Author Topic: Very cold new build + other queries  (Read 1463 times)

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user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2019, 07:26:51 am »
I thank you once again.

I had just been thinking about the fire risk last night and this just confirms my fears.

I will report back after I've had my "lesson" from this "site manager" today.


user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2019, 09:30:21 am »
Came across the proper EPC for my property.

It says "Air Tightness" and in the description "Air permeability 4.5 m³/h.m² (assumed)" - now remember I also had this page in the EPC for my semi detached neighour, and hers said in the description "Air permeability 6.0 m³/h.m² (assumed)"

Hmmm - so neither of these two houses were actually tested - and why does mine have a lower assumed air permeability than the exact same (but mirrored) semi detached house next door?  At the time of construction there were NO house types like these two as far as I am aware - they were designed in conjunction with the housing association and Stewart Milne.  Our two semi detached houses were certainly the first of their kind built on this estate - then six months later they constructed another two, and now they have almost finished a final two of the same type to give 6 in total.

I don't know what to think about all that?!?


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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2019, 09:01:53 am »
The first house for each house type on any site are supposed to be air tightness.
I would imagine the one next door may have been tested as it has the higher leakage rate.
Even then it can and is, fiddled!
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user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2019, 10:04:05 am »
Well I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that I got my lesson on Wednesday - a lesson in BS-ing.  This "site manager" with the FLIR IR "training" was clearly only concerned with fobbing me off.

The front door issue was put on the back burner as apparantly the door suppliers are coming out to see this.   Now he wants to drill holes through the mastic outside so that any water in the drainage channel drains away (which it already does, into the ground) - another non issue that's not going to fix anything and my floor continues to be damaged by water penetration and condensation.

What I did get was the usual spiel about "timber kit" builds and how he would "expect" to see cold spots along ALL the joins where the inside wall meets the ceiling...

Then he got his FLIR IR camera out - I followed behind him with my own FLIR ONE Android camera (the pro model) much to his apparent chagrin - can't be many homes he has had someone similarly kitted out when trying to dismiss problems.  For a start he was careful to, either knowingly or unknowingly, have the camera quite out of focus most of the time so the image was blurry and indistinct.  At other times he wasn't even pointing it in the direction of the issue when I was trying to show him where it was, and then, incredibly when it came to the major problem of the cold air ingress from the bottom of the window frames in the corner of the sills (as shown in my pictures), he TURNED THE CAMERA OFF!  He then started sticking his five pound note in the window opening gaskets and started closing the window and trying to pull his fiver out.  Despite repeatedly telling him that I had no issue at all with the actual window openings he just kept ignoring this and sticking the fiver in the other windows - much to the bemusement of myself and the HA Clerk of Works that was also present.

Basically he has said that the cold spots, as shown in my photos along the edge of the rooms and all the corners of the window sills are "normal" and "to be expected".  When I queried this and mentioned that I have been round quite a number of friends and families houses with my FLIR ONE and not noticed ANYTHING like this he just scoffed that he didn't care what happened in other houses, we were only talking about this one.  OMG - where is the baseline then?  Where else is their benchmark for comparison?!

He also scoffed when I mentioned a fire risk due to these gaps - also scoffed when I mentioned being compensated for my floor getting ruined because of their inability to rectify the problem with the front door - "we never told you to put a hardwood floor down" - well, once again, we'll just be seeing about that.

The only thing that was agreed, because it was clearly undeniable due to the large cold spots in the middle of the bedroom and upper hall ceilings, is that someone needs to get up in the loft to check for "displaced insulation" - again, the EASY stuff is agreed upon to make it seem as if they are doing something bigger (also now around the SEVENTH time I've been told a banana like internal bedroom door is to be replaced with a new one, another "easy" one - let's see if a joiner turns up once again without a door thinking he's there to somehow fix the bent one).

I told him I looked forward to reading his report.  He scoffed again that it would be up to the HA whether they share that with me.  Lets see what happens when my Subject Access Request goes in then...

The issues I raised regarding the refuse path and the car bays have "went back to the architect" - so that's another can kicked down the road.


If anything this nonsense has just strengthened my resolve - sometimes I wonder who these people think they are?  I certainly will not be taken for a fool and I left this guy in no doubt what I thought of his "inspection".  One thing is for sure - he's knows they've been found out and he didn't like it.

As to the EPC stuff - I intend to follow that up to ensure my house is tested for Air Tightness.  The EPC I have for my house is dated November 2017 and says the test is "assumed" - the EPC I have for the next door semi is dated September 2017 but this also says "assumed" - unless they have issued a newer EPC for November 2017 for next door this means that both these houses, the first of their type and design, were NOT tested, unfortunately I have asked my neighbour for a look at it but she cannot find it.

