Newest Review: ... of moving in so he could achieve his bonus, the man is a disgrace to the building trade, he lies about EVERYTHING, we have had issues wit... more
Good start, but a mixed bag
Member Name: geordieg2010
Advantages: Price, house design
Disadvantages: Poor quality finishing
Buying the house
It was around July/August of 2006 when my wife and I went out to look for our first home together. We were both set on a new build house and so whenever we were driving round and saw one of those little yellow development signs we were drawn in like moths to a flame. Anyway, we'd done our research on the internet, got a list of all the developments, price range, house types, and so on, and eventually after visiting pretty much all of them (or at least it felt like we did!) we found a new development by George Wimpey which had a house in our price range that we just loved. The area wasn't the best, and we knew that from the outset, but we were prepared to put that aside for this house. It was a 3 bedroom, spacious house, for the same price (£135k) as you could get a 1 bedroom cramped apartment in the centre of the city. We saw the show house, as the plot that we were about to buy was only 2 feet high at that time.
The sales lady from Wimpey I have to say was great, and created a great impression on us about the company immediately. There were only 2 of our chosen house type left on the plans for us to choose from and both were on the edge of the development, looking out onto a row of old style pebble dashed houses which weren't exactly pleasing on the eye, but hey, we were first time buyers and didn't have much choice if we wanted this house, so we bought it. We got our 5% deposit paid, legal fees paid, and carpets throughout the house as part of the deal. So far so good.
Before move in day
As I mentioned above, the house was about 2 feet high when we bought it, and so we got the chance to go to the Wimpey 'options centre' to see what special additions we wanted to add to the house during build. We did select a few things, a fireplace for £500, an alarm system for a couple of hundred (a must have though!), and one or two extra sockets etc. I was disappointed with the majority of the options as they seemed massively overpriced - for example, a heated towel rail, £99 from B&Q was £450! Recessed spotlights for the kitchen, available for 3 for £10 from screwfix direct, were £30 per light.
One of the conditions of Wimpey paying the legal fees was that we had to use their solicitors, I think this was probably one of the most stressful parts of the pre-move in process as they seemed to have no urgency, and didn't care about hitting deadlines for exchange of contracts etc. I remember the week before we were due to move in they sent us some legal documents to sign and return to them which had to be returned by 3pm the same day for us to move in as planned - talk about leaving it late - I didn't expect to have to run around Newcastle city centre in the pouring rain to hand deliver documents because the solicitor had sent them out too late. Never mind, if that's what it took to get to move in day, that's what I would do.
As the house was being built we got invitations to go and see the progress so it was on with the hard hat, and out with the camera to take a look at some bricks. A nice touch I thought for those that want to keep these sort of things for their 'memories' box. We'd been given a guide date of late October for move in date and so we started planning around this...big mistake.
Now things do go wrong, weather can affect things (e.g. if its windy then the roof tiles might get delayed), and I can accept that. What I don't like to see is things going wrong because someone is trying to cut corners, especially on something I'm paying a lot of money for. We received a letter saying unfortunately our house would be delayed until the middle of November, but no reason was given. Ok, these things happen, we change our plans, looking on the bright side, its gives us more time to save for extra bits and bobs for the house. Then another letter, saying end of November, then another, saying start of December, and then another saying mid December. Again, I can understand delays, but this delay after delay seems to me like bad project management. As it turns out, I found out after I moved in (from the site manager himself) that the reason for delay was because Wimpey had hired a bunch of cheap labour untrained in bricklaying, and after a few weeks they realised how poor the work was and had to pull down the bricks that they had done and start again! It gives you a great feeling about your new house!
Anyway, we eventually were getting there...during early November we got to visit the house again before they finished the plaster boarding so that we could see and take photos of the location of all wires and pipe work etc. again, I think this was a useful exercise, especially since our new kitchen units had just been delivered and we were able to kindly point out that they'd ordered the wrong units...pretty lucky we spotted it before they installed it!
By early December they'd almost finished everything, and were doing the final coats of paint and we were invited to a final visit for a guide to how to use everything in the house. This, I didn't find useful. I was there probably no more than 10 minutes, the site manager showed me around each room pointing out the thermostats on the radiators, and the control panel on the central heating system - helpfully pointing out not to touch any of the settings as they've been set up for me (great but what if I want to change things??), everything else seemed too complicated to explain - the alarm, the electric oven, the central heating digital thermostat, even lighting the fire, and so I was given a bunch of instruction manuals instead.
Move in day
When move in day came myself and my brother loaded up the cars with as much as we could (remember this was our first house so we didn't have any big appliances/furniture to move ourselves - they were being delivered the day after move in by Currys / DFS etc - who very kindly had kept everything in storage for us after we had been delayed moving again and again) and waited for the call from the solicitors/Wimpeys, and at about 11am it came. Incidentally, our move in date was 15th December, about 2 months late.
I collected the keys from the site office and went round to the house, it wasn't quite ready for us, with a few window sills wet from painting that morning, and not all carpets had been fitted yet, the turf wasn't yet down, but none of that mattered - finally our first house was ready for us!
