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Families have to move out of new Costessey homes TWICE as street hit by building problems

PUBLISHED: 08:03 16 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:15 17 May 2018

Justin and Tracy Revell, left, outside their home, with neighbours, Lyn Whiteman and Rob Grant, who have all had to move out of their new homes in Peter Pulling Drive Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Justin and Tracy Revell, left, outside their home, with neighbours, Lyn Whiteman and Rob Grant, who have all had to move out of their new homes in Peter Pulling Drive Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Families will have to move out of their dream new-build homes for a second time in a year after problems were uncovered with a street of houses.

Justin and Tracy Revell with their car advertising the problems they have had with Taylor Wimpey Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJustin and Tracy Revell with their car advertising the problems they have had with Taylor Wimpey Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The four and five-bedroom homes at Queen’s Hills in Costessey, costing £300,000 each, lack insulation and breach fire and building regulations as well as National House Building Council (NHBC) guidelines.

Despite assurances from developer Taylor Wimpey that the problems on Peter Pulling Drive would be fixed, they have not been.

It is the latest in a string of problems uncovered with new-build homes.

Last year a survey by YouGov for housing charity Shelter found 51pc of new build homeowners experienced serious problems.

Inside the wall space in Justin and Tracy Revell's new build home where the insulation is lacking Picture: DENISE BRADLEYInside the wall space in Justin and Tracy Revell's new build home where the insulation is lacking Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But that does not appear to be affecting house builders’ fortunes. On Monday, Taylor Wimpey said it would increase its dividend to shareholders by £100m a year.

Families had to move out of nine homes on Peter Pulling Drive last year and two of those households will have to move out for a second time for three weeks.

Meanwhile, another eight home owners may also have to move out.

One of the owners, Justin Revell, found 300 problems in his home, after moving in with wife Tracy in October 2016.

Thousands of new homes are going to be built in Norwich and its surrounding areas over the coming years. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThousands of new homes are going to be built in Norwich and its surrounding areas over the coming years. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Major problems included:

Insufficient insulation in walls, roof and floor, meaning the third floor will need to be removed;

All doors needed replacing;

Windows missing trims and badly fitted;

Lyn Whiteman and Rob Grant's house has a poor insulation and has failed building regulations Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLyn Whiteman and Rob Grant's house has a poor insulation and has failed building regulations Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Staircase failed building regulations.

Taylor Wimpey said it regularly checked the Costessey homes as they were being built.

Yet those checks do not appear to have picked up on the numerous faults in these houses.

It said it was committed to putting the faults right.

Justin and Tracy Revell's car advertising the problems they have had with their new build home Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJustin and Tracy Revell's car advertising the problems they have had with their new build home Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Revell, an IT worker, expected the issues to be sorted last August when they were moved out for three weeks so Taylor Wimpey could make repairs.

But a surveyor in February 2018 confirmed the Revells’ suspicions that the insulation was still not properly installed.

Mr Revell, 41, said Taylor Wimpey had blamed the contractors who built the home.

In protest, the Revells put stickers on their car criticising Taylor Wimpey.

Thermal imaging survey at Justin and Tracy Revell's home showing heat escaping through the walls (in the blue areas) Image: ExpertEnergyThermal imaging survey at Justin and Tracy Revell's home showing heat escaping through the walls (in the blue areas) Image: ExpertEnergy

Mrs Revell, 38, who works in the motor trade, said: “It was going to be our lovely, first proper home we bought together.

“Everything on the surface looks like a really lovely house but then it’s all the hidden bits you can’t see until you start looking into it. You feel like your life has been put on stop.”

Three doors down at number 50, Lyn Whiteman and her partner Rob Grant are also moving out of their new-build for the second time later this summer with three teenage children.

A survey on their home completed in February 2018, after Taylor Wimpey told them the problems had been fixed, showed the cavity insulation was still inadequate, the ceiling needed to come out and their staircase needed replacing as it did not meet fire safety standards.

Mrs Whiteman, 46, who works in credit control, said: “The biggest bugbear is the insulation in the roof should have been done when we moved out last year.

“Having to move out once is bad enough, but now we’re having to go through this process again, when in the meantime the oldest girl is doing her A-levels.”

“We have sent hundred of emails, phone calls and taken 
time off work,” Mrs Whiteman added. “If we had not been persistent we would have not got anywhere.”

Thermal imaging surveys also showed extensive heat loss at both the homes.

“We both bought new builds to make it easy,” Mrs Whiteman said. “But we have lost all confidence in Taylor Wimpey. It is soul destroying.”

Partner Mr Grant, 46, said: “We expected the usual snags of a house, but by September it will be two years and it feels like we have yet to move in.

“We are waiting for the house to be what we thought it would be when we moved in.

“Everyone on our side of the road has had to move out. Other people are a lot further behind us in getting a resolution.”

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey said: “We would like to sincerely apologise for the problems and disruption they have experienced.

“We have acted to put things right and are working hard to fix any outstanding issues.

“We strive to provide all of our customers with the highest quality homes, but on some occasions we don’t get it right.”

•New-build problems

Developers trying to get houses up too quickly is at the root of many of the problems uncovered in new homes, according to one expert.

Adrian Cooper, who has worked in the construction industry for 43 years, set up a firm to carry out ‘snagging’ inspections at new-builds after finding lots of unhappy customers in Norfolk.

Mr Cooper, from Norfolk New Build Inspections, said: “So many houses are being built in Norfolk where the homeowners are getting a raw deal.

“The developers shouldn’t get away with it and have to come back and put these things right, but the homeowners don’t really know what they are looking for.

“These house builders are under extreme pressure to build the houses quickly enough so the customer can move in, but in doing so they are letting themselves down.”

Last year Bovis Homes paid £7m to repair poorly-built new homes.

•What rights do buyers have?

New-build homes normally come with a developer’s warranty for two years to repair fixtures and fittings and a 10-year warranty for the building.

That covers the roofs, chimney, foundations, ceilings, stairs, walls and cladding.

It is often done by warranty and insurance provider, the National House Building Council (NHBC).

Buyers should also be given the results of a snagging survey before moving in.

If your builder is not putting things right, or you’ve been unable to contact them, the NHBC offers a free resolution service.

The NHBC says it will step in if a buyer makes a claim against a developer and the developer fails to carry out the work.

An NHBC spokesman said: “Some of the homeowners at the (Queen’s Hills) development have been in contact with us as and we have explained the cover provided by the Buildmark warranty and outlined how our Resolution Service may assist them.”

The Home Owners Alliance says buyers should also make sure there is a “snagging” provision in their contract to get problems sorted.

But it warns the NHBC is an insurer and buyers will not necessarily be covered.

•Queen’s Hills: History of issues

Those living on Peter Pulling Drive are not the first to have problems with their new builds at Queen’s Hills.

Developer Bovis apologised to customers at the estate last year after some homeowners were moved in too early to unfinished houses.

In 2012 this newspaper also reported on a couple whose Taylor Wimpey home at Woodpecker Court was riddled with mould for four years.

The estate itself was beset with problems after the lead developer at the site went into administration in 2009.

It meant there were long delays to building a community centre and play areas, but these have now been completed.

The estate has also been in the headlines for traffic problems. It only has one road in and out, meaning there have been long delays when there have been accidents.

Roads also remained unfinished on the estate, meaning Norfolk County Council would not adopt them.

•Update: Taylor Wimpey initially told us only six households had to move out on Peter Pulling Drive. They later corrected this to nine households, while a further eight may also need to move out.

•Follow our investigations unit on Facebook here

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