Time to get my local councillor in on the loop I think, to let him know how the public money his party put up is being spent and get his help liaising with local building standards.

I can tell the HA are exasperated with Milne as well and I can only hope that after they get the report from their Clerk of Works that a more proactive approach is taken as I feel I have already gone over and above the burden of proof to show that something is far wrong.  In the meantime we continue to have our heat escape and the house seep cold air in through all these cold spots - "to be expected" and "normal".

It seems clear to me that an independant thermal imaging survey should be carried out along with an air permeability test.

Thoughts on a next move?  Just keep plodding on for now?  I'm going to leave the SAR for now until things really reach deadlock. 

I was willing to give Milne the benefit of the doubt but after this charade the gloves are most definitely off!  I have quite the dossier of seeming incompetence and indifference building up now and I intend to use it.

Surely there is no way the photos I have posted should be regarded as "normal" and "to be expected" from a PROPERLY constructed new build house?

michaelmge

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2019, 07:34:55 pm »
In England there is a national database for EPC's and I have printed mine off before.
You may have a similar system. Was the thermal imaging taken inside and out?
If so what were the weather conditions? What was the inside and outside temperatures?
There is a British Standard 13187-1999 for thermal imaging which any reputable thermal imaging company will comply with and explain on there web sight.
I don't know how your camera is set up but when the thermographer did my house,he said it is possible to set them'to show a positive result'!
The turquoise colour you are showing in my report came with warnings of 'risk of condensation and mould'. The developer here took just two external images and the thermographer gave me a 30 page report. The only thing to remember with thermal imaging is that it will highlight where the problems are that is, where the leaks from windows etc but cannot tell you what the problem behind the walls are but tells you there is a problem.
Good luck.

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2019, 09:59:58 am »
My what a terrible indictment of Stewart Milne homes!
The fact that your home has clearly not been built properly and all their representative wants to do is can-kick and fob you off.

Yes escalate this to the council. There is a breach of building Control in there somewhere and even if they didn't carry out the building control function they have enforcement powers to act when there is a breach in compliance.

I agree with you about holding back your Subject access Request. You will get and perhaps need more later on.

I am amazed the HA aren't taking a more active role in this. It is part-owned by them presumably and as you say, public money has been used and is potentially, at risk.
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user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2019, 10:04:20 am »
In England there is a national database for EPC's and I have printed mine off before.
You may have a similar system. Was the thermal imaging taken inside and out?
If so what were the weather conditions? What was the inside and outside temperatures?
There is a British Standard 13187-1999 for thermal imaging which any reputable thermal imaging company will comply with and explain on there web sight.
I don't know how your camera is set up but when the thermographer did my house,he said it is possible to set them'to show a positive result'!
The turquoise colour you are showing in my report came with warnings of 'risk of condensation and mould'. The developer here took just two external images and the thermographer gave me a 30 page report. The only thing to remember with thermal imaging is that it will highlight where the problems are that is, where the leaks from windows etc but cannot tell you what the problem behind the walls are but tells you there is a problem.
Good luck.

Many thanks for that tip.

I have accessed the Scottish equavilent website and downloaded the EPC.

As I suspected, myself and my semi neighour both say "assumed" for the air test.

I also downloaded the EPC's for the other two 3 bedrooms of the same type that were completed in the summer of 2018 - these also say "assumed".

So no house of the type I am in has been tested on this estate.

In addition to that, the certificates for the two newer houses are slightly strange, with the date on one of them being June 2018 - after the construction was completed, where the semi joined onto it is dated the same as my neighbour - August 2017 (long before construction had even started!).  Mine also differs and mine is the only one that is assumed at 4.5m3, the other 3 houses are 6.0m3.

I think I am justified in requesting an ACTUAL air tightness test is carried out seeing as these certificates clarify that no house of this type has been tested on this estate.

Regarding the thermal "testing" that was carried out the other day - I'd be hard pushed to call it professional in any capacity!  He just came in and waved it around basically - no imaging was done outside either!  I asked on several occasions what his optimal testing setup would be - what temperature should I heat the house to beforehand etc etc, but this was roundly ignored, as is usual.

Again, I think a push for a proper, independant, thermal imaging survery is the way forward from here.


user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2019, 10:12:40 am »
My what a terrible indictment of Stewart Milne homes!
The fact that your home has clearly not been built properly and all their representative wants to do is can-kick and fob you off.

