Botched repairs to shed roof left Havant reader fuming

Annette Sutton. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143077-274)
Annette Sutton. Picture: Allan Hutchings (143077-274)
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Afurious Havant reader contacted Streetwise after she discovered on return from work asbestos contractors had removed and replaced her garden shed roof, and potentially exposed her to a health hazard.

Annette Sutton has owned and lived at the family home in Havant for the past 28 years.

A former council property, she bought it when the right to buy scheme gave her the opportunity to own her home. Over the years her estate has become a mixture of private and public housing.

But earlier this summer the teaching assistant was astounded when she discovered that housing association First Wessex contractors had entered her secured garden without permission and replaced her 1950s shed roof.

The first Annette knew something was afoot was when her neighbour alerted her to a letter they’d received from their landlord to say their defective shed roof was about to be replaced.

Unknown to her, despite it being the start of July, the neighbour had been warned as a safety precaution to clear their shed and shut all windows and doors until the job was finished.

Annette arrived home the following afternoon not only to find the roof had been replaced, but the contents of her shed covered in debris and a fine powdery dust. Unaware of the possible health risk, she felt obliged to clean it up and discard it with the refuse.

She thought no more of it until a week or so later when, after a heavy shower, it was evident the replacement roof was not watertight and had sprung a number of leaks.

She spoke to her roofer son-in-law about it, who discovered the retaining bolts had not been sufficiently tightened.

Feeling put out Annette immediately emailed First Wessex bosses demanding an explanation. She wanted to know if her health had negligently been put at risk, why contractors had trespassed on her property without permission, and when her shed would be made watertight.

But she couldn’t get satisfactory answers. To make matters worse her request to see the asbestos test results was turned down. Incensed that she was being given the run-around she got in touch with Streetwise to see if we could help.

We asked First Wessex for an explanation, and expressed astonishment about the apparent complacent way the entire complaint had been handled.

Hazel Warwick, the association’s asset management director apologised and admitted mistakes had been made.

She explained the reason Annette’s roof had to be removed was to avoid cutting the roofing material and potentially releasing deadly asbestos fibres.

She said: ‘However, before going ahead with this work we should have written to residents to gain permission in line with our procedure. We’ve looked at our own procedures to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur.

‘We carried out a debris test in Mrs Sutton’s shed and we can confirm that no asbestos was present. We will be repairing Mrs Sutton’s shed roof and sending copies of the reports which we hope will help to reassure her.’

A grateful Annette was relieved to get a response, but remained critical of the way her complaint had been handled.

‘I understand mistakes happen,’ she said, ‘however you don’t take someone else’s roof and forget to mention it.’

‘Thank you for your help. Streetwise.’