When the Gallimores from Rhoose Point bought their £200,000 house, they discovered a unique water feature that they could do without

Most new houses, when bought, have a few snags which need correcting but weeks after buying a new house in Rhoose Point in the Vale of Glamorgan, Paul and Karen Gallimore faced a rather more pressing problem.

Karen explained: “We woke up in the morning and we were just having some breakfast and Paul said ‘I’m going to have to relay the patio, it’s turning into a swimming pool’ – and we were just looking and looking and of course saw the water building up round the house and investigated and looked over the fence – and saw Niagara Falls.”

Paul and Karen bought their new house from David Wilson Homes in November 2002. They’d both sold their houses to move in together – a new home and a new start.

“When we decided to buy the property we had a standard valuation survey carried out and there was actually no indication that there anything abnormal about what we were buying.”

Having spent £209,000 on their new home Paul and Karen are worried their house is losing its value. The Gallimores say estate agents haven’t been positive about being able to sell it. When selling, past and present flooding problems are usually disclosed to your buyer’s solicitors.

The estate has been built on land between a railway embankment and the sea. If there’s a large volume of water in the fields beyond the railway line, it sometimes drains through the embankment and into the Gallimore’s garden.

Our resident building expert Simon Cousins examined the source of the problem on the other side of the railway embankment.

“The fields here clearly run down towards the railway embankment. The farmer has confirmed that water has historically run down and pooled this side of the railway embankment. Gradually that water will then percolate through the railway embankment to whatever is the other side of that embankment.”

And it seems at times it’s been ending up in the Gallimore’s back garden.

David Wilson Homes had the drainage put in by another company. The system they installed included a drain called a catchpit, in the Gallimores garden.

It’s connected to pipes which should be carrying the floodwater that soaks through the embankment. There was only one way to find out why the pipes were not doing their job – so Rupert went underground to see if he could shed some light on the matter.

So whats going on? The answer lies in two engineers’ reports – one commissioned by David Wilson Homes and the other by the Gallimores. They make pretty interesting reading.

The David Wilson Homes report advises “an alternative land drainage regime be employed to prevent any further problems at plot 14”. It goes on to say, “It is advised that a study of potential flooding be carried out on plots 6-26 of David Wilson Homes development” – both reports are in agreement on these issues.

Karen said: “We were totally shocked with the findings because David Wilson Homes’ own surveyor said that twenty other plots on our estate are potentially liable to flood.”

Despite these recommendations given in David Wilson Homes’ own report – no action has been taken and nearly a year after the first floods the waters returned.

When the floods returned in December Paul dug a trench down the back of his garden, lifted the manhole cover and channelled the water into his drain, probably preventing more widespread problems.

Simon thinks a lot needs to be done.

“You have to go to the boundaries of these properties and you have to intercept the water and then you have to provide a land drain to take that water away and you’re going to have to do that for this whole row of properties – you just can’t do it for one property by itself. This is a problem that’s not going to get better by itself – it has to be sorted out.”

And good news! X-Ray has been in touch with David Wilson Homes and they told us that they have:

“…taken on the moral obligation of committing to try to resolve the situation for Mr and Mrs Gallimore. David Wilson Homes is prepared to carry out the relevant drainage work at their property, as a gesture of goodwill, in line with expert recommendations. The company regrets the distress and expense that the flooding problems have caused.”

From Watchdog Archive.

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