Author Topic: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation  (Read 10515 times)

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Conkertron88

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No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« on: October 30, 2013, 02:39:23 pm »
Am I correct in thinking that all new homes should have a Gas Safety Inspection Certificate before it can be passed off as completed by the NHBC and the property developer?

I am a first time buyer, so I am fresh onto the housing market and I purchased a new build property from Persimmon Homes.

Since moving into our new home in July 2012, there have been dozens of problems with the property ranging from the plumbing to incorrectly built floors (structural problems).

Unfortunately last month yet another water leak occurred during the day whilst we were at work, and we came home to a wet bathroom floor and water damaged walls in the en-suite below. As it was late evening, and the leak itself was on the supply side to a toilet cistern service valve, I had to isolate the water mains to the property, and wait for a plumber to make the repairs the following morning.

When I was at the main water valve under the kitchen sink, I looked up as I was reaching into the cupboard and I could see under the combi boiler in our kitchen and noticed something very unusual. So after turning off the water I had a nose under the boiler and noticed that the main gas pipe feeding the boiler has been damaged; it looks as though it has been hit with something and it's not a 'round' pipe anymore.

But here is where the headache really began. I contacted the HomeCare team to arrange for a plumber (gas safe certified) to come and assess the damaged pipe. I was informed that the sub contractor who installed the plumbing and gas systems would call me to arrange an appointment, to which the sub contractor has never attempted to contact me. It's been about a month since I reported the issue, but as I have had no way of contacting the contractors that installed the gas system, I have had to be persistently on the phone to the HomeCare team on a daily basis. (I have today managed to get a contact number from the HomeCare team for the sub contractor who installed the gas and plumbing system, and I have arranged an appointment for them to come and repair the said gas pipe this coming Tuesday.)

Because of the condition that the gas pipe is currently in, I felt I should check over all of the paperwork the builder had given me upon key release, this being the energy certificate, electrical safety certificate, the manuals and warranties for the installed appliances. After checking multiple times I can not for the life of me find the Gas Safety Certificate.

The building has been 'signed off' and it is registered and covered by NHBC, but I don't understand how it could have been signed off by the NHBC if there is no Gas Safety Certificate? I have contacted the HomeCare team of the builder and they're looking into it, as they don't have a copy of the certificate either (which they have said should have been in my document pack upon key release). I'm expecting a call back today to let me know what is happening.

This begs the question: Was a Gas Safety Inspection ever completed, and if not, why has it been signed off and passed by NHBC?

The sub contractor who installed the plumbing and gas systems don't have a very good track record with myself, due to the many leaks and plumbing system failures that we have experienced over the last 16 months of living in our new home. According to the HomeCare team, when they requested that they send someone out to inspect the gas system, they were trying to blame me for damaging the gas pipe. I couldn't believe what I had heard! Why would I go out of my way to get into a tight awkward space, damage my own property, but specifically damage a component that if it failed can cause catastrophic damage to my home and put my family and peoples lives at risk?! I made that point to the HomeCare team and they agreed that it was an absurd accusation to make, but the sub contract asked why it wasn't picked up on when we moved in. Well, the reason is because you expect the gas system to be fully working and safe with it being a new build. It's not something you actively think about when carrying out a snagging inspection!

Will the fact that my property does not appear to have a Gas Safety Certificate also mean that if anything was to happen, my buildings insurance would be invalid because there is no proof that the property was safe in the first place?

What are your thoughts?
If anyone has any experience and advise they'd wish to share, it would be appreciated.


Philofacts

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Re: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 10:06:56 am »
There are numerous safety inspections that are required to be completed before a new home can be first lived in and passed as "complete".
A Gas Safety Inspection and test would be among these and you should as Persimmon for a copy of it.
Others include a drainage test, electrical installation test and inspection, and a Building Control final inspection to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations.

Persimmon are not one of the best builders, they are only rated as 4 star in the HBF survey and win only a handful (13 in 2013) of NHBC quality awards. Given that you say you have structural issues with your floors, I expect you can now understand why!
By the way, out of interest did you get sent a survey to complete?

