October 2014

I haven’t been in touch with so many of my friends this last month because I haven’t had anything positive to say. I have bought a piece of junk. To put you all slightly in the picture, this is the email I sent my solicitor a few days days ago.

“I exchanged on the property on 30th June and booked a builder to come and do some work on the bungalow. As you know the first thing he found on his first visit to the site was back-fall on the drains. It required digging up the whole length of the back of the property to lift them out, then dig further down and once replaced lay them properly. The Building Inspector came and then informed me that the garden height was too high up on the wall of the property at ground level. In other words the ground was above the DPC (damp proof course). Building regulation requirement is 150mm below, which is two bricks worth. My property was above the required measurement by 70mm at one end and 150mm at the other. That then meant that the area had to be dug down and the earth removed.

The Patio doors were poorly put in so that every time I opened the door the frame moved. On one occasion on opening it, the wind caught it and the frame came out. Architrave was used as a fixing to the masonry and frame and poorly grip-filled. The central heating pipes were on the reveal and the reveal was filled with mortar and board adhesive and the builder said that was one of the reasons for the damp penetration

I have now been here 12 weeks and I am still living in a concrete shell. The builders have in that time unearthed a whole list of problems, some of which were life-threatening.

The en-suite bathroom was stripped back and it was found that the floors were soaked and there was black mould growing underneath the flooring. The builder assumed there must have been some sort of leak. When the utility room door frame was taken down, damp was running up the wood and again mould was evident. Once again the builder assumed a leak. One of the main walls in the lounge was taken down and then the problem became crystal clear. All the floors on the property was soaking wet, some of which had mould growing because there was no damp proof course inside the whole of the property. It required a specialist to come and drill one inch holes along each internal wall and inject a solution that would stop the damp rising.

My electrician came and over the course of a few days he found that none of the pipes in the loft were insulated. A lot of the wiring in the kitchen/lounge area was unsheathed and if I had hammered a nail in the wall to hang a picture or the like I would have been electrocuted. Another incident was when he was showing me what happened when he turned a set of 4 lights in the kitchen/lounge off, then went and shut it down in the fuse box. The trouble was that the lights then turned on from a different switch. That could have killed someone who assumed the connection was dead and then worked on it.

The gas fire was wired incorrectly and had leaked carbon monoxide and the black fumes were evident over the back of the fire and it had stained the front of the marble surround. If I had turned it on I could have either died from carbon monoxide poisoning or it would have started a fire.

Building the foundation infill between the bungalow and the garage it was found that the garage had no raft foundation under it. It then needed steel bars to stabilise it.

The plumbing on the whole property is unprofessionally installed and looks like something from prehistoric times. There is no water pressure in the kitchen sink at all, not on the hot or the cold faucet. The water dribbles out like raindrops. British Gas said they could not install a new boiler with it like that. The existing boiler keeps breaking as there is not enough pressure for it.

Then we come to the internal walls of the property. The plasterboard that has been put up is only 9mm instead of 12.5 mm. Because it is too thin it has not bonded to the adhesive and it has meant that no wall is level and normal paint won’t adhere to it. It explains why they had used masonry paint on the walls but the new plasterer says he cannot guarantee his work if the boards aren’t changed. This also includes all the ceilings. At least we haven’t had to take all of them down but  re-boarded the ceilings to save on costs.

I forgot to mention the main gas pipes that feed the property were only 10 inches below the ground and are crossed by the electricity cables.

The radiator pipes are right on the reveal of the French doors we have just taken out. All no nos in the trade. The building inspector says none of the individual works would have been signed off because nothing reaches the building regulation standard.

Before I ever bought the property I applied for a large side extension as I felt the bungalow wouldn’t be big enough without it. As you know the permission came through before I exchanged. This is the letter I received from the local structural surveyor.

“Following on from our recent meeting and discussions with yourself and the builder we take this opportunity to briefly summarize our findings and recommendations.

It wasn’t until we visited the site that we became aware of the problems you face should you decide to press forward with the extension adjacent to the roadway. We subsequently returned to inspect the trial hole excavated by your builder. The trail hole revealed deep poor quality fill material including bricks and other rubble mixed with general grey colliery fill, which appear to cover the site. This rubble fill material continued to the full depth of the excavation and had not ‘bottomed out’ at 1200mm below what represents present bungalow external surround level.

