Apartment owners who complained of ‘excessively bouncy’ floors, smelly drains and sound insulation so poor that they can hear their neighbours' footsteps have won more than £800,000 compensation from the developers of the residential block and the property agents who supervised its construction.
One flat dweller had said that the noise of clacking heels on the floor above was so loud that it reduced his wife to tears and that he often had to take refuge in a caravan to get a decent night's sleep. Damages claims were taken to the High Court by eight residents of the block of 26 flats, which was built between 2001 and 2004.
As well as inadequate sound-proofing and bouncy floors, they complained, inter alia, of ‘pervasive and obnoxious drainage smells’, leaks in the roof, wrongly-fitted gutters and boiler flues that had been put in at the wrong angle. Floors on the upper storeys could be felt to deflect under an ordinary person's weight, causing ornaments on tables or chests of drawers audibly and physically to move.
The court found, amongst other things, that ‘the workmanship was poor in many places’ and that sound insulation ‘was both unsatisfactory and inadequate as well as being non-compliant with the Building Regulations’. Retired residents had said that the noise of neighbours going about their daily lives ‘kept them awake night after night’.
The developers and the property consultants, whose task it was to inspect the building works and ensure compliance with design drawings and the Building Regulations, had in various ways breached the duties that they owed residents.
The compensation awarded to the flat owners ranged from over £140,000 to £43,000 and, after more than £225,000 was added to take account of defects in the building's common parts, the total sums awarded came to almost £830,000. The majority of that sum must be paid by the developers.