Monthly Archives: May 2013

The day Taylor Wimpey ruined my life

“The day Taylor Wimpey ruined my life” is a true account written by a dissatisfied first time homebuyer. As you read his experiences of buying a Taylor Wimpey new home there can be no acceptable explanations for such a general lack of care and poor quality workmanship and management.

“The day Taylor Wimpey ruined my life”

IMG_0745Making your first step on to the property ladder has always felt an impossible dream until last year. After visiting the Oasis Buckingham Park development by Taylor Wimpey in Aylesbury for the first time it felt possible.

I met their sales advisor Debbie, who assisted me, showing me the location of the plot I was considering, what extras were available and the ‘milestones’ I had in front of me if I decided to proceed. After several days of researching the area which was close to where I had been living, to see if any of the rumours are true; talk of anti-social behaviour that some people seem to tarnish the area with. I made several visits at different times of day, by car and on foot and found the area to be quiet and none of the claims from people I knew to be true from what I could see.

Reservation and mortgage

Debbie arranged a meeting with the mortgage adviser used by Taylor Wimpey and my mortgage was approved and we started looking at a date. As with any home purchase, especially if you are a new homebuyer, you should not be paying the asking price. Be prepared to haggle, this is a massive purchase and should not be accepted at face value. Ensure that you are aware of the cost of extras, if not ask and also negotiate the house price. If you use the first time buyer scheme they will be more lenient towards extras rather than money off the value of the property.

Get everything confirmed in writing

You are probably wondering, well that does not sound all that bad so far. You have got the leg up you needed for purchasing your first house and you will be right up there on the ladder. OK. You have chosen your plot and already talking about money off.

Well this is where I got my first glimpse of chaos from Taylor Wimpey at this stage. My advice and it should be obvious….Anything they say they will thrown in… get them to write it down and if it is not clearly shown, get it done so. It will come back and bite you I promise. For example I requested that I had wardrobes (based on the fact I have two bedrooms) thrown in as part of the deal and this was agreed. It was not until later that my plural term of wardrobes, as agreed verbally, was side-stepped and met with “I did not say that” from Debbie. How can I argue with that? Verbally we agreed it with an ‘s’ and cheekily written on the invoice it was not.

So word of warning, for any offers, get it confirmed in writing. Make sure it is clear and matches up with what was said and agreed. I found out the hard way and was never able to argue that fact.

Warning bells about Taylor Wimpey and reassurance from director

Right, now we have got a plot, extras thrown in and a mortgage approved so I am on my way…. I then start to hear of issues reported on BBC Watchdog… May I refer you to…Taylor Wimpey on BBC Watchdog 26 September 2012
Taylor Wimpey buyer speaks to Bucks Herald

photo-4-768x1024Now this is quite worrying when you have committed to probably one of the largest purchases of your life. So this is where I got smart, I looked on the Taylor Wimpey website and used the ‘contact us’ form to get an official statement of reassurance from them. So on 28th September 2012 I had a response back from Sales & Marketing Director, Steve Rolt. Should you ever need to contact him, his email address is Steve.Rolt@taylorwimpey.com

“Thank you for your e mail in respect of your purchase at our Oasis development in Buckingham Park Aylesbury. The individual cases highlighted by “Watchdog” this week represent a very small and unrepresentative sample among the circa 10,000 new homes built by Taylor Wimpey each year.

We have a long history of delivering a high level of customer satisfaction and service and have been awarded the maximum five star rating for customer satisfaction in an independent survey by the House Builders Federation with 91% of our customers* confirming they were satisfied with their new home and would recommend Taylor Wimpey to a friend.

I can assure you that these issues are extremely rare and we have not experienced any similar problems at our Oasis development. Taylor Wimpey will offer a two-year warranty** with your new home and you will be further protected by the NHBC warranty for the following seven years. Full details of our Customer Care Policy are available on our web site. I hope this email offers some reassurance and that you can now look forward to moving into your new home.”

