Sunday, 28 October 2007

Redrow House of Horror

So where do we start, should have realised something was about to go wrong when on moving in day we found wet paint on a piece of skirting board which we reported as missing on the property inspection some ten days earlier, we were assured this would be put right along with a long list of other items including damage to the lounge ceiling.
The ceiling had been repaired but, imagine that someone had rolled up a bit of polyfiller into a ball and then thrown it at the ceiling that was about as good a repair quality to the ceiling and other items reported that we were later to experience by the on site tradesmen ???. Any way as space is limited we will only bore you with the more important and safety items of fault found in this property built by a one time "Builder of the year" (not sure when that might have been but must be a long time ago).

1 No retaining screws in cooker so every time you open the oven door the cooker would tilt out of its housing. ( Safety matter)
2 Cooker hood leaked around the stack and funnel due to not being fitted correctly (Redrow comment. they are all like it, so they obviously fit them all wrong in the first place?)
3 Lounge window and bedroom one sills warped (Redrow comment, that’s within tolerance)
4 Ceiling jointing tape showing through plaster (Repair made to ceiling by screeding over the affected areas, we now have a ceiling that runs a close second to the Blackpool big dipper. Other jointing tape areas have now appeared and ceiling will need to be completely re plastered correctly)
5 We felt a draught around the cloakroom toilet only to find a large hole open to the cavity (this was repaired by using a canister of expanding foam to block it up.)
6 Landing floor creaking (More of this later)
7 Bathroom floor creaking (Carpenter ? kept screwing screws into the floor until stopped (More on this later)
8 Water entry noted at lower edges of the lounge and master bedroom windows (More on this later)
9 Dip in floor between the two fitted wardrobes and general floor slope (Redrow comment that’s within tolerance. More on this later)
10 Electricity power cable into the property had no protective cover (Safety matter)
11 Landing light not working (Redrow comment must be the bulb, one week later when bulb changed still not working o dear must have an electrical fault)
12 Brickwork on front elevation appears to have been done by using the Braille technique of brick laying, the courses are somewhat erratic and odd sized bits of brick used to fill in the gaps (A good candidate for the Turner prize).
13 At some stage prior to the wardrobes being fitted there had been a plumbing leak which affected the flooring in as much as it had swollen and instead of fitting new flooring the original was re-laid which added to the unevenness of the floor this leak also affected the joists and contributed to the general floor fault.

Water entry via windows
After several attempts and experiments to identify and cure the water entry it was decided to removed both lounge and bedroom one windows complete to find the cause although no visible signs were apparent it was decided that water entry may have been between frame and brickwork (considering the amount of mastic used to seal around the windows in the first place this sounded feasible).Both windows were refitted and sealed internally by using a DPC membrane and externally with fresh mastic, the original window securing brackets were discarded and the windows secured with screws through the frame into the brickwork.
So far this appears to have worked as we have not experience any further water entry to date, it would appear that the root cause of this problem was one of either the windows were made to small or the aperture to big, considering the quality of brickwork then the latter would probably apply . As you might imagine this work caused a lot of inconvenience upheaval dust and dirt .

Creaking and sloping floors
Well this is the big one; we noticed a dip in bedroom one floor between the fitted wardrobes and a distinct slope of the floor in the bedroom, bathroom, shower room and landing. Site manager came to inspect and applied the 2 metre level check end result comment of "within tolerance". A visit from the Customer Services Manager then confirmed there was deviation in floor level in bedroom one which would be attended to

Anyway to cut a long story short after many poor quality repairs being carried out by the site craftsmen?? And the last comment made by the site manager "those that complain don’t get anything done" we decided that as they couldn’t build it right then the chances are they couldn’t repair it we then refused any further access to the property of the on site personnel
As we were still not satisfied that adequate measurement checks had been carried out and after many phone calls and e.mails to Redrow offices and many refusals to come out and inspect the property by the Construction Director we eventually had to resort to protest outside of the sales office and advising prospective purchasers of what they would expect by way of service from Redrow if they purchased a property on this site.

This course of action had it’s intended result, at last we had an inspection arranged by the then new Managing Director, Construction Director, Customer service Manager and the sub contractor who would now take over any further works to the property. In the mean time we carried out our own measurements to the flooring and obtained a 13 mm slope from the far wall of bedroom one to the landing, 11 mm slope from the far wall to the shower tray in the en suite, 11 mm slope from the external wall of the bathroom to the landing and 11mm slope along the landing to the bathroom.

As expected the initial response from Redrow was that our flooring although agreed did slope was within tolerance to NHBC standards and they demonstrated this by the 2 metre level procedure which consists of one measurement in one area this is of course is not a true measurement as a continuous measurement is the only way to show this fault and they advised nothing was to be done.

Now this is where it gets interesting, on hearing that they were to do nothing about the floor other than to adjust bedroom one floor level, we then advised them that our measurements taken in a continuous line showed that the landing area was some 13 mm lower than the rest of the flooring, suddenly there was a complete change of attitude and it was offered by Redrow to lift all areas of flooring to deal with this problem.

