Self builders of £1.2m eco home sue their builder and architect over ‘exploding glass’ and sedum roof they can’t water

The exterior street view of the self build couple's eco home on Strawberry Hill
(Image credit: Google Street View)

A psychologist is suing the builders of her £1.2m eco-house, claiming it has "exploding glass panels" and she cannot reach the sedum roof to water it.

Brenda Vainker claims she cannot meditate and has been driven "almost mad" by the alleged defects in the self build house, according to court papers, located in southwest London’s Strawberry Hill.

Mrs Vainker, who lives in the property with her husband Francois, a lawyer, says it is "unfit for habitation" and is seeking damages. The defendants – the architect and the builder – contest the claim.

Couple hoped for a “calm” environment to meditate

The High Court in London heard how Mrs Vainker told her architect, Steve Clifton, that the new-build ‘had to have natural light and space in a calm and peaceful environment to enable her to practise meditation’.

But, in court papers, she claims the glass panels around the terrace started to 'explode' in 2017 and that her sedum green roof is not safely accessible.

The couple also claim that they struggled to sleep because the house was so 'airless'.

The couple's eco home on Strawberry Hill as seen from the street

The couple's self build home as seen from the side (Image credit: Google Street View)

Self builders are claiming £1m in compensation

The self builders are now suing builders, Marbank Construction Ltd, and SCD Architects for around £1m in compensation under the Defective Premises Act.

The couple claim the workmanship was inadequate and SCD Architects’ designs were "defective". Both companies deny liability.

What the builders and architect say

Both companies insist that the Vainkers have failed to "mitigate their loss" by turning down reasonable offers to straighten out any problems.

SCD Architects' barrister, Benjamin Fowler, branded the Vainkers' green roof claim "absurd" and claimed Mrs Vainker had been warned about the roof's maintenance regime when the house was completed.

The Vainkers' case on the glass panels and balustrades was likewise bound to fail, he added. Mr Fowler said SCD Architects had warned the contractors to use laminated glass, and Marbank had offered to replace much of the glass at its own cost in 2018. Both companies insist that the Vainkers turned down offers to fix any problems.

The Vainkers are claiming around £1m compensation, but Marbank is counterclaiming for alleged outstanding sums for a value between £250,000 and £300,000.

The case continues.

A view of the eco home on Strawberry Hill from the side

The couple's roof can be partially seen in this image (Image credit: Google Street View)
Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.