Students express disappointment over “unfinished feel” of new Fife Park apartments

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Photo by Terry Lee

Students have expressed concerns over ongoing problems with the newly opened Fife Park apartments.

There have been several reports of problems with the hall’s plumbing, electrical appliances and heating, as well as complaints that there is still construction work going on despite the fact that students have already moved in.

One student, Paige Comerford – who is in St Andrews on a year abroad – told The Saint how she arrived at her new flat on Saturday 5 September and found that there were missing tiles in her bathroom and that her toilet leaked over the floor every time she flushed. She also added that workmen have yet to add a shower curtain or a rod to hang it from.

Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she had encountered many different problems in her new flat. She said: “when we arrived there were still workmen in our flat and everything has a sort of unfinished feel about it.”

She also described some of the more specific problems with her home. “Looking closer, we discovered tiles missing in most of the bathrooms and my shower drain isn’t actually fixed in place,” she said. “One of my sockets is loose and the sprinkler just comes out of a hole in my ceiling, they haven’t sealed or covered it.”

“The smoke vent is broken and constantly beeps in the stairwell,” she added.

The student also described how her toilet was not flushing properly, with the hot water in her shower only working periodically.

A spokesperson for the University attributed the problems to “snagging issues,” arguing that they are “quite common” in new buildings shortly after opening. The spokesperson said they had been advised that the issues “have been addressed and resolved as part of routine snagging procedures.”

However, many students have experienced major problems that have yet to be solved. The residents of flat six in the Blackfriars building of Fife Park told The Saint that their sink is not working and that the pipe doesn’t even seem to be connected. They added that “there were people downstairs who didn’t have a wardrobe or a desk when they moved in.”

“I’m a lot happier living here than I would be in most other places, but these things are frustrating,” noted one flat six resident.

Though Fife Park is closely connected to David Russell Apartments (DRA), the students also described how they were pushed aside when they phoned DRA reception to try and get their problems fixed. They were told that since they were in Fife Park, it was not the responsibility of DRA to help. They were instead asked to contact the private contractors with any problems.

Another major problem which several students reported to The Saint is that workmen from the contractors in charge of the build, Sir Robert McAlpine, were still working on flats on the day that students arrived and are still continuing to work on them at the time of writing. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “it is slightly concerning that workmen have just been walking in and out of flats when they like.”

“They sent us an email saying that workmen would be going in and out of flats over the next two weeks,” she continued. “It would have been better if they could have told us what buildings they would be going to at specific times.”

In spite of these complaints, Armaan Ireland, a member of the DRA/Fife Park committee, said that while he could not confirm whether any of the problems were being dealt with, “I can tell you that the roughly 1,000 students I personally have met this week – they are all very happy with life in DRA and Fife Park.”

He went on to say that if these issues are reported then the wardennial team will “respond to them as soon as possible like they always do.”[pullquote]Those who have tried to make University staff aware of their problems have been told “that it’s not their problem no matter who they ask.”[/pullquote]

Emilia Wilson, another student living in Fife Park, also expressed her disappointment at some of the problems she has faced since moving in: “In my flat we’ve had a few different issues, some of them were really minor like locks missing from doors and exposed pipes but we’ve also had broken tiles on several of the bathroom walls and toilets that don’t flush at all or flood when they do.”

Ms Wilson also told The Saint that, “it seems like everyone you talk to in Fife Park tells you about problems in their flat.”

“We’ve all been able to hear the beeping from a smoke vent alarm since Saturday morning when we moved in and that’s still going which can be really annoying if you’re on the first floor,” she continued.

“Also, I hear there have been lots of issues with plumbing and toilets throughout the building with many not flushing and some issues with electricity early in the week. I think the main concern is given how many visible problems there are, what problems there could be behind the walls with circuitry.

“It seems the University is not concerned at all with these issues.” She explained how those who have tried to make University staff aware of their problems have been told “that it’s not their problem no matter who they ask.”

“Students without flushing toilets were told that’s for a plumber to deal with, but we have no official means of contacting the workmen,” she added.

Several of the students who spoke to The Saint said that the hall in general did not feel like it was ready to be moved in to, with resident Megan MacKay saying: “There are just a lot of things that feel unfinished.”

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s not that’s it is completely unfinished, it’s that there’s a lot of things that need fixed, like the TV and the dishwasher.”

Martin Young is the project manager from Sir Robert McAlpine contractors in charge of the build. He said: “We are well aware of the issues the students are having. We are actively engaged in trying to solve these problems along with the university.”

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