Linden Homes [Galliford Try]: “some roof tiles secured with duct tape”

“A homeowner plagued with issues in his new-build house said his family was left unsafe when the developer withheld a report condemning the roof.

Joe Tompkinson also said Linden Homes “reneged” on a promise to pay expenses if they moved out during repair work.

He said more than 400 different faults had been identified since his family moved into the house in Abbey Farm in Swindon in December 2017.

Linden has pledged to “attend to any issues” at the property.

Mr Tompkinson claimed he and his family had suffered a catalogue of “extremely poor and negligent” workmanship and botched repairs – including unbolted banisters, sinking bathroom floors, micro-cracks, subsidence and missing brickwork.

Shortly after they moved in, the couple were alerted to problems with the roof when a tile fell off, causing £3,000 of damage to Mrs Tompkinson’s car, and tiles were found to be secured with duct tape.

Mr Tompkinson said in December an independent survey condemned the “unsafe” roof because the majority of tiles were incorrectly secured and soffits built too low.

The father of three said he only discovered this information through a subject access request.

He claimed the “dishonest and obstructive” firm would not release the report or provide a copy to the National House Building Council (NHBC). …

It [Linden Homes] admitted there was “an unusually high number of reported issues” on the development, which has seen more than 40 other homeowners detail problems.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-48856650

Two big developers consider merge

“Two of the UK’s biggest housebuilders have kicked off secret talks about ‎a tie-up just two years after a previous set of merger discussions broke down.

Sky News has learnt that Bovis Homes Group has approached Galliford Try in the last few weeks about a combination of a large chunk of their operations.

If consummated, a ‎deal would represent a fresh catalyst for consolidation in Britain’s housebuilding sector.

Bovis has a market value of just over £1.3bn, while Galliford Try, which owns the Linden Homes housebuilding brand, is worth roughly £550m.

Both are among the ten largest housebuilders in the UK. …

A Bovis insider‎ cautioned that it was unlikely to be interested in Galliford Try’s troubled construction division, which was responsible for a recent profit warning from the group.”

https://news.sky.com/story/bovis-approaches-rival-galliford-try-about-housebuilding-merger-11728118

Linden homes: catalogue of serious problems in new Exeter home

“A new build owner has shared shocking pictures of her mouldy bathroom which came to light months after moving into what she thought would be a hassle free home.

Linda Hamlet claims the first problems began from the day she moved into the Linden Homes development Tithe Barn in Pinhoe, Exeter, when ‘snagging’ issues included being unable to lock her front door because it was misaligned.

Since then the main problem in three-bed semi-detached home has been four leaks, including from a u-bend which was not connected properly in the kitchen, and a rotten wall and mouldy floors in the ensuite and bathroom.

Linda said: “I went two months without being able to use the shower in our ensuite as they used mastic instead of grout after the first leak. At same time there was two botch jobs made with our leaking bathroom sink.

“I could smell a horrible smell in the bathrooms and it turns out it was because the floors were mouldy underneath. They were just going to regroup the tiles until I insisted there must be underlying damage. Then they only removed tiles and saw the stinking rotten wall.

“I have spent nearly £300,000 on a new house as I thought it would give me peace of mind because I could close the door and enjoy my life, but I haven’t been able to and now have a problem with missing pointing in the brickwork. I haven’t been given an apology and I haven’t been offered compensation.”

A Linden Homes spokesperson said: “We pride ourselves on the quality of our homes and our customer care. Our dedicated customer care team have been in regular contact with Ms Hamlet to rectify the minor faults in her property that have appeared during the snagging and defects period.

“We have worked to complete these items as quickly as possible, and with minimum disruption for the customer. We will continue to work with Ms Hamlet to ensure that any identified defects are resolved and any repairs are carried out, under the conditions of her warranty.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/horrible-smell-led-new-home-2754859

Another Devon ‘new town’ hit by complaints about poor build

“RESIDENTS have threatened to quit a new town over hundreds of faults with their homes — including no frosted glass on bathroom windows overlooking footpaths.

Homeowners in newly-built Sherford, to the east of Plymouth, Devon, are in “turmoil” including one who says she has 140 problems with her property.

Locals say around 50 people want to move from the houses — worth up to £500,000 — but claim they have been banned from putting up ‘For Sale’ signs.

Jeff Lyle, who says he’s experienced mould and damp since moving in in 2017 claims he cannot shower or go to the toilet in peace because his window is transparent — and people can see in.

