'Cracks could cost me my home'

thisisoxfordshire: Mike Ferguson Mike Ferguson

CRACKS from building work that should have cost £3,000 to repair have left a dad-of-two with a £100,000 bill and the likely loss of his home.

Mike Ferguson decided in 2004 he would convert the basement of his home in Bullingdon Road, East Oxford, into a flat and hired in builders to help.

But the work led to cracks appearing in the wall the house shared with a property owned by housing association A2 Dominion, and a near decade-long legal dispute that has resulted in Mr Ferguson facing the £100,000 bill.

He says the ruling from a High Court judge is out of proportion with the damage caused as the work only cost him £6,000 to survey and £2,925 to repair. But A2 Dominion said it only sued the IT worker for the damage after failing to agree an out-of-court settlement.

Last night Mr Ferguson said he faced having to sell the property, adding: “It feels like I have been paraded out in front of the firing squad and they are ready to take it all away from me because everything I have is in my house.”

Oxford City Council had granted planning permission for the work to lower the basement by about a metre and Mr Ferguson remortgaged the house to do the works that he hoped would bring in more money for his family.

He was the project manager for the work and consulted engineers and surveyors before hiring labourers to do the work.

He said the work was inspected and approved by city council building control officers.

He said the cracks did not make the next-door property unstable and he and his wife and two children had lived in their house throughout the build.

The work was finally finished in 2009 and the first tenants moved in in 2011. Mr Ferguson now rents the studio flat out for more than £600 a month.

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He said: “It was minisucle. It was not the major problem A2Dominion made it out to be.

“They have been relentless with me to the detriment of my family and to the extent of my family it feels like I have been in a war zone with A2Dominion.

“The army of resources they have put behind this domestic issue is unbelievable and totally unwarranted.”

Mr Ferguson said the case could have been settled earlier if A2Dominion had not tried to get compensation for loss of rent after claiming the home had become uninhabitable due to the work – a claim the firm dropped in 2012 before a trial at Oxford County Court. The final figure was determined by a High Court judge in January.

But the housing association, which is also now set to collect eight per cent interest on the figure every year, says the costs order did not cover lost rent.

Charles Gildersleve, A2Dominion’s assistant director of property services, said the work had caused serious damage and raised safety concerns about tenants in the neighbouring property.

He said: “Taking the matter to court was a last resort, but in 2007 we felt we had no choice but to issue legal proceedings.

“At a trial at Oxford County Court in March 2012, A2Dominion provided all its evidence to the court and was successful.”

He added: “A2Dominion has no intention of obtaining any costs other than those that the court has ordered are due.

“As a not-for-profit charitable organisation providing housing for people in need, we look forward to this being resolved as soon as possible.”

Comments (12)

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11:46am Wed 23 Apr 14

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

There is renovation/construct
ion insurance to cover this risk, but this man seems not to have paid for it. It normally covers damage to neighbouring properties, injury to workers, injury to passers-by plus fire, flood etc. It's odd to pay fees for planning permission, building control, engineers and labour but not for insurance. If insurers refused to cover the project, then the question is why?
There is renovation/construct ion insurance to cover this risk, but this man seems not to have paid for it. It normally covers damage to neighbouring properties, injury to workers, injury to passers-by plus fire, flood etc. It's odd to pay fees for planning permission, building control, engineers and labour but not for insurance. If insurers refused to cover the project, then the question is why? Milkbutnosugarplease
  • Score: 7

12:49pm Wed 23 Apr 14

crushed-by-dominion says...

I tried to put in a claim to my insurance broker but they came back and said the policy had not been renewed in time before I started the works. I believed I was covered at the time.
I had acquired the policy from a broker that sold its business to another broker who I did not sign up with and who did not want to pay out anything.
I will dig up anything I have on the new broker and see whether or not there is any possibility of filing a claim, near on 10 years down the road.
I tried to put in a claim to my insurance broker but they came back and said the policy had not been renewed in time before I started the works. I believed I was covered at the time. I had acquired the policy from a broker that sold its business to another broker who I did not sign up with and who did not want to pay out anything. I will dig up anything I have on the new broker and see whether or not there is any possibility of filing a claim, near on 10 years down the road. crushed-by-dominion
  • Score: -3

1:11pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Doctor69 says...

