Residents blast builders over guttering nightmare

A NUMBER of residents at Olmeldrum’s Westfield housing development have expressed their extreme displeasure and disappointment at what they consider lack of customer care shown by house builders Taylor Wimpey.

The main frustration stems not only from the serial guttering problems experienced throughout the scheme, but the alleged inconsistency the company has shown in rectifying what residents call “poor workmanship” and materials “not fit for purpose”.

In some cases the knock-on effect of the damaged guttering is reported to have caused further building damage and there have been unrelated incidents which caused minor injury but which could have been much more serious.

Alan Gray of Le Roux Drive said he had paid £300,000 for his house in 2010 when he took up residence at Westfield. With the ten-year NHBC guarantee and a further two-year worry-free period promised, he had confidence in Taylor Wimpey.

He said: “Within six months the guttering at the rear of our property collapsed. This resulted in ice and snow crashing through the roof of an £18,000 conservatory which was in the process of being built.”

Taylor Wimpey took no responsibility for guttering or the conservatory and Mr Gray was expected to claim through his household insurance, which he said “incurs excess costs and higher premium upon renewal”.

As well as inadequate guttering, Lewis Jackson sustained a collapsed ceiling in his living room which he said was due to an incorrectly-fitted water pipe.

Voicing his frustration he said: “Customer services told me my guttering collapsed due to the position of my house and when the ceiling collapsed, I was away from home.

“My wife heard a noise and thought we were being burgled but when she went downstairs she found the ceiling had collapsed. She switched off the mains and burnt her arm on the pipe when the stopcock was being switched off. I’d only ever be happy with Taylor Wimpey if they publicly apologised to my wife for her injury and the stress that she suffered.”

Other residents reported trying to alleviate guttering problems by leaning out of the windows to brush the snow from the edge of the roof.

Alistair Woodhead said some of his guttering had bent to an almost flat position while some had twisted and the clips joining the sections did not hold.

He added: “This winter has left us with a section of guttering missing, a misshapen section and an unattached downpipe. Despite knocking off as much snow as possible the gutters were just not up to it.

“We have had several poor experiences with Taylor Wimpey in respect of complaints and snagging work.”

Another resident, Darren Ayling, has had “countless battles” over the guttering and the “poor standard” of work. “My guttering collapsed on both the front and the back of my house.

“The main cause of this is they have followed building regulations and put the guttering up against the roof tiles where if it was lowered by 10mm it would have prevented the majority of these issues.

“I am currently speaking with NHBC and my solicitor regarding other issues with Wimpey.”

Gary Brown of Howe View is also seeking the help of NHBC and his insurers who have refused his claim due to extreme “poor workmanship”.

He said: “I’ve got an arbitration meeting and if that is successful, and I’m more than hopeful, it should then pave a way for others to follow and take Wimpey to task.”

Alex Rose reported problems three years in a row. While Taylor Wimpey carried out repairs the first two years, he said they blamed “severe weather conditions” as the cause and refused to take responsibility.

“On each occasion I have questioned the type of material and model of guttering used on the house including the workmanship by their site operatives as all they have done were minor repairs which haven’t lasted and are done by contractors,” he said.

“We also think that the guttering either isn’t fixed correctly to the structure or at the right height but most of all we don’t think it is fit for purpose.”

In response to the issues raised, Taylor Wimpey commented: “Taylor Wimpey’s customer care team is managing a systematic review of all individual plots that have guttering that’s been affected by the build up of snow and ice from the exceptionally harsh winter of 2010.

“This review has allowed the company to establish the nature and cause of any damage, and if a construction defect is found a programme of works has been created in order to rectify those issues.

“Structural defects, and issues relating to poor workmanship are covered within the Taylor Wimpey two-year guarantee. However, where defects have been found outwith this guarantee, Taylor Wimpey has notified the clients involved, and in some cases are aware these are being reviewed under the NHBC Buildwork resolutions service.

“Residents can be assured that all materials used are universally accepted in terms of quality, and are used by developers in domestic properties throughout the industry.

“The company accepts there have been some delays to this overall process partly due to a local plumbing contractor going into liquidation, however an alternative company is now appointed and well underway with works where required.”

Commenting on the matters raised, independent Inverurie-based architect William Lippe told the Herald: “We have had two rather exceptional winters with the amount of snowfall and freezing. Even houses that have been up for 20 years or more have suffered.

“It’s a self-perpetuating situation - water freezes and expands. This year there has been a build up of snow and ice – it goes in between the slates and once it melts capillary action causes more snow to get underneath the slates.”

Mr Lippe said there are many different types and sizes of guttering, depending on the size of roof, the pitch, amount of water it is catching.

Continuing, he said: “Facias should be fitted to the end of the rafters and the gutters to the facias, and gutter fixings should go all the way through into the rafters.

“If we experience similar winters again we should install snow boards or in a particularly difficult situation, even trace heating.

“If this is the sort of winters we are going to have we need to look at how we design these things and the British Standards needs to be revisited.”

Eddie Weitzel, technical author at Everest commented: “Everest would use colourfast PVC and boarding no less that 18mm with extra deep guttering and a snow guard with brackets that are strong enough to withstand this kind of weather.”