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https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-new-cladding-scandal-that-could-bankrupt-a-generation

...We’ve been warned that the cladding covering our block of flats, along with 11,300 other buildings across the UK, is potentially combustible and has to be tested. Should it fail those tests, the cladding will have to be replaced — and that huge financial cost will most likely fall on leaseholders. You might think this is unfortunate, but is it really a disaster? Unexpected expenses are, after all, one of the normal pitfalls of home ownership; in the great Monopoly game of life, you pick up a Chance card that has you buying a new boiler, fixing your roof or treating subsidence. Is cladding so different?

The answer is yes. First, a good survey can protect you against repair bills. There was nothing to protect me against what turned out to be inept government regulations, which allowed flammable cladding to be fitted. Next is the scale of the cost. The new draft building safety bill — due to be examined by a parliamentary committee — makes clear that leaseholders will be liable for sums of up to £78,000, payable within 28 days. Other home repairs are affordable; this would be crushing.

And all the more so because I’m a shared ownership tenant. I own a 40 per cent stake in my flat (my housing association owns the rest, which I pay rent on) but I’m liable for the whole repair bill. To put it mildly, I don’t have £78,000, or anything approaching this sum. We’re not talking about being sent back to the beginning of my financial life — I’d be sent way backwards. It would take me years of work and savings to pay off the debt.

...

If a building is deemed too unsafe a ‘waking watch’ can be ordered — whereby between two and five people walk around the property, day and night, ready to sound the alarm if they see a fire. Although these were only ever meant to be an interim measure, many waking watches are still in place after more than a year, and costs are spiralling. At Paddington Walk, a development six miles away from me, leaseholders have been charged an astonishing £21,000 per week for a waking watch over a ten-month period.

 

Sounds like the writer might have been led up the garden path all the way to the fleecing enclosure. Who know that urban flats came with either of those? The bit I bolded seems particularly unfair while The waking watch sounds like something out of Monty Python.

I await a govt-mandated "Help to Re-clad" loan scheme that will get leaseholders even more into debt.

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There are some flats near me that had ever so trendy wooden cladding enhancements and steel balconies, I watch them with interest now the cladding is shabby (supposed to age grey) and damp stained from the leaking gutters and the epoxy coated balconies are starting to rust. These pwoperties are only 10 years old and I imagine will look terrible by the time the are twenty and well outside any arguments with the NHBC.

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18 minutes ago, Lightly Toasted said:

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-new-cladding-scandal-that-could-bankrupt-a-generation

...We’ve been warned that the cladding covering our block of flats, along with 11,300 other buildings across the UK, is potentially combustible and has to be tested. Should it fail those tests, the cladding will have to be replaced — and that huge financial cost will most likely fall on leaseholders. You might think this is unfortunate, but is it really a disaster? Unexpected expenses are, after all, one of the normal pitfalls of home ownership; in the great Monopoly game of life, you pick up a Chance card that has you buying a new boiler, fixing your roof or treating subsidence. Is cladding so different?

The answer is yes. First, a good survey can protect you against repair bills. There was nothing to protect me against what turned out to be inept government regulations, which allowed flammable cladding to be fitted. Next is the scale of the cost. The new draft building safety bill — due to be examined by a parliamentary committee — makes clear that leaseholders will be liable for sums of up to £78,000, payable within 28 days. Other home repairs are affordable; this would be crushing.

And all the more so because I’m a shared ownership tenant. I own a 40 per cent stake in my flat (my housing association owns the rest, which I pay rent on) but I’m liable for the whole repair bill. To put it mildly, I don’t have £78,000, or anything approaching this sum. We’re not talking about being sent back to the beginning of my financial life — I’d be sent way backwards. It would take me years of work and savings to pay off the debt.

...