So your insurance had expired, therefore you were uninsured? Good luck with that.
You should have just paid the bill to get the repairs done, instead of being greedy and seeing the ££ signs.
So your insurance had expired, therefore you were uninsured? Good luck with that. You should have just paid the bill to get the repairs done, instead of being greedy and seeing the ££ signs. Doctor69
  • Score: 10

2:27pm Wed 23 Apr 14

cowley bob says...

1st, i know Mike, now he tried hard to better himself/family,and offer a another dwelling on the open market.Yes he tried to build this cheap(without builder)The bigger question is why A2Dominion,a so called housing charity is chasing this claim.(go google this so called social housing charity)Good luck Mike on appeal!.
1st, i know Mike, now he tried hard to better himself/family,and offer a another dwelling on the open market.Yes he tried to build this cheap(without builder)The bigger question is why A2Dominion,a so called housing charity is chasing this claim.(go google this so called social housing charity)Good luck Mike on appeal!. cowley bob
  • Score: -5

5:06pm Wed 23 Apr 14

fairy godmother says...

That house has been a total mess since the start of the building work. It looked like the building work was being done by cowboys and there was a constant mess on the road and pavement, and how come the council allowed that stone in the middle of houses which are mostly brick. He should knock it down and start again......
That house has been a total mess since the start of the building work. It looked like the building work was being done by cowboys and there was a constant mess on the road and pavement, and how come the council allowed that stone in the middle of houses which are mostly brick. He should knock it down and start again...... fairy godmother
  • Score: 5

5:50pm Wed 23 Apr 14

crushed-by-dominion says...

I started the project believing l was covered, but who would cover a project with a pre-existing condition! and the quotes i was getting from other builders were almost as much as what A2 Dominion want. My choice was simple to make.

Dr69 can chastise me for the insurance thing and that he thinks all I was seeing were ££ signs (not true) as much as he or anybody wants.

What's is worth mentioning, is why would A2 Dominion (a 100 odd million pound charity) get themselves into and sustain, a near on, 10 year fight over a domestic issue on one house out the 30 odd thousand houses they have? Is this house anymore special than any other house they have in there stock? I don't think so.

They claim safety and serious damage issues and I say to that "humbug" They claim I wouldn't settle, if by their definition I commit suicide by cutting my own and my family's throat then no I won't settle with anything detrimental to my family.

The damage caused to their property was £2925 agreed between both sides surveyors, you can see the full extent of the cracks in the front page picture, they are about 10 or so cracks (most of them hairline, you would have to look close to see them or even believe the works actually caused them)

What else could A2 Dominion have done that kept them tied up with this when I sure they have much better things to be getting on with?

I was told by the barrister, A2 Dominion were ruthless in their pursuit of me, Damm right they were, absolutely b*$%dy and relentlessly ruthless.

Why be this way to an ordinary bloke, unnecessarily so?

Thanks for the good words, Cowley bob
I started the project believing l was covered, but who would cover a project with a pre-existing condition! and the quotes i was getting from other builders were almost as much as what A2 Dominion want. My choice was simple to make. Dr69 can chastise me for the insurance thing and that he thinks all I was seeing were ££ signs (not true) as much as he or anybody wants. What's is worth mentioning, is why would A2 Dominion (a 100 odd million pound charity) get themselves into and sustain, a near on, 10 year fight over a domestic issue on one house out the 30 odd thousand houses they have? Is this house anymore special than any other house they have in there stock? I don't think so. They claim safety and serious damage issues and I say to that "humbug" They claim I wouldn't settle, if by their definition I commit suicide by cutting my own and my family's throat then no I won't settle with anything detrimental to my family. The damage caused to their property was £2925 agreed between both sides surveyors, you can see the full extent of the cracks in the front page picture, they are about 10 or so cracks (most of them hairline, you would have to look close to see them or even believe the works actually caused them) What else could A2 Dominion have done that kept them tied up with this when I sure they have much better things to be getting on with? I was told by the barrister, A2 Dominion were ruthless in their pursuit of me, Damm right they were, absolutely b*$%dy and relentlessly ruthless. Why be this way to an ordinary bloke, unnecessarily so? Thanks for the good words, Cowley bob crushed-by-dominion
  • Score: 1

