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Homeowners decry unscrupulous real estate developers

Saudi Arabia, October 21, 2017

AS the construction of urban developments such as housing projects have accelerated in recent years, citizens who moved into such developments have said real estate developers have used deceptive tactics to sell them homes that have major defects or, in rare cases, are uninhabitable.

Al-Bilad newspaper reports on how real estate developers have built new structures on landfills and sold homes with crumbling foundations, poor insulation, shoddy electrical work and leaking pipes, endangering the lives of residents and causing great financial losses to home owners.

Several citizens who spoke to the newspaper questioned how real estate developers were able to construct and sell such homes under the supervision of the Jeddah municipality and its sub-municipalities.

After discovering cracks in the walls and foundations of several newly-constructed homes, Civil Defense inspectors have ordered the evacuation of the homes and their eventual demolition.

Due to fears that some structures may collapse, the Civil Defense has constructed fencing around the structures and warned people not to trespass.

When Muhammad Al-Zahrani came across a new housing development, he eagerly purchased a house and moved in. Less than a year later, one of the main walls of his house developed a large crack. When he asked around, a lot of his neighbors complained about the same issue.

“I was very suspicious when I saw my house cracking in front of my eyes. Many of my neighbors had similar cracks appearing in their walls, including our local mosque. We asked the authorities to intervene and solve the problem when sewage started seeping through pipes,” he recalled.

“Cheating is forbidden in Islam and a great injustice and forgiveness is promised only if the person who was wronged can forgive the sinner. This is in terms of religion, where as the legal perspective dictates that the courts must examine the property to make sure of that there was no fraud in construction. The official owner of the construction site and his aides as well as the municipality are responsible for making sure all safe and ethical construction requirements are met,” he added.

Abdullah Al-Mabadi, owner of a contracting company, said weak religious values, greed and an utter disregard for construction regulations are the main reasons real estate developers, often with the involvement of corrupt officials, are able to sell such homes to unsuspecting buyers.

'In my opinion, the people to blame are those in the engineering office supervising the construction process, in addition to the contractor. When digging the infrastructure, they are able to see the validity of the site and if it is fit for construction. They are supposed to inform the owner of the land if there are any issues. If the land is situated in an undeveloped area, whoever gave the green light to proceed with the construction should be held accountable,' said Al-Mabadi.

Khalid Zahrani, who works as an engineer, said cracking infrastructure is the result of builders failing to comply with the basic rules of construction and neglecting to examine samples for materials used in construction as well as the soil.

“It's very important that basic construction materials are up to standard including cement and sand because a failure to use enough of these materials weakens the foundation of a house, leaving it prone to collapse,' Zahrani said.

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