If a building is deemed too unsafe a ‘waking watch’ can be ordered — whereby between two and five people walk around the property, day and night, ready to sound the alarm if they see a fire. Although these were only ever meant to be an interim measure, many waking watches are still in place after more than a year, and costs are spiralling. At Paddington Walk, a development six miles away from me, leaseholders have been charged an astonishing £21,000 per week for a waking watch over a ten-month period.

 

Sounds like the writer might have been led up the garden path all the way to the fleecing enclosure. Who know that urban flats came with either of those? The bit I bolded seems particularly unfair while The waking watch sounds like something out of Monty Python.

I await a govt-mandated "Help to Re-clad" loan scheme that will get leaseholders even more into debt.

Surely the original builder has some liability for this? 

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8 minutes ago, One percent said:

Surely the original builder has some liability for this? 

The issue would be that building regulations changed after Grenfell - the original builder would have built to the regs at the time, building control signed it off, and the liability for the builder ends there. If the regs change later, that isn't covered in the builder's warranty. See also asbestos before 1999.

On another note, this adds more to the negative anecdotes I've heard about "shared ownership". I'm yet to hear a single positive story.

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1 minute ago, Hardhat said:

The issue would be that building regulations changed after Grenfell - the original builder would have built to the regs at the time, building control signed it off, and the liability for the builder ends there. If the regs change later, that isn't covered in the builder's warranty. See also asbestos before 1999.

On another note, this adds more to the negative anecdotes I've heard about "shared ownership". I'm yet to hear a single positive story.

Yet another reason not to buy a new build then. Best get an older property built to tried and tested methods. 

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From the speccie article: "My mistake: to join a government-backed affordable housing scheme and purchase a one-bedroom flat in east London. For the past four years, it has been my pride and joy — not to mention my savings, my pension and my financial future. I was grateful for the government’s help in getting a foothold in the city. "

 

fuck her.  It's idiots like her that support government schemes and let the ponzi continue.  I was ready to be sympathetic if it had been someone who had worked for 30 years, and bought their council flat, and now was being fucked over.  Nope - it's another idiot who thinks that schemes to help people with no money to buy houses are a good idea.

 

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1 hour ago, wherebee said:

From the speccie article: "My mistake: to join a government-backed affordable housing scheme and purchase a one-bedroom flat in east London. For the past four years, it has been my pride and joy — not to mention my savings, my pension and my financial future. I was grateful for the government’s help in getting a foothold in the city. "

 

fuck her.  It's idiots like her that support government schemes and let the ponzi continue.  I was ready to be sympathetic if it had been someone who had worked for 30 years, and bought their council flat, and now was being fucked over.  Nope - it's another idiot who thinks that schemes to help people with no money to buy houses are a good idea.

 

And so the plates keep spinning.

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9 hours ago, Chewing Grass said:

There are some flats near me that had ever so trendy wooden cladding enhancements and steel balconies, I watch them with interest now the cladding is shabby (supposed to age grey) and damp stained from the leaking gutters and the epoxy coated balconies are starting to rust. These pwoperties are only 10 years old and I imagine will look terrible by the time the are twenty and well outside any arguments with the NHBC.

Got to post this again.

Its funny.

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/horrified-residents-foot-six-figure-17124123

2_KLP_MGA_240717mgaCiac_04JPG.jpg

Mad max meets BQ cheap shed meet bonfire.

And the area where its built is even funnier.

Dahling, could you nip to Waitrose and buy some quail eggs?

 

 

 

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"I've got savings set aside to cover the next two," the resident added. "But beyond that, I'd be looking at loaning from the bank.

"I bought the flat seven or eight years ago, thinking it's a lovely contemporary building and to find out now it's not safe - is irritating.

"They can do this, by law. 

"I was one of the first people in there, I was the only one on my floor for the first six months.

"It's bad enough to find out the building is unsafe then to find out it's going to come out of your pocket in service charges."

 

https://www.dezeen.com/2013/02/27/community-in-a-cube-by-fat/

An assortment of building typologies appear to be stacked on top of one another at this housing block in Middlesborough, England, by London architects FAT (+ slideshow).