(Ed. *The HBF customer survey is not representative of ALL Taylor Wimpey customers. The often-quoted “91% of our customers” is in reality, just 39% of the total customers who bought a Taylor Wimpey home in 2012.
** The NHBC warranty is 10 years, requiring all house builders to rectify defects in the first two years. The NHBC provide the warranty, not Taylor Wimpey. After which the NHBC provides a structural warranty for a further 8 years – not 7 years Mr Rolt!)

The result I needed from a senior representative of Taylor Wimpey. An email with complete reassurance that I can feel I know I have made the correct decision.

DSC_9452-1024x680The next milestone I started to look at was when I get greeted with a call from Debbie to start choosing my extras. I am given a Taylor Wimpey booklet and start looking and I am excited at the prospect of accessing my house in a few weeks. As the weeks go by, I start to see my house come together. It started from some bricks to first floor, then second floor, a roof, tiles on the roof and it is gradually starting to take shape.

I meet Nigel

This was the day where I met Nigel. Family and friends advised me that this is the guy I need to talk to most. If I have any issues I see, then make sure he is aware and work together to overcome them. That sounds little daunting buy good advice. I met him in my property, where we discussed where TV sockets and phone sockets were going to be. He even suggested an idea where I could have the breakfast bar wall (mid height) replaced with a wall to the ceiling. I liked this idea as it made the two rooms feel separate. There I am making decisions and putting my print on my future home. We went back to the sales office and started marking changes on the plans with Debbie. One thing is missed at this stage was to check if the electrical sockets were going would be where I would want them, I strongly urge you to check. I have two areas in my house where I have no power, which is useless to me. My second mistake and failure due to poor house design and no guidance from Taylor Wimpey. It is at this stage on reflection, that you are being led by people who work in this profession and should outline the important things such as where electric plug sockets are situated. As their customer, and a first time buyer, this is all a new experience to me. I am working on unfamiliar territory and already seemed like control was being lost.

I knew roughly I would be moving in around November/December, so I made sure I kept almost weekly visits to the site often meeting Nigel in my lunch just to inspect the house and the progress. I also took a few photos and measurements where needed and I strongly advise that you do this as you will come across things that were not clear to you on the plans and design. From late October, the house was built, roofed, doors and windows fitted and the bathroom was being installed.

DSC_9475-680x1024During one of my visits I discovered when talking about where I would put my TV, the wall was concave meaning my dream of a larger than life TV was now going to be a 20″ Samsung! When I showed Nigel he suggested the wall could be boxed off to make it flush with the wall where the light switch is. Then I could put a larger TV up on the wall and problem is solved. Nigel and I have built up a good working relationship with regard to my house and we both understood what was required regarding this.

So this was done and I saw it the following week. It looked great from what I could see. It was then I noticed the Thermostat in the middle of a wall. I am obviously not happy that a design flaw like this was missed and put in a useless place. I have another chat with Nigel and he said he would see what he could do. Confidently I agree and the next visit I see that it has been moved to a better position. Another small change that made a difference to my house.

Getting a completion date for my new home

After contacting Debbie and Nigel several times, my completion date is confirmed as Thursday 13th December 2012 to move into my beautiful new home. I am not very excitable at this stage as it dawns on me that I have a lot of packing and making sure I get everything moved. I booked a week off work to prepare.

There is one other significant milestone Taylor Wimpey will work with you on prior to moving in. This is what they call the “familiarisation tour”. I had this on the Tuesday – 2 days before I was due to move in. This was the day I got introduced to a new builder called Tom and met with Sarah who I had spoken to before. I ask myself where is Nigel, the man I have worked with since September? Is he now too busy to work with me? Is this me getting palmed off on to someone else? This was never really explained to me, I have now have to place my trust in a new person I have never met before. I have just made the largest financial commitment of my life and the person I had established a working relationship is nowhere to be seen.

