Work on storm damaged homes, includes painting walls

Making tenants’ homes wind and water tight is our priority says council

Repairing the storm damage that affected over 400 of its properties during last year’s extreme winter has not been a straightforward task for East Devon District Council.

The unprecedented persistent rain and driving winds has caused numerous additional damp and water penetration problems to tenants’ homes, which in turn has created more remedial work for us to programme and execute.

To compensate for this delay, the council and its contractors are working continuously to redress the damp/water penetration and are endeavouring to be as comprehensive and thorough as possible in the work being carried out at every address, as we believe that it is better to do it right rather than do it quickly.

Identification of these extra issues remains an ongoing process, as the true extent of the work cannot be fully realised until the contractors start opening up problem areas on external walls. This has slowed the remedial works programme down. It is important for us to understand the scale of the problems completely before deciding on a course of action, and in some cases this is not possible until the property is dry.

The works being carried out varies from property to property: some require air bricks to be installed, others need internal insulation, or external damp proofing, or remedial works to door and window openings, or external rendering and painting. In addition, each property requires scaffolding, which is a time consuming logistical process and in homes where damp has damaged internal walls, or where plaster has needed to be replaced, we are also redecorating.

A number of properties have required minor roof repairs, but around 20 properties will need a replacement roof. This work is already being specified and tendered, and will be carried out as soon as possible.

Councillor Jill Elson, portfolio holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities said:

Many social landlords have experienced similar problems to us, but we are totally committed to ensuring that our tenants enjoy good quality homes and that defects are remedied as quickly as possible.

As stated in our Housing Review Board report of January 2015, at each affected property our contractors are typically uncovering previously unknown issues, which have started to show themselves internally. These new problems are proving far greater in number and more complex than had originally been found at the initial inspection stage.

We are tackling these defects comprehensively, wherever we find them, and dealing with them at the same time as we are carrying out the external remedial works. Many of our tenants’ homes also require drying time before we can complete certain works.

To help with the drying we have been providing tenants with dehumidifiers and reimbursing them for the extra electricity costs.

This work must be our priority, to ensure that our tenants’ homes are wind and water tight and that we maintain our assets efficiently.

All related costs for the storm damp and water penetration work will ultimately form the substance of a ‘single event’ insurance claim by the council.

Remedial work to date

  • 42 houses completed in total
  • 9 houses at advanced stages of repair, nearing completion
  • 36 houses in early stages of repair
  • 150 houses have had cavity wall insulation removed (this includes blocks of flats)

Costs

Costs to date: £348,000 (and rising)
Cost to date of all storm damage to properties: £519,000 (and rising)