By surfing the net regarding the floor problem it appears not to be an isolated situation as this fault crops up quite a lot and no doubt calling Redrow’s bluff regarding the out of tolerance flooring encouraged them to go into back up mode which indicates they already know of this problem but do nothing about it until someone catches them out

After a few false starts whereby Redrow tried to change what they were to do, a date was organized to start work which was estimated to be four working days. Once started this work stretched from four days to ten working days during which we had to sleep on a mattress in our lounge because the bedroom floor had been taken up, without the use of the bathroom as the toilet had to be removed to lift the flooring and again suffering major upheaval dirt dust and noise. At no time did Redrow offer to move us out whilst these works were undertaken.

The unfortunate thing is that we still have a current fault with the flooring which Redrow on a subsequent visit say is within tolerance. Redrow have organized the NHBC to mediate on this, this inspection is at the request of Redrow and not us. The result of the NHBC inspection confirmed that the bathroom floor still had a slope of some 12 mm and has instructed Redrow to return and rectify the fault.

This will mean that the toilet, hand basin and bath will be removed and all the flooring lifted on the Monday for inspection of the joists on the Tuesday by Redrow and the NHBC and unknown to either of them our own surveyor for the purposes of deciding how to proceed. The repair work is estimated to take approximately five days add that to the ten days the previous repair took ? Well come repair start day we still had not received a copy of work instructions from Redrow, contractor turned up and passed a message that Redrow were delayed and instead of 10.30 am would not attend until 12.30 and could they start to pack up the flooring as this was all they were instructed to do, obviously the answer to that was no. At this time our surveyor was present and inspecting the bathroom joists and confirmed what we already knew that the sloping floor as caused by the supporting wall being to low and required packing up from underneath.

Redrow arrived and advised that it was an industry accepted repair to pack up a sloping floor, it was yet again explained to Redrow that we would not accept packing of the floor as this did not cure the cause of this problem. The bathroom floor was yet again checked by Redrow and confirmed to be out (don’t know why because they have known for over a year that the floors sloped).

After rechecking the floor Redrow then found it necessary to make some phone calls which resulted in being informed that he had spoken to his director and been told to say that Redrow were not prepared to raise the joist level but only to pack the flooring, we then reminded Redrow that the NHBC instructions were that they identify the cause repair it and re instate the flooring, they again declined to repair the flooring correctly and advised they would leave site.
It now transpires that Redrow have at last identified the cause of the floor slope it appears to be that the floor joists have been fixed too high at the outer wall and therefore slope down with the weight of the flooring to the centre supporting wall this confirms that the floor level was not checked whilst at the first level build stage obviously due to inadequate site supervision which has no doubt been the cause of most the faults found with this property.

So now the repair procedure was to reduce the height of the joists at the outer wall by reducing their thickness and then relaying the flooring. We pointed out that by doing so would result in a difference in height between the bathroom and landing floors and to repair the flooring correctly would entail the flooring to be graduated in to the landing area to ensure the level was maintained. Redrow discounted this and stated they repair would only go to the bathroom door threshold and any difference in level would be feathered out this we pointed would not be acceptable and would leave a slope condition.

Again stalemate as Redrow would only work to the letter of the instructions given by the NHBC that the repairs were to the bathroom. So again we referred this back to the NHBC, this time they got off of the fence they had been sitting on and confirmed that to effect a correct repair it would be feasible that the repair would need to extend into the landing area. At last we received a letter from Redrow confirming in writing that they were to remedy the fault caused by installing the joists too high and that if necessary the repair would extend into the landing area. In fact it was necessary to lift 75% of the landing flooring along with most of the landing balustrade.

With regards to the tolerances which the NHBC say are industry standards are not actually enforceable by them as they are classed as recommendations and builders are not forced to apply them other than when it suits. The 5 mm +or – 1mm is too high a tolerance in this day and age and only serves to mask poor workmanship and inadequate supervision, the change of joist centers from 400mm to 600mm only encourages the problem of "humping" and decreases the load bearing capabilities of the floor. The 2 metre level check again is not an accurate measure and again only serves to mask faults in the build.
Apart from some smaller items to be done we still have two major items outstanding these being the poor quality brick work to the front elevation and the repairing of the lounge, dinning room and shower room ceilings where the jointing tape shows through the plaster.

As you may by now have concluded that we would not recommend a Redrow property to anyone knowing that they may suffer the same as we and others of poor quality workmanship, poor quality site management and lack of interest in customer satisfaction at director level . We have now disposed of this Redrow house and purchased a Jones Home which is of far higher quality and the problems we have encountered have been repaired without question.

Finally we would stress that the subcontractor who took over from the site personnel has always acted in a very professional manner but obviously restricted by the constraints imposed upon them by the dictates of Redrow as to what they were allowed to do. Please be aware when dealing with Redrow that there is a need to insist on getting all agreements in writing as there is a tendency for one thing to be agreed verbally but not being quite the same on the work order

Interesting sites to visit
Ou sister site lists many sites to visit regarding dissatisfie Redrow owners comments