base study: The ‘drip leak’ that ruined 700 sq.ft of flooring
In 2014, our tenants of 2 years residing at 7 Garden Walk had reported a discolouration to the wood flooring immediately in front of the integrated dishwasher. This sort of maintenance report is not a major issue, but the cosmetic damage was not in keeping with the quality (and rental price) of the property so the landlord agreed that, whilst the tenants were abroad on holiday for 10 days, our contractors would attend in their absence and replace this small section of flooring ready for their return home.
On arrival of our contractor, they removed the dishwasher to access the flooring only to discover a lot more moisture and water staining hidden behind the machine and a small ‘drip’ leak on the water feed pipe to the appliance. It was soon discovered that this drip leak must have been taking place over the course of months, if not years, and that the extent of the water damage was far greater than originally thought. In fact, the water had permeated the sub-floor (the insulated chipboard sat underneath the solid wood flooring) and was sodden and rotting affecting nearly 60% of the entire property footprint!
The diagnosis was dire, but what we needed now was a treatment plan. There was no easy fix for this - nearly 700 square feet of flooring and sub-flooring structure needed to be removed, the space dried out, and replacement flooring re-laid, with just over one week to achieve this before the tenants returned to their home from their holiday.
Our first step was to immediately update the tenants of the situation and to request their blessing to place their two dogs (which were being looked after by a house/dog-sitter at the apartment) into kennels prior to any works taking place. The landlord had offered to cover all associated costs, and the tenants authorised us to proceed.
Next up, the furniture - the tenants had set up a wonderful décor in the apartment, and as a result there was a lot of furniture in the living room that needed removing before the flooring work could start. Our entire lettings team got well and truly stuck in - we downed tools, put the answerphone on, and entered the property to move the complete contents of the living room into the two bedrooms (which were thankfully unaffected by the leak). This was no small feat, as the photo below can evidence:
Once the living room was cleared, local flooring company Abbotts Flooring, in Bow E3, entered the next day, taking up all damaged flooring and sub-structure. While liaising with the landlord’s insurance provider (we offer a full claims management service to our clients for a fee of 15% of the value of the insurance claim), they made it very clear that in order for the works to be covered by the policy, they themselves would have to sign off that the property had been suitably dried out the new flooring was installed. As such, we worked with the contractors after the flooring was removed to install no fewer than 8 commercial dehumidifiers in the property.
It took around 5 days for the remaining moisture to be removed via the dehumidifiers, and the insurers were happy to approve the installation of the new floor. This gave us just 3 days left before the return of our tenants from their (hopefully relaxing) holiday.
The flooring contractors proceeded to remove the dehumidifiers and spent two days installing the new underlay and solid oak flooring to an amazing standard. The following day we had the property professionally cleaned and finally, on the day the tenants were due to arrive home, our entire team once again stepped away from our desks to attend to the flat and carefully return all of the living room furniture to their original places, almost as though nothing had happened.
The tenants returned to their home, amazed at what we had achieved and to find it in better condition than when they left it. Their only request came a few days later, with a second top-up clean to remove some of the work dust that had now settled, which we fulfilled. The tenants had major works with virtually no impact to their tenancy; the landlords did not suffer any loss of rent or compensation claims from the tenants; and the entire process of works and insurance claim was handled in full by our team.
An incredible accomplishment, and an example of dynamic and quick-thinking property management that could only have been realised utilising a ‘full team’ effort - which is exactly what we delivered.