At this point we then inspected the property and found approximately THIRTY defects. Some of these were cosmetic, some more important (i.e. the bathroom light could only be turned on if the hall light was already on).The site manager then mentioned to us that he had fitted the thermostat on the top floor (this is a three storey house) because the electrician could not trace the wiring where it should be. They had decided to fit the thermostat next to the airing cupboard and about four feet from a radiator – so making it impossible to regulate heat throughout the house (the outcome of these will be mentioned later).
In the next month or so the builders had to come back a couple of times to repaint the ceiling in the utility room as the water stain kept reappearing.
After approximately TWO months in the property a water stain appeared on the Dining Room ceiling. We called the customer care line who organised a plumber to come and inspect the property. After a short inspection he stated ”that he could not find a leak and he would advise that George Wimpey send somebody out to cut a hole in the floor above’.A worker from George Wimpey came and lifted the carpet in the bedroom above and cut a hole in the floor but could find no trace of a leak. We were then advised by George Wimpey customer relations that it was due to a leak that happened prior to us moving in and that it had just reappeared – a likely story (one of many).A painter was sent to the property and he repaired and painted the ceiling.
A few weeks later another stain appeared on the Dining Room ceiling. This time somebody came and inspected the plumbing and still could find no fault. He stated ”It is probably residue from the previous leak” (which according to them we never had) and the paintwork was repaired again.
On the 4th February 2004 we were sat in the living room when we heard a loud bang and the sound of running water. We ran upstairs to find the water pipe that feeds the toilet flush had come adrift and water was flowing out of the pipe onto the bathroom floor and landing floor at mains pressure. We turned the main water supply off (which is situated in the garage) but by this time the floor below was flooded. The water was running from the ceiling, down interior walls, electrical sockets, light fittings, window and door frames. The Bathroom, Landing, Dining Room, Kitchen and Hallway were flooded. It took about 2 hours to mop up the water so as it was late at night we decided to speak to George Wimpey the following morning (another day off work!!).I called George Wimpey at 9.00 am and explained what had happened and asked for a plumber to come and repair the leak and for a manager to come and inspect the damage. I was told that a plumber would be organised but the manager was unavailable.!
After an argument. it was agreed that a manager would visit later that morning. The plumber came to inspect the water pipe and found that it had come adrift from a joint. On closer inspection of the joint he found a brass ”olive” in the joint and stated ‘That should not be there’. The pipe had been cut too short originally so he put a little extension piece onto the pipe. I kept the ”olive” and asked for a written report – which I have never received. The Customer Care manager from George Wimpey then arrived and I informed him of the fault. He inspected the damage and agreed that anything that needed replacing (walls/floors etc) it would be replaced. He stated that i should not worry about the repairs/costs as George Wimpey would sort it out and we agreed that we would start the repair when we returned from holiday on the 18th February.
We heard nothing from George Wimpey so after a couple of weeks decided to find out what was happening. The Customer care dept apologised that they had forgot to call us and informed us that there was now a new manager (Amanda).The new manager then stated that she wanted to come and inspect the property to agree the repairs (which had already been agreed previously).We agreed (had no choice) and a date was set. In the meantime a stain was found on the carpet in the bedroom next to the bathroom-which we informed them about. To our amazement on Amanda?s visit she stated that she would need the floor coverings to be lifted to inspect the damage – even though the previous manager had inspected them the day after the leak. She also stated that the new stain found would need to be inspected to prove if it was due to the leak. We disputed the need for the floor coverings to be lifted as some of it is Karndean and we did not want the floors left bare so it was agreed that only the carpet would be lifted. A carpet company later came and a large water stain was found under the underlay (situated mainly around the hole made to inspect the previous non existent leak) which proved it was due to the leak. The carpet has shrunk so much that it doesn?t reach the wall.
A few weeks later a plasterer was sent to repair the cracks that had appeared in the walls due to the water leaks. I had already stated that I had been advised that the plasterboard should be replaced.