I think the word they are looking for is 'fire hazards'

The Community In A Cube (CIAC) building was first conceived as part of a larger masterplan drawn up by architect Will Alsop in 2004 for a site beside the city's old docks. Other ideas for the development included a building shaped like a toaster and an apartment block resembling a stack of Jenga pieces.

Really pushing the envelope ..

 

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27 minutes ago, spygirl said:

I remember the local rag was plugging the place when it was being built (the one near me) as contemporary living in an urban environment with all the amenities of vibrant (city) living on hand and that they had architecturally inspiring wooden panels/cladding that would age to a beautiful silver-grey.

Yeah-right...

Written in 2010 - the same time the ones near me werebuilt.

Cedar is a durable softwood timber usually sourced in North America. Its colour is brownish red and because of its durable properties it has been used in recent years as a cladding for buildings. In my opinion it has been used excessively and usually has not been protected against the elements. It therefore usually looks terrible after wet weather. It is worth considering whether this cladding is more suitable for buildings with a dryer climate than Ireland or the UK.

 

http://thehelpfulengineer.com/index.php/2010/11/the-problem-with-cedar-cladding/

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11 hours ago, Chewing Grass said:

There are some flats near me that had ever so trendy wooden cladding enhancements and steel balconies, I watch them with interest now the cladding is shabby (supposed to age grey) and damp stained from the leaking gutters and the epoxy coated balconies are starting to rust. These pwoperties are only 10 years old and I imagine will look terrible by the time the are twenty and well outside any arguments with the NHBC.

One of the biggest scams going - "western red cedar" aged wood that isn't western red cedar and even if it was looks pretty shit after a decade IMPO.

Many of the housebuilders are using iroko... or just larch with an overdye, i.e. the shittest cheapest wood you can get. Nobody should be surprised.

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11 hours ago, Lightly Toasted said:

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-new-cladding-scandal-that-could-bankrupt-a-generation

...We’ve been warned that the cladding covering our block of flats, along with 11,300 other buildings across the UK, is potentially combustible and has to be tested. Should it fail those tests, the cladding will have to be replaced — and that huge financial cost will most likely fall on leaseholders. You might think this is unfortunate, but is it really a disaster? Unexpected expenses are, after all, one of the normal pitfalls of home ownership; in the great Monopoly game of life, you pick up a Chance card that has you buying a new boiler, fixing your roof or treating subsidence. Is cladding so different?

The answer is yes. First, a good survey can protect you against repair bills. There was nothing to protect me against what turned out to be inept government regulations, which allowed flammable cladding to be fitted. Next is the scale of the cost. The new draft building safety bill — due to be examined by a parliamentary committee — makes clear that leaseholders will be liable for sums of up to £78,000, payable within 28 days. Other home repairs are affordable; this would be crushing.

And all the more so because I’m a shared ownership tenant. I own a 40 per cent stake in my flat (my housing association owns the rest, which I pay rent on) but I’m liable for the whole repair bill. To put it mildly, I don’t have £78,000, or anything approaching this sum. We’re not talking about being sent back to the beginning of my financial life — I’d be sent way backwards. It would take me years of work and savings to pay off the debt.

...

If a building is deemed too unsafe a ‘waking watch’ can be ordered — whereby between two and five people walk around the property, day and night, ready to sound the alarm if they see a fire. Although these were only ever meant to be an interim measure, many waking watches are still in place after more than a year, and costs are spiralling. At Paddington Walk, a development six miles away from me, leaseholders have been charged an astonishing £21,000 per week for a waking watch over a ten-month period.

 

Sounds like the writer might have been led up the garden path all the way to the fleecing enclosure. Who know that urban flats came with either of those? The bit I bolded seems particularly unfair while The waking watch sounds like something out of Monty Python.

