‘Sleep five in the bed’, our builders said - Barnsbury mum’s ‘house of horrors’

Margaret Hegarty with two of her children Grace (left) and Tommy. Pic: Arnaud Stephenson

Margaret Hegarty with two of her children Grace (left) and Tommy. Pic: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

A single mum says builders at her “house of horrors” told her she should sleep in a bed with her four children while work was carried out.

Margaret Hegarty, 38, was relocated to Cloudesley Road, Barnsbury, after her previous home burnt down, almost trapping her inside, in 2005.

But she says the place has been a building site ever since, and Partners for Improvement in Islington (PfI) only started work when a court ordered them to in October.

Ms Hegarty said: “I couldn’t believe it when she told us to all sleep in the same bed. Two babies, two teenagers and me. It’s ridiculous.

“We moved after our house burnt down and it was meant to be a fresh start but I feel it’s been taken away from us.

“It was a building site when they first showed it to us, but they promised it would be sorted.

“But it never has and it’s been nine years. I’ve had a leak in my roof that filled a bucket every two hours, broken stairs, everything. It’s been a total disgrace.

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“The court order said they had to have the work done by the end of the month, but they didn’t start until November 19.

“I’ve been trying to protect my babies from the dust, noise and smell.It’s been a lot of pressure and I’m not coping well. The court even said they had to carry out health and safety checks before work started - we have to live here.”

The repairs ordered by the court ran to seven pages, and an expert report found partners in breach of their duty of care and repairing covenant.

A spokesman for Partners said: “We are investigating an allegation made to the Gazette about a conversation between the resident and a member of staff. When replacing a ceiling, joists were exposed which were rotten and needed replacement. This led to one of the three bedrooms being out-of-use for two nights, but the repair was completed as quickly as possible when the resident was able to allow access. We will pay for any additional electricity and gas costs caused by the work and will continue to work to minimise any inconvenience.”