Couple’s ‘wonky’ £725k dream house has to be demolished after just 5 years

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Insurers have blamed poorly-constructed foundations and ordered Madeline and Alastair Price’s home to be torn down and rebuilt as the damage is too severe to repair

Madeline and Alastair Price's 'dream' retirement home
Madeline and Alastair Price’s ‘dream’ retirement home

A couple’s “wonky” £725,000 dream house is to be demolished after just five years.

Madeline and Alastair Price, aged 70 and 69, can’t even open the front door of their wonky five-bed house, which they bought in 2018.

The couple’s detached home, which overlooks open fields in Cambridgeshire, is laden with metre-long cracks as it’s being “lifted up” by swelling soil.

Insurers have blamed poorly-constructed foundations and ordered the house to be torn down and rebuilt as the damage is too severe to repair.

Madeline, a retired banker turned gardener, said: “It’s a nightmare really.

“The cracks are pretty much everywhere. None of the floors or work surfaces are level.

The cracks on the outside of the property’s walls
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A crack at the edge of a window
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“Doors won’t shut – I can’t even open the front door because it’s stuck.”

“The insurance company said they can’t save it. It’s not just a building, it’s our home.”

Situated in the rural village of Wicken, near the historic cathedral city of Ely, the couple’s home counts five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Madeline showed how cracks punctuated her and husband Alastair’s home, which has underfloor heating, a wine chiller and a wood burner.

The cracks, the couple say, are all over the house
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The couple’s double garage has a two-metre-long crack inside that is around half an inch wide, while the kitchen and sitting room are also affected.

Madeline said the issue was with the house’s foundations – around 1.5 to 2-metres deep – being moved by the clay soil below, which is expanding due to ground heave.

Ground heave is associated with the swelling of clay soils that expand when wet.

Insurers have blamed poorly-constructed foundations for the movement in the property
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The couple claim that builders should have accounted for this when building the home, which came with a 10-year guarantee under the Local Authority Building Control.

Madeline said: “The soil is bone dry with evidence that tiny tree roots are still there. It’s lifting the house up.

“They should have known what the land was like when building the house.

Another crack on the outside of the couple’s home
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“We first noticed little cracks after a couple of years but we put it down to normal new house stuff.

“It started in the hallway, on the staircase and in the back bedroom.

“A structural engineer visited and said it was clay heave, which is where the soil has expanded beneath the house.”

Madeline and Alastair, who is also a retired banker, must move out of the house that they share with their golden retriever when the demolition notice is given.

Madeline and Alastair Price say they can’t even open the front door of their ‘wonky’ five-bed house
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They will be given compensation to rent a property for six months – but the devastated coupke say they don’t know if they’ll return their home or sell it off once it’s rebuilt because of the disruption involved

Madeline said: “They’re going to demolish everything and do the foundations again.

“It could be at least two years out of the house.

The building is laden with metre-long cracks and is being ‘lifted up’ by swelling soil
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“We wanted to live in the countryside, we thought this would be our home for a few years and then we would move onto our final home.

“We don’t know at the moment if we’ll come back. We might just put it straight on the market when it’s rebuilt”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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