I await a govt-mandated "Help to Re-clad" loan scheme that will get leaseholders even more into debt.

 

That has always been the clear basis of shared ownership.

The person buys 40% (or whatever) and then pays a cheap rent on the balance that they don't own and is responsible for maintenance.

By cheap I mean that a typical house has a gross yield of 4% when let out whereas they are paying 2.7%.

Say the flat is sold at £200k then on the £120k they don't own they should be paying £4,800 but instead are paying £3,240.  That £1,560 differential is theirs to spend on maintenance.

With a newbuild house this is a pretty good deal because maintenance isn't going to cost anything like that.

I couldn't however recommend that anyone buy a shared ownership flat because big bills always come around and always did before Grenfell.  Just think of the cost of scaffolding if a new roof has to go on or windows need to be replaced.

 

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First two rules of buying property to live in yourself in England: never buy leasehold and never buy a flat. While apartment-dwelling is normal in many developed countries, in England it is not and the chances are too high that the system will fuck you over in a painful and expensive way. Maybe one day England will get its act together and figure out how to do apartment living in a civilised way but until then let some other poor bastard take the pain of being an early adopter.

Edited by Darude
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Frank Hovis said:

 

That has always been the clear basis of shared ownership.

The person buys 40% (or whatever) and then pays a cheap rent on the balance that they don't own and is responsible for maintenance.

By cheap I mean that a typical house has a gross yield of 4% when let out whereas they are paying 2.7%.

Say the flat is sold at £200k then on the £120k they don't own they should be paying £4,800 but instead are paying £3,240.  That £1,560 differential is theirs to spend on maintenance.

With a newbuild house this is a pretty good deal because maintenance isn't going to cost anything like that.

I couldn't however recommend that anyone buy a shared ownership flat because big bills always come around and always did before Grenfell.  Just think of the cost of scaffolding if a new roof has to go on or windows need to be replaced.

 

I think it was the same with [ex-]council blocks, if the building had been neglected for years then right-to-buy leaseholders could get badly stung.

You can imagine the council waiting for the private ownership threshold to reach a certain percentage before they schedule work on the repair/upgrade backlog ... I mean they're bound to look at affordability, which will gradually improve for them.

Edited by Lightly Toasted
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3 hours ago, spygirl said:

Got to post this again.

Its funny.

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/horrified-residents-foot-six-figure-17124123

2_KLP_MGA_240717mgaCiac_04JPG.jpg

Mad max meets BQ cheap shed meet bonfire.

And the area where its built is even funnier.

Dahling, could you nip to Waitrose and buy some quail eggs?

 

 

 

I see it as more as finally giving the answer to life's most eternal question - "What do you get if you cross Shakespeare's Globe with the Playschool windows?"

 

globe.jpg

windows.jpg

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16 minutes ago, Darude said:

First two rules of buying property to live in yourself in England: never buy leasehold and never buy a flat. While apartment-dwelling is normal in many developed countries, in England it is not and the chances are too high that the system will fuck you over in a painful and expensive way. Maybe one day England will get its act together and figure out how to do apartment living in a civilised way but until then let some other poor bastard take the pain of being an early adopter.

I don't see flats as ever really making sense to own and occupy.

You do get these periodic enormous bills which, if you are a landlord doing their numbers correctly, you fund over time out of the rent.

For those who aren't landlords; generally people are in a flat as it is the cheap option because they can't afford a house (I say generally, I specifically rented flats for many years because my work involved lots of travel and I didn't want to have to spend my limited free time sorting out a house and garden).

And if you can't afford a house you are unlikely to be able to afford a £40k maintenance bill which is not unusual in a big block. 

So don't buy it: rent it.

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2 minutes ago, Lightly Toasted said:

I think it was the same with [ex-]council blocks, if the building had been neglected for years then right-to-buy leaseholders could get badly stung.

You can imagine the council waiting for the private ownership threshold to reach a certain percentage before they schedule work on the repair/upgrade backlog ... I mean they're bound to look at affordability, which will gradually improve for them.