7:23pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

The charity commission is quite clear:

"All Trustees have a duty to protect their charity's assets and resources and to make sure they are only used to further the charity's aims".

A2Dominion have therefore followed their legal obligation to protect their assets and the High Court have found in their favour.

It's a clear warning to anyone who is considering undertaking work on a property with party (shared) walls. Don't assume your property was well built in the first place, employ professionals, make sure you are insured and don't let legal issues drag on for a decade...
The charity commission is quite clear: "All Trustees have a duty to protect their charity's assets and resources and to make sure they are only used to further the charity's aims". A2Dominion have therefore followed their legal obligation to protect their assets and the High Court have found in their favour. It's a clear warning to anyone who is considering undertaking work on a property with party (shared) walls. Don't assume your property was well built in the first place, employ professionals, make sure you are insured and don't let legal issues drag on for a decade... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -5

9:57pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Delboy14 says...

How can you start a massive job like this and "believe" you were covered, you obviously knew you were not. Trying to cut corners from the start.
The reason professional builders are 'expensive' is because they are thorough, fully insured and do a professional job. If you are not qualified or experienced to take on a job like this then you only have your self to blame. I could tell from the start that the job was run by cowboys.
A2 may be a multi million pound company but why should they just let it go for somebody's incompetence & penny pinching
How can you start a massive job like this and "believe" you were covered, you obviously knew you were not. Trying to cut corners from the start. The reason professional builders are 'expensive' is because they are thorough, fully insured and do a professional job. If you are not qualified or experienced to take on a job like this then you only have your self to blame. I could tell from the start that the job was run by cowboys. A2 may be a multi million pound company but why should they just let it go for somebody's incompetence & penny pinching Delboy14
  • Score: 6

10:40pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Miss Cynical says...

I feel sorry for this guy. It's easy for us to be wise after the event but sounds like a complicated situation.

I think the moral of the story is: 'Don't argue a principle.' The key objective was to reach a compromise and agree a settlement, not 'win' an argument.

10 years is too long to argue and must have had a detrimental impact on this family in terms of stress and hassle.

Best of luck.
I feel sorry for this guy. It's easy for us to be wise after the event but sounds like a complicated situation. I think the moral of the story is: 'Don't argue a principle.' The key objective was to reach a compromise and agree a settlement, not 'win' an argument. 10 years is too long to argue and must have had a detrimental impact on this family in terms of stress and hassle. Best of luck. Miss Cynical
  • Score: 1

9:23am Thu 24 Apr 14

DKR1987 says...

good luck mike...i suspect a sense of jealousy emanates from those residents of the so-called 'social housing' that seems to surround your property and A2D certainly seem to resent the fact that you own your own house. apparently they would far prefer to force you into bankruptcy and then end up renting one of their properties once you have been made homeless than see someone trying to better themselves.

Don't let the b*ggers get you down!
good luck mike...i suspect a sense of jealousy emanates from those residents of the so-called 'social housing' that seems to surround your property and A2D certainly seem to resent the fact that you own your own house. apparently they would far prefer to force you into bankruptcy and then end up renting one of their properties once you have been made homeless than see someone trying to better themselves. Don't let the b*ggers get you down! DKR1987
  • Score: -3

3:20pm Thu 24 Apr 14

crushed-by-dominion says...

