It's the stuff of nightmares for every homeowner. A couple in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire have been told that they will have to knock their house down and rebuild it from scratch if they are to stand any chance of making their home mortgageable or sellable.
The root cause of all their troubles is Japanese knotweed.
The dangerous weedThere was no sign of the weed when the couple bought the brand new property. However, it was growing on disused land nearby, and slowly it invaded their garden, and then their home.
It has now grown entirely into the foundations. The reason this is such a nightmare is that this weed can grow through anything. Concrete floors and foundations pose no boundary. It will simply push through, causing endless damage, and begin flowering in the lounge. It also grows at a spectacular rate - about four inches a day.
They have been told that the damage this plant has caused as it forced itself into their home means it is in danger of falling down.
In order to get rid of it, the couple have a choice: the first is to knock the house down, get rid of the plant by removing about 10 feet of soil under the property, and then start again. The second is to rip up the floors, apply weedkillers, repair all the structural damage, lay the floors and then wait and see if they have been successful, or whether they will have to do the whole thing all over again.
The costThe couple told the Daily Mail that the value of their property has dropped from £305,000 to £50,000 as a result of the plant invasion.
To make matters worse, if the weed spreads to their neighbours, they could be sued for the damage to their properties.
The couple are currently suing the solicitors who helped them buy the property, Roberts of Macclesfield. They are looking for £400,000 compensation (which would presumably allow then to demolish the house and then move as far away as humanly possible). Their case is being brought on the grounds that the solicitor should have made sure there was a National House-Building Council warranty, which will cover a property for the first decade against any problems.
The solicitors are denying any liability and contesting the claim, so we will have to wait for the outcome of the courts to see whether they can move on from this nightmare, or whether they face an uncertain future in their home from hell.