Ongoing saga of drainage problems

rabc123

New Member
Last autumn we were so excited buying our new Stewart Milne home complete with "Landscape gardens with compliments". What a joke!What they don't tell you is that the designer worked at the "Everglades in Florida" and not at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. The only alligators here were the sales reps and site manager urging you purchase with those famous words"Yes this problem will be fixed for you before you get the keys". What is more galling is that we were asked to take the house 2 weeks before our originally planned date to enable sales to meet their targets but were assured that the house would be completed by that earlier date. When you are told that your new house will be thoroughly inspected by the company before transfer you assume that this is carried out on the whole property purchased including garden. However, if the inspection is carried out by "Mr Spiritlevel" you can be rest assured that if it involves getting dust on his hands or dirt on his shoes it will not be inspected. How could he miss a window ledge running off level by 10 mm or the rear garden not being turfed? - because he would not stand on the back garden soil as his shoes would get dirty! After an 8 month saga and multiple attempts to resolve the drainage issues which were unsuccessful the Construction Director agrees that they have failed to meet our requirements ie provide us with front and back gardens which are not quagmires but will not do any further work and is now hiding behind the "3m from the house wall guidline".
From our perspective the most concerning aspect of the drainage problem was the deceit of the sales executive and site manager who waited until after the financial transaction was completed and we were given the keys to advise us of a "small drainage problem" but that this would be resolved within the next few days! Subsequently we were told by another contractor that when the ground was being rotovated prior to laying the turf the machine sunk and mechanical equipment had to be used to recover it. All in all this has been a nightmare experience which has only been hindered by Customer Care who are a total waste of time. Irrespective of what you ask them you very rarely get a written reply and this seems to be a policy adopted by Stewart Milne employees - to cover their own backs. Sending email copies to the Head of Customer Services bears little fruit as she always appears to be on holiday and all you get is her out of office reply. In conclusion we wish we had never got involved with Stewart Milne and can only advise potential buyers to tread warily as once they have your money and staff get their bonus they could not give a toss!
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Your first mistake was TRUSTING YOUR HOUSE BUILDER. ASSUME NOTHING! It makes an ASS out of U and ME
Never, repeat never trust anything anyone from a house builder tells you.
Always get everything in writing.
The brochure and sales patter must be truthful, otherwise they will be in breach of The Property Misdescriptions Act 1992.

The second mistake you made was moving in to suit the builder's targets or figures. Shaving two weeks off the time they spend to build your home is never going to improve the quality is it?
Whether the house is "thoroughly inspected" by the builder it does not mean that it will not have defects or be poor quality. Buyers should always use a professional snagging company to check their house before completing the purchase. Only then, after any defects and faults have been fixed, should you complete.

When completing everything you are paying for must be 100% complete, this includes garages, parking bays, driveways and your garden.
Sometimes and only if the weather is very hot, you may agree not to have the turf laid until after you move in so you can water it.

Stewart Milne have a dreadful record on this forum.
There are many posts about several problems some of which have been going on for most of this year!
On one development large areas of render is falling off on most of the houses.
Unfortunately some dodgy house builders (who shall remain nameless) who dont care about their customers, do hide behind the NHBC standards when it suits them and the 3m from the house rule does apply to garden drainage I am affraid. Search "garden drainge problems" on this forum and there will be quite a few!

As you say: "we wish we had never got involved with Stewart Milne and can only advise potential buyers to tread warily as once they have your money and staff get their bonus they could not give a toss!"
I couldn't agree more!
 
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Divi

New Member
I started a thread on drainage re my house/garden, would be interested as to what part of the country you are in rabc. Builder has installed drains, they appear to work in some gardens but not in others. We are getting an independent survey done as to the type and amount of topsoil we have.
 

rabc123

New Member
Hi Divi

We are located in a Stewart Milne development in South Lanarkshire.
I have read your post about poor garden drainage and we have very similar problems. We too believe that putting in drains without knowing the soil composition is a waste of time as the fabric of the drain silts up and the drain stops working. We have also instructed a survey report to be carried out in our garden. Most builders think that digging a trench and filling it with stones is the answer to everything.
Don't know about Bett but Stewart Milne want to employ drainage companies who do not have the essential knowledge and skill to rectify the issues. They are just used because they are cheap.
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
In most cases, excavating a trench and filling it with stone (French Drain) will work perfectly well provided the stone filled trench can drain into an outlet for the water such as a drainage ditch or river or a connection to the mains drainage.
It is important that a geotextile membrane (such as Terram) is used to wrap the stone entirely to stop it becoming clogged with silt.
It is aslo common to lay a perforated pipe in the bottom of the stone filled trench again this must be connected to an outlet to drain the water.