I had no confidence there would be any improvement on the day I get my keys. Unfortunately this is also when I started to spot issues with my house. It is the first time I have seen it painted and with carpet. Not only am I starting to worry about the “white” paint extra I paid for, I am now looking at workmen’s muddy bootprints on my new carpet!

It was all quite embarrassing and rather than paying attention to Tom explaining how things worked in my house, I find myself seeing flaw after flaw which is not a good sign. I bring this up I get advised that is why you work with us for 2 weeks after you have taken the house to rectify these problems. 

(Ed- A new home should not have obvious defects and quality issues. If they are discovered before completion (and the site management should, test, inspect and snag) then it would not be necessary to have a procedure for buyers to “work with” Taylor Wimpey for a two week period after they move in to bring the home up to standard!)

I am feeling like I have lost my trust in Taylor Wimpey. I had a scratched up front door, I could see doors were not shutting properly, paint quality was 3 out of 10 and I had mud all over the new lounge carpet. I left things like that and tried to ignore the fact I was already not feeling happy with the response I had from Tom and Sarah from the sales office. I had no confidence there would be any improvement on the day I get my keys.

Moving in day

On the 13th December, I wake up late, not expecting a call until later on and I get Debbie calling me sounding very excited for me that I have my new house completed and I can collect the keys. I arrange to go across at 1pm and also meet my mother there who wanted to be at the ‘opening ceremony’ of my first home. I arrived and met Debbie, Tom and had my mother ready with the camera. Debbie handed me a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates. When I put that key in the door, this became The day Taylor Wimpey ruined my life.

Opening that door on 13th December 2012 I found my first snag… The door handle was not secured and had a lot of movement, this brought my attention to the doorbell which was also loose. I didn’t feel like celebrating at all at this stage, as the minute I opened the door I then saw the entrance mat poorly cut, sheered off on one side. They must have left their tape measure at home, and by the look of it their spirit level too. Snag after snag stacked up like it should be expected? A disgusting delivery and start to my new home by Taylor Wimpey.

The day I moved in should have been an exciting experience but, unbeknown to me, I had invited Taylor Wimpey to intrude into my life and fight with. I recorded the following video to show the poor quality hand over and to date no explanation as to why it was handed over like this.

Whilst I cringe at my commentary, I have yet to make a wildlife documentary (although I am open to offers!), you can see the snags tally up as I walk around. I did this on the Friday evening after having someone attempt to paint all the decorating failures during the day as provided by Tom, the builder in my life. Where is Nigel? I have no idea; it looks like I am on my own on this one. Taylor Wimpey have my money and then give me the assistant who wings it with some tall stories I am clearly not happy to hear.

Note: the snags I found that evening are listed on the video description. There are many more though! This includes 66 issues that I saw in the time I spent there. Mindful of the fact that I have not moved in at this stage, this amount of work is going to be so intrusive I am already making alternative living arrangements. bathroom-764x1024Of the major defects you can see, I have a wall that is crooked, switches that are not level, a leaking radiator, cracked glass and a damaged French door handle. There are more, but I just thought I should include some examples here too. I had originally been told that the shower glass not sitting flush with the bath is normal. Tom told me this was normal. So later on I got my spirit level out. What a handy tool… I wish they had used one building my house.

On the Saturday, 15th December, 10 days before Christmas and I have not moved anything across to my new home. I am committed, with time off booked and no movement. I am living out of boxes and suitcases and disappointed so far by the level of seriousness of the issues I have found. It is like I got fobbed off with Tom, he done very little providing me a painter who may as well not been there. I should have just painted the house myself, I could have done better with a potato and some poster paints! This painter I met told me blue in the face that he painted it and it seemed alright at the time. I had so little paint on one wall I could see the plasterboard. As Tom keeps a mental note of every NHBC rule, apparently if you look at it 2 metres away and you see no flaw it is acceptable. What about if there is no paint on the wall? I strongly feel that one I am being what we call on the street “mugged off” and that the NHBC got a back-hander and Christmas lunch somewhere off-site. I asked for evidence they had visited and still to this day have none. I have logged a complaint with them (see follow up at bottom of page).

