faults within the first two years before the issue can be escalated to a warranty provider.
Most warranties for newly-built homes last for 10 years but there is a limit to what it covers - it mostly deals with structural defects commonly defined as problems that make a home unsafe.
But with little to no mechanism in place for compensation, homeowners are left with little option but to take court action against developers to reclaim any financial loss from snagging issues, said Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Homeowners Aliiance.
"They can try to claim on breach of contract but that can be quite expensive to go up against a big company," Ms Higgins added. "The rewards are so little sometimes they don't accept it.
"The idea of having fines for companies or proper compensation, for days they spend off work, that's what we would like to see."