Yes escalate this to the council. There is a breach of building Control in there somewhere and even if they didn't carry out the building control function they have enforcement powers to act when there is a breach in compliance.

I agree with you about holding back your Subject access Request. You will get and perhaps need more later on.

I am amazed the HA aren't taking a more active role in this. It is part-owned by them presumably and as you say, public money has been used and is potentially, at risk.

Yes, it's all quite depressing actually, and for the British Government to bang on about throwing up 300,000 houses a year makes me quite nauseous (and want to throw up, boom boom :D ) when there seems little quality control in place.  All the more strange what they think they can get away with - I intend to challenge this outlook (see my post above for the EPC anomolies).  Surely this is a disaster in the making for the future.  My children are already up to speed on not buying one of these brick encrusted cardboard boxes should they actually manage to get on the housing ladder!

There's quite a lot of back and forth going on between me, HA and Milne although this all takes weeks and weeks in between contact.  I am rapidly reaching the end of my patience and any goodwill I might have had remaining has certainly been eroded after the almost farcical visit on Tuesday (I said Wed earlier, my days are all askew - the only days I look forward to are the weekend when you can be sure there's not much action going on around the site with the chance of some random labourer chapping the door!).

user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2019, 03:58:04 pm »
So, as an update...

I recently got in touch with Building Standards at our council who confirm that there should be no loose gravel on the drive (as we already knew).  They cannot comment on the refuse path (this is under the NHBC guidelines which I already knew) and if I have concerns about cold bridging then the HA should speak to Stewart Milne.  The Building Standards service is not a clerk of works etc etc  - here’s a snippet -  “The responsibility of ensuring compliance during the construction of the build lies with relevant person; in this case Stewart Milne Homes.  The local authority undertake inspections to satisfy reasonable inquiry. Issues should be raised to your Housing Association who should take these up directly with Stewart Milne Homes. ”  I’ve also been told the Building Standards have no legal enforcement to have developers put anything right AFTER completion has been signed off!  More rights on that tin of beans and all that…

Spoke with a couple of housing association reps today who just chanced by to update me (one of whom hadn't even bothered to acquaint himself with my complaint emails so I had to attempt to explain everything again).  I am told I am much discussed at the meetings between HA and Milne and come up on every occasion.  Hmm, no surprise there then.

Regarding the garden and drive I am told there are planning issues etc because everything has already been signed off and agreed, even though it doesn't meet the Building Standards (Scotland) for the drive, or the NHBC guidelines for the path - how many times and by how many people has that been through then and rubber stamped?  Are the Building Standards (Scotland) and NHBC guidelines just to be ignored if the architect, clerk of works, site managers and planning bods agree everything is hunky dory (or don't look closely enough as I am suspecting)?  And then just because nobody noticed that these didn’t comply then it cannot be challenged after completion?  The HA guy (that didn’t read my emails) was not interested in the technicalities of these laws or guidelines, only to keep telling me that it had all been approved and signed off by numerous independent folks as well as Stewart Milne and themselves so it is not that easy to effect change.

In saying that, I have been told that I should get the 900mm path and the filled in gravel bit on the drive - although probably this is likely a measure just to shut me up,  but I'll take that (I was repeatedly asked if this would satisfy me and would bring the garden issues to an end - well of course it will, I'm only looking for it to be put right as it should have been in the first place).  I’ve been told this is not just simply laying me a wider path or filling in the gravel, it affects the WHOLE ESTATE as others have gravel next to their drive (however no other drive/path is laid out like mine, see photo on page 1, most have a driveway up the side of the house and a separate path from the front door to the pavement.)  May take months and months though, but seeing as it takes months and months to have the most simplest of snagging issues rectified then again, this is no surprise.

I'm to get a new front door it would seem - still not convinced it is not the actual frame that is the issue though.

My main issue is the most contentious it would seem.

I am told my photos clearly demonstrating the cold bridging problems have been shown to the architect and they have told the HA that this is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

The HA tell me that there is NO EVIDENCE of any problems DURING THE CONSTRUCTION of my home – not sure why this matters now, but this was continuously rammed home to me.  The house was inspected numerous times over its construction by building standards, NHBC, clerk of works etc etc and nothing was flagged up.  My home did have an air tightness test done (results of which are to be forwarded to me) and it vastly exceeded the minimum requirement I am told.

