Homes From Hell

Thursday, 22 July 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Seaside Fantasies

Living by the seaside appeals to many as an ideal home location. But what happens when a seaside dream turns into a nightmare?

Homes From Hell meets the couple living in a caravan after their hopes of a new life in Greece turned sour and the people whose homes are crumbling into the North Sea.

Plus, one couple reveal the moment they discovered someone else was living in their holiday apartment.

Bev and Nez Akar were living in Yorkshire when they bought a £40,000, three-bedroom apartment off-plan in Turkey. After getting the keys they spent four years having wonderful holidays before receiving a phone call from their neighbour informing them that someone was moving their things out.

Bev and Nez were supposed to receive the deeds to the property when it was completed, but they never got them. Homes From Hell takes a lawyer to meet the couple at the apartment block and she reveals that their contract isn’t valid but they do have a letter which proves that they have paid for the apartment. Bev and Nez have now written to the new owner to ask for compensation, but are still awaiting a reply.

Dog breeder Helena Turner tells the programme how she paid £230,000 for her dream home by the sea only to discover, after moving in, that the whole frame of the building was rotten and needed replacing. The house was so cold and damp that Helena had to move into her garage and has been living there for the last three years. Homes From Hell structural expert John Topp visits Helena and reveals the devastating news that the property needs to be pulled down and re-built.

Lynne Harrison and David Oliver paid 215,000 euros for a luxury villa with pool to be built for them on the Greek island of Rhodes. But, when they got an estate agent to look over the papers regarding the villa and she made the shocking discovery that the house had been built more than twice as big as it should have been and tells them they could now face fines of up to 30,000 euros a year for the additional parts of the villa.

But that isn’t the only problem with the house. John Topp flew to Rhodes to examine the property and discovered the six metre high wall holding up the garden is on the verge of collapse. He tells the couple: “It’s about as bad as an example of a modern retaining wall that you can get. It will definitely fall over, whether it falls over next week, next month or next year.”

When the couple wrote to the developer he said there was no danger of the wall falling over, but he did say that he would consider buying the villa back from them.

Homes From Hell visits David and Lynne who are now living in a caravan back in Britain. Lynne says: “All we want to do is forget we ever knew Greece and start a new life.”

The series also meets the couple whose home was left hanging over the edge of a cliff after the earth surrounding it was washed away by the tide.

Josephine and Colin Arnold tell Homes From Hell that when they bought their farmhouse near the sea in East Yorkshire in 1988 they had 30 metres of land between them and the coast ��” there are now just two.

They explain that in 1995 a huge storm took seven metres of their land and then in 2007 another storm left their home dangling over the edge of the cliff.

Colin says: “If you looked at the house there was nothing wrong with it at all until you opened the back door and there was a 20 foot drop.”

The couple are now living in a caravan on their remaining land and there are emotional scenes as they revisit the farmhouse. Josephine says: “I can see the way it was and the people who used to come and it’s too much. We have no future, we can’t plan for the future unless we know what the future is.”

Homes From Hell: Seaside Fantasies is produced and directed by Ruth Swarbrick. The executive producer is Sarah Caplin.

Thursday, 15 July 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Episode Three: Perfect Locations

Location is everything when choosing a dream home, but what happens when your perfect location leaves you with a nightmare home?

Homes From Hell meets the couple whose idyllic Portuguese farmhouse is going to be turned into a traffic island, the family whose neighbours have built a breezeblock wall around the back of their house and the couple whose marriage is on the rocks thanks to their dream home in Spain.

Plus, one family tell the devastating story of the two fires in seven days which saw their perfect rural home burnt to the ground while they were on holiday.

Dean and Wendy Roberts tell the series how they decided to leave their home in Wales to open a horse sanctuary in Portugal after finding the perfect location ��” a rustic farmhouse set within 44 acres of peaceful countryside. They paid 225,000 Euros for the home and sold their existing house in Wales to pay for the necessary renovations.

But, before work could start, the couple were given the earth-shattering news that a six-lane motorway and adjoining A-road were going to be built right through their land, turning their home into a traffic island.

And Dean and Wendy believe that the estate agent who sold them the property knew of the proposed motorway and didn’t tell them.

Dean tells the programme: “I just broke down into tears because it was like somebody betraying me. It’s devastating people’s lives, uprooting to a new country, wanting to make a new start, put our money and effort into it. I don’t know how they sleep.”