Yep, that's got to be a factor for any sensible landlord.

If there are major works that require doing then the more leaseholders there are the cheaper it will be for them.

They're not IME profiteering on this - and a leasehold tribunal would slap them down if they were - but waiting for 50% leaseholders makes sense as it's that much less of a capital costs for them.

The ideal solution would be sinking funds but, per my previous post, buying a leasehold council flat is usually the cheapest option available so the people who buy them don't want, or more likely can't afford, to contribute to sinking funds.

And if you refuse to have a sinking fund you get a £40k (or £25k which is more usual) bill dropping on your doormat.  Ouch

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

They're not IME profiteering on this - and a leasehold tribunal would slap them down if they were - but waiting for 50% leaseholders makes sense as it's that much less of a capital costs for them.

I think if they've been knowingly neglecting the building for decades then the asymmetric knowledge/power that leads to them suddenly becoming better landlords, constitutes moral hazard.

Perhaps not something a tribunal would address and of course the leaseholders are grown-ups and should do their due diligence. But most people can't -- not the presumably well-educated Spectator writer (assistant editor) in the OP, not the typical council tenant.

Solve that problem and you've pretty much cracked everything ;)

Edited by Lightly Toasted
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23 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

I don't see flats as ever really making sense to own and occupy.

You do get these periodic enormous bills which, if you are a landlord doing their numbers correctly, you fund over time out of the rent.

For those who aren't landlords; generally people are in a flat as it is the cheap option because they can't afford a house (I say generally, I specifically rented flats for many years because my work involved lots of travel and I didn't want to have to spend my limited free time sorting out a house and garden).

And if you can't afford a house you are unlikely to be able to afford a £40k maintenance bill which is not unusual in a big block. 

So don't buy it: rent it.

My sister in law renting a flat in a nice commuter town near Brussels seemed to be in the optimal situation. It was a new fairly small apartment building which the owners had built themselves and were renting out all the flats so the owners had every incentive to do the construction properly and keep the building in a decent condition in order to retain more affluent tenants. It's when these interests get subdivided that it all starts to fall apart e.g. BTLer leaseholders who don't much care who they let to and don't want to pay for maintaining the common areas, developers who just want to throw any cheap crap up and get it off their books as soon as possible to some mug Help to Buyers, management companies who just want to squeeze the leaseholders for as many fees as they can.

Edited by Darude
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25 minutes ago, Lightly Toasted said:

I think if they've been knowingly neglecting the building for decades then the asymmetric knowledge/power that leads to them suddenly becoming better landlords, constitutes moral hazard.

Perhaps not something a tribunal would address and of course the leaseholders are grown-ups and should do their due diligence. But most people can't -- not the presumably well-educated Spectator writer (assistant editor) in the OP, not the typical council tenant.

Solve that problem and you've pretty much cracked everything ;)

 

The thing is though: that's pretty much every council and ex-council block.

The reason for right to buy and for stock transfer to housing associations was because councils could not afford to keep up the condition of their buildings; though this was partly their fault as they used to load admin costs onto housing as it could soak them up.

The spending and £40k bills, Grenfell excepted, is usually because the stock has been transferred to a HA who can afford to do the work because they're not robbing rental income into other parts of their business like the councils.

The neglect generally is by the council for decades pre-transfer and then post transfer the HA starts a programme of works to sort out what can be forty years of neglect.  Though usually all you have to do is to have a decent look around the block to spot this - condition of brickwork / blockwork, how old are the windows, are the steps broken, what are the communal areas like, does the left keep breaking down etc. 

If it's in an absolute state then a big bill is incoming.  Though to be fair that is the same position in which you would be if you bought a knackered house.

The difference is that with the house you can control the timing of the maintenance spend to match your available cash.  With a flat in a block it's all going to happen in one go when the landlord programmes it.

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