Dream home turned ‘asbestos house from hell’

Teacher Ashley Purser, left, and wife Kate with their baby daughter Margot

Teacher Ashley Purser, left, and wife Kate with their baby daughter Margot

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A couple have been left high and dry by insurance companies refusing to pay out after their new family home became contaminated with dangerous asbestos.

Ashley Purser, 37, and wife Kate, 32, scrimped and saved for six years to buy their first house together, settling on a three-bed terrace in Kingsland Road, Boxmoor.

The damaged asbestos boiler at the Pursers' property in Kingsland Road, Boxmoor

The damaged asbestos boiler at the Pursers' property in Kingsland Road, Boxmoor

But when a routine electrical rewire job went wrong, dangerous levels of asbestos were detected and the house and car were sealed up, leaving the couple and their four-month-old daughter Margot effectively homeless.

Now they want to warn other homebuyers to be aware of the pitfalls when it comes to the dangerous building material.

Mr Purser, who is deputy head at Roman Fields School, in Box Lane, Hemel Hempstead, thought the electrician’s public liability insurance coupled with his home and contents insurance would cover the construction headache.

But after four weeks of frustrating back-and-forth emails, Mr Purser was told that AXA nor Bell Insurance would not cough up for the cost of asbestos removal, which has been quoted at £30,000, plus the cost of replacing the family car at £20,000.

The dad-of-one, who had 10 days of exposure to asbestos before the alarm was raised, said: “I want our story to be heard because there could be lots of other families in Hemel who could suffer this nightmare like we have.

“There must be thousands of tradesmen and companies up and down the UK who work with asbestos day in and day out, and with insurance companies who will swerve the indemnity if asbestos is involved.

“This has come as a huge shock as we have been left with a huge bill, and all we have done is ask a company to come in and do some work on our property.

“My wife and l work hard, pay our bills and taxes and simply want to be together as a family. I feel as though no-one is willing to help us.”

The family of three were left with just ‘the clothes they were standing in’ after experts declared the 1970s property a major health hazard.

Mr Purser has been forced to sleep on friends’ sofas while his wife, who is on maternity leave, has been staying with her parents in Derbyshire.

What little savings the family had left have now been eaten away by public transport costs, as the family car is sitting unused on the driveway in Kingsland Road.

They are now being faced with a huge bill for asbestos removal as well as potential legal bills if they decide to sue the electricians.

Mr Purser, who is originally from Northampton, said: “The only avenue left to explore is to sue the electricians and my fear is that they will go to ground, close down the company and apply for bankruptcy, meaning that we could never reclaim any money from them at all.

“It will also take months and months to bring this to court and it does not help my family or I out in the meantime when we really need help.”

In desperation, Mr Purser has set up an online crowdfunding page in a bid to recoup some of the money he and his wife have lost.

To donate, click here.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into the electrical company concerned.