I am not sure what else you think any builder or groundworker could do.
Perhaps you want the clay sub soil removed and replaced it with free draining topsoil and your garden re modelled so it slopes away from your house so it drains on adjoining land!
Not going to happen in this lifetime!
 

rabc123

New Member
To New Home Expert
Many thanks for your comments.
Stewart Milne used contractors to install a network of field drains in our garden. These drains were 0.5m deep and 0.25m wide and were filled with stone with perforated pipe all wrapped in terram. The drains were then covered with soil. We found that after several weeks pools of water appeared on the surface. If we scrape back the soil to the terram surface, a layer of silt had to be washed away before the drain would work again. In other places where there was clay the water simply didn't drain and removal of the clay which was against the terram showed an imprint of the terram on the clay surface. Although we pointed these findings out to Stewart Milne and asked for an explanation no one even at director level would provide us with an answer. As we bought this specific plot especially for the garden, it has been a total letdown. Stewart Milne were made fully aware of this requirement before purchase was completed. We believe it is not asking too much to be able to walk across your "Landscape Garden"without sinking up to your knees in mud. If Stewart Milne had only put in adequate garden drainage before the property was built, as they were fully aware of the major drainage problem that exists, then this on going saga could have been avoided. We trusted Stewart Milne as the directors promised in writing to solve the problem within the FULL garden using both internal and external expertise but when they failed they resorted to advising us that they had failed and would now terminate their efforts to improve the drainage.
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
It does sound as if Stewart Milne have done all they can to drain your back garden, over and above what the NHBC stipulate which is only within 3m of the house.
The network of land drains must be linked to an outlet of some sort otherwise they will act as just storage rather than drain the water.
They are not intended to act as a soakway so being on the underlying clay is not a problem.
The topsoil covering the top of the drain terram muct be free-draining and I would suggest it has a large proportion of sharp sand mixed in.
Check with Stewart Milne where the network of land drains drain away to. My guess is they are not connected anywhere.

What you describe about the terram at the top and bottom is quite normal and shows the terram is doing its job.
 

rabc123

New Member
It does sound as if Stewart Milne have done all they can to drain your back garden, over and above what the NHBC stipulate which is only within 3m of the house.
The network of land drains must be linked to an outlet of some sort otherwise they will act as just storage rather than drain the water.
They are not intended to act as a soakway so being on the underlying clay is not a problem.
The topsoil covering the top of the drain terram muct be free-draining and I would suggest it has a large proportion of sharp sand mixed in.
Check with Stewart Milne where the network of land drains drain away to. My guess is they are not connected anywhere.

What you describe about the terram at the top and bottom is quite normal and shows the terram is doing its job.


To New Home Expert
Thanks for your comments.

We are fully aware that Stewart Milne have installed drainage into our garden over and above the NHBC 3m ruling. However as mentioned before these are not draining the garden effectively and the garden remains like a swamp. Stewart Milne have had SEVERAL attempts at fixing the problem and our full co-operation was given.
It is totally unfair to say that Stewart Milne have done “all they can” to fix our drainage problem as if they had, then the problem should have been solved and we would now have a garden which is useable. It is all well that Stewart Milne have put drainage into our garden over and above the 3m NHBC ruling but if it is not working then it is pointless being there.
For your information also please note that our back garden does not slope towards our house it slopes away from the house so surely this should help drainage as there is a natural slope in our back garden.
Nothing gets away from the 8 months of disruption we have suffered due to this. All we want is a garden which is fit for purpose. I think most people would soon start to get frustrated if like us, they had to wait 8 months to get turf laid to their garden.
It should also be noted that Stewart Milne advertised “Landscaped Gardens with our Compliments” and after 8 months of not being able to lay the turf, they threw it down on a quagmire and ran away from their responsibilities.
It really comes down to the fact that Stewart Milne have a lack of knowledge with regards to garden drainage and they leave customers with a mess and this somehow seems acceptable to them. Surely if, as stated by Stewart Milne, they are one of the UK’s leading Housebuilders, they would have the expertise to rectify problems for clients and not just simply give up when things start to get a bit hard.
P.S. Have you ever had any direct dealings with Stewart Milne?
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
First of all from what I have read on this forum so far this year, Stewart Milne cannot in all reality say they are "one of the UK's leading housebuilders"
I personally have not had any direct dealings with Stewart Milne and would not choose to!
But I do believe they have at least tried to find a solution. You should see the other post at DRAINAGE on this forum.
Einstein said "the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome"

You are clearly not happy and I would advise you write to Stewart Milne and give them a deadline to fix the problem once and for all.
If they do not, then employ your own "experts" and if they can manage to drain your rear garden to your satisfaction send Stewart Milne the bill!
 

laurib

New Member
I am new to this forum , but hope someone can assist. I bought a Stewart Milne home in mar 2009. The garden was basically a field full of mud and we had it rotavated and top soil was added, then turf. A few months later the boundary was extended as they had the plans wrong, and our garden was extended following removal of some mature trees, then the area turfed. The garden in the area they extended sloped towards our originally laid turf. They also look like they installed a land drain, and it def was not connected to anything. Since then our garden has got gradually worse to the point my children can no longer play safely. Infact there was a terrible near miss with my toddler who escaped into the garden whilst the water was as its worse. A very terrifying experience. I have attached a picture to see what your thoughts are, and how I should proceed. Thanks.
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Unless you complained IN WRITING to Stewart Milne within the NHBC 2-year warranty period you will have to sort this out yourself.
The land drain needs to be constructed properly and unless you have free draining sub soil (chalk, sand or gravel) you will need to have the land drain connected to the storm mains drainage or a nearby drainage ditch if there is one.

As you have yound children, I would suggest you erect a chainlink fence to stop access to the flooded area.
 
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