On the 30th March (seven weeks later – and previous faults still not repaired) I called the Customer care line and spoke to Amanda to inform her that a water stain had now appeared on the Kitchen ceiling. She stated that she would look at the plans to see if any pipes ran above the area. When my wife returned from work the ceiling was wet through so she attempted to contact the customer care but it was constantly engaged. She then called the Head Office and spoke to somebody there who stated ‘they would contact the Rotherham branch and get them to contact you’. We heard nothing so called again, to be informed that they would email Rotherham straight away. We finally heard from Amanda who said she would find out what was happening. The following morning the water was running across the ceiling and down the internal wall -next to light fittings and electrical sockets. We contacted George Wimpey who said they would organise a plumber. Approximately 4 hours later a plumber arrived (he
announced he had been issued the job only 1 hour previous) and inspected the ceiling. He decided that he needed to inspect from above so he moved furniture in the bedroom above and lifted the carpet. He made 2 holes in the floor but could not find any leak. He then checked the En-suite and Bathroom for leaks but could not find any. He then thought it was coming from the outside wall area due to how badly the ceiling sloped but still could not trace the leak.
***So he put the carpet back and LEFT even though the water was still running down the wall and ceiling.
At this point I had lost all faith in the property and the people attempting to repair it. I contacted George Wimpey customer care and also wrote a letter to John Robinson (chairman) and asked the question ”Can anybody guarantee 100% that this house is safe to live in if water is leaking onto the ceiling and down the wall. Surely this is dangerous as the water could get into plug sockets or light fittings”.
Nobody replied – so make your own judgement.
We were contacted by Amanda who stated that she would be coming to the house with the production director to inspect the house (again) on Monday 5th April and would be there at 9.00 am. I stated that I did have other things in my life – like work and that it would have to be later in the day – so we agreed 12.00.The Production Director (Ian Wood) and Amanda inspected the house including the ongoing leak in the kitchen. I stated that I thought that all the walls, floors and ceilings needed replacing due to the water that had leaked onto/through them. They disagreed but stated that they would send a representative from the plasterboard manufacturers to test the plasterboard and a representative from the water pipe manufacturer to inspect the pipework. I said that I thought if the walls/ceilings were repaired they would crack once they dried out again. I then asked if George Wimpey would come and repair the cracks.
To my amazement I was advised that they would not as drying out cracks are normal in a new house (are water leaks as well ??).
They then left – whilst the water still leaked down the wall and through the ceiling. A couple of days later a workman from George Wimpey turned up to inspect the leak (10 days after it started).He proceeded to cut holes in the Kitchen ceiling and finally found a water pipe ”manifold” leaking which he cut out and replaced. The leak was due to a pipe not fitted correctly. I kept the ”manifold” for further inspection. The holes in the ceiling were then filled with old and new plasterboard and screwed to ceiling with about 30 screws (a very nice finish to the kitchen we spent thousands of pounds on upgrading).
We then awaited the visit from the specialists as George Wimpey stated they would put a plan of action together once they new the extent of the work.
The representative from the plasterboard company Knauf visited first. He was only in the property a few minutes and stated ‘I have advised Wimpey of this on other occasions that any plasterboard that has been contaminated with water should in my opinion be replaced’. He never inspected any walls at all.
We then had a visit from the representative for water pipe manufacturer – Speedfit who confirmed that the ‘manifold’ problem was due to poor workmanship. We had been informed by George Wimpey that he would also be carrying out tests on our water system including pressure testing it. He stated ‘He could not pressure test the system as it would blow the bottom out of our tank’. The pipe work inspection was carried out by two plumbers who only looked at pipework within easy access – but still managed to find numerous potential leaks. The representatives said they would inform George Wimpey of their findings.
We then waited for George Wimpey to start their action plan – but heard nothing.
After a month i decided enough was enough so i sent a letter to the Chairman again and informed him that this had gone on long enough and i was now going to take legal action and inform Watchdog and ITV.