Homes From Hell is with the couple when they get another agent to value the property and are dealt the devastating blow that it is now only worth 125,000 Euros and would be extremely difficult to sell.

The series wrote to the estate agents who said that they didn’t know about the A-road or that the motorway was going to be so close to the house. Dean and Wendy are now planning to take legal action, but it could take years to be resolved.

In Somerset, Homes From Hell meets Lee Goddard and his partner Diane Wilson who thought they had found the perfect location for a family home when Lee’s father gave them a barn on his land to convert.

But when new neighbours, who owned the land behind the barn, moved in, they said the windows of the barn that overlooked their land were illegal and that it was trespass to open them. So they built a breezeblock wall around the back of the barn, just inches from the windows.

Diane tells the programme: “I just want to go out there and knock it down myself. It does make me angry.

“I want it down, moved, whatever. I just want to be able to open the windows and I want to know that if there was a fire, praying to God and touching wood that it wouldn’t, that we’d have the access to get out, it’s as simple as that.”

Homes From Hell introduces Lee and Diane to a surveyor who is an expert in solving boundary and party wall disputes, but, when he investigates, it’s not good news. He reveals that when Lee’s dad bought the barn, he agreed that he would not put windows in it. The surveyor also says that the house is not habitable with the wall so close, therefore it is worthless.

Lee and Diane tell the series they are shocked by the news but determined to find a solution, their neighbours have since put their house on the market and the couple are hoping the new neighbours will reach a compromise with them.

Barrie and Jan Waterfall show Homes From Hell their dream home in Spain which is now falling down after a mains water pipe burst and washed away the earth it was built on. John Topp, Homes From Hell’s structural engineer flies out to Spain to meet the couple and, using a fire brigade hose pipe, demonstrates the effect a high pressure jet of water can have on the kind of earth the house is built on.

When John inspects the house he discovers it is on the move all the time and the structural supports the council have installed may be making the problem worse. Barrie and Jan were moved into temporary accommodation by the council two years ago and have been told by their own builder that the house will cost 100,000 Euros to repair, and John Topp agrees, but the council, on the advice of their own experts, offered only 61,000 Euros.

The situation has put so much pressure on the couple that Jan has now decided to move back to England, leaving Barrie behind.

Jan tells the programme: “I have nothing to live for over here, it’s as simple as that. We were just shouting at each other, taking out our frustrations on each other. They’ve absolutely mucked up our lives. I don’t think there’s any other way of saying it.”

Barrie says: “It’s put a tremendous stress on us…divorce would be a torrid idea, we’ve been together 20-odd years, now, because the marriage is slightly estranged, it’s more comfortable at the moment to live apart.”

And, Tony and Vivien Smith from County Durham tell Homes From Hell the heart-breaking story of two fires that destroyed their rural home which is so isolated that the fire brigade couldn’t get to it in time to save it.

The couple believed they had found their perfect location for a family home when they bought a 16th century farmhouse which looked out across a valley. They renovated the property into their home and a holiday cottage, complete with a hot tub and a swimming pool.

But their dream began to turn to a nightmare in December 2009 when the heater on their hot tub caught fire. Tony rang the fire brigade but, because of heavy snow, they could only make it as far as half a mile away. Tony managed to bring the fire under control himself, but the pool house was ruined.

Despite the fire, the family decided to go ahead with a pre-booked trip to Egypt five days later, however, while they were away, further disaster struck when their fridge freezer caught fire. A passing neighbour called the fire brigade, but by the time they arrived it was too late to save the house.

Tony received a call from the neighbour when he spotted the fire. Tony tells the programme: “I just looked at Viv and we knew the fire brigade wouldn’t get up, we knew we’d lose everything we owned, we knew the house would burn down.”

In emotional scenes, Tony adds: “It’s just so tragic that it’s happened and I wish I could turn the clock back. I wish I could turn it back six years, I’d have put a sprinkler system in. To have two fires in one week, one Christmas Day and one on New Year’s Day is unbelievable, a lifetime of bad luck in one week.”

Despite their tragic story, Tony tells the programme that he is determined to re-build the family home and re-create their dream life in their perfect location.

Homes From Hell: Perfect Locations is produced and directed by Jill Worsley. The executive producer is Sarah Caplin.

Thursday, 8 July 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Homes From Hell: Dream Developments

Building your own house from scratch can give you the ultimate dream property and 100,000 new homes were built in Britain last year.