The HA tell me that everyone else in the development tell them all how delighted they are with their houses – they hardly even have the heating on they are that warm!  So I am the only one with problems and being the first house built mine was taken more time over than any others apparently.  Not one other person in the 25 odd houses that were built has said their house feels cold.  I have been saying it since day 1.  Nobody is anything less than delighted - even though I just looked round the corner and saw a tradesman drilling away at a neighbours front door.  And never mind that only recently I had every single interior door frame adjusted by moving the door stops 10mm to stop every door rattling and banging when closing them!

I am then given the glib advice once again about moving my furniture away from the walls and heating my home with all the interior doors open so that the warm air can circulate.  Of course I attempted this to no avail, but seriously, who lives their lives like this?  Have I to keep the doors open during the cold winter nights when sleeping contrary to Fire service advice?  Answer from HA bod today – that’s why you have separate level fire detectors – SERIOUSLY?!

But all this is to no avail anyway when the thermal imaging photos clearly show heat loss and cold air penetration from the bottom corners of every upstairs windows along the sill.  How on earth do I expand on this proof that I have already gone out of my way to provide?

I am flabbergasted.  I have once again asked the HA to have a proper independent thermal survey undertaken.  Will be put to the Director apparently.

An aside is made by the HA guy that they don’t know what I’m putting in my loft as this may cause issues with insulation – there has never been anything stored in my loft.

Not sure what to do now but wait and see the official rebuttal to my complaint based on pieces of paper that say my house was constructed properly.  Again I am reminded there is no evidence of any problem and that the thermal imaging photos show nothing wrong.  Stewart Milne are telling the Housing Association there is no problem with the windows and that the thermal imaging photos I have sent them of the windows and frames (two of which are on page 1 here) are completely normal.

So what exactly is it my photos show if it is not evidence of a problem, and should I really be expected to feel the cold air coming in from the corner of every window frame in the winter months?

What’s my next move down the line?  Should I contact NHBC myself to ensure they are filled in from my perspective?

I certainly think it is only right and proper that when a representative from the HA wishes to discuss the issues I have raised in an official complaint then they should at least take the time to read it before attempting to grill me about it!

That it is taking this long to investigate just spurs me on – if I was complaining about nothing I’d surely have been away with my tail between my legs long ago.

I’ve been told a lot of time and effort (and paperwork) has been put into trying to address the issues I have raised (I suppose this is to make me somehow feel bad and that I am a timewaster, not that I am shivering in my bed in the winter and do not want to), but all I am hearing is Stewart Milne fobbing off the HA (who appear to be taking them at their word), and as we all know from this site this is a developers modus operandi…

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2019, 10:01:58 am »
Let's see what the air tightness test results reveal.
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user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2019, 11:05:32 am »
Thanks, I'll report back when it shows up (or I have chased them up).  I'm also supposed to be getting a written response to my complaint next week sometime.

user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2019, 10:17:28 pm »
I have the response to my complaint:

Quote
"With regards to your concerns in relation to potential cold spots/condensation within your home, a Test Certificate and Air Leakage Test Report was carried out on your home...  The Air Permeability Test result for your home was 4.53m3.h-1.m-2 @50, which achieves the Design Permeability requirement."

Just another reference to bits of paper they have that do not explain what is evident in my thermal imaging photos.

What does this even mean in relation to my complaint about the rooms upstairs being cold and hard to heat?  I imagine those figures indicate my house is as tight as a ducks arse even though I have clearly provided evidence that there is an issue around the bottom of the window frames/sill.

What do I do now?

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2019, 09:41:48 am »
As a general rule, the nature of the current building regulations require that all new dwellings achieve an air leakage of 5m3/hm2 or less. This is the  air leakage rate per hour, per square metre of envelope area.

As it is your home just about creeps under that. however it can be and is fiddled when it fails.
Perhaps you should have your own test done to prove it.
Contact Paul Buckingham  Tel 07802 935827  sustainablelifestyles. co. uk
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user2000

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2019, 08:45:58 am »
Thanks, will take a look into that but having a break from it all for a bit, it's been doing my head in!    (plus it's summer now and I'm not feeling the cold so much)

Are the rules the same for Scotland? 
I can't seem to find out much information relating specifically to Scotland Building Standards. 
Does the fact the the air test seems to meet the requirement really answer my question on why there is coldness around the bottom of all the window sills (and evidenced by my thermal imaging shots)?

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Re: Very cold new build + other queries
« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2019, 09:18:02 am »
Scotland has different NHBC warranty standards and Building Regulations.
(You also do not have to pay for prescriptions!!)

Air tightness test is what it says. If you have cold spots this can and is caused by cold bridging, not cold air coming in. An example being a block or floor touching the external brickwork or frame.
A lintel which has inside and outside joined components is another as are window frames, cills etc.
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