Redbourn pensioner forced from bedroom due to damp and mould problems (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Redbourn pensioner, David Barker, forced from bedroom due to damp and mould problems
A Redbourn pensioner says he has been forced to sleep in his living room for the past ten months because of damp and mould problems blighting his bedroom.
David Barker, 77, who has ischaemic heart disease and asthma, made the decision to move in to his living room after the smell of mould and fungus became "unbearable".
The Fish Street resident said he is "fed up of the excuses" he has heard from St Albans District Council because three inspections by building surveyors say the problem is caused by condensation.
However Mr Barker insists the leaks and stains on his walls and ceilings is caused by water running in from cracks in his wall and roof.
Mr Barker, who is retired after working in construction and lives alone, said: "I am usually a very strong and tough man. However this is really getting me down.
"It is not like me to cry, but this has reduced me to tears.
"I had to get out of the room. I couldn’t bear to have the fungus pumped in to my lungs.
"I have got through bowel cancer and a triple heart bypass and I have got to say this is something I haven’t been able to deal with very well." Mr Barker initially complained in January and was visited by a district council surveyor, Sarah Breeze, who requested a roof verge repair and stain blocker.
He was then visited by housing surveyor, Richard Woods in June who advised Mr Barker that the stains were due to condensation. Mr Woods advised Mr Barker to clean his carpets due to a suspicious smell of cat urine.
Mr Barker said: "I haven’t had a pet in here for years, so I don’t know how it could be that.
"The smell was disgusting. It smelt like a drain and I have done everything to get rid of it.
"I cleaned the carpets with bio detergent and Aqua Vaced the bedroom, as I was advised and even then the smell didn’t go away."
Mr Barker is required to use a pump regularly because of his breathing problems and says the smell forced him to put the pump outside the window, so he could breathe in fresh air.
A visit by Mr Padley in July identified a musty smell before a district council independent survey was carried out, which said the condensation may be exuberated by the wood chip wallpaper in Mr Barker’s bedroom.
As a result, Mr Barker stripped the wallpaper in his room and has since been informed the council can’t find a solution to the problem.
He said: "I used to be a qualified builder. There is a problem with the roof and I don’t want people coming round to take photographs.
"I want action, I want them to knock it down and see where the problem lies.
"I shouldn’t have to take matters in to my own hands. I am retired and should be enjoying myself."
Karen Dragovic, head of housing at the district council, said: "We are aware of Mr Barker’s concerns about this property. The property was inspected originally by the Council’s own surveyors who believe that the problems raised by Mr Barker are being caused by condensation.
"The property has also been inspected twice by an independent surveyor in the last two months. On the second visit by the independent inspector, the roof was checked and no evidence of water penetration from the exterior of the roof was found.
"The walls and floor in the bedroom area were also measured for moisture and found to be dry and the cavity wall insulation intact. The independent surveyor however confirmed that there was a "musty" smell in the room and some staining.
"Like the council’s surveyors, he believes this relates to condensation, excerbated by the woodchip wallpaper retaining mould odour, and the heating in the room being turned off thus preventing the room from drying. He suggested that the woodchip wallpaper be removed and the room redecorated. To avoid dampness in the future, he also suggested that thermostatic radiator valves be set so that a suitable temperature is maintained.
"We understand that the wallpaper has now been removed and the smell is receding. We will also be contacting Mr Barker to discuss other recommendations made by the independent surveyor to help prevent the condensation."
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