A young couple claim to be ‘out of pocket’ after discovering their ‘dream’ new house is riddled with problems.
The first buyers, Sallyann Smith, 23, and fiancé Gareth Hawkins, 26, said they were due to move into their three-bed house, which they bought for £385,000, last July.
But after getting the keys, the couple say they were upset to find mold in the kitchen which they described as “uninhabitable” – especially as Sallyann was pregnant at the time.
The couple allege they are now at least £5,000 worse off after various issues with the building.
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The Essex home was built by property developer Crest Nicholson, reports The Mirror.
However, the day before, and after paying the developer around £30,500, the couple claim they were told the property had no services, including no heating.
The delays, which Sallyann said were followed by several more weeks of delay, meant they missed the stamp duty holiday, adding £3,000 to their costs.
The couple say they have now “lost hope in their fight for justice” for the property that was supposed to be their dream home.
“The problems on their end meant we were going to have to come up with thousands of extra pounds to cover tax charges,” Sallyann told the Mirror.
“We are first time buyers on a very tight budget, we really needed the support from the stamp duty holiday.
“We asked if they would pay it for us or take it off the price of the house – but they refused.” she says.
“We had already paid the deposit by then, so we felt stuck in a corner.”
Eventually the couple collected the keys on July 29, but three days later they claim to have discovered the kitchen had heavy mold.
“We also didn’t have exhaust fans, so we couldn’t use the kitchen to cook. It was unusable. »
Sallyann, who was seven months pregnant at the time, said: ‘I saw mold under the cupboards in the kitchen so I emailed Crest Nicholson and they agreed to get help. deal with it – but after that it was radio silence.
“The bottom of the plinth was covered in thick black mold.”
“A manager finally agreed to investigate. In September someone came to inspect the property. But then the site manager left the company and things went from bad to worse,” says Smith.
“A person was sent to clean it, but we asked for a new unit due to severe moisture damage.
“They took the kitchen apart and a temperature check of the walls by a humidity specialist we hired ourselves revealed that the walls in the property were 99.9% damp.
“After that the team put the kitchen back in place but left the oven off, the cupboards were removed and there were holes in the wall. It lasted a week.
“At one point one of the customer service people came in and said it smelled bad, to which I replied ‘I know and you expect me to live like that’.”
“We were left with literally no kitchen – back to the bare block due to mold,” Sallyann added.
“I was washing dishes in the dining room with a bucket when I was eight months pregnant.
“The house was actually sold to us unfinished. So much so that we had to move and live with our family. »
Crest Nicholson offered to put the shoppers in a hotel, but Sallyann said the thought of living in a hotel for months while heavily pregnant left her extremely worried.
Six months later they finally have a working kitchen, but they claim they have thousands of pounds left.
“We are now financially destitute as we have to buy food, go to dinner with family members who live 30 miles away and wash our clothes in a laundromat,” Sallyann said.
“Crest Nicholson agreed to pay our £330 energy bill as we needed to run a dehumidifier for six weeks.
“But we had to move, so we were paying for that, the mortgage, the water, council tax and all the other costs of a property we couldn’t live in.”
Sallyann says she was disappointed with the service and claims she was blocked from commenting on Crest Nicholson’s Facebook page after addressing his concerns on social media.
She alleges that the company’s regional manager asked her to “delay the NHBC investigation until Crest Nicholson has redeemed himself because a bad review will affect Crest Nicholson.”
NHBC is a 10 year warranty which applies to all new build in England.
To date, Sallyann and her partner say they have written to Crest Nicholson four times to have their additional costs covered.
“The house was uninhabitable. I sent them the cost breakdown four times,” she said.
“That comes to around £5,000 including all the times I’ve had to take time off from work because I was told someone was coming to inspect the property – when often no one showed up .”
They say they are still waiting for the regional director to come back to them with a final decision.
Separate company employees reportedly told the couple that, in accordance with company policy, Crest Nicholson was not paying any compensation.
According to Sallyann, the company has offered to cover £500 of the expenses incurred, just 10% of the money the couple say they lost as a result of their failures.
A spokesperson shared the following statement and added that someone would be in touch with the couple directly.
The statement read: ‘We are aware of Ms Smith’s concerns and, following various assessments, have now successfully completed all work related to her kitchen.
“We continue to be in conversation with Ms. Smith and hope to conclude the matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved as soon as possible.”
However, Sallyann and Gareth have since received a letter from the company stating that they “generally cease all contact” with buyers when contacting the media.
The letter read: “Unless you have changed your mind in communications with the media, I will not be able to arrange a visitation call.”
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