Sorry I digress and my mood is starting to change as I revisit this point in my life. So on the 15th December, this is when my father meets me at my house and starts to see what I have found. He said everything I have marked with a Post-It note is fair. We then proceed to the sales office at 16:00 and we are greeted by Debbie. I start to explain to Debbie what has happened and she advises me that she will get Nigel over on Monday. This leaves me with another day to stew over the lies I have been presented from by Steve Rolt.

This was not suppose to happen, you reassured me and I already feel like I made the wrong move. That weekend was the longest weekend, I fell out with everyone, no amount of empathy was enough. I am sorry to them and my girlfriend for this. All I wanted was for Taylor Wimpey to take my life changing purchase serious. They just swan off home guiltless at the end of their day. Where do I get to retreat? Oh..

Here is analogy for you. If I bought a Ferrari for 150k and as new it was delivered to me with a dent in the door, the radiator was leaking and a crack in the window.
Would you drive that away off the forecourt?

Apparently in Taylor Wimpey Land this is acceptable behaviour. I am pretty sure it is the same with all these developers but we know from above Taylor Wimpey have a track record already documented by BBC Watchdog. I checked out another developer through a friend and they had none of the issues I have.

I have emailed Steve Rolt with the youtube video advising him that I am not satisfied and would like appropriate action to be taken, I had an email response to me at 09:21 on the 17th December 2013.
“I am sorry that you have already discovered so many issues with your new home. This is clearly most concerning and I have asked our Production Manager Kevin Salisbury to meet with you this morning.

I understand that you are meeting our site team at 9am and Kevin will join you shortly after. I will speak with the Production team after your meeting with them and be in contact with you once again. Please accept my apologies on behalf of the Company.”

I had Nigel first make his presence at 9am. I invited him into my home and the first word after good morning when he saw the lounge was “shit”. He was shocked too. I am starting to think how can this be? Where were you last week, where is Tom? You know this is bad and then we had an exchange of words really was not a welcomed conversation.

I am not going to hold a grudge after what was said, but never again will I allow to be spoken to like that in a situation like this. It was out of order and uncalled for. I used this as my opportunity to vent my disbelief and returned with a flurry of obscenities explaining why the…. what the… did you think you were handing over. Clearly we have an unsupervised house finish that has not been signed off correctly. We had a good working relationship and it has all disappeared. I have no trust for him, no relationship and no chance of anonymity. He did nothing wrong by me personally until we saw the results of the handover.

Anyway, at just after 9am I had Kevin and Sandra join us and saw the state of my new home. It is a bit of blur here, pointing out everything that was wrong, explaining I cannot move in, you have put me at a huge inconvenience. I was polite to these new faces, why wouldn’t I be. I need some help to get me out of this mess.

wall_redone-764x1024Steps were taken to ensure we got the house repainted, dents filled in the walls.. the radiator fixed… which I can confirm even after a request to take all the air out the boiler created by this leak, to this day has not been done. One to add to the list for me. The French door handle would be replaced, I needed a bedroom door replaced. Front door was painted during frost so the paint was peeling. The list goes on and on how they bodged my place together. Not forgetting the wall that was not straight and had bowed, now that was the real poor sign of incompetence of the team on site.

It was not until 29th December 2013 did I start moving things in and actually try to call it home. No that is a lie I referred to it as the house and made my way out of there as much I could. I persisted and I had the idea that moving in ready for the new year I could leave this behind and start getting on with my new life in my yet to be called new home.

I was so angry, I asked for compensation, I mean who wouldn’t? I had calculated with alternative arrangements having to be made and cancelling the move, losing 5 days holiday sitting around, they cost me in excess of £800. Now you cannot really value your time but I needed a figure to work with to show them. No money will ever make up for the stress they caused, they ruined my first time buyer experience. I met with them again on the 4th January 2013. They point blank refused any money as compensation, that was straight from Kevin’s mouth with Sandra waiting on the ropes.

