Anxiety in Aberporth
For one cul-de-sac in Aberporth, the last four years have proved a nightmare after residents thought they were buying their dream home. Back in 2007, Clos-y-Fferm in the pretty sea-side village was built by Ian Jones of Rheidol Developments.
Rob and Dods Arnold moved in to number four a few months later, paying £185,000 for their brand new bungalow. Rob told X-Ray it was perfect, “It's a nice environment, it's close to the sea, the beach is five minutes away - very natural, unspoilt.”
But very soon their dream home became more of a nightmare as serious cracks began appearing in their walls. When Rob showed reporter Rachel Treadaway-Williams his garage, the evidence was clear. He told her, “It has got worse and you can see the door frame’s moving away from the door there. And the same on the floor line, the wall is moving away from the floor of the garage.”
one of the cracks in the Arnolds' garage
When Rob first noticed the damage he visited his next door neighbour Jennifer to see whether his was a one off. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones with these problems.
Jennifer told X-Ray, “We opened up our garage and we saw intensive cracks, then the actual airing cupboard was starting to crack, and then we see the bathroom in here, the tiles actually fell off, it’s been tiled four times since.”
Rob, Dods and Jenny had also heard that a few doors down, their neighbours were having even bigger problems. Those properties now sit empty on the estate. Rob told X-Ray one of them has been boarded up for almost two years.
And for both sets of home owners, the financial consequences have been devastating. Rob and Dods have told X-Ray an estate agent has recently valued their property at between £10,000 and £20,000.
Dods said, “This house represents between us almost 60 years of hard work and then to be told it’s virtually worthless…this was our retirement fund and now it’s been wiped off the face of the earth almost.
X-Ray spoke to Kevin Thomas, a chartered surveyor to ask his opinion on what has gone so horribly wrong. He says that there’s “ongoing ground movement, it’s probably the worst ground movement I’ve seen in a long time…we’re talking about cracks of 30 to 60 mm wide which are very, very serious.”
So what does the future hold? X-Ray wanted to know who was going to be responsible for sorting out the mess. Kevin Thomas told us it’s actually down to their home insurers, “Generally they’d have to take this through their buildings insurers, and if they’re not getting any joy through those, employ their own professional advisors, by way of surveyors, engineers, to take this forward through them, and progress their claim.”
The Arnolds have insurance with Zurich who have been monitoring the movement of their home with small devices attached to the cracks and walls. But as Rob told us it’s not come to much, “We haven’t really had any results, and we haven’t had any indications of what actions they’re going to take as a result of the movement.
Zurich has now told us it will continue to monitor the property over the winter in case there is further movement. After completing their investigation they'll then consider what the best course of action is, and implement it.
When the problems first occurred, Jenny made a claim to her insurers - Barclays, which was declined. Jenny no longer insurers her home with Barclays, but we've asked them look again at the original claim. Barclays has since sent out its loss adjuster who is now reinvestigating her case. It also says it’s now liaising with Zurich to ensure the best outcome.
We also spoke with the builder, Ian Jones who told us he's spent hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to find a solution and is determined to put things right. He says he's taking legal action against a company who he believes failed to diagnose the landslip early on in the process.
He goes on to say he deeply regrets what has happened and will fix the problems whether or not he wins this case. New drainage and monitoring systems have been installed, and he says he needs to be sure the land has stopped sliding before any repair work starts.