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Build quality blamed for problems at FAT's Manchester housing

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Leaking roofs, rotten balconies and badly fitting doors at FAT’s New Islington housing scheme have been blamed on poor-quality workmanship

Housing association and project backer Great Places [formerly Manchester Methodist Housing Group] admitted ‘not everything [had] worked out as planned’ at the nine-year-old, 23-home scheme.

Great Places has now begun work on replacing the roofs on all the homes, and the scheme’s distinctive painted timber-clad balconies are being pulled down and replaced.

The flagship £2.3 million scheme was among the first to complete within the Will Alsop-masterplanned development for Urban Splash, rehousing residents from the neighbouring 1970s Cardroom Estate.

The association has pointed the finger at materials used by the original contractor, Richardson Projects, which was bought by the now-collapsed ROK in 2008.

One resident said things were so bad water had been running down the bedroom wall of his back-to-back terraced home.

Graham Stringer, a resident who claims to have received a £5,500 payout from Manchester Metropolitan Housing Group over the problems at his Woodward Place home, said: ‘The original builders made a mess of these houses. The building work was horrendous.

‘They won’t last another 10 years. They need to be pulled down and built again properly.’

He added: ‘If I had the opportunity I would move out.’

Matthew Harrison, chief executive of Great Places Housing Group, said there had been ‘a number of issues with the materials’, including ‘condensation due to gaps in the insulation’.

He said: ‘We were first made aware a few years ago about water stains to ceilings which we initially thought were leaks and we made arrangements to fix these leaks.

‘However problems continued over a long period of time with various attempts at repairs failing, and we were unable to establish the cause until we carried out a full survey. This discovered condensation due to gaps in the insulation where the contractor had originally installed the roof. 

He added: ‘We then explored a variety of options before deciding that the best option for residents would be to replace all the roofs which is what we are now doing. There have been a number of issues with the materials used by the original contractor and we are now carrying out improvements where necessary, for example gates throughout have been replaced and we are repairing balconies.’

The association is currently pursuing an insurance claim concerning the project’s construction. It wouldn’t comment on how much it expected the repairs to cost.

The scheme was FAT’s first foray at working for a housing association and featured elaborate sculptured gables and mutli-coloured brick façades embellished with white-painted balconies pierced with heart or cross motifs.

Sam Jacob, formerly of FAT, said: ‘It was design and build, so it’s really an issue for the contractor.’

Urban Splash has been contacted for comment.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Exactly - Talk to the D&B contractor that built them badly. End of story.

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  • First spotted by the RIBA Journal in its profile of Tom Bloxham a month ago I see: "FAT’s famously jaunty Islington Square 23-home social housing project... is now quite startlingly shabby after nine years, its perforated balconies rotting and evidence of roof repairs in progress."

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