Wow I am being tagged teamed in my new home by two strangers. They then said I could have one of about 6 things as compensation. Why would anyone agree to more work by Taylor Wimpey? You would have to be pretty stupid based on what I had already seen. Oh that was me, I got reassured by Sandra and then I went back to them asking for….

 shed
 patio
 downlighters in the bathroom
 additional cupboards
Rookie move on my part as only 2 of the 4 things were done correctly first time.

My advice would be to try to meet with just one representative as I felt I was being bullied in my own home when I contested things. If all three said no, company policy, then I had no chance. They made me choose extra things, they then “fu**ed up” again… Sorry but can you imagine what I am going through right now. When is the tipping point? When do I say Taylor Wimpey, you are ridiculous, the way you behave and treat me is like a mug. It is the best way to describe how I feel about my whole experience. Someone has come into my home, my first home… and mugged me.

From January onwards I have played email tennis with Taylor Wimpey. I am not 100% happy that all snags have been rectified. I have had no explanation as to why I have had such a bad experience; there has been no accountability apart from empty gestures that added more stress. Tom has lain me to on more than one occasion for example.
Here is an example of the bullshi**ers guide to the Taylor Wimpey galaxy:
me: hi Tom, there is no hot water coming out of the bath tap
Tom: well this might be because EU regulations state hot water should be 37 degrees and it may feel colder for you
me: no it is cold, i had a cold bath
Tom: well i will get someone to check it but as I said it can appear colder than it is
me: no it is definitely cold
……..plumber arrives after pointless discussion into my discovery….
Plumber: the thermostat on the tap was not turned up and was set to cold”
me: And I thank you.
I have a handful of similar experiences that I have accrued but I felt this one shows you, the reader, the level of concentration I have to fight for any issue to be looked at ands rectified.

I have fought for attention with Taylor Wimpey since December 13th 2012. The only person I have praise for is Sandra, she has stuck with me and although it has been far too slow for my liking. She has organised outside contractors to come in. Now this is good but what does this say about the quality of staff they have on site? I have no trust of the staff management on the site and have no even had an apology from them. I will lead you to your own conclusions.

I have still to date not had all my snags resolved. I have this year off the top of my head. My front door replaced and repainted at least 2 times, the house has 3 maybe 4 coats of paint. I’ve had 3 door handles replaced. Gloss work went yellow and they repainted with non-dud paint that to this day is still white. I have had tiles lifted already in the kitchen and still yet to be further work there.

Other examples of bad workmanship are:

PHONE LINE: When broadband was installed I discovered my phone line had not been wired correctly causing me to have 2mb bandwidth from 2 sockets and 6mb from the two other sockets. After taking the time to test sync speeds with my router it was quickly discovered and I had to explain to Sandra as the electrician who worked on site did not know what he was doing. We had to get someone who knew what they were doing to resolve bad wiring.

SMOKE ALARM: I had a smoke alarm not a heat alarm put above my cooker. For best part of 6 months without fail when I have cooked it has gone off. 

GLOSS PAINT: The gloss paint on the skirting on the stairs and inside the bathroom went yellow after 3-4 weeks. Taylor Wimpey repainted with gloss paint that I provided and it has remained white since. I had to fight for this with Sandra to get something done. I don’t agree with the explanation I was given. The evidence speaks for itself; the paint I bought remains white. 

(Ed: there are known issues with white solvent-based gloss paint, Dulux in particular. Compliance with the EU Volatile Organic Compounds Directive 2010 being the cause. Dulux recommend using only Dulux Trade (blue lid) gloss to avoid premature yellowing. A good house builder would have known this!)

