“It’s a nightmare”. Caroline’s words reflect her distress. In 2018, this independent trainer acquired a charming stone and wood house, in Guérande (Loire-Atlantique), to make it her main residence, at the same time as her workplace.
But the euphoria of this first real estate purchase will soon give way to panic.
“Barely a year after moving in, approximately, I discovered hundreds, even thousands of insects, which invaded my laundry room and my veranda, says Caroline. And a few months later, I recognize, on a wooden window box in my garden, termites en masse”.
She contacted two specialized companies, who explained to her that her land had been infested with these Isoptera for a long time, because of the presence of untreated wood. However, during the diagnosis that preceded the sale, the expert had in no way informed the future owner of the invasive presence of these insect pests.
The situation quickly becomes critical. “There were termites on all the extensions to the house. They did so much damage that everything had to be put back on the ground”, explains Caroline.
Especially since termites are not the only pests to have probably taken up residence in the building.
“In their diagnostic report before the sale, the experts had mentioned traces of logging and the presence of beetles in the frame, but not at worrying levels. However, there too, there was a massive infection. The frame was devoured, and had to be replaced urgently,” says the owner.
She then sends a registered letter to the diagnostic office, of which she considers herself a victim. “If I had known all that, I would never have bought the house,” she says.
The insurer of the diagnostician then mandates an amicable expertise before refusing to compensate Caroline. “According to them, I wanted this money to do my work,” she says indignantly. “I was going to be confined to a house being eaten, and no one wanted to give me a single euro”.
The house, meanwhile, is boned, the roof removed, and Caroline must be rehoused.
“My daily life has been completely turned upside down, with dramatic consequences, anxiety, insomnia, an inability to concentrate on my work… and colossal sums to pay for my house to be habitable. There are costs that I cannot even advance yet, we are in a six-figure sum. And then, with termites, I took life, because you have to carry out an expensive treatment plus maintenance every year,” she explains.
Only recourse for Caroline: to initiate legal proceedings against the diagnostic office. “We had to because the situation was going around in circles and even if the expert reports all come to the same conclusions, that is to say that the diagnostician is responsible, nothing is done to help me”.
Today, Caroline feels wronged and abandoned.
Moreover, she is convinced that the former owner was well aware of the dramatic situation of the house, and would have even tried to camouflage it to better sell her property.
She denounces the bad faith of a system “which does not hold on to anything, a system which is there to make money, not to help people. Many people are in my situation, some are even forced to live in a yurt at the bottom of the garden”.
Caroline had to relocate for 19 months. A few days ago, she finally returned to her house, after long months of work. The building is sound, but the fight is far from over.
“Coming back here reopens wounds. You reentering a house that is not even finished, with a disaster on your back with years of procedure… But I have hope. We just filed the exhibits in court. They know they are responsible, they expect us to be discouraged, but I will never give up. It’s visceral, if I have to spend the next 10 years of my life changing the system, I will, assures the young woman. This is my first purchase and certainly the last, we put a lifetime’s work into buying a house”.
Caroline especially wants the authorities to take control of the problem, and finally allow the victims to get out of the financial and administrative distress in which they are, too often, plunged without mercy.