Category Archives: The Build

Miswired Boilers?

or not?

So we’re almost a year in to our new home, and it’s come time to get the boiler serviced. The heating has been working fine since a faulty pressure vessel was replaced a few months ago.

We decided to use the same engineer that replaced the pressure vessel to service the system as he seemed knowledgeable and thorough, whereas PRS (who installed the system) failed to diagnose and fix it when they were sent out in the first instance.

We’ve also received a letter from the NHBC about a British Gas deal, but we’d already booked the service by that point.

The big finding was that the system hasn’t been wired up correctly. Specifically, the heating pump has not been connected to the boiler wiring, but to the thermostat/valve wiring.

This means when the thermostat switches, the pump stops immediately, whereas it should continue to run for a number of minutes via a bypass circuit, so that the water in the circuit can cool down rather than just sit in the boiler. (A bit like the cooling fan on a car continues to run after the engine is switched off)

Whilst the system functions normally, it will, over time, shorten the life of the boiler and void the warranty as it hasn’t been installed according to Ideal Boiler’s installation instructions.

Kevin, the engineer,  found this partly as he was being thorough when testing, but also saw a taped off wire in the boiler casing and wondered what it was needed for.

As all the systems across the development were installed by PRS to more or less the same spec, I would not be surprised if there are others out there like this.

You could quickly check, by turning the upstairs thermostat up high, wait for the radiators to heat up fully, then turn the thermostat back down. You should hear the valves close but the pump should stay running and shutdown after a number of minutes.

Otherwise, we can’t recommend Kevin from Personal Home Care highly enough to service and check your system. (i’d also note the British Gas offer only covered the boiler, not the Hot Water Cylinder, for which Kevin is the manufacturer certified agent and how he was sent to see us originally)

Update:- 4 June, The electrician from Renelec has been out and rewired the pump correctly. Took about 30mins in all, as the cabling was already in the walls.

The Duck Pond!

Last week, the construction fences around the open meadow area on the east side of the Abbotts Walk site came down. The play area isn’t due to be built for another year, as the site has to be handed over to Winchester Council yet (details here). However, we do seem to have a Duck Pond, where a dry infiltration basin should be!


The infiltration basin consists of a large underground soakaway that takes the surface water from roads and roofs across the development. The basin itself should only fill up if there is an extreme storm event. Our basin has had water in it since December, so may have been silted up with construction dirt or not been constructed as designed.

This seems to be a problem on 2 fronts, the obvious one being safety if there is to be a children’s play area a few metres away. There are some thorns/nettles around the perimeter, but they don’t go all the way round and still quite small. The second problem is that if it is decided to excavate and ‘clean’ the basin at a later point, will it be charged to the initial construction cost or as a maintenance cost by The Abbotts Walk Management Company and onwards to residents?

3rd issue, as the basin is part filled already, it won’t have the capacity required to come with the flooding event, maybe not even a 1 in 30yr? So surface water would flow in to the Itchen and down towards the city. Wondering if the Environment Agency need to be aware.

What to do?

If you’re happy with a duck pond, all is well, otherwise:

Raise a planning complaint to Winchester City Council, where they have a compliance officer who is monitoring the site.

After recent dealings with the council, it’s best if as many people as possible could raise the issue, individual complaints don’t appear to get much attention.

The complaint can be raised by email, here’s a template if you’re short on time, but it’s also best if they are individually written than all to the same template. Here are some pointers:

Recipients:  (WCC Planning Department)   (Dominic Hiscock, Ward Councillor)  (Jim Maynard, Ward Councillor)

Planning Enforcement Complaint – Land at Francis Gardens, Winchester, SO23 – Infiltration Basin


In the Landscape Management Compartment Plan submitted as part of the application reference 11/01798/FUL, the drainage feature in the Eastern open space of this site is detailed as a Dry infiltration Basin. This feature has contained a significant level of water since December 2013 and has recently been made accessible to the public.

This is further detailed in the Flood Risk Assessment that formed part of the original planning application 08/1937/FUL. Section 9.3.6 reads:

The infiltration swale/basin feature has been sized so as to provide storage for the excess flow over the 1 in 30 year event, up to and including the 1 in 100 year plus climate change event. This 
feature which is intended to remain dry, but in the extremists of events (1 in 100 year plus 30% allowance for climate change), will store an additional 225m3 without overflowing


The current basin constitutes an immediate safety risk, whilst there is the beginnings of a vegetative barrier, it is incomplete and there is a steep slope 1/5 gradient into the basin. (RoSPA guidance indicates fencing may be required where there is a steep slope)

The original plans for this area included a children’s play area in the open space, and whilst not on the current plans, a S106 payment has been made to Winchester City Council to build a play area on site once it has been transferred to the council. This poses an obvious risk if the basin is not corrected to perform as planned.


Over the past week  have noticed parking bays being block paved and manholes covers being raised up for the final road surface through most of the site. Good news, as that will mean most of the heavy contsruction machinery and deliveries will be done with.

Yesterday, noticed that the manhole cover directly in front of our parking space has been marked out to be dug out and raised up and the parking bays opposite being dug up (aside from the spot where a car is currently parked!)

In typical Redrow style, there’s been no communication or notification of their intentions, so contacted customer services to find out when and how long we might lose access for.

The response is that the roadworks won’t be taking place until 9th June and won’t cause any disruption. So, I’m assuming they’re talking about when the actual tarmac will be arriving and being laid. But can’t say i’m convinced you can tarmac a whole road outside people’s houses and parking spaces without causing ANY disruption.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the work to happen and will facilitate it, but it doesn’t take much to communicate so that we can be prepared and make necessary parking/other arrangements.

UPDATE – 24 April 2014

Not sure what did it, but Site have posted a note round this morning giving details and the message is there will be inevitable but minimal disruption. Which is about what we expected I guess.



Looks like some good progress made on site last week. From what I can tell, Redrow have got to a milestone and all of the last phase have had their roof and windows installed and hence watertight.

IMG_20140223_173550 (1)

Also noted on the Redrow website Abbotts Walk page, that there are no plots available with pricing (there has been a lone Buckley on there for a while). So that may well mean that all the homes have now been reserved..

[update 25/2/14] The development has completely dropped off the Redrow website now. You can see an old copy on the Web archive Waybackmachine:



Planning Amendments

Just a summary of amendments to the plans that look to have been submitted to Winchester Council this year:

13/02590/NMA : Approved 21 Dec 13
Changes to number/location of trees in Public Open Space and addition of benches.

13/01394/NMA : Approved 17 Sep 13
Change Rear Boundary of plots 76,77,86,87 from brick wall to wooden fence.

13/01362/NMARejected 13 Aug 13
Retrospective change of Flint walls to Brick and Tile capping from Half round coping.