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Anger at hefty bills for shoddy workmanship

PUBLISHED: 15:16 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:24 07 September 2010

Josie Hinton INFURIATED residents living in social housing blocks in Little Venice have been hit with crippling bills for shoddy work to their homes, an inspector s report revealed this week. Leaseholders in the Warwick Estate have been locked in a four-

Josie Hinton

INFURIATED residents living in social housing blocks in Little Venice have been hit with crippling bills for shoddy work to their homes, an inspector's report revealed this week.

Leaseholders in the Warwick Estate have been locked in a four- year battle with the council after they were billed more than £13,000 for new windows that fall foul of government regulations.

The work was carried out by sub-contractor Wates on behalf of CityWest Homes, the council's housing partner.

It was then signed off as acceptable quality by another contractor Dunlop Haywards - which has since gone into administration.

But independent inspectors from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) found evidence of "poor workmanship" and work that is "well below the standard expected from a competent contractor."

In his report, Sandy Mackay, principal consultant for BRE, said: "It is not good practice to leave a gap between the damp proof course and the window, as any water that passes between the brick and the window frame can enter the building.

"This is all evidence of poor workmanship and it would appear that the window fitters were left largely to do as they wished."

Bernie Watterson, a builder who lives in Atherstone Court with his partner Karen McLoughlin, immediately spotted problems with the windows that would cause damp in their property. The couple have spent four years fighting for CityWest to re-do the works.

"It's taken us four years to get CityWest to admit the work is below standard," said Ms McLoughlin. "They are charging leaseholders huge sums for work that doesn't even comply with building regulations.

"Our home has been in Bernie's family since he was 12 and his parents bought it through the right-to-buy scheme. But I don't think we would be able to sell it now because the problems would show up in a survey."

The work was carried out in low-rise properties across the Warwick Estate but the exact number of leaseholders and tenants affected is unknown.

A petition signed by angry residents was submitted to the council by Westbourne councillor David Boothroyd in July.

He said: "I'm shocked that CityWest has allowed somebody else to check the quality of work that has been carried out for them. You just cannot delegate that responsibility. It is only because this particular flat was owned by a builder that this situation has come to light. CityWest now needs to find out how many properties have been affected and fix the problem."

A spokeswoman for CityWest Homes said: "We are actively working with our contractors Wates on finding a solution to the problem with the windows at this property in Atherstone Court.

"We regret the amount of time it has taken to resolve this issue and are very sorry for this.

"We'll continue to communicate our progress on this issue directly with our residents and are confident that an acceptable solution will be agreed as a matter of urgency."

A Wates spokeswoman said: "We are working with City West Homes and the resident to resolve the complaint and fix the problem as soon as possible.

“Incidents like this are rare for us - independent data on resident satisfaction with our window replacement and cladding work for City West Homes rates at 94% which indicates very high standards of workmanship.

“We are speaking directly with the resident on a weekly basis and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved."


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