INTRUSION:  The amount of times I have had people access my house without my knowledge is huge. This is why I stated to Sandra that I would like her present during any visit. I realise sometimes that this may not be possible and have to bite the bullet and allow access for the greater good. I felt once I moved in at the end of December 2012, this is when I had all my personal belongings there. I do not know the names of anyone from the site that had access to my home. The last straw before I kicked off was 2 weeks ago. I was in the shower and I had someone come into my home, apparently he rang the doorbell (which I did not hear). I asked them to leave my house as soon as I was aware someone else was there. I am pretty sure not a lot of people would be happy with someone moving your TV they are not insured to do and sanding a wall down getting dust all over your furniture. Where is the protection? Where was my call to request access…. I had an apology from Tom on the phone but how many times are they going to apologise?

Current Outstanding Work
a) Front door does not lock properly unless forced.
b) Cloakroom door has dropped.
c) Cloakroom door has marked door frame and needs re glossing at the top.
d) Kitchen tile has sunken and needs redoing.
e) Carpet requires stretching on landing to edge.
f) Patio requires replacing.
g) Extractor fan in bathroom needs replacing.
h) Investigate why when extractor fan is working, is it still not dehumidifying the bathroom and allowing a lot of dust to be brought down into the bathroom.
i) Grass is patchy and even after watering is not 100% taking due to poor soil.
j) Fence by gate has moved again.
k) Kitchen window handle requires replacing (right side).
l) Wardrobe bracket at bottom of left door needs fixing as missing screw.
m) Shower to be replaced due to leaking tap.
n) Manhole cover in garden is wobbling and feels unsafe to stand on.
o) Living room wall bows in the middle.
p) Wall outside is not straight.
q) Cracking above the front door, my neighbours does not look like this.
r) 150mm of topsoil not under the grass.
s) No weeding removal was performed either on hand over.

Some of the above should be fixed by or on 30th May, let us pray that it is the case.

photo-2-11-1024x764

straightwallnot-764x1024CONCLUSION:

I have seen through my work with Taylor Wimpey, used this to assist a friend purchasing a house further down my road. They still had issues but no where near as bad as mine. It is soul destroying still seeing the very same issues in his property. On reflection of this blog, I never wanted any of this; I just wanted delivery of house that is up to standard which it is clearly not. We have come along way, but… I should not have to be subjected to the amount of time they have taken from me.

I feel like I have no anonymity from my complaint, everyone there obviously knows where I live and who I am. They have not signed off my house and have had my spare keys since I moved in.

Take a look at their principles and judge Taylor Wimpey’s shortcomings yourself.
Cultural Principles
1. If something is worth doing, its worth doing properly
2. If we make a mistake, we put it right
3. We are competitive and don’t accept second best, we drive for results
4. We will not compromise in ensuring that everyone leaves our sites safe and well
5. We behave with integrity, and are honest and forthright., we support each other
6. We strive to enhance the environment and local community, not damage it
source: Taylor Wimpey – Our people our values

Finally to conclude for Taylor Wimpey… What I want from them is…
a) an explanation
b) a sincere apology from higher management
c) advice why the warnings from my plot also occurred to a friend and colleagues
d) a list of all snags reported from 13th December 2012
e) my builders warranty to begin when they have finished correcting their work
f) compensation for now 7 months of intrusion into my home
g) why was I not provided the consumer code, as seen here:
Consumer Code for Home Builders
–Note– I will add more detail about last 3-4 months when I get some time too

Latest Update
I have logged a complaint with NHBC to investigate their alleged visit.

The patio had work done to it on 24th May 2013 and will be continued 29th May 2013. photo-1-1-1024x764It looks a lot better but I think there is some room for improvement. I keep reminding myself that this is compensation for all the other errors… So my expectation is this should not be a bodged job, it should be an example of the work they should be doing.

We are now at the end of May 2013 and I moved in December 2012. I am still fighting Taylor Wimpey to get things done. I was quickly introduced to a thing called the snagging list. Translated it means: “we rushed your house, we are useless, we did not do everything right and it is up to you to find it if you can and then you have to tell us and fight it and do all the running like a serious chump that you are for buying from us”. …. sigh….

