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The question: Problem homes

A report this week says four out of five people moving into new homes have to deal with serious defects. Have you had any moving experiences?

I queued two hours before the sales centre opened to fight off the competition and put a deposit down on my first flat.

Then, the following Tuesday, I was offered a position in our York office, some 200 miles away. I decided to take the job and for the first year I only saw my new home at weekends.

Neil Harrison, 25, design engineer, Norwich

It was not the moving in that was stressful but the long and drawn-out process before. We lost three flats through the immoral process of gazumping.

Two were lost to cash buyers who went in low to start with to express their interest and finally raised their sealed bids by more than the asking price.

I blame the system but I particularly blame estate agents who have a duty to sell for the highest price and have no qualms about sourcing other potential buyers who may want to gazump right up to the point of exchange. I think this was possibly the most stressful experience of my life due to the amount of money involved.

Adrian Hannay, coastal engineer, Croydon

Our worst move was to a lovely detached Edwardian house in Ware. It had been run down by the previous owner and the first jobs were removing rubbish left behind and washing the walls (several times) to remove the nicotine stains. The central heating system was an early work by Heath Robinson, involving two hot water tanks. We discovered the damp problem identified by the surveyor was due to a permanent overflow of hot water into the cold water header tank!

More delights were to be found in the garden. The previous owner's children had kept rabbits and we discovered their means of disposing of the cage litter was to bury it in the garden in plastic bags. There must be a logical explanation somewhere.

Rupert Whitmarsh, 54, associate, Hammersmith

I had started work at a large site in East London and had found a room in a shared house on a quiet street in Dagenham.

The two lads there offered me the large front room, the opportunity of a double bed and cheap rent. Being close to site offset any concerns I had about the damaged doors, the stained walls and the illegal radio station in the back room.

I was there for about four weeks, when I came back one night to find the house untidy but very quiet. I was just settling down for a supper when there was some extremely loud knocking at the door. It turned out to be a very angry, unpaid landlord, who I had never seen before, demanding to know who I was and where the lads were. I explained my ignorance to all matters and we agreed I would stay and pay him rent direct.

It goes without saying that as soon as he left, I packed my bags, removed all evidence of my stay and hot footed it to family in Suffolk, from where I commuted to Barking for the next three weeks.

Matthew Young, 32, innovation manager, Hampshire

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