After move in
And then the problems started....and it didn't take long. After unpacking as many boxes as we could that day, my wife's parents came round with some champagne to toast the new house and we all enjoyed a great evening. Then we were getting ourselves ready for bed at about 1.30 am, I turned on the tap in the en suite to brush my teeth and instead of water coming out of the tap, I could feel it on my feet...gushing out of a pipe that hadn't been connected properly under the sink. Luckily, one of the things we did cover on the familiarisation visit, was how to turn off the water! So my wife then rang the Wimpey 'emergency' line as I tried to mop up the flood. She eventually got through to an agent called 'Shaft' who after spending a few minutes flirting with her, said he'd send out a plumber asap. This turned out to be 3pm the next day.
When we awoke the next morning, we went downstairs to find the water from the en suite had seeped through the floor, through the ceiling, and down the walls of the lounge. As I said the plumber turned up to fix the pipe and switch our water back on at about 3pm, and the site manager joined him to look at the damage. He said they needed to give it a few days to let it dry then he'd get it repainted! I guess he must have missed the big chunks of plaster that had dropped out of the ceiling and walls, luckily the painter who came to repaint it a month later spotted these and re-plastered it first (yes a month later, they mysteriously forget to come back and repaint it that week, then disappeared for 2 weeks for Christmas).
Going back to the days after move in, after a few days the watermarks had started to dry out, but then all of a sudden another wet patch appeared in the same spot however I couldn't see any further leaks from the sink. I rang the customer care line who refused to send out a plumber unless I could find the leak! After another day the water mark was huge and I demanded they sent out a plumber, and eventually got my way after speaking to numerous supervisors. The plumber came out an noticed a small leak coming from where the clean water pipe goes into the toilet, again in the en suite, and this was the cause of the water coming through downstairs. I dread to think what it would have been like by after Christmas which is when they originally wanted to send out a plumber.
Things continued like this for the first 6 months, in fact I made a list of 'snags' which I wanted fixing...I counted 132 individual items that required fixing. Most of them were basic building/plumbing issues that any builder or plumber with a bit of pride in his work would have spotted. Examples are:
* Another leak in the other bathroom from one of the taps
* Toilet flush in other bathroom not fitted correctly
* Radiators not fitted level (every one in the house was wonky!)
* Carpets not fitted correctly - one of which was too small for the room leaving a 2 inch gap down one side of the room!
* Plasterboard joins/screws visible in EVERY room of the house
* Nails sticking out of staircase spindles
* Nails sticking out of joists in loft
* Random holes in the walls around sockets and pipes
* Patches of walls that had been re-plastered but not repainted
* Cracked cooker hob - which I was told they wouldn't fix because I could have done it - even though I pointed it out in the familiarisation visit!
There was also a bunch of small things which on their own wouldn't have been a problem, but together makes the finish of the house look sloppy. The first time we filled the bath, we noticed the chain for the plug had been snapped, then tied together and hidden behind the taps.
Due to the sheer volume of plasterboard joins and screws being visible, as well as a lot of cracking, Wimpey agreed to replaster and repaint the entire house, which was very difficult after we'd furnished it, but we got there. On talking with the plasterer and painters they said that Wimpey were in such a rush to get this row of houses finished for the end of the year to meet their targets that they left the heating on full power 24 hours a day to dry out the plaster and paintwork which causes it to dry too quickly and crack. Wimpey had to replaster and repaint the entire street.
The NHBC (National House Building Council) did a 'random' spot check on my house one afternoon asking me to fill out a 5 minute questionnaire to verify that I was happy with the quality of the build. I invited him in and he eventually left around an hour and a half later having taken a bunch of photographs of the faults. He said that he was shocked at the poor quality of finishing around the house.
Wimpey made a massive point during the selling process of explaining their customer care initiatives and how we'd be looked after, especially during the first few weeks of being in the house. From my experience this didn't turn out to be true, as the difficulties of finding a plumber above shows, plus their promised 7 day, 14 day, and 28 day courtesy visits from the customer care team never happened either. I felt that every time I had a customer care issue, I had to fight to get it fixed, and not once do I remember an apology for the inconvenience caused during the constant rework when I had to take days off work to wait for tradesmen. Another point I should mention is another possible reason for the lack of care in the finished product...Wimpey dont employ their own plumbers, plasterers, painters etc...they are all contractors and hence I guess feel no ownership in these houses as its not their own company they are building for.
In summary - a very mixed experience with Wimpey. The buying process was fairly easy (if you discount the slow solicitors), and we got a good deal. Once all of the snags were eventually cleared up, the house was great. The opportunity to visit the property during the build was also a nice touch. The problems we had I feel could have been avoided very easily if they hadn't tried to cut corners on cheap contractors, if they hadn't rushed the build to complete before end of year, and of course following through on their customer care promises would have been a simple but effective way of impressing their customer. Unfortunately it seems in today's world, getting x many houses completed to meet targets comes above customer satisfaction in the list of priorities for a lot of builders. A very different experience to the Miller homes, who built our next house. Would I buy from Wimpey again? Probably not as I've heard similar stories on other Wimpey developments and so I guess it's not only a problem at this one site.
I hope if you're reading this having just bought a Wimpey home that you do not have an experience like this!! If you do have problems, you have to be patient...they will fix the problems if you keep on at them, you just have no choice but to be patient.
Thanks for reading
This review also appears on Ciao under my username there, geordieg00
Summary: A mixed bad, probably wouldnt buy from them again