The toilet cistern feed should have had a 'ball-a-fix' isolation valve fitted so you can shut off the water supply the cistern without having to turn off the water to the whole house. I believe this is a water bylaw requirement.

Regarding your supply pipe, it is not the best solution to have the same company give an opinion of their work.
It would be better for an independent opinion.
It should not be you and the sub contractor arranging a meeting, but Persimmon's so-called customer "care" department.
Further, it should be Persimmon that chase their contractor to resolve this potentially dangerous safety issue as a mater of urgency and not just leave it to chance. It is not up to you to arrange either. 
Call Persimmon TODAY and demand this is looked at TODAY.
Otherwise tell them that you will get your own Gas Safe inspection and send Persimmon the bill!

I fully expect that the pipe will be considered safe and that no further action is necessary.
Even if the pipe is misshapen, no plumber will want to do anything unless he can detect a gas leak at the time.

Finally, just because inspections and testing are required for all new homes, it does not necessarily mean they are actually carried out!
Some homes are occupied even without a building regulation final inspection!
Even homes that have certification, does not necessarily mean the home actually is safe and complies.
This Taylor Wimpey buyer arranged his own electrical safety inspection which highlighted 27 electrical faults, 9 of these considered potentially dangerous, in a new home signed-off as safe!

This is the kind of defect that would have probably been picked up by an independent snagging inspection and this is why all new home buyers should have their homes inspected. 
No one can trust house builders anymore to even do the basics, let alone properly inspect the new homes they build!

Regarding insurance, I don't think your policy could be invalidated for not having an up to date gas safety inspection certificate.
But you should perhaps ask as policy requirements and exclusions do vary.
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Conkertron88

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Re: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 10:46:03 am »
Thank you for the very informative response.

I have to admit I am quite frustrated by the HomeCare team's lack of urgency on this matter. I have an engineer coming today now to inspect the pipe. The engineer advised this morning that if it is heavily misshapen then it should be replaced, but if it's considered to be lightly misshapen than it could be up for debate.
Either way, I shall demand that it gets replaced as a matter of principle.

Speaking of the uneven floor (which has now been repaired after two attempts) it turned out that the floor boards were resting on top of the internal wall of the house, so as the wood dried and the building was 'settling' the joists dropped lower than the wall that the floor boards were resting on. As this was also along the edge of the boards, it created a 2 inch step rather than a slope. The first fix (done whilst I was out but my parter was in) was a screw put into the top of the brickwork to 'push' the floor board up that was sat lower to bring it level with the rest of the floor, this eliminated the step, but in doing so it created a slope in the floor.  I had to investigate the fix , which I always do anyway as I'm aware 'shortcuts' will be made if they can get away with it.
I told them that I was not satisfied with the fix so they came back a week later and had to 'chisel' the wall down by 3 inches so that the floor boards were level again and the wall below is clear of the floor boards.

It has been a very long and arduous experience.
That just describes one of the many problems experienced. I have had holes in the walls behind the radiators filled in yesterday, as I removed one to paint behind it whilst decorating and I could see the brick behind! Even the holes in the plasterboard for the electrical back boxes are too big, so gaps are appearing around sockets and switches.

It has come to my attention that our completion date was done for the 'end-of-year' targets.
Even though I informed my solicitor and the builder that I was not in a 'chain' and not in a rush to complete, as I was away in Morocco for two weeks, with the completion day being the first day abroad!
It's evident all of the non "settlement" issues are a result of the build being rushed to make targets and numbers.
I suppose it's like 'buying a car built on a Friday afternoon!' (not that that exists anymore!)

I have a log of everything that has been built to a poor standard, albeit feeling like a 16-month snagging list so far! I have taken photos of the show home and my home, with a side by side comparison of the finish quality and I have sent them to the Sales Executive, along with making a phone call to inform him that our home is not up to the standard of the show home, the quality we had expected from Persimmon to provide with our new home (Noting we are aware of 'optional extras' additions being fitted to the show home). I'm expecting a call back today from the Regional Director.

