Residents lament flawed foundations

Residents of a Melkbosstrand housing development fear their property values will plummet due to problems with floor tiles they have blamed on the developer.

Melkbosch Village was built along the Cape West Coast in 2007 by Asrin Property Developers.

Samantha McCay and her partner bought one of the sectional title units from the original owner in 2015. Then last month the tiles in the living room of the house started “popping”.

“My partner was in the shower and thought it was gunshots,” said Ms McCay.

The tiles had continued to pop for the rest of the day and about a week later the same thing happened in the kitchen.

“It basically happened everywhere where there are tiles in the house. The bedrooms have laminated flooring so nothing happened there”.

Ms McCay said she knew of several other properties where the same thing had happened.

Her insurance firm refused to pay out citing “loss or damage caused by or attributable to defective design, specification, construction or material”.

Tabletalk has a copy of the letter from Ms McKay’s insurer telling her that “the tiles were not installed properly causing the adhesive under the tiles to have air pockets”, which had become larger over time because of the expansion and contraction of air. This phenomena is known as “tile tenting” and happens when tiles lifting from their bonded positions push against each other to form tent-like bumps.

“The assessor said it was the worst case of expansion and contraction they’ve ever seen,” Ms McCay said.

Ms McCay turned to the Melbosch Village Home Owners’ Association but they also couldn’t help, so she took out a R32 000 loan to replace the flooring, this time with vinyl instead of tiles.

“What about the others who can’t afford to re-do their floors?” she said.

Siebert Neethling has been renting at Melkbosch Village since January last year and says the tiles in her house started lifting about three months ago.

“Back then, I noticed that some of the tiles sounded hollow when walking across them. The issue is mainly in the living room. I have told the landlord and the agency who is managing the lease. I have not attempted to fix the problem as it is not my property, and currently I am waiting on the landlord to make a decision. I believe that this will be a problem on all the properties as it was all built by the same developer.”

Des Palm of the Western Cape Action Forum said the residents had no legal recourse because the houses were more than five years old.

“The developers say it’s not there problem. The insurance says it’s bad workmanship. Basically everyone’s shrugging their shoulders saying it’s not their problem and the owners are falling in the gap and are expected to fork out thousands for new floors,” said Mr Palm.

He emailed Asrin last month on behalf of the residents but said he had yet to get a response.

“If it was an isolated incident, it would be one thing but if it’s happening to more than one house they should do something,” he said.

Homeowners, he added, were legally obliged to disclose any defects they knew of when selling.

However Rehana Mohamed, Asrin’s sales and marketing executive, said the company had no record of any correspondence from Mr Palm and as for the tile tenting, she said there was “absolutely no phenomena” and “we refute the alleged allegations made by Ms McCay”.

Ms McCay said she understood that Asrin had no “contractual obligation” but she felt there was a “moral obligation”.