In order to provide a suitable formation off which to commence ‘stoning up’ for the bungalow extension raft, the overall deep site strip would in our opinion destabilize the boundary wall presently retaining the public footpath adjacent to the main road; and at 11.0m high maturing oak tree within the footpath. The required dig would be approx. 2.0m below the footpath level in the vicinity of the tree and below the present retaining wall foundation.

As a consequence we strongly advise that you abandon development at this end of the site. In the meantime we recommend you pursue the Local Council with a view to removing the tree and repairing the wall before the damage progresses.

We are sorry we have to write to you in this manner but we feel this is the best advice that we can offer”

..... That gives you the gist of what has been going on here.  On top of that there is an oak tree 5 metres from the property but abutting my boundary wall. The tree has erupted the concrete pavement, has bowed and cracked my wall, is 90% growing onto my property with huge overhangs over the roof and of course I have lost a lot of light because of it. Fine, after weeks of letters and calls the council have agreed to take it down.... However that causes a new set of problems.... The tree has been taking moisture for near on 40 years. With the tree down, the soil will take it in and it will swell the clay in the soil and it will be similar to a loaf rising in the over with too much yeast, it will overflow over the tin. The building inspector says he has seen whole houses move because when the clay erupts it will take anything with it In its path including foundations. The oak tree is at least 30 foot high which means the roots are about 90 foot etc etc etc

Malcolm, I am living a nightmare and haemorrhaging money. Someone must be held responsible. If not the council for allowing it to be sold without signing the works off then maybe the NHBC for giving it a 10-year certification without foundation. When you buy a property, knowing it has a NHBC certificate gives the buyer a modicum  of confidence in that what they are buying is sound. It doesn’t matter that the certificate has run out, it should never have been certified.  Aesthetically it looks beautiful. The packaging is good but inside is a different matter.

I will leave it with you to ponder."

So there you have a recap of the last few months of my life. In between I have been working and am due to leave this coming Sunday on Fred Olsen’s Braemar for the Canary Islands. I have decided to part company with Cruise and Maritime, they became a little too greedy and refused to honour the current contract for 2014 under the terms we agreed. Because of the events that ensued on my last Marco Polo cruise I decided to cancel the last three cruises that were scheduled for this year.

In the interim I picked up a cruise on the Emerald Princess which was 17 days of the most beautiful sunshine and flat seas I have ever known. What convinced me to take the offer was the stop in Venice for 14 hours. Sadly September was the last month the ships are allowed in the route that has become synonymous with the sail-in to the water city. Instead cruise ships are to be re-routed and docked in another area because of the erosion and pollution the passageway is thought to have caused. The day was perfect, more so because I shared it with my very good friend Lucia, who I took with me. She bought me the most beautiful pieces of Moreno glass as a house-warming present and indeed it will always remind me of a perfect day.

I am fully booked for next year now and am doing a series of seven cruises for Celebrity but I will list them when the actual contracts are signed because as we all know anything can happen.

There is little Matt Monro news, suffice to say Richard and I have still not heard from Warner abut the release of the new album and I have no new offerings of new where Odeon is concerned. I am confident the project is going ahead but they have been snowed under with other projects.

I am hoping things will be slightly more positive by the time I write to you next month. As Max continually tells me “it can only get better mum”. Mind you that is what my builder said and it went from bad to worse. I remember thinking that they say moving is stressful and I thought “what on earth could cause such stress levels and though those that had said it were exaggerating. Oh my god, it doesn’t come even near to what I am feeling these last few weeks. I know I will never move again, well if I do it will be in a box.

Till next month

May your lives always be filled with music.


Past News- September 2014

Past News - August 2014

Past News - June 2014

Past News - May 2014

Past News - April 2014

Past News - March 2014

Past News - February 2014

Past News - December 2013

Past News - November 2013

Past News - October 2013

Past News - September 2013

Past News - August 2013

Past News - July 2013

Past News - June 2013

Past News - May 2013

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Past News - December 2012

Past News - November 2012

Past News - October 2012

Past News - September 2012

Past News - August 2012

Past News - July 2012

Past News - June 2012

Past News - May 2012

Past News - April 2012

Past News - March 2012

Past News - February 2012

Past News - December 2011

Past News - November 2011

Past News - October 2011

Past News - September 2011

Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011


  - Press this link to see the Amazon Listing for The Singers Singer by Michele Monro


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