Young homeowner's horror as Cottam Taylor Wimpey house becomes "infested" with plaster beetles

A young homeowner’s dream first property has turned into a “nightmare” after becoming infested with plaster beetles.

By Conor Marlborough
Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 12:10 pm
Melissa Berry and her boyfriend Tom Ainscough outside their home in Cottam.
Melissa Berry and her boyfriend Tom Ainscough outside their home in Cottam.

Melissa Berry, 22, discovered the insects, which live in damp plaster, crawling on her walls at the £250,000 property months ago.

Since then the infestation has got worse, and Melissa has found them in her food cupboards, cutlery drawer, and even under her duvet at her home on Hayfield Park in Cottam.

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Melissa Berry and her boyfriend Tom Ainscough outside their home in Cottam.

Melissa’s house was built in July 2018, and she and her partner moved in October that year.

“I bought the house after saving up all my money,” she said, “but my dream home has become a nightmare.”

Months after reporting the problem to the company, Melissa feels no closer to a solution.

She says Taylor Wimpey has refused to provide alternative accommodation for the couple while the infestation is dealt with.

The plaster beetles are in every room of Melissa's house.

In an email sent to Melissa, they claim that plaster beetles “are a natural occurrence and therefore not covered by your Taylor Wimpey warranty”.

But a spokesman for the National House Building Council said: “During the first two years the builder is responsible for putting right any defects in the building”.

“Taylor Wimpey couldn’t care less now they’ve got my money,” she said. “I’m young so they think I’ll just go away”.

The couple have moved out of the house, and are now relying on friends and relatives for places to stay.

Melissa has found plaster beetles in her cutlery drawer.

“For me, staying there is not an option,” Melissa said.

“They make me feel dirty. I want to shower but I can’t because they all over the bathroom too.

“It makes me feel horrible. I just don’t want to be there.”

Mould behind Melissa's kitchen cabinets.

Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager of the British Pest Control Association, said plaster beetles “are not harmful to humans in any way,” but admits that “people are not going to want them in their homes.

She said: “Dehumidifiers are one of the best solutions and a professional pest controller can decide if a pesticide is needed too.”

Round the corner from Melissa, Sharon McAvoy has had a similar experience with plaster beetles.

“We bought a Taylor Wimpey flat in Motherwell in 1990,” says the 49-year-old.

“At first we thought we just had damp, but then we could see what the tiny black dots were. It got so bad that it looked like the wall was moving.”

Sharon says working with Taylor Wimpey “was a nightmare”, and after six months getting nowhere, Sharon and her husband took the story to their local newspaper, the Motherwell Evening Times.

Taylor Wimpey has refused to provide alternative accommodation for Melissa and Tom.

“It was really horrible cause you were sitting there and could see them moving on the walls.

“I think it being in the public eye put pressure on them.

“They had to put us up in a hotel for a week. They stripped all the plaster off, back to the bare brick, and refinished it.”

When Sharon and her husband bought their second Taylor Wimpey home in Hayfield Park in September 2017, they got another infestation. It took two attempts to get rid of them.

Melissa added: “It’s a disaster. There’s no end in sight. It’s so stressful, and it’s affecting my work.

“I am sitting there worrying about where I am going to be able to stay tonight.

“I don’t want anything to do with the house or Taylor Wimpey”.

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey North West said: “We are aware that a customer on Hayfield has plaster beetles and are investigating the matter.

“We will work closely with the occupant to agree a resolution and want to reassure people that plaster beetles are naturally occurring and not harmful.”

The National House Building Council said: “If a home owner is not happy with the builder’s response, and they have a NHBC-covered warranty, they can contact us and we offer a resolution service.”

The creatures have been found in the couple's cupboards.