At court A2 Dominion compromised their own claim by ~56% at the door of the court and only at the very possible last second. In fact, if A2 Dominion had bothered to properly prepare the claim, other adjustments would not have been needed to be made about the surveyors fees.

In effect, A2 Dominion when into court on the basis of claiming £51,183 pounds from me and walked out with 9k (for the historical underpinning works already completed before A2 Dominion became involved)

A2 Dominion walking out of court with only 9k represents a whopping 82% (approximately) reduction in their claim. that to me is incredible.

If I had a properly legitimate claim there is no way I would comprise it to such an extent.

What was the part of their claim they compromised that they tried to get me to settle with, on a number of previous occasions, before the start of the trial?

It was for the supposed, years of loss of rent, a compensation payment made to the then tenant they rehoused into another one of their own properties and the tenants moving costs.

As a result of A2D Dominion dropping their claim like that, a 3 day trial QC trial, A2 Dominion started lasted about 2 hours with no scrutiny of the evidence by the Judge.

What was so so wrong wrong with the rent , compensation payment and moving cost claim for A2 Dominion that they had to drop it?
At court A2 Dominion compromised their own claim by ~56% at the door of the court and only at the very possible last second. In fact, if A2 Dominion had bothered to properly prepare the claim, other adjustments would not have been needed to be made about the surveyors fees. In effect, A2 Dominion when into court on the basis of claiming £51,183 pounds from me and walked out with 9k (for the historical underpinning works already completed before A2 Dominion became involved) A2 Dominion walking out of court with only 9k represents a whopping 82% (approximately) reduction in their claim. that to me is incredible. If I had a properly legitimate claim there is no way I would comprise it to such an extent. What was the part of their claim they compromised that they tried to get me to settle with, on a number of previous occasions, before the start of the trial? It was for the supposed, years of loss of rent, a compensation payment made to the then tenant they rehoused into another one of their own properties and the tenants moving costs. As a result of A2D Dominion dropping their claim like that, a 3 day trial QC trial, A2 Dominion started lasted about 2 hours with no scrutiny of the evidence by the Judge. What was so so wrong wrong with the rent , compensation payment and moving cost claim for A2 Dominion that they had to drop it? crushed-by-dominion
  • Score: -1

6:50pm Thu 24 Apr 14

crushed-by-dominion says...

It is worth pointing out that I admitted fault at the outset, agreed to indemnify A2 Dominion's surveyors costs and meet any reasonable costs for damage.

The issue is A2 Dominion did not settle for this, pursued a further claim, withheld papers confirming the further claim was misconceived, then settled on the day of the trial for the original claim.

If A2 Dominion had advance a realistic claim at the start none of the above would have happened.

I think it is also worth pointing out that regardless of whether I "did things on the cheap" the fact of the matter was that I was prepared to pay a reasonable price but A2 Dominion had spent charity money engaging city lawyers incurring several hundred thousand pounds of costs to pursue a claim that was only worth a few hundred pounds originally.

For those of you on the side of the housing association protecting its interest, what about the £200,000 pounds in costs not recovered from me? How is that protecting the charity's interest?
It is worth pointing out that I admitted fault at the outset, agreed to indemnify A2 Dominion's surveyors costs and meet any reasonable costs for damage. The issue is A2 Dominion did not settle for this, pursued a further claim, withheld papers confirming the further claim was misconceived, then settled on the day of the trial for the original claim. If A2 Dominion had advance a realistic claim at the start none of the above would have happened. I think it is also worth pointing out that regardless of whether I "did things on the cheap" the fact of the matter was that I was prepared to pay a reasonable price but A2 Dominion had spent charity money engaging city lawyers incurring several hundred thousand pounds of costs to pursue a claim that was only worth a few hundred pounds originally. For those of you on the side of the housing association protecting its interest, what about the £200,000 pounds in costs not recovered from me? How is that protecting the charity's interest? crushed-by-dominion
  • Score: 0

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