Midlothian residents' anger over issues at new housing site Carnethy Heights in Penicuik

Avant Homes says it has addressed issues raised by Penicuik residents
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Furious residents on a new Midlothian housing development have hit out at the standard of service they have received from the developer, Avant Homes.

Locals contacted the Evening News after we featured a story regarding the next phase of Carnethy Heights in Penicuik being approved this week. They took issue with Avant Homes Scotland managing director, Jim Wilkinson, claiming in the article that “Carnethy Heights has proven extremely popular from the outset". And that the homes have been "well received by buyers".

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Driving instructor and retired teacher Peter Kingsbury, 61, moved into his new home at Carnethy Heights in December 2021, where there are currently around 90 homes.

He said: "The main problem is the customer service at Avant, or lack of it. Trying to get anything done is like trying to get blood out of a stone. We have had to threaten legal action on three occasions just to get things done.

"We supplied a document to them with 78 snagging points, including problems with the space for the tumble dryer, which eventually they sorted, but it took eight or nine months for them to accept fault.

"When their guys come out the work is not great, and I often have to fix things they've done, but when the sub contractors come it's great. It's generally little things.

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"Last December we had in two complaints about our garage doors not being fitted properly and harling issues. We've also had issues on the site in general, like a lack of road sings, and so far they have only sorted one of the 15 issues raised."

Residents in front of the Carnethy Heights site issues they have complained to Avant Homes about.Residents in front of the Carnethy Heights site issues they have complained to Avant Homes about.
Residents in front of the Carnethy Heights site issues they have complained to Avant Homes about.

Mr Kingsbury added: "The biggest problem is not the issues with the house, which we can accept as it's a new house. It's the fact that they fought not to put things right. And I know plenty of people here have just gone on sorted issues themselves just so it will get done.

"It's a great place to live, we really like our house, it's just the issue with getting things done, the service from Avant has been awful, which is why I was so angry to see what their managing director said."

Fellow Carnethy Heights resident Peter Rietvelt says Mr Kingsbury is not alone in his feelings about Avant Homes.

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He said: "I know there are a lot of unhappy people among the Avant home buyers at Carnethy Heights. Unfortunately housebuilders have too much power over the buyers and once you paid in order to get the key, it is legally impossible to touch them. Meaning they can do what they want. 

"This is not my first new build house , but for sure the worst experience.  I don’t think Avant has many prizes in the last two years at the annual awards evening for builders!"

Responding directly to Avant's Jim Wilkinson's comments, Peter added: "His words are not the experience of the many Avant home owners at Carnethy Heights. Many of them are still having issues that Avant still needs to address more than a year after receiving the keys.

"I’m one of them and I’m still waiting for an answer to a letter I wrote in August 2023. I've reminded them twice now. The finish of the housing is below standard, and not as they advertised. After-care snags are too many to mention. And their customer service does not provide any customer trust."

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Another local resident, Olivia Willis, said she will never buy a home from Avant again after her experience in Penicuik, which left her homeless for months.

She said: "My issues with Avant started from the day I paid the deposit for the house and continue until today. I paid deposit for the house in February 2021 and was promised to move in by November 2021. Avant’s sale condition was that I had to put my flat on the market by June 2021.

"My Edinburgh city centre flat sold within two weeks and the buyer asked to move in by September at the latest. So I ended up homeless, a single mum with a young child.

"Avant kept lying to me about the completion date from November until April 2022 when I finally moved in. So I had to be a burden on my friends for six months longer than Avant committed to."

Residents at Carnethy Homes are angry with Avant Homes for their service at the Penicuik housing development, which is set to be extended.Residents at Carnethy Homes are angry with Avant Homes for their service at the Penicuik housing development, which is set to be extended.
Residents at Carnethy Homes are angry with Avant Homes for their service at the Penicuik housing development, which is set to be extended.
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Olivia's problems with Avant didn't end there. She added: "When I moved in the poor quality issues were obvious. Over the first six months Avant had to address over 100 issues on my snagging list. Then over the next 12 months other quality issues appeared, which they simply kept ignoring until now.

"I have put in several formal complaints and the issues are not getting resolved including a significant level difference in the back garden and exceptionally poor quality soil and grass which they refused to address, claiming it is my responsibility to level the uneven soil left by them and remove the rocks and rubble which they left under the grass.

"I also had a significant roof leak in the garage and the water and damp travelled to the living room. Finally, I also had incorrectly installed solar panels which were causing the lights tripping due to a short circuit in the whole house. Avant claimed that it was one of my own white goods causing this. I had to pay for my own surveyor electrician to prove to them that it was the solar panels which they installed. 

"I would never buy from Avant again and would never recommend them to anyone. Extremely poor customer service, house rushed to finish not to mention the grounds on the estate looking like a building site full of rubbish one and a half years after the last house in the estate was sold." An Avant Homes spokesperson said: “It is always regrettable when a customer’s experience of buying one of our homes does not meet the high standards and expectations we set ourselves.

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“We are aware of the concerns of Mr Kingsbury, Mr Rietvelt and Miss Willis, who all acquired their properties between 2021 and 2022, and have addressed them each individually over a period of time.

“Avant Homes Scotland now has a new senior management team in place, led by managing director, Jim Wilkinson. The team is focused on delivering quality new homes for everyone and ensuring a positive customer experience throughout the sales, build, moving in and after care process.

“We are a business committed to continuous improvement by putting our customers first and will always act to deal with any reasonable concerns raised.”

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