Woman says pipe repair left house ‘collapse’ but Severn Trent says it’s not her fault

A Leicester woman says a botched repair of pipes under her house left the property sinking into the ground – but Severn Trent says they are not to blame.

Reema Sodha’s Belgrave neighborhood had been experiencing drainage issues as early as 2018, and in 2019 she allowed Severn Trent contractors to carry out a repair under her house to fix the problems she and her neighbors had been experiencing.

But Ms Sodha says the workers only carried out temporary repair work which had to be fully repaired later.

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And since that first repair job, the 45-year-old says the cracks have gotten worse in her walls, affecting her entire property – she believes the damaged pipe and repeated work has caused her house to sag badly.

Severn Trent denied any responsibility, saying all their work “has been carried out to the best possible standard”.

A loss assessor told Ms Sodha that she and her teenage daughter’s house were “collapsing vertically and horizontally”, causing thousands of pounds of damage to their home.

For two years she has been in a dispute with Severn Trent and his insurance company, Covea, and she says the damage to her home will cost around £40,000 to fix – money she doesn’t have.

Cracks have appeared throughout Ms. Sodha’s property, inside and out with movements so drastic that she cannot close some of the doors in the house where the walls have become uneven.

The ordeal led Ms Sodha to quit her job due to stress, and she has since been prescribed medication for mental health issues. She now says she doesn’t know “who else to turn to” with the dispute at an impasse.

The homeowner first noticed small cracks forming in her property – specifically in the kitchen, the room closest to the problematic underground pipe – before repairs were made.

“After the initial work all the cracks got bigger and bigger to the point where the house became freezing, you can actually feel the draft through the house,” she said.

“There were cracks forming around the windows and the kitchen counters were moving away from the walls. I could even hear noises like the house was creaking or moving.”

Mrs. Sodha’s kitchen floor has even started to tilt and some doors around her house no longer close due to her property being moved.

And the drainage problems that had been solved for her neighbors hadn’t even been solved at her house.

She added: “I can’t afford to keep the heating on, but it’s absolutely cold at home.”

After filing a complaint with Severn Trent, Ms Sodha said the company denied liability for the damage.

Once the work was completed, Severn Trent agreed on a sum of money to offer the owner so that she could restore her garden which had been affected by the work.

The money was credited to Ms Sodha’s account, but she says she is refusing to use it until she is properly compensated for the damage to her home.

A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: “We understand how difficult the last two years have been for Ms Sodha which is why we have stayed in close contact with her and have done everything in our power to help him.

“Since we first went out to repair a damaged sewer pipe near his property in 2019, we have returned many times to ensure the client was happy with everything we had done and that our network was working as it should.As a result, we are pleased that the work we carried out was carried out to the best possible standard.

LeicestershireLive visited the property where the kitchen appears to sink into the corner. The kitchen units have moved away from the walls and the floor slopes to one side.

“Every effort has also been made to make significant improvements to her garden, which was affected by the damaged pipe. The client was given an agreed sum to carry out the work herself, having declined our offer to carry out the work directly. As a sign of goodwill, we have also credited her account for the inconvenience she experienced throughout this period.

While navigating the complaints process with Severn Trent, Ms Sodha also sought help from her insurance company in hopes of restoring her house, which continued to deteriorate.

Concerned about the cost of repairs, the mother hoped her insurers, Covea, would undertake a thorough damage assessment, but initially said she was offered a sum of money before anyone visited the property.

The insurance company then appointed a building validation company to visit his property and eventually offered him £12,002.78, 10% of which was a ‘goodwill gesture’.

This sum was intended to cover several costs, including, but not limited to, repairs to the superstructure of his house, redecoration, reinstatement of the masonry outside, various reinforcement works, repairs of interior plaster, the removal and replacement of a tiled kitchen wall and floor and the refitting of radiators. .

Unconvinced she was being properly looked after, Ms Sodha decided to pay a loss assessor herself who calculated that the schedule of repairs her home needed would cost £39,936.

A Covea spokesperson said: “In cases such as this where multiple trades and organizations are involved, it is common for a cash settlement to be made to provide the insured with greater flexibility in handling the repair.”

Ms Sodha told LeicestershireLive: “I felt like they were taking advantage of me because I’m a single mum and I really feel like they let me down.

“I don’t know how I managed to continue like this – I’m completely exhausted, I feel like giving up.

“I just want the damage to my house fixed. It’s not hot at all, my daughter doesn’t want to live here anymore.

“I want to move but I can’t and it has completely devalued my property.”

The barriers remain in place for security reasons, but Mrs Sodha wants reassurance that her property will be restored before agreeing to use the money offered to her by Severn Trent to repair her garden.

A spokesperson for the insurance company added: “Ms Sodha made two complaints, the first relating to delays in repair work which, after investigation, were found to be beyond the control of Covéa – the insured then complained to the independent financial ombudsman who agreed that the delays had not been caused by Covea.

“The second grievance related to the difference in costs between the work program provided by the claims adjuster appointed by the insured and that of the qualified adjuster (BVS) appointed by Covea.

“We reviewed the work schedule proposed by the insured’s loss assessor and found that it was too extensive and too expensive for the level of repairs required. We have had no further contact with the assessor named by the insured since the insured made the decision to remove them from the business last year.

“However, although the claim is closed from our point of view, we are prepared to appoint another independent expert to provide all parties with an additional estimate for the restoration work to ensure that the policyholder receives compensation. fair.”

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