Together we make a home … but there may be a snag (or 700)

New houses roofs“Together we make a home” says Persimmon confidently, and you might think that buying a newly built property would give you the peace of mind that comes with a 10-year warranty as well as a developer’s warranty (which is usually two years) for fixtures and fittings. You may be disappointed.

It seems some new home builders still have a long way to go before they can convince first purchasers of homes that they adhere to the NHBC’s Consumer Code of Conduct for home builders. The Code requires builders to treat home buyers fairly and give reliable information about their purchase, and to have resolution arrangements in place to deal with complaints. Even if you are ‘inconvenienced’ by the need to claim on your warranty, you will find any compensation award is capped at £15,000 – including consequential damages and VAT.

Repeated Faults

Persimmon Homes seems regularly to disappoint its home buyers and a Google search of ‘Persimmon snagging’ makes scary reading. One couple recently announced 700 faults in their £280k new home in Kippax, near Leeds in West Yorkshire. Problems ranged from exposed filler around doors, windows and plumbing, and even doors which didn’t fit the opening. The buyers alleged that Persimmon had prevented them from viewing the property to make a snagging list prior to completion, because it was against company policy. The snagging report they received on moving in listed 500 faults, but the couple added a further 200.

Fire Safety

The latest new house builder problem to dominate the news is fire safety, as it emerged that, in many cases, properties built by Persimmon Homes and Bellway Homes have been sold without adequate fire protection. Both companies have said they are addressing the issues but that will be too late for some buyers, whose homes have been destroyed after fire spread between homes where there were issues with fire barriers.

Many of the new homes constructed in recent years have been built as timber-framed constructions where the installation of fire barriers is particularly vital. The barriers form a seal between each building and can delay the spread of fire and smoke by five to ten times.

Housebuilders are responsible for ensuring that homes comply with the Building Regulations.

At Persimmon’s Greenacres development in Exeter, it was found that 37% of properties were inadequately protected. A fire that started with a cigarette dropped on the ground floor of one property quickly spread from the smell of smoke to a raging fire that destroyed adjacent homes. Further inspection of 3,200 other new build properties in the South West revealed that over 670 homes lacked properly installed fire barriers. 

The problems are not limited to the South West of England; residents of a 48-apartment Persimmon development in Coventry were evacuated in 2018 and are being housed in temporary accommodation. 

At the Bellway Homes Old Tannery development in Canterbury, Kent, a fire destroyed 45 properties in a block of flats. Inspection found that fire stopping measures were inadequate in the wall cavities and retrospective work is ongoing to address the issues.

Persimmon has apologised to its home buyers, and said it has set up a ‘dedicated team’ which will inspect thousands of properties nationwide. A new independent review of its customer care culture and poor workmanship will also take place this year.

If you’re buying a new build home, ask a Chartered Surveyor to carry out a Snagging Survey which will provide you with a report on the condition of your new property.

Back to May 2019 Newsletter