Defects leave new homeowners dismayed
HAJ says Edmund Ridge Estates problems being addressed
A two-bedroom house at the newly built Edmund Ridge Estate in Rose Hall, St James.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — New homeowners at the recently built Edmund Ridge Estate in Montego Bay have been left disappointed having received the keys to houses plagued by defects. However, Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) Managing Director Patrick Thelwell is confident that their dismay will be eased once the problems are addressed.

Thelwell admitted to the Jamaica Observer last week that the homeowners have not shied away from voicing their frustration and many concerns about a number of defects identified with the units.

"The agency is well aware of the concerns of our new homeowners in Edmund Ridge Estates. There is a defect list that we ask each of them to prepare and hand back to the agency," he said.

Acknowledging the relevance of the concerns, the HAJ has already started the process of "rectifying those defects", the managing director said.

"We are working with our partner and contractor to remedy those defects over a six-month liability period. We have started rectifying those defects, however, we understand the impatience of our residents, given that these are new homes and their expectations might be different from what is really on the ground," said Thelwell.

One homeowner said she felt disheartened by condition in which the house was handed over to her by HAJ. She, apparently like other homeowners, had raised concerns about the quality of work inside the house when the developers were on site to check for defects.

"Keys were handed over to me for a dirty house; the yard was bushy and there was a lot of garbage in the front yard. While doing the defect walk-through I realised that the whole house was covered in the glue that they used to do corking. What is also strange is that the same type of glue they used to cork the windows was used to do even the ceiling and it has a very messy finish," said the homeowner who requested anonymity.

"I have some tiles that are damaged and mismatched. To make matters worse, some of the tiles are not even grouted. My cupboards are scratched up and my kitchen sink is dented. It looks as if somebody lived there before me and I haven't even moved in as yet. Both my front and back doors are very rusty," she complained.

On top of these issues, the home buyer stated that the plumbing system also seems to be faulty.

The woman accused Thelwell of being dismissive to the residents' concerns.

"After I went to connect my water at the National Water Commission, my bathroom flooded out and we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. We realised that the water is coming through the walls. Whenever we call the managing director of HAJ he is very dismissive and you can tell that there is no form of urgency or understanding on his part," she told the Sunday Observer.

However Thelwell, while expressing disappointment on behalf of HAJ, maintained that he has remained hands on as the agency seeks to remedy the problems.

"I have met with some of the homeowners…and tried to address some of the issues. However, I cannot always personally address the issues because we have a structure in the organisation that has to be followed. As the managing director I cannot take the personal calls of each resident," said Thelwell.

Another homeowner told the Sunday Observer that while she recognised some "red flags" regarding the development before the keys were handed over by the housing agency, she was not emotionally prepared for what she saw when she first entered her new house.

"Before we got the keys there was an issue with the electrical compliance certificate because the address on it said Rhyne Park Phase 2 instead of Edmund Ridge Estate. We also had to wait on NWC because they gave us keys and there was no water and the lines were not energised by JPS (Jamaica Public Service). So they were giving people keys and there was no light and water," she explained

"Now, having gotten the keys, there is another set of problems with the quality of the work. Generally every house has issues with grouting, painting and plumbing. There are some pipes that were literally pushed into other pipes, so they are not sealed," she said.

In acknowledging other concerns, such as a lack of paved sidewalks, street lights and garbage collection, which were raised by this homeowner, Thelwell said that the agency did not include paved sidewalks due to cost. However, the issue of street lights and waste collection are being addressed, he told the Sunday Observer.

"We expect to have them in place in short order. What needs to be understood is that this is a phased development. It is not a complete development," said Thelwell.

Substandard grouting work inside a house in the newly build Edmund Ridge Estates.
A rusty door on a recently handed over home at Edmund Ridge Estates.
This resident's toilet lever in the newly built Edmund Ridge Estates has already started to rust.
Paint has already started stripping from a section of the ceiling inside this unit at the newly built Edmund Ridge Estate.
Rusting pipe and poor masonry in this bathroom of a unit inside Edmund Ridge Estates.
A section of unpaved sidewalk in Edmund Ridge Estate.
Rochelle Clayton

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