Margaret felt she was banging her head against a cavity wall

Cavity wall insulation extraction caused problems for Margaret Hughes
Cavity wall insulation extraction caused problems for Margaret Hughes

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No-one likes being ignored.

But that was precisely the problem faced by 79-year-old Margaret Hughes before she turned up for help at the Streetwise desk at the Gosport Discovery Centre.

Margaret, a 79-year-old former clerical worker, decided she wanted to give her lounge and dining room a makeover after suspecting a rising damp problem.

She had responded a few years earlier to a government scheme to provide senior citizens with free residual cavity wall insulation to help slash burgeoning energy bills.

After talking it over with her husband, the couple agreed it was a good investment and to go for it. After all it seemed there was nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

They were directed to Worthing firm Quake Energy (Domestic) Ltd to carry out the work, and obtained a peace of mind guarantee backed by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA).

But what Margaret didn’t know was the firm went spectacularly bust after only a year.

It was struck off and dissolved by company regulators along with a commercial offshoot. The holding company, White Consolidated Ltd, also went into liquidation in July 2012.

Earlier this year Margaret had noticed the signs of dampness in her lounge and dining room walls and decided it was time to have it investigated.

‘I wanted to have the walls skimmed and re-plastered up,’ she said. ‘I called out a couple of companies to give me estimates.’

‘The first one never said anything about the cavity walls, but the second company told us they’d come across so many people who had this problem and it was all caused by the same thing, the cavity insulation.’

As the installer was no longer in business they advised Margaret to get on to CIGA to arrange for the defective insulation job to be reversed and the material to be removed from the cavity.

Last May she rang them to confirm her guarantee details. She was told someone would come out to inspect the property. A few weeks later the CIGA surveyor turned up, completed his inspection and told her he’d recommended to their office to do the removal work.

Unflappable Margaret thought no more of it until she got fed up looking at bare walls. On top of that her husband needed to go into care so she had daily visiting to contend with as well.

The days turned into weeks with still no sign of anyone turning up to get the problem fixed.

In early September, after five more abortive phone calls to CIGA that were long on promises but well short on action, she decided to call in Streetwise who immediately got on her case.

We contacted CIGA who swung into action and within 24 hours had got the matter sorted. A contractor arrived a week later and got the job done and dusted within a day.

An apologetic CIGA spokesperson told Streetwise: ‘CIGA was very sorry to learn of Mrs Hughes’ concerns on May 20, but although the contractor who completed the installation has ceased to trade, the work is covered by a CIGA Guarantee so CIGA investigated promptly and subsequently carried out an inspection of the property on July 9.

‘As a result it was agreed that the insulation should be removed from the side elevation, and on July 18 CIGA appointed a specialist contractor to complete this work.

‘Unfortunately there were some seasonal delays in completing this, but we can confirm that the work was scheduled for September 15.

‘We regret that Mrs Hughes was not kept more closely informed of the delay by the contractors, and CIGA will therefore be reviewing how we require contractors to best communicate with customers in such cases.’

A delighted Margaret was astounded at the speed her complaint was resolved following our intervention.

‘I really can’t thank you enough,’ she said.