Disadvantages Shoddy workmanship throughout, terrible after-sales care, dangerous electrics
|After Sales Service|
I bought a newly-built three bedroomed house from Wilson Connolly (who were called WilCon Homes at the time) on a new development called Windermere Park in South Manchester in late 1998. I lived there for four years before selling up last Christmas and moving to a much nicer area.I thought my new WilCon home would give me peace of mind from the problems sometimes associated with buying older properties. Sadly, though, this was to be the start of a very long and stressful Wilson Connolly nightmare.
It is very hard to know where to start in describing the problems I faced with my WilCon home. But the following highlights should give you the general idea.The radiator in the dining room continually leaked for the first six months. WilCon unsuccessfully repaired it three times and the constant leaking water left my carpet mouldy.
The hot water pipes under the bedroom floorboards started leaking, causing water to leak through the lounge ceiling. I had to move all my furniture from upstairs while WilCon took up the floorboards in all three bedrooms until they found the leak; after much argument WilCon eventually agreed to do the redecorating work to the lounge ceiling and walls. WilCon's attempts at this redecoration work were a disaster and I eventually did it myself.The hot water pipe under my bath started leaking, causing water to leak through the kitchen ceiling. WilCon refused to even inspect the problem. I took the bath out myself and located the pipe then replaced the connector which had not been installed properly; I also had to replaster and repaint the damaged kitchen ceiling, and re-tile the area around the bath, at my own expense.
In November 1999 my house was wrecked by a flood caused by the cowboy plumbing in my WilCon home. without any warning the main cold water stoptap under the sink exploded, causing a massive torrent of cold water to spray out, drenching the entire kitchen within seconds. The entire ground floor of my house was swimming in 2 or 3 inches of water. There was irreparable damage to much of my furniture and belongings. WilCon refused to admit any liability and refused to pay for any of the damage to my house. For four weeks, I was living with family over 60 miles away while the house dried out. An expert's report later showed that the stoptap had burst because the joint was held together with something resembling PVC wood adhesive, and had been like a "time bomb" waiting to explode.The boiler in my kitchen started to leak water onto the wall below and onto two plug sockets and two main switches, causing the electricity to trip at the main circuit-breaker board. I got an electric shock because the circuits were incorrectly labelled on the circuit-breaker board, causing me to turn off the wrong circuit while I attempted to dry out the switches in the kitchen.
For all the residents living on my WilCon development there was nearly five years of life on pot-holed, unsurfaced roads with no drainage or street lighting. It was WilCon's responsibility to do this work, yet they disappeared off site as soon as all the houses had been sold. What I find awful is the fact that residents have to pay 100% Council Tax from the first day they move in - even though they often have to wait months or years for surfaced roads, pavements, street lights - and in many cases, refuse collection. I think the councils should insist that the developer puts all these things in place before allowing people to move in. And if they don't, people should get a discount off their Council Tax until all these things are sorted out.Forty-one houses on my development had faults with their heating system. WilCon had shamelessly used incompetent, unqualified cowboys to fit the boilers, tanks and pipes in every house. It was left to each individual house owner to make a legal claim against WilCon, which they defended every time.
And just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, more problems came to light on Windermere Park during the middle of 2002. From what I understand around ten houses had to be virtually rebuilt. This is because WilCon used a weak mix of mortar on some of the houses, and peoples walls started to literally fall apart.Anyone looking at the development will notice that some of the houses are covered in scaffolding. These are currently being rebuilt and their occupants have had to be put up in hotels. WilCon are working their way through rebuilding the affected houses one by one. Sadly these affected houses have caused prices to drop sharply on the whole development - I suffered the knock-on effects of this when I sold my house for below market value.
With every problem I encountered, it was virtually impossible to get WilCon to carry out remedial work. Their "24 Hour Careline" was never answered when I phoned up. My letters were never answered. On the few occasions that WilCon did inspect the problems, their standard of customer service was appalling, with endless excuses and broken appointments, causing me to take needless time off work which was spent twiddling my thumbs, waiting for contractors that never turned up. In one year alone I lost eleven days of my annual holiday entitlement because of WilCon Homes.At the moment Britain has no legislation to give basic rights to buyers of newly-built homes. You might be amazed to learn that when you buy a new home and hand over the money there's no legal obligation on the builder to sort out any problems you find when you move in. You have more rights as a consumer when you buy an apple from Tesco.
There is an organisation in existence called the National House-Building Council (NHBC) which gives a 10-year "warranty" to buyers of new homes, but as the NHBC "warranty" is a complete sham. It is not a "guarantee" by the normal definition of the word, but a scheme that extends the fobbing-off process already in place by WilCon's customer care department. The NHBC is an insurance scheme set up and run by the main housebuilders purely to protect their own interests - it does not exist to protect customers' interests.There is a also catalogue of evidence in existence which shows that WilCon's policy is to ignore the NHBC's standards and recommendations on building new houses. There is no punishment for builders who do not comply with NHBC standards. Loopholes in the law allow Wilcon to continually escape prosecution under the Building Act, the law against bad building. To make matters worse for buyers of new homes, houses are excluded from the Sale of Goods Act which would normally give you a good level of consumer protection if you were to buy a new car or an electrical product, for example.
Last year I successfully sued WilCon for the cost of the repairs to my boiler, and for an additional sum to compensate me for having no heating or hot water for a long period of time.If you are thinking of buying a Wilcon Home from new, I have one piece of advice for you... DON'T DO IT. It isn't worth the risk. Wilcon want to take your money and run. And if you're buying one that's been previously owned, get the most comprehensive survey that's available. It may cost more but believe me it's worth it in the long run.
By the way, it's not an urban myth - they really do put three quarter size furniture in their show homes. You find out after moving in that you can't even fit a standard sized single bed in the small bedroom.So why the two stars instead of one? Well, statistically not all Wilson Connolly houses are a complete disaster. I know of a few people who've only had a few minor problems with theirs. And in comparison to other house builders, Wilson Connolly probably fare as average - but that's only because standards across the whole industry are dire.
The obvious advantage in buying from new is that it "breaks the chain" and you haven't got the worry of waiting for someone to move out of the house you're buying. Added to which it's a great feeling to move in to a pristine house which nobody has lived in before. But don't expect that just because it's new that it's all going to be fine - that was my mistake.If you want to know more, please read my website www.wilcon-homes.com where you will find lots more information about my WilCon nightmare, and links to other relevant websites. And if you get chance please read another great website on the same subject - www.wronglybuilthouses.co.uk
Thanks for the read. And I aim for my next review to be about a product/service that I actually like!Richard
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