But what happens when you invest your life savings in a project which doesn’t result in a home for you to live in? Homes From Hell: Dream Developments meets the couple who invested over £400,000 on their ideal home in a woodland setting, only to discover a technical fault left it damp and rotting.

Another couple tell the devastating story of how they bought their first home on a development which has now turned into a ghost estate. And one man explains how his dream retirement home in Portugal has cost him his relationship and his life-savings.

In 1992 Alan Garrett sold his successful business to build a luxury home for him and his wife Alison and a further home for their family on a four-acre woodland plot in Bath. The couple spent £38,000 on the plot and £415,000 building the two cutting-edge homes, but, as soon as the development was complete they noticed a huge damp problem.

Alan and Alison show Homes From Hell around their properties and reveal the condensation problem that has caused the frame of the timber buildings to rot. Condensation gathers on the glass roofs and windows of the buildings and drips down onto the floors. Alison explains that for the last nine years she has been wiping the windows, only for the water to form again within 30 minutes.

The architects responsible for the development couldn’t sort the condensation out so Alan called in a surveyor who said the problem lay with the inadequate ventilation system which had left the walls filled with water. He told Alan that the whole timber frames needed replacing.

The couple decided to sue the architects but it proved very costly and the architects had minimal insurance, so Alan and Alison received only £130,000. Their home was worthless and they faced repairing the properties themselves.

Alan says: “This site should be worth a million pounds. It is the grand design million pound house. In actual fact, we’d probably make more money from the site selling it as an undeveloped site than actually trying to sell it with these buildings on it, so, we’d be better of having a big bonfire and selling the site clear. And that is gutting, that is not a dream, that is a disaster.”

For the last three years the couple have worked to repair the smallest building themselves and Homes From Hell is there as the scaffolding finally comes down.

Seadna and Mairead Billings tell the series how they took out a 100 per cent mortgage of £175,000 to buy their dream three-bedroom new-build home near Belfast.

The couple moved in in 2008 and soon discovered the surrounding houses were all empty. The estate was meant to have 70 houses on it, but work had stopped due to the property crash, many homes were not finished and only a small amount had been sold.

The estate became a ‘ghost-estate’, one of around 621 in existence in Ireland.

Seadna and Mairead tell the programme how they were living alone in their street and the derelict houses around them were soon under-siege from vandals and rodents.

As he peers through the windows on the abandoned estate, Seadna says: “Fireplaces are ripped off and skirting boards taken up and doors taken off and you can just see the vandalism and theft that’s gone on around the place…it just gradually got worse and worked it’s way down closer and closer to us…we were worried, if we were going to be sitting in the living room, if there was going to be a brick come through the window.”

Eventually the couple decided to leave the property and move into a rented house. Now, after being left paying rent and a mortgage, they have decided to declare themselves bankrupt and have the house re-possessed. In emotional scenes Seadna and Mairead show Homes From Hell the home they had hoped to raise a family in which is now derelict and boarded up.

Former concert pianist David Heft from Boston, Lincolnshire, tells Homes From Hell how he invested his life savings in building a luxury villa in Portugal for him and his partner to enjoy their retirement. The programme features footage of the building getting underway, which David shot himself. He agreed to pay 209,000 euros in four instalments and was told that the land and the property would be signed over to him once the developer received the final payment and the villa was complete.

But after a third instalment and a total of 130,000 euros the work stopped and the builders never returned. David is now left with half finished building which he can’t even sell because it is not in his name. Homes From Hell flies out to Portugal with David to see the property and he chokes back tears as he reveals how the stress of the situation has now cost him his relationship and all his money.

He says: “As a result of this house, I have lost a vast amount of money, I’ve lost my partner, I’ve lost my dream that I cherished. I’ve lost the wonderful retirement I was so looking to having, I’ve lost it all.”

And, Homes From Hell meets the couple who are being forced to demolish their luxury Cypriot holiday home after a court ruling.

David and Linda Orams bought their home in Northern Cyprus in 2002 from a Turkish-Cypriot, but, just a year after moving in they received a court summons from a Greek-Cypriot living in the south of the island who claimed the land the house was built on was his, and he wanted it back.

The Greek-Cypriots fled Northern Cyprus in 1974, when the Turks invaded, but the claimant said the piece of land was still his.

After several court hearings in Cyprus and England, the couple have now been ordered to tear the house down and return the land to the original owner. They have also been asked to pay £300 a month rent for the last seven years they have lived there.

