‘It’s like another job!’ Meet the homeowner with a £70k cladding repair bill who spends two hours every day fighting for justice
- Steph Pike, 30, reveals the time she spends fighting her £70k cladding repair bill
- The hours spent daily on so-called ‘cladmin’ is a reality for many leaseholders
- Many leaseholders are unable to sell their homes due to the cladding scandal
Meet Steph Pike. A 30-year-old solicitor living in her own flat in Bristol. At face value, she appears to have what many would consider a successful life, with a good career that helped her to buy a home of her own.
However, take a closer look and you’ll find that she is just one of many leaseholders facing a huge cladding repair bill. In her case, the bill is ‘around £70,000, with the final bill expected to be more’.
Yet, any thoughts about living in an unsafe building – as is the reality for so many affected homeowners – are pushed aside as she spends so much of her time focused on cladding admin – or ‘cladmin’.
Solicitor Steph Pike (pictured), 30, paid £193,000 for her one-bed flat in the 109 flat development in Bristol, completed months after the fire at the west London Grenfell tower block in 2017 claimed 72 lives
For Steph, the issue has become all-consuming, with her often spending up to three or four hours every evening, plus weekends on cladmin.
There are media interviews to help raise awareness about cladding issues, there is dealing with her own block of 109 homes that face a £7.6million repair bill, as well as time-consuming wider issues such as organising protests against leaseholders having to pay.
She told MailOnline Property: ‘On average, I spend around two hours a day on cladding issues. But it is often more like three or four hours a day.
‘I logged off from work at 7pm last night and then opened by personal laptop to spend time on cladding issues, such as writing emails to other residents. It is like another job and feels never-ending.’
Fire services have attended at least 300 fires at blocks with waking watches since Grenfell, according to magazine Inside Housing. (Pictured, Grenfell tower block)
And then there is also the time Steph spends talking to friends and family about the concerns she has about her building and how she is going to pay for the repairs to avoid bankruptcy.
She said: ‘I don’t think I talk about anything else to my family and friends. I feel boring, it is just so overwhelming.’
I don’t think I talk about anything else to my family and friends. I feel boring, it is just so overwhelming.
She went on to say that she feels lucky to have a support network that includes her mum.
‘I have a very supportive mum and I can discuss the issues around cladding with her. It is hard to focus on other parts of my life and it feels like there is always something to think about with cladding,’ explained Steph.
This year alone, Steph has done more than 40 interviews on TV, radio and in newspapers to help raise awareness about the issues that those affected by cladding face.
She also runs the Bristol Action Cladding Group on Facebook and is active about cladding issues on Twitter and other social media platforms.
In addition, she tries to keep up with latest developments, such as listening to the Grenfell Inquiry.
She is active in getting other affected residents to engage and share information, as well as inviting them to write to their local MP about the cladding problems they face.
In all, Steph says it feels like another job that is robbing her of a life that she can share with others – and that doesn’t mention the word cladding.
The cladding issue became a national scandal following the fire at Grenfell four years ago.
The issue is that the owners are unable to sell the properties until the buildings are proved to be safe, leaving them stuck in their homes and also seeing monthly bills rise as they are potentially unable to remortgage.
Understandably, no lender wants to provide finance on homes made of combustible material, like that which turned Grenfell into an inferno.
And some flat owners may be unable to sell even if the material isn’t combustible as the freeholder hasn’t paid for it to be tested.
The issue can also affect those flat owners who are simply looking to remortgage.
A national multi-billion dollar Building Safety Fund was set up to help those affected, applying to those in buildings above 18 metres high. But many leaseholders are still waiting for work to start and face piles of admin trying to get the situation moving forward.