Couple's new build dream home destroyed by mould and beetle infestation

Diane Jackson, 61, and partner Mark, 59, bought the new property in Lancashire after they sold their old home to their daughter

A couple's new-build dream home has turned into a nightmare after the home was destroyed by mould and a beetle infestation.

Diane Jackson, 61, and partner Mark, 59, bought the new property in Darwen, Lancashire for £320,000 after they sold their old home to their daughter. The couple said that they were looking forward to the next chapter of their lives in the new home, but instead have been left devastated.

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Diane said: “The beetles were in every room - it was awful. And the mould was horrendous. I couldn't believe it. I couldn’t even go in the house at one point. I wanted to show my family my new home and be proud of it, but I was embarrassed. It was so upsetting I couldn’t have anyone visit.”

Both Dianne and Mark believe that the home, located on the Davyfields development, is unliveable in its current state and have since moved into a rented accommodation. The problems began cropping up shortly after they received the keys on April 21, 2023.

Diane explained that before they had fully moved into the property, she had decided to lay new flooring. It was while clearing plinths from underneath kitchen cabinets that she first spotted that the walls were covered in damp and mould.

A matter of weeks later, Diane and Mark began spotting thousands of small beetles around the property. After making a complaint to site developers Applethwaite Limited, a pest control expert was sent out to treat the property with a heat treatment, which would flush out the infestation and dry the damp within the walls.

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Some of the plaster board covered in mould. (Credit: Diane Jackson/SWNS)Some of the plaster board covered in mould. (Credit: Diane Jackson/SWNS)
Some of the plaster board covered in mould. (Credit: Diane Jackson/SWNS) | Diane Jackson / SWNS

There was a noticeable improvement in the number of beetles coming into the home, however the smell of damp persisted throughout the property. It was then that Diane noticed plaster board beginning to peel away from the wall. The couple decided to cut a piece out, finding the wall behind the plaster riddled with black mould and the cavity insulation soaking.

Diane said: “I was absolutely beside myself by this point. It was causing me sleepless nights and was preventing me from concentrating on my work. We knew there were damp and mould issues - but certainly not to this extent.” She complained to the NHBC (National House Building Council) after waiting months to hear back from the developer, with the NHBC providing compensation to replace the plaster board. She said: “We have spent hard-earned money on our dream house and have been treated terribly.

“We have lost thousands of pounds, and if we wanted to seek legal advice it could cost us even more. They know that customers are not in any position to fight them – but we really wish we were. Your house is the most expensive and important asset that you ever own. We should not have to do this with a brand new house. It has been the worst experience of my entire life.”

A spokesperson for Applethwaite Homes said: “We are a small housebuilder with a dedicated team, who take great pride in creating high quality homes. We go out of our way to meet our customers’ expectations and help them settle into their new homes.

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“We have been disappointed to hear of this homeowner’s experiences and have been engaging with them throughout this process. We are of the view that all issues brought to our attention have been dealt with appropriately and are now resolved. We have also been liaising closely with the NHBC and, where reports have been recorded, we have acted promptly on any recommendations contained within.”

A spokesperson for NHBC said: “Due to confidentiality, we cannot comment on individual cases without the permission of the homeowner concerned. NHBC is the UK’s largest provider of warranty and insurance for new-build homes, covering around 70 per cent to 80 per cent of newly-built homes.

"Homeowners benefit from the NHBC Buildmark policy, our ten-year warranty for new build homes. The policy protects homeowners in the event of serious structural defects occurring in their homes. Snagging issues, however, are the builder’s responsibility to resolve.

"In the first two years of an NHBC Buildmark policy homeowners are required to raise any concerns regarding their home directly with the house builder, following the house builder’s formal complaints process. We’re committed to quickly helping homeowners if they encounter problems with their new home – and in circumstances where they have exhausted the house builder’s formal complaints process and are dissatisfied with the result, they can ask us to assist using NHBC’s free Resolution Service. During years three to ten of the policy, we provide insurance cover for specific, structural defects.”

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