Linden Homes has confirmed he is barred from having a frosted window pane as it goes against the town’s planning code.

The 47-year-old said: “I have got nothing but problems. The window is a big problem. I have got mould in the bathroom and bedroom.

“As quickly as you clean it off, it keeps coming back.

“It’s just been doing my head in — especially when it seems like they can’t do one thing that you ask for.

“You try and keep the properties nice, but you ask yourself, is it worth it? It’s affecting everyday life.”

HUNDREDS OF PROBLEMS

One woman said her mum’s health has plummeted since moving into her assisted living flat, which she took on as part of a lease deal with LiveWest.

There were a whopping 140 defects identified when she moved in and many have yet to be rectified, the family claim.

They say the outside bin shed is out of order forcing disabled tenants to walk with their waste out onto the road.

The tenant’s daughter said: “The wind howls through [the windows] and when someone came to take a look they sprayed foam all around the top to try and keep the air in. That was their way of trying to fix it.

“The light outside doesn’t work — my mum is disabled yet has to use a torch to go out at night.

“The step out the front of the flat is wobbly and not fixed down.

“Moving here has turned into her worst nightmare. She moved here, thinking this would be perfect.

“Instead there are so many issues.”

COMPANY RESPONSE

In a statement, Linden Homes said: “We can confirm that the timber sash windows have been fitted correctly and they’ve also been inspected and verified by the manufacturer.

“The communal bin shed doors were also fitted correctly but they were re-designed for ease of access and the bin store has been fully accessible throughout. The front and rear lights to the customer’s property are also working.”

The company added: “The procedure for reporting any issues for housing association customers is for them to contact their housing provider, Live West and we then carry out any necessary remedial work.

“We are very proud of the properties we are creating at Sherford and our team is passionate to deliver quality homes as part of the exciting new town.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8761002/homeowners-quit-new-builds-mould-windows/

Housing: “Problems that are building up”

Linden Homes (see flying freehold problems post below) – again:

In the race to build as many new homes as cheaply as possible, developers have been accused of slipping standards. A survey this year by housing charity Shelter found that 51% of respondents discovered major faults after legal requirements for construction work to be checked at various stages were relaxed.

Currently, residents have little recourse when things go wrong. The Property Ombudsman has no remit over new-build. Instead, residents who discover faults within the first two years are left to haggle with the developer; after that, liability passes to the warranty provider chosen by the developer and only covers major structural work.

Although there is a dispute resolution scheme, CCHBAS, for homes insured by the three main warranty providers, it costs £120 to lodge a complaint and its decisions are not legally binding. A parliamentary enquiry last year found that it did not offer adequate redress.

As well as a boundary fiasco, Clare Reeve suffered leaks when roof tiles began slipping. She discovered battens had not been fixed properly to the dormer windows in her row of houses. “Because I’d bought over two years ago, Linden Homes washed its hands of it and referred me to NHBC [one of the UK’s largest warranty providers],” says Reeve, whose house is also affected by the boundary dispute [see post below]. “NHBC said it could only cover repairs over £1,500. Luckily, with scaffolding factored in, it came to more than that.”

Phil Waller, a former construction manager, set up campaign and advice website

brand-newhomes.co.uk

in response to declining standards. He is calling for a government-appointed ombudsman to investigate complaints. “We need as much pressure as we can generate to force government to wake up to the many scandals in this unregulated industry that is – quite frankly, in my opinion – defrauding its own customers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/26/house-problem-neighbours-own-half-bedroom-boundaries-wrong

A new problem for new house buyers: flying freeholds

“Simon and Maggie Dancer were ready to exchange and complete on the sale of their house when the bombshell dropped. The conveyancing had uncovered the fact that Linden Homes, which had built the Buckinghamshire estate where they live, had miscalculated the boundaries of their home – and that meant their neighbour owned half their master bedroom. …

… Their neighbours, James and Katrina Inch, are unable to rejoice in their unexpectedly expanded floorspace, for the error makes their home also unsaleable. “We are astonished by how this mistake could have been overlooked by three separate solicitors – our own, our neighbours’ and Linden’s – when we bought the properties,” says James Inch, who was alerted to the issue by the Dancers.

