Couple's dream £725,000 countryside retirement home to be demolished five years after being built

A couple's £725,000 dream retirement home in the countryside is 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 wonky five-bed house, which they bought in 2018.

The couple's detached home, which overlooks open fields in Cambridgeshire, is laden with metre-long cracks as it's being "lifted up" by swelling soil.

Insurers have blamed poorly-constructed foundations and ordered the house to be torn down and rebuilt as the damage is too severe to repair.

Madeline and Alastair Price, aged 70 and 69, can't even open the front door of their wonky five-bed house, which they bought in 2018.

Madeline, a retired banker turned gardener, said: "It's a nightmare really. The cracks are pretty much everywhere. None of the floors or work surfaces are level.

"Doors won't shut - I can't even open the front door because it's stuck. The insurance company said they can't save it. It's not just a building, it's our home."

Situated in the rural village of Wicken, near the historic cathedral city of Ely, the couple's home counts five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Madeline showed how cracks punctuated 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-metre-long crack inside that is around half an inch wide, while the kitchen and sitting room are also affected.

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Madeline said the issue was with the house's foundations - around 1.5 to 2-metres deep - being moved by the clay soil below, which is expanding due to ground heave.

Ground heave is associated with the swelling of clay soils that expand when wet.

The couple claim that builders should have accounted for this when building the home, which came with a 10-year guarantee under the Local Authority Building Control.

Madeline said: "The soil is bone dry with evidence that tiny tree roots are still there. It's lifting the house up. They should have known what the land was like when building the house.

"We first noticed little cracks after a couple of years but we put it down to normal new house stuff. It started in the hallway, on the staircase and in the back bedroom. A structural engineer visited and said it was clay heave, which is where the soil has expanded beneath the house."

Madeline and Alastair, also a retired banker, must move out of the house that they share with their golden retriever when the demolition notice is given.

They will be given compensation to rent a property for six months - but say they don't know if they'll return their home or sell it off once it's rebuilt.

Madeline said: "They're going to demolish everything and do the foundations again. It could be at least two years out of the house. We wanted to live in the countryside, we thought this would be our home for a few years and then we would move onto our final home.

"We don't know at the moment if we'll come back. We might just put it straight on the market when it's rebuilt."