Amazingly i then got a response from Mr T McGuire – managing director of George Wimpey South Yorkshire who stated in a letter dated 28th May 2004 (a year after our first leak) that the plumbing had now been inspected and that the pipework and connections are now satisfactory and that he was enclosing a programme of works. They had finally agreed to replace the walls and ceilings but not the floors. I contacted Mr McGuire and stated that the floors should be replaced as well on the middle floor and also in the Bathroom and where the holes had been cut in the bedrooms. He stated that this was not necessary. After getting no joy from my conversation i decided to take further advice. I then wrote back to Mr McGuire stating what i expected NOT what they were willing to do. I then received another letter back stating that they would be sending somebody to inspect the house (again),the Production Director (again).
Ian Wood visited the property on 15th June 2004 and inspected the property again. After the inspection he then wrote to inform us of the work to be carried out :-
* Replace floors in Kitchen, Hallway & Dining Room
* Replace floor in Bathroom, new sections of
* flooring to Bedrooms 2 & 4
* Replace all four walls in Dining Room
* Replace ceiling in Dining Room
* Replace doors and frame in Dining Room
* Replace three walls in Kitchen
* Replace ceiling in Kitchen
* Replace door and frame in Kitchen
* Replace one wall in Living Room
* Repair ceiling in Living Room
* Replace door and frame in Living Room
* Replace one wall in Hallway
* Replace ceiling in Hallway
* Replace one wall in Utility Room
* Replace ceiling in Utility Room
* Inspect floor on Landing for water damage
* Replace all floor coverings
* Redecorate all rooms
* Recheck all water pipes
So the property requires work on all three storeys – with the middle floor being just about replaced.
They have stated that they will move us into an hotel for the duration of the repairs which we have stated is not acceptable – 2 adults and 3 children for 4 weeks in a hotel – nothing for kids to do – plus we have a pet which a hotel will not accept. After numerous weeks of arguing they have finally agreed to rent a property for us.
At this moment in time we are awaiting the start of the repairs – or so we thought.
We have now discovered another water stain on the ceiling in the Utility room. On further investigation in the room above (kitchen) we have found a water pipe kinked so it is probably 50/60% of its normal size (Yet I have a letter stating that all my pipework is satisfactory) but this is not the cause of the leak.
George Wimpey have sent yet another workman to my house to cut holes in the Utility ceiling to announce he can find no leak.
The moral of the story –
Do not purchase a property from George Wimpey unless you want stress and have nothing else to do except sort out all the problems that you will encounter.
George Wimpey state in their brochure that ”so proud are we of the quality of design and build” and ”George Wimpeys quality stand up to the closest scrutiny”.
They also state ‘If statistics are to be believed, we spend 80% of our leisure time in or near our homes :all the more reason why your home should enhance your quality of life, not restrict it’.
I can confirm that we are not the only ones to have the latter (restricted) as I am aware of TWELVE other properties on our development have suffered water leaks and numerous other developments have a similar problem (fact). We also know that on speaking some of the people who live in these properties they have not had any plasterboard replaced even though the house builder had been informed that it is advised to do so. I know that if I had not continued to argue I would not have had a proper repair carried out as all George Wimpey wanted to do was the cheapest repair possible.
If you do purchase a property from George Wimpey and have problems do not expect good customer service.
At this moment in time I have wrote and spoke to numerous people regarding what has happened and I get the feeling they think it is acceptable for you to live in a house which is potentially dangerous, with water leaking from ceilings and walls.
I have asked for compensation for all the stress this has caused, all the time I have had to spend sorting it out (if I hadn’t – we would probably be waiting for another inspection),the fact that we have had to live in a new house with holes in ceilings, water stains on walls and ceilings, plaster in corners of walls filling cracks and living with the smell of damp.
We couldn’t sell our house because it was in such a poor state of repair and we couldn’t get George Wimpey to repair it, so we have had to live with it.
If anybody is having similar problems and would like further information please leave a message. I have got all the original letters, telephone numbers of George Wimpey people and the representatives of the plasterboard and pipework manufacturers.
At the end of the day George Wimpey are only interested in your money when purchasing the property and when they sell over 15000 properties a year they make enough money not to be bothered about anybody.
From my experience though it works out that nearly 10% of the properties they build suffer from water leaks never mind other problems.
Is it quantity or quality? I think I know the answer