Homes From Hell contacted the owner of the land who said that people buying property in Northern Cyprus should understand that it is like buying goods from the back of a lorry, because they might belong to someone else.

Linda says: “We’re not going to let it ruin our lives. Maybe we’re in shock, I don’t know, but we’ll have to wait and see how we feel when it’s all over.”

Homes From Hell: Dream Developments is produced and directed by Ruth Swarbrick. The executive producer is Sarah Caplin.

Thursday, 1 July 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Homes From Hell: Dubai Dreams

The desert city of Dubai is viewed by many as ‘the land of plenty’, with its plethora of luxury places to stay, sandy beaches, jaw-dropping sky-scrapers and year-round sunshine.

Since 2002, when Dubai’s royal family ruled that foreigners could buy property in the city, 100,000 Brits have invested money with Dubai-based developers, hoping to get their dream home.

But the world recession saw property prices slump and now £50 billion worth of construction is on hold.

Homes From Hell: Dubai Dreams meets the victims of the economic crash, including the family who had to do a moonlight-flit to avoid jail and the couple auctioning their apartment for as little as a penny. Plus, there are dramatic scenes when one man jets to Dubai to confront a builder who took customers’ money and then didn’t build a thing.

John and his wife, whose names have been changed to protect their identities, tell Homes From Hell how they moved to Dubai with their toddler when John took a well-paid job with an advertising agency. They paid for their apartment and car in advance with post-dated cheques, but within six months the company ran into trouble and John was laid off. Under Dubai law he suddenly faced jail if his cheques bounced.

As John frantically looked for another job he sought advice from a lawyer who told him the only way to protect himself and his family was to flee the country.

British property journalist Richard Dean, who has lived in Dubai for 12 years, tells Homes From Hell: “You have to get out before the bank realises you’re in trouble or else they put a block on you and when you get to the airport you’ll be stopped.”

John and his wife reveal how, under the cover of darkness, they hurriedly packed all their belongings, burnt any paperwork which would link back to them, and headed to the airport.

John says: “It sounds dramatic, but it was. To flee a country during the night with your child, I can’t think of anything more stressful and dramatic than that.”

He explains how terrified the family were at the airport as their passports were checked, but that they finally made it onto the plane and back to the UK.

One couple tells the series how they lived happily in Dubai for 18 years before deciding to sell their £750,000 apartment and move back to the UK. But when property prices crashed they couldn’t sell their home and are now facing auctioning it to the lowest unique bidder to get rid of it. They are charging £75 per ticket to take part in the auction and are hoping to sell 10,000 tickets to raise the £750,000 they need. But nine months later they tell Homes From Hell that they have only sold 2000 tickets so far.

Christine and Dieter Glaser from the Shetland Isles explain how they lost £55,000 after investing in an apartment development at Dubai’s snow dome. The winter sports dome was part of the city’s proposed super theme-park which was supposed to be the largest in the world. The development was due to be finished in 2008 but has barely even begun. Homes From Hell wrote to the developers and the Glasers were offered a refund, but so far they haven’t seen a penny.

Kevin and Heather Seymour reveal how they lost £65,000 after agreeing to buy a brand-new £120,000 apartment off-plan. The couple were so excited about the prospect of their dream home that they kept a video diary and Homes From Hell features their footage of the proposed site, them signing the papers, and the foundations of the building being laid.

The couple even met with the owner of the development company and said he made them feel ‘special’ when he told them they would be looked after. But just five days after that meeting they discovered he had fled the country, abandoning the proposed apartment block.

Heather tells the programme: “I quite dread getting into our later years because I wonder how we will manage on the amount of money that is in Kevin’s pension if we don’t get this money back.”

And there are dramatic scenes when Homes From Hell follows Dave Goodman to Dubai to confront business man Ian Beaumont who fled to the city after taking £3m from investors like Dave. Ian Beaumont first appeared in the Homes From Hell series three years ago when Dave revealed that he paid £48,000 towards an apartment in Cyprus which never got built.

At the time, Ian Beaumont met with the investors and pledged his commitment to the project, saying: “I am not a crook. I don’t want to run away with your money.” But, just six months later, he fled the country and Dave Goodman has spent the last three years tracking him down.

Homes From Hell cameras are there to capture the moment Dave surprises Ian at a business meeting and confronts him about the money he lost.

Homes From Hell: Dubai Dreams is produced and directed by Jill Worsley. The executive producer is Sarah Caplin.

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