Couple face £88,000 repair bill after garden collapses into a stream

Couple are forced to pull their dream home off the market and face an £88,000 repair bill after their garden starts collapsing into a stream

  • Paul Minchella, 57, and his wife Dawn bought the new build in Longwood in 2017
  • Everything seemed fine when they put it on the market in September 2019 but just one month later massive structural problems were found
  • The gabions, a barrier between the garden and a stream, were falling into the water – and taking the garden with them 
  • The couple are now facing an £88,000 bill to repair the damage 

A couple’s dream home has become a nightmare after they discovered its garden is collapsing into a stream and it’ll cost £88,000 to repair it.  

Paul Minchella, 57, and his wife Dawn bought the brand-new build- at Dale View, Longwood, near Longwood Brook, for £173,000 from the Leeds-based Britannia Developments in April 2007.

‘We bought the home as a family home with future thoughts to our retirement with views to it being a profitable investment,’ Paul said.

‘This was a beautiful location with a structurally solid foundation plot.

‘However, over the last months and years, our home has now developed an extremely serious problem with the gabions, (a basket or container filled with earth, stones, or other material and used in civil engineering works), at the side of our property.

Paul Minchella and his wife Dawn (pictured) said they bought the property with retirement in mind but are now fearful of letting their grandchildren play in the garden

In September 2019, Paul said they put the property up for sale for £220,000. An estate agent came to value the three-storey home and gardens and ‘everything was ok’.  

‘At the end of October 2019, we noticed that all of a sudden, the gabions had come away from the fence by quite a significant amount and the garden had collapsed. We had to take our house off the market because of this.

‘The gabions have come away from the fence and are slowly falling into the water. Because of this our garden is at a very steep incline because the gabions act as retaining walls.

‘We recently spoke to a structural engineer from Elland who told me that the gabions weren’t built to the standard that they should have been.’

The engineer sent the couple a report on his findings along with a quote for £88,000 to carry out the work, which would include knocking down and reconstructing the gabions as well as building the garden back up to its original height and installing a new fence.

Paul Minchella, 57, is pictured standing at the edge of his garden, overlooking the collapsed gabions

Paul says he and Dawn have hit a brick wall in attempting to get any redress.

Britannia Developments went into Administration eight years ago and his house insurers declined to pay out saying the problem was down to ‘wear and tear’.

The couple then approached the Ombudsman but following an investigation, they said the insurance company had acted properly.

Paul added: ‘Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney has done his best writing letters for us but we have got nowhere.

‘We have four grandchildren with a fifth on the way and when they come over the natural thing for us to do is to let them play in the garden but we dare not do that given the potential danger.

‘We would like to move nearer to our daughter’s home in Almondbury but that doesn’t appear to be on the cards at the minute.’

Mr McCartney said: ‘I’ve been supporting and helping Mr Minchella with this complex issue and will continue to do so.’

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