Persimmon undertaking ‘thousands’ of home inspections
THE COMPANY had previously revealed 16,000 inspections had already taken place, with a new report stating that about 500 homes per day were being checked.
In April last year, it was revealed that Persimmon was inspecting ‘hundreds’ of homes in Plymouth, after news earlier that year that a resident in a block of flats in Exeter claimed his pet python’s escape and discovery ‘exposed fire safety breaches’ in ‘missing’ fire safety compartmentation. Persimmon later admitted that it was inspecting a ‘wider area of properties’, with inspections broadened out.
In March 2019 missing barriers were confirmed in properties in Cornwall and Devon, and the inspection programme found over 650 homes in the south west had ‘missing or incorrectly installed’ barriers. In May a BBC Watchdog Live investigation found that new homes have ‘potentially dangerous’ issues, including being sold with ‘missing or incorrectly installed’ fire barriers.
One Exeter estate had 37% of homes missing fire barriers, and the investigation established