Botched home renovation leads to demolition threat

The property

A home in Battenhall, Worcester, was supposed to be renovated and extended. However, a series of mistakes made since work started last year have all-but destroyed the six-bedroom home. At one stage the council even had to threaten to knock it down - at which point the owner knocked down a significant part of the property.

What makes things even stranger is that he's actually a town councillor. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%


The home is owned by the daughter of ex-mayor and Worcester City Conservative councillor Allah Ditta (59). According to the Worcester News, it received planing permission last May for major renovations, and Ditta is handling the work. Unfortunately things haven't run entirely smoothly.

At the outset, the developers made a hash of the work - knocking down a wall that made the property unsafe. The council stepped in last September - sent in its inspectors - and the developer made the site safe.

The newspaper then revealed that earlier this month a neighbour on Timberdine Avenue contacted the council again to say they were concerned about more work that had gone on at the property. The council investigated and discovered that this time an entire wall had been removed - which meant the whole building could collapse at any minute.

They informed the owner that they would have to demolish it unless it was made safe - so the owner knocked down the back of the property and demolished the roof until the building was no longer on the brink of collapse

Now the half-demolished house is a blight on the quiet residential street, with no roof, and rubble where there were once walls. Neighbours told the Daily Mail about their concern about the state of the property - and said that cars driving past actually slowed down to stare at its sorry state. However, Ditta told the Mail that there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary about the site - it was just under development.

Cost of botches

It's an impressive level of destruction to be brought about in the process of renovations. However, enthusiastic amateurs can do a surprising amount of damage to a property. Last year Halifax Home Insurance recorded over 32,000 accidental damage claims, many of which were DIY-related such as spilling paint or drilling through pipes.

In total the insurer paid out over £11 million for accidental damage, with each claim costing an average of £339 - and the May Bank Holidays brought in a bumper crop of claims as people broke out their toolboxes. In all Halifax discovered that 5% of people had done some damage to their home in the pursuit of beautifying it.

And its not just DIYers, a survey by the TrustMark accredited trader scheme found that incompetent tradesmen have cost UK homeowners an estimated £1.9 billion over the last year. Almost one in five (17%) of the 18 million homeowners who have employed tradesmen in the last 12 months had to have at least part of the work redone at an average cost of £600.

Part of the problem is that a quarter of people don't know where to find impartial information about tradesmen, and 6% selected a tradesman based on the cheapest quote.

The experts warn that it's vital to check the qualifications and references of any tradesmen before you employ them - and if you don't have any qualifications or people wouldn't speak highly of your past efforts, it begs the question of whether it's a terribly good idea to get stuck in yourself.

The top ten DIY projects: are they worth it?
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Botched home renovation leads to demolition threat

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

17% have done one of these in the last three years, and 20% will in the next three. This doesn't have to cost more than a couple of hundred pounds, but according to a survey from Halifax a few years ago it costs an average of £850 and adds almost £1,500 to the value. This is the second financial sound project in the list.

11% of us have knocked rooms through in the last three years and 8% will in the next three. If you're creating more usable space, then buyers won't mind you are reducing the number of rooms. If it's a supporting wall you can end up spending around £1,500, whereas a non-load-bearing wall should be doable in a day with a laborour and a plasterer for a couple of hundred pounds. It's unlikely to specifically add value though.

8% have put them in over the last three years, and 8% plan to in the next three. A solar panel costs about £6,500. It's definitely not going to add value to your property. However, it can pay off. With a feed-in-tariff you can save yourself £600 a year in heating, and can sell up to £450 back to the grid. The lifespan of the panel should be 20 years, so you'll break even after six and a half years and start making money. It's the third wise financial move here.

6% have done this in the last three years and 11% plan to in the next three. According to HSBC it adds the most value - at an average of £16,000. However, at a cost of £20,000 or more, it won't make you money.

4% of people have added one in the last three years and 7% plan to in the next three. As with a similar extension, you're likely to spend £20,000 and add £15,000 of value. So it only makes sense if your family is too big for the house.

2% have converted the cellar in the last three years, and 4% plan to in the next three. This is not a great way to see a return on your money - unless you live in the kind of area where you are absolutely out of any other options when it comes to making more space. It's not cheap - starting at £10,000 for simple waterproofing and finishing, to £50,000 for more intensive work. It will typically add £20,000 to the property.

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