… Extraordinarily, two more residents on the ironically named Exemplar Park estate in Aylesbury are in the same predicament. Ann and Terry Payne checked their deeds after the Dancers contacted them and discovered that their neighbour, Clare Reeve, effectively owns half of their main bedroom.

Like the Dancers and Inches, their homes are link-attached over a shared driveway to the parking area. The room above the gateway should belong to the Paynes, but an error bestows it on Reeve. Slipshod markings have also granted Reeve ownership of a large traffic island in front of the houses. “I am going through a divorce and am trying to sell, but I can’t while the boundaries are in dispute,” says Reeve. “You’d think Linden would have got in touch when it came to light, but I’ve had no word.”

The Paynes have been told by Linden Homes to get the original conveyancing solicitor to sort it out. And it appears unabashed by the fiasco, blaming the families and their solicitors for not noticing the mistakes when they bought. …

… Alarms ought to have been triggered by the very existence of a “flying freehold”. It is a legal grey area that can cause headaches because of potential problems with gaining access across the neighbour’s portion to carry out repairs or enforce covenants. Some mortgage lenders steer clear of such properties which can be difficult to sell on.

… A flying freehold caused an identical issue for Colchester homeowner Samantha Sweeney, who found herself unable to sell her link-attached house. She discovered that her neighbour owned 90 square feet of her 11-year-old property, including half her bedroom which overhangs a shared driveway between the two houses.

The estate had been built by Persimmon which told the Observer: “We worked closely with the resident and this has now been resolved.”

All the residents of Exemplar Park can lodge a formal complaint with their solicitors who missed the crucial anomalies and, if they don’t achieve a resolution, they can appeal to the Legal Ombudsman.

Linden Homes says that its legal team is working on a deed of rectification to correct and realign the development’s boundaries, but the delays have cost the Dancers dear. Their daughter starts school next year and they have to move by January in order to meet the deadline for school applications. They also want to be settled before their baby is born. “I’ve had to pay for new valuations and cancel my daughter’s place at the nursery where she was due to start in September after we’d relocated,” Simon Dancer says. “And Linden is moving in baby steps. As far as it’s concerned it sold the house four years ago and couldn’t care less. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/nov/26/house-problem-neighbours-own-half-bedroom-boundaries-wrong

Government and developers creating NIMBYs

“The biggest housebuilders are creating growing numbers of nimbys by trampling over communities and building ugly, unaffordable homes, the head of a homelessness charity has warned.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said that developers were putting profits before people and ignoring concerns about the quality and price of new homes.

She blamed the builders for “a huge loss of public faith in our housebuilding system” and called for reforms to planning laws to put people’s needs before corporate profits. “Even when communities create detailed plans for housing developments, these developers brush them aside and build unattractive, unaffordable homes,” she said. “This means many [people] choose to oppose new homes rather than go through a long planning process, only to be ignored in the end.”

The three biggest housebuilders, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments, completed more than 46,000 homes last year and shared revenues of more than £11 billion. They made profits of £2.2 billion.

“The government needs to bring in a new way of building homes which listens to local people to build the high quality and genuinely affordable homes they need, along with schools, parks and other amenities,” Ms Neate said. “We once had a proud tradition of housebuilding in this country, as seen in our popular postwar new towns and garden cities, and it is now critical this is revived for the 21st century.”

Her comments came after a survey of more than 3,500 people found that only 13 per cent felt that developers listened to them. Almost 60 per cent said that they would be more inclined to support the building of new homes if they were listened to more keenly. The southeast had the highest proportion of nimbys, at 38 per cent, while the West Midlands had the lowest at 23 per cent.

The Times revealed last month that a consortium of housebuilders behind a new garden town in Devon had watered down its strict design code. The Sherford development on the outskirts of Plymouth was designed by the Prince of Wales’s architects to prove that his model village of Poundbury in Dorset could work on a larger scale.

The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community said that the builders, Bovis Homes, Linden Homes and Taylor Wimpey, used arcane planning laws to renege on their commitments to quality. Ben Bolgar, the foundation’s director, said they were determined to build a “normal, rubbish housing estate” instead. The consortium said the quality of the homes would not be affected.

Stewart Baseley, chairman of the Home Builders Federation, an industry body, insisted that his members “work closely with councils and residents to ensure the homes being built are what communities need”.

“Housebuilders have dramatically increased output to provide desperately needed homes,” he added. “Constructive debate is needed to develop policies that allow more homes to be built as opposed to baseless claims.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)