I'll keep you posted with the outcome.

Philofacts

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Re: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2013, 11:48:34 am »
In NHBC standards 6.3 D6 it states:
"The design should make allowance for the relatively flexible nature of the timber and the relatively rigid nature of masonry."

Whilst not specifically making reference to timber shrinkage in this instance, it does state in 6.4 D11 that there should be a minimum allowance of 12mm for shrinkage when joists are supported in the web of a steel beam.
"Where steelwork supports timber joists, the timber joists should be notched at both top and bottom to allow for shrinkage of the timber."

This has little to do with "rushing" for end-of-year figures, but demonstrates a lack of care or knowledge by both the trade and site management.  The fact that the first "repair" was a bodge-job further proves this!

You should not have accepted gaps around electrical sockets of switches or behind radiators.

Don't bother writing to "Sales Executives" (or anyone in sales!) They only care about sales.
Write to Jeff Fairburn Persimmon's CEO.  Persimmon plc, Persimmon House, Fulford, York, YO19 4FE
Tell him your story and how dreadful your new home is.
Ask him what HE is going to do about it.

Buying a new home is not like buying a "Friday" car.
A car will be inspected and checked many times, even given a final pre-delivery inspection before you drive it away.
I don't expect Persimmon's Regional Director to call you today or any other day.
Remember it is always better to WRITE to house builders so there is a proper record.
Phone calls get disputed!
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Conkertron88

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Re: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2013, 06:01:34 pm »
I've definitely taken your advice onboard, and I will be making contact via letter.

Just to let evryone know about today:

The boiler service was booked for today anyway, so I asked the Gas Safe registered engineer (I also asked him to show me his registration card) to do a safety inspection and he found many problems.
The problems he found were not directly a hazard to anyone in the property, but were considered to be 'as risk' under the guidelines set out in the Gas Safe on-site guide.
He showed me these failings and I agreed that the gas to our home had to be isolated.

Upon making Persimmon aware of this, they sent out the site manager and a Gas Certified installer. They immediately made the repairs, but were flippant about the problems at first, (probably as they couldn't believe that it had been deemed dangerous) but quickly came round and made the appropriate arrangements to swiftly make the correction, and apologised for coming across flippant about the case. That aside, these were the problems that resulted in my gas supply being isolated:

- Gas pipe feeding boiler damaged.
- Flue not correctly sealed around the masonry work, it had holes and was filled with expanding foam, not cement.
- Main gas feed into the property was not correctly fitted. The outer pipe was sealed when it should be left open to allow any gas leak to escape if one should occur.
- The gas pipe feeding the hob is in direct contact with electrical cables and 20mm away from an electrical socket. Min requirement is 150mm.

All of the above has now been resolved and the gas is now back on to our property.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that the regional director has phoned me this evening, and he informed me that he is aware of the problems that have occurred today and he has seen the repair history to our property.
The phone call ended with the information that this is going to the board of directors, and in turn I will have a meeting with them to discuss everything that has gone wrong with our new home. I hope something positive comes of this for ourselves and Persimmon.

Philofacts

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Re: No Gas Safe Certificate - Faulty gas installation
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2013, 10:23:47 am »
I am pleased that your Persimmon new home is now safe as far as Gas is concerned.
Before we go congratulating Persimmon and hang out the flags and declare a national days holiday after on their swift response (this time), let us not forget your gas supply was disconnected for safety reasons after an inspection by your own Gas Safe installer.
Persimmon's original response was to claim and accuse you of damaging a gas pipe!

You have been living in a potentially dangerous Persimmon new home for the last 18 months without knowing this.

You have had numerous other problems with your house over a 16 month period.
Persimmon filled a gap with expanding foam - not industry best practice.

By the way, do you really believe the Regional Director will inform the main board of the fact that his region built and handed over a potentially dangerous new home?
At least you received the promised telephone call from him, which is a step in the right direction. However, I doubt Persimmon will use and learn from the feedback from your experience.
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