Forest Town residents call for action on 'nightmare' new builds
Residents on a new development near Mansfield are taking a stand against their developers, Harron Homes, who they have accused of a ‘catalogue of errors’ in the construction of their new properties.
Forest Reach at Forest Town is a development of four-bedroom homes which, according to Harron Homes’ website have been ‘expertly crafted’ – but homeowners at the site have approached the Chad with their stories of missing brickwork, wonky windows and homes full of mould.
Harron Homes has said the pandemic has played a part in fixing ‘minor snagging issues’, however, homeowners who paid around a quarter of a million for their properties say they have been ‘flogging a dead horse’ trying to get their issues fixed for the past year.
Rachel and Matt Atkins purchased their property in July 2020 and first noticed issues when birds moved into a hole near their roof.
Rachel explains: “We started getting birds nesting and then realised two bricks were missing.
"We reported it, and they came to fill them in, but we then noticed that, actually, a whole row of bricks were missing from our house, meaning the roof didn’t sit properly and the guttering wasn’t right.
"We contacted Harron last year and, despite a site manager agreeing with us, Harron have repeatedly said the issue ‘isn’t structural’ – how can a whole row of missing bricks not be structural?
"We have gaps around the roof, which means the house can get freezing in winter, and who knows what future problems we’ll have if the house hasn’t been built properly?
"We’ve had other smaller issues fixed, such as a wonky toilet, guttering and issues with our kitchen worktop, but clearly they know this is a big issue and don’t want the hassle.
"The whole thing from the offset has been a catalogue of errors – it’s a nightmare and they are still building new houses now instead of fixing these.”
Lucy Singleton purchased her property in March 2020 and says she has had issues from day one.
She explains: “The first issue we noticed was that we used our new washing machine and it flooded the kitchen – on inspection, there was a hole in the pipe at the back that had been duct taped together.
"Then I used the integrated oven – when I pulled the baking tray out of the hot oven, the front casing came with it and burnt my arm, leaving a deep scar.
"The oven casing was missing the special screws that attached it to the oven itself.
"The fridge freezer doesn’t shut properly, meaning we have had to replace it ourselves, and the dishwasher also has a child lock on it as that doesn’t shut either – the kitchen is an absolute disgrace."
Lucy’s woes did not just end with her kitchen – she also paid to have blinds made-to-measure, and discovered another problem – her windows were not straight.
"The blind fitter refused to put them up – he said every window bar the bathroom was wonky, meaning the blinds wouldn’t sit properly – I wanted to cry,” she continued.
"I have emailed Harron so many times over the past 17 months, they either promise to sort it or stop replying to me.
"It’s absolutely shocking.”
‘Mrs X’ who does not want to be name, also lives on the development and purchased a property from Harron earlier this year.
Within two weeks of moving in, her skirting boards were covered in thick black mould, and she found a live earth wire under her sink which had not been connected.
She contacted Harron, who blamed the mould problem on a ‘lifestyle issue’ and gave her directions on how to clean it off.
"She said: “I couldn’t believe it – I’ve lived in several new builds and never had this problem.
"My home is well ventilated and I don’t dry my clothes on radiators, so it must be an issue with the construction of the house.
"The mould comes back within a few days of it being cleaned, nothing keeps it away, and my son has had a continuous cough for a month now, so it’s completely unacceptable.”
Mrs X’s mother has health issues and is now unable to stay with her daughter due to concerns over the mould.
"I can’t have mum stay with me, because the mould and damp won’t be good for her health – it’s just not what you expect when you buy a property like this.” she continued.
"I’m absolutely devastated and Harron are ignoring surveyors reports and refusing to do anything.
"I’ve had enough now, I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse.”
Claire Rice is another resident who is out of pocket after purchasing on the development in November last year.
Within days of moving in, the 33-year-old’s garden flooded, and she contacted Harron Homes to see what she should do.
With mud up to her back door and two dogs in the property, Claire was upset when she was told that Harron wouldn’t do anything about the problem until the following Spring, which forced Claire into action and remedying the problem out of her own pocket.
She said: “My house was a mess – my kitchen was full of mud and it wasn’t acceptable to me to have to wait months for it to be fixed.
"We had to find £1,000 of our own money, as the garden had no drainage, and Harron have said they won’t reimburse me.
"It’s absolutely shocking.”
A spokesperson for Harron Homes North Midlands said, “Unfortunately, the unforeseen circumstances of the last year due to Covid-19 meant that our normal operations were impacted for a considerable amount of time, causing some delay to the fixing of minor snagging issues.
"Our customer care team is working hard to address all of the outstanding issues we are aware of and ensure the homes at Forest Reach are to a quality we are proud of.”