A couple’s £725,000 dream retirement home in the countryside is set to be demolished – just five years after it was built.
Madeline and Alastair Price, aged 70 and 69, can’t even open the front door of their five-bed house, which they bought in 2018.
The couple’s detached home, which overlooks open fields in Cambridgeshire, is riddled with meter-long cracks as it is being “lifted” from the swollen soil.
Insurers have blamed the poorly-constructed foundation and ordered the house to be torn down and rebuilt because the damage is too severe to repair.
Madeline, a retired banker-turned-gardener, said: “It really is a nightmare.
“Cracks are pretty much everywhere. No floor or work surface is flat.
“The doors won’t close – I can’t even open the front door because it’s stuck.”
“The insurance company said they couldn’t save it. It’s not just a building, it’s our house.”
Located in the rural village of Viken, near the historic cathedral town of Eli, the couple’s home has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Madeline shows how cracks have struck her and husband Alastair’s home, which has underfloor heating, a wine chiller, and a wood burner.
The couple’s double garage has a two-meter-long crack that is about half an inch wide, while the kitchen and sitting room are also affected.
Madeline said the problem was with the foundation of the house – about 1.5 to 2 meters deep – being moved by the clay soil below, which is spreading due to the agglomeration of the ground.
Ground heave is associated with swells of clay soil that expands when wet.
The couple claims that the builders should have accounted for it while building the house, which came under local authority building control with a 10-year guarantee.
Madeline said: “The soil is dry, evidence that the tree still has small roots. It is raising the house.
“They should have known what the land was like while building the house.
“We first noticed little cracks after a few years but we put it in normal new household items.
“It started in the hallway, on the stairs, and in the back bedroom.
“A structural engineer visited and said it was a pile of mud, where the soil has expanded under the house.”
Madeline and Alastair, also a retired banker, must move out of the house they share with their golden retriever when a demolition notice is given.
They will be compensated for renting out a property for six months – but say they don’t know whether they will return their home or sell it after rebuilding it.
Madeline said: “They’re going to demolish everything and redo the foundations.
“It could be at least two years from home.
“We wanted to live in the countryside, we thought this would be our home for a few years and then we would move to our last home.
“We don’t know at this time if we’ll be back. We can put it on the market straight away when it’s rebuilt.”