A meeting is planned with Peter Gurr to review my situation. For his benefit I have emailed him this blog. The phrase “it is not our best work” as Kevin had said previously will not be what I want to hear.
The one thing they have done and I can acknowledge is moving the TV sockets as the height they put them in was way too high. I have no complaint about this.
The last question is… WHAT ELSE WILL I FIND…?

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What to do if you find you have rats or mice in your home

Finding out you have rats or mice in your home can be a shock, but they are among the most common type of vermin around. Some home insurance policies will offer help in finding an exterminator if you discover you have unwanted guests, but you can also do a lot to prevent it happening in the first place. 

Home Insurance may not cover damage caused by rats and mice, though, so it’s worth taking steps to make sure they don’t take hold: 

Block access: Mice and rats can fit through surprisingly small gaps, so make sure you don’t leave them any entry points. Check around gas, electricity and water pipes and make sure all doors and windows fit securely. 

Fill holes: If you do find any odd holes that could provide a way in for vermin, fill them with wire wool and expanding foam, which you’ll find at a DIY shop. Also ask about guards for your drainpipes to stop rats climbing up. 

Don’t feed vermin: Store food in airtight containers and never leave crumbs or scraps out as they make tempting bait. Surprisingly, chocolate is popular with mice, so don’t leave anything sweet out.

Watch your hygiene: Remove rubbish at the end of each day, and take it out to a bin well away from the house. Don’t leave food debris around the garden, and avoid composting fish, meat or bread as they attract vermin. Wipe up any spills, clean under your worktops and don’t leave crumbs on the floor. 

Keep a look out  for tell-tale signs:  No-one wants to think about rats and mice wandering around your house, but it’s important that you watch out for signs that they’ve visited. Any new holes should be investigated, along with damage to skirting boards and carpets that may be caused by gnawing. You might also hear footprints, find droppings or even see the vermin themselves, particularly late at night.   

DIY treatments: If you suspect you have vermin, block nearby holes with newspaper and then check 24 hours later to see if it’s been disturbed. Use traps or poison – which should be kept out of the reach of children or family pets – to control the problem.  

Time to call in the professionals:

Contact your local council’s environmental health department. help may be limited due to the government austerity cutbacks and the level of help may vary depending on the council. However, they have a legal duty to deal with vermin from property owned by the council. It may be better to just call out an exterminator who can assess the problem and then lay traps. If left untreated, rats and mice can spread disease and cause damage to your property, so it’s important that you act quickly. 

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Good advice for anyone considering renting a home

Young people don’t expect to own their own home until they’re in their forties, according to a recent survey.* It is no surprise that attitudes are changing, with people happy to rent as they realise they’re priced out of the housing market. When asked about their plans, 38% said that owning a home “wasn’t critical” to them.

If you are one of the millions who aren’t desperate to get on the property ladder, renting can give you great flexibility and the chance to live in an area that you might never be able to afford if you were trying to buy a home. Once you’ve found your dream flat or house to rent, there are a number of things you’ll need to remember before moving in day:

  • Although you won’t need buildings insurance, it’s essential that you have a good contents insurance policy in place. It’s up to the landlord to insure the building, but don’t get caught short when it comes to your own possessions. Some contents insurance policies offer unlimited cover, but others will require you to list the value of your belongings so make sure everything is included.

  • Find out who the gas and electricity supplier is as soon as you move in and give them an up-to-date meter reading on the first day. That way, you won’t end up paying for gas and electricity used by anyone who lived there before you. Ask your supplier for a rough idea of how much the bills will be, and if you’re on a tight budget or don’t fancy any nasty surprises set up a direct debit so that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying each month.

  • Check with your water supplier to find out if you’ll be paying a straightforward bill or whether the property is on a meter.

