In January, following the court ruling stating that the owner must comply with the municipality’s order to carry out emergency repairs, a contractor began the works on Ivicke.
At the request of members of two monument protection organisations, we sent a report (below) to the municipality, with details about how the repairs were carried out. We didn’t receive a response. Instead, municipal officials announced they would inspect the building. We agreed to this and showed the inspectors and the contractor around, pointing out the issues we’d already raised in the letter. The officials barely engaged with us, and merely went around with a clipboard and ticked off boxes. The conclusion of the municipality was that the owner fulfilled the obligation to do emergency repairs. Yay! Win-win for the municipality, who successfully enforced their administrative order, and for the owner, who can keep them off his back (for now).
The reality is that the work done by Ronnie van de Putte’s contractor is incredibly shoddy. We questioned him how worthwhile it is to place more plastic tarp on the dakkapellen when it did very little to protect the structure previously. The contractor agreed that the work is “bullshit” (his words), but said he cost 10,000 euros less than the company the municipality would hire if they had to do the repairs themselves.
Since squatting Ivicke, we’ve made the building water- and wind-proof. We’ve sealed the skylight in the roof, replaced missing roof tiles, covered broken windows and fixed the biggest leak by replacing and sealing parts of the sagging gutter.
The ’emergency repairs’ carried out by the contractor have left us with new emergencies. During the February storms, we noticed that there are new leaks: around the skylight where the contractors were walking, and in at least three(!) of the dormer windows that had supposedly just been fixed. That means the repairs haven’t improved them but made them worse. We’ve documented some of them:
(Our windows during heavy rainfall after being water-proofed by a professional contractor; note the screws sticking out to the inside of the room)
As the inhabitants of Huize Ivicke, we’d like to raise with you some issues regarding the works carried out last week.
You are already aware that despite our agreement for them to begin on Monday 6, the contractor (Slats) showed up earlier. We decided to cooperate with that to show our goodwill in maintaining a good relationship with the municipality, even though we had already been sent the decision to enforce the bestemmingsplan (zoning plan), and evict us within 5 months. We still hope for the decision to be overturned in the interest of the building, while taking into account the human aspect of the case and rejecting the populist prejudice against us squatters, who have been the sole caretakers for Ivicke for the past 1,5 years.
As such, we put up with the nuisance of the repairs and took the time to facilitate access to the site, building, our private spaces and an electricity connection without reward. During this time we were also in contact with the municipality’s officials, monuments organisations’ representatives and a journalist from Omroep West, as well as overseeing the works in the absence of municipal oversight.
We have already raised the issue of the dormer windows on the front side of the building being initially covered up, preventing ventilation and blocking light in our living spaces. This has been addressed by your officials and the contractor and the remaining windows were left uncovered.
We also noticed that the contractors were walking over delicate roof tiles and gutters. We’ve already spotted a new problem on the back side of the building, where there is now a new leak down the wall from the gutter, after the contractors put a ladder in it. In September, we carried out water-proofing works on the sagging gutter to the right and left of the house, provisionally fixing the most problematic leaks. We did so with our own funds and hired a costly scaffolding to do so and we are angry that our work might now be compromised by the work of professional contractors.
We doubt the efficacy of preventing leaks in the dormer windows by screwing the tarps to the frames. What is more, the quality of the materials and the work is poor, and the screws are now sticking through to the inside of our rooms! We have documented this with photos.
It is clear to us, the contractors, monuments organisations, and I am sure to you too, that the owner is using these repairs as a smokescreen for his negligence and is not interested in carrying out proper repairs.
We are curious to see what your response will be and hope that our contribution to preserving the house we love and see as our home will not be overlooked.