Couple forced to demolish £725k dream home so ‘wonky’ the door won’t even open

A pensioner couple who spent £725,000 on a dream home have been forced to demolish it just five years after moving in.

The detached home of Madeline, 70, and Alastair Price, 69, has been blighted by metre-long cracks, wonky doors and damage too severe to repair.

And Madeline has labelled it an “absolute nightmare”, and their insurance company agrees.

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The former banker said: “The cracks are pretty much everywhere. None of the floors or work surfaces are level.

"Doors won't shut – I can't even open the front door because it's stuck. The insurance company said they can't save it.

“It's not just a building, it's our home."

Situated in the rural village of Wicken, near the historic cathedral city of Ely, the couple's home counts five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

It also has underfloor heating, a wine chiller and a wood burner.

The couple's double garage has a two-metre-long crack inside that is around half an inch wide, while the kitchen and sitting room are also affected.

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Madeline said the issue was with the house's foundations – around 1.5 to 2-metres deep – being moved by the clay soil below, which is expanding due to ground heave.

Ground heave is associated with the swelling of clay soils that expand when wet.

The couple claim that builders should have accounted for this when building the home, which came with a 10-year guarantee.

Madeline said: "The soil is bone dry with evidence that tiny tree roots are still there. It's lifting the house up.

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"They should have known what the land was like when building the house.

"We first noticed little cracks after a couple of years but we put it down to normal new house stuff.

"It started in the hallway, on the staircase and in the back bedroom.

"A structural engineer visited and said it was clay heave, which is where the soil has expanded beneath the house."

They must now move out of the house that they share with their golden retriever when the demolition notice is given.

They will be given compensation to rent a property for six months – but say they don't know if they'll return their home or sell it off once it's rebuilt.

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Madeline said: "They're going to demolish everything and do the foundations again.

"It could be at least two years out of the house.

"We wanted to live in the countryside, we thought this would be our home for a few years and then we would move onto our final home.

"We don't know at the moment if we'll come back. We might just put it straight on the market when it's rebuilt."

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