  • Ask the landlord or agent how recently the locks have been changed. It’s safest if they’re changed when you move in so you know you’re the only one with a key.

  • Rented flats and houses may be unfurnished, furnished or part furnished. Agree to go through an inventory with your landlord or agent so you’re all clear on exactly what’s in the house – from a TV to cutlery. This might sound like a tedious job, but if you have it written down it will save any misunderstandings when you come to move out and get your deposit back. If anything isn’t in pristine condition, note that down too, so you won’t be saddled with a bill for damage at the end of your tenancy.

[*] Source – Findaproperty.com

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Brandon Tool Hire – Why employees should be careful what they sign!

Why employees should be careful what they sign!

A recent case was reported in the Mail on Sunday where an employee of a building company went to Brandon Tool Hire to hire a cement mixer on his employer’s behalf. He even used the company’s credit card for the deposit! However the company he worked for Weald 24 Limited, ceased trading and the cement mixer was never returned. As a result, Brandon Tool Hire is holding the employee responsible and has successfully sued him, winning a judgement for £3,022! 

How can an employee be personally liable for his employer’s debts?

When the employee collected the mixer, he was asked for his driving licence and signed the Brandon dispatch note. The note, whilst not specifically labelled as any contract or agreement, did state that whoever signs it agrees to the terms and conditions small print on the back. 

Brandon’s boss Tim Smith says that an employee would not be responsible “if the customer had a trade account” but how many employees would know whether their employer has a trade account or not. 

In this case Brandon is still pursuing the ex employee for his employer’s liability.

I would suggest that anyone working and signing on behalf of an employer should be cautious and consider using a false name! I suspect that many building sites up and down the country will suddenly find that “John Smith” or “Mike Mouse” is signing for quite a lot of deliveries! 

Anyone using Brandon Tool Hire should sign a false name, or at least sign “signed on behalf of the hirer ?????? Ltd, no contract or liability exists with signatory” to protect themselves if the employer does not pay the bill.

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Do not renew your home insurance without getting alternative quotes

You don’t need to be a Meerkat to realise that it is always best the check the market before accepting your existing insurer’s renewal quote. As the Mail on Sunday recently reported with the case of an 85-year-old gentleman who had renewed his home insurance with Aviva for many years, renewing can leave you seriously out of pocket. For his ordinary three bedroom terraced town house built in 1935 he was paying a massive £912 a year for home and contents insurance. 

When he first insured with Aviva in 2001 his premiums were just £220. Aviva acknowledge that across the insurance industry quotes for existing customers are normally higher than those for new customers as they often include offers or large discounts which vary each year. 

It is disgraceful that people are still being taken for a ride by large financial institutions. The above insurance would be less than £300 with nearly every insurance provider. Even Aviva quoted £269 quite a big drop when his daughter threatened to cancel the policy and move elsewhere. He also got a cheque for £300 by way of an apology – no doubt after 12 years of over charging Aviva can well afford to do so.

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The total of 115,620 new homes were built in 2012.

New Home Completions and dwelling stock figures for England released

The estimated number of residential homes in England produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government statistics were released on Thursday 25 April 2013. The figures show that the estimated number of dwellings in England increased by 0.59% on the previous year to 23.1 million. This is the lowest annual increase in any of the previous 10 years and demonstrating not enough new homes are being built. 

This is split into 19 million private dwellings (owner-occupied and private rented) and 4 million social rented homes. The Social rented stock rose by 12,000 between March 2011 and March 2012.

Total annual housing completions for 2012 were 115,620, an increase of 1% on the previous year. The current level of completions is still 35% below the December 2007 peak level of 177,000. New Home completions fell through 2008, 2009 and in the year to December 2010 just 107,000 new homes were completed.

In the 12 months to December 2012, the majority of new homes started were in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire, along the M5 corridor from Devon up to Worcestershire and along the A303 route from London through Hampshire into Wiltshire 

Despite falling over recent years the percentage of owner-occupied homes remains at 65%.

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