The photo above shows rotten wood painted over at Devon Court by an Armour Hart sub-contractor as part of the 2019-2020 HHGE window repairs. The works commenced on 9 July 2019 and so far (to January 2021) have involved some 13 out of the 28 HHGE flat blocks. The original contracted cost has risen from c. £450,000 to an estimated £700,000.
Ian Collier (Chairman) and the HHGE Directors have refused to provide evidence of the exact reasons for the increase in costs and refuse to reveal how much Armour Hart contractors have been paid to date for the work described below.
However we estimate that some £250,000+ of service charge funds belonging to the HHGE flat owners have been wasted to date on sub-standard repairs of unacceptable quality.
Listed below are 10 reasons why I believe that the quality of the work is unacceptable and neither the workmanship nor the materials used are of reasonable standard.
- SHARP EDGES TO NEW WOOD SILLS NOT ROUNDED: Experience shows that wooden sills which are due to be painted should ALWAYS have a bull nosed (rounded) edge to the outer edge of the sill. This is because a sharp edge (arris) at a right angle will be a weak point for paint to fail and flake open. It is almost impossible to make the arris rounded after installation so the outer edge of the sill should always be rounded by the carpenter BEFORE the new wooden sill is fitted. but this has not been done in c. 50% of the new sills. Example.
- LACK OF A DRIP GROOVE IN NEW WOODEN SILLS: It is essential to provide a drip goove on the undersurface of all new wooden sills to ensure that rainwater drips off the edge of the sill and does not run round underneath and back into the building. This drip grove MUST be cut prior to fitting as it cannot be done after the sill has been installed. Example.
- FAILURE TO USE REPAIR CARE DRY FIX FIRST WHEN USING A RESIN FILLER: The procedure for repairing rotten wood as specified by resin manufacturer RepairCare is to (1) Rake out the rotten wood (2) Apply Dry Fix (surface fixer) to all surfaces and allow it to dry. (3) Fill with the hole with Dry Flex. If Dry Fix is not used then the resin will not stick to the wood. Example 01. Example 02 Example 03.
- USING UNTREATED SOFTWOOD TO COVER OVER ROTTEN MULLIONS. On many HHGE window frames the base of the window uprights (mullions) is rotten where it sits on the sill at the base. The standard procedure used by the Armour Hart carpenters is to cut away the face of the rotten mullion only and to replace it with untreated softwood. Thus the rotten wood at the rear of the mullion remains to re-infect the new wood. According to the Armour Hart Contract specification (1) Only preservative treated softwood is to be used for repairs and (2) All rotten wood must be removed prior to repair. Example 01. Example 02. Example 03. Almost 100% of windows have been repaired incorrectly which is unacceptable.
- See also these examples from the 2012 HHGE repairs which are again completely rotten 2011 Major Works: ” Those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them” The evidence of #01 Oxford Court. and 8 Oxford Court
- USING UNTREATED SOFTWOOD TO REPLACE ROTTEN WINDOW SILLS. The Armour Hart Contract specification says that only hardwood should be used for replacement window sills. However between July 2019 when work started and 26 September 2019 when I complained at the HHGE AGM all new wooden window sills used untreated softwood. The flats involved include Ayr Court, Buckingham House, Chester Court and Devon Court- so in all these blocks the new sills are made of untreated softwood and MUST be replaced with hardwood if the specification is followed. Example 01, Example 02
LEAVING NEW WOOD EXPOSED TO THE RAIN FOR MONTHS WITHOUT PRIMING. The contract specification says that all new work and the materials must be protected from moisture and rain. However after the HHGE AGM on 26 September 2019 the decorators were no longer allowed to carry out the wood repairs and Armour Hart used carpenters instead for window repairs. However the carpenters were not instructed to protect new wood from rain or moisture and new wooden sills were left exposed to rain for weeks or months and got soaked with rain before being painted. This is a quite unacceptable building practice and resulted in the decorators painting over new damp wood on Essex House, Fife Court, Gloucester Court, Hereford House and Inverness Court. Example 01, Example 02
- PAINTING OVER DAMP WOOD. 2019 was one of the wettest years in UK history with heavy rain and storms from October onwards. After 26 September 2019 the Armour Hart contractors switched to two stages instead of using the decorators to carry out the wood repairs. In the first stage the carpenters carried out the wood repairs. They then left the new wood to be painted by the decorators. Unfortunately the scheduling of the two trades was not co-ordinated and the gap between the carpenters and the decorators was up to 8 months leaving the new wood exposed to heavy rain for long periods of time. Example 01. Example 02 Flats involved:Essex House, Fife Court, Gloucester Court, Hereford House and Inverness Court.
- USING UNTREATED SOFTWOOD FOR BEADING WHEN ONLY TREATED SOFTWOOD IS SPECIFIED. None of the softwood used for fitting the the glass into the wooden window frames was made from treated softwood as specified in the Amour Hart contract.
- PAINTING OVER ROTTEN WOOD WHEN THE ROT SHOULD HAVE BEEN REPAIRED FIRST. A detailed examination of completed repairs which have been passed and certified for payment by the contract manger will reveal hundreds of examples of areas of rotten wood that were painted over and not repaired This affects all flats where work was carried out between July 2019 and November 2020.
- INSTALLING NEW SILLS WITHOUT REPAIRING THE ROTTEN WOOD BEHIND. The Armour Hart contract for Major Works which was signed by Ian Collier HHGE Chairman in June 2019 is very badly drafted. However it is quite clear that the contract includes wood repairs and decorations to the whole of the windows both external and internal. This coverage was confirmed by an email from the HHGE solicitor Cherraine Williams dated 10 June 2020 and confirmed by an official HHGE Directors Newsletter announcing the start of the works date 30 June 2019. Unfortunately the Armour Hart sub-contractors and the Supervising surveyor John Chandler do not appear to understand this and have repeatedly claimed that the work was for exterior repairs only. However there is no vapor barrier between the external and internal wood of the windows. Many of the repaired windows have wood rot extending right the way through from back to front or front to back. Where this has happened the Armour Hart contractors have refused to repair the rotten interior wood which is in breach of the contract specification. Instead the rotten wood has been covered over with new wood. Example 01, Example 02