Buying into Poundbury? Get a surveyor!

If you want to buy a home in Poundbury, off-plan or second hand, get a surveyor in before you exchange. In this anonymously written piece I am about to explain just why. 

I live in a large house in one of the courtyards of Prince Charles riposte to modernism in architecture. 29 windows overlook one side while only 27 can see into my garden – not a good place for the private or paranoid! 

My Council Tax is Band F – F for ‘fuck me, the rates are high!’ It is a 3.5 bedroomed house (they claim 4 beds but my daughter grew out of that box room at 3 years old and we use it as a chill out area). It has 18 windows and four glazed double doors, and if I could get rid of it I would have around £600k in my pocket that would buy me a much larger place outside of the Poundbury price bubble. 

It is ‘Jerry-built’ – thrown together as whatever joke of a Freemason builder maximised profits and minimised building costs. I thought the young pile (just 16 years old) was a ‘Friday Afternoon house’ in the same vein as the so-called 1970s British Leyland cars that were so badly built. Was the place just thrown up in a hurry to get their bonuses? I do wonder, but the problem is there is a worrying trend affecting homeowners right across the estate. 

Windows

There is a feeding frenzy of double glazing companies in Poundbury just now. If you put an order in for wooden double glazed windows you will be in for a six month wait whomever you turn to. 

Poundbury is famous for its strict rules on how a home must look, with a running joke you could be thrown in the Tower of London if your gate isn’t painted black for instance. The deeds of most homes demand that our windows must be of softwood construction – most double glazing companies laugh at you as by its very definition these windows won’t last much beyond 20 years. 

The rules on softwood double glazing are centred ‘sustainability’. If Charlie was that concerned about sustainability he’d focus on electric vehicles and banning the huge German built cars polluting Queen Mother Square. We do have biogas – microbe farts warm our homes and water, but there are issues to burning anything – another article that one…

All six upper floor, west facing windows in my 16 year old home are so rotten you could rip them out with your fingernails. Our living room door was recently replaced as it had literally fallen off its hinges due to rot. Were they left lying about outside for the winter before being treated with the right undercoat paint? That’s one postulation I hear. 

After 10 years the guarantee runs out – the crooks who built it don’t care as the houses survived beyond their financial ties to the places!

For my part I have had quotes for windows and door upwards of £10,000 – one salesman shifted pretty quickly when I responded rather bluntly and directly that £30,000 is unacceptable in the extreme. People pay those prices – that comes with having so much more money than sense that you buy into Poundbury. 

I should close this section with an anecdote – in phoning around for a joiner and a builder on my (as yet unfinished) quest for new windows, I discovered the joiner who made cow barn doors for Charlie’s Tetbury Estate. The material used? Oak. 

Roofs 

I don’t know construction. It isn’t my business. What I did hear on talking to a company repairing one of the terraced three storey tenements on Woodland Crescent was that MDF was used in an outside, structural part of the roof. MDF falls apart in the rain – was it painted so well that more houses’ roofs haven’t fallen down? The house that it was discovered in was so close to the Duchy Offices that you could easily throw a rotten brick through their window from it. 

Buyer beware 

My message to potential buyers is this: whether bought off-plan in the North East Quadrant or one of the rotten piles in Phase 2 or the cute cottages in Phase 1, get a surveyor in before you exchange. S/he should look at the windows carefully – with scaffolding or a ladder for the upper floors – outside and in. Get them into the roof spaces to examine the construction materials of the the roofing. 

Before exchanging on the new properties, have samples of the paint on the wood taken as well as the wood itself. Do also have the surveyor examine the construction of the building before you pay a red penny. 

In both cases, you could demand a good £50,000 off the list price – even on the new, supposedly zero carbon homes. 

Poundbury has its good sides and bad sides. It is by far no paradise as is sold by the likes of Fran Leaper and Freemason male friends, and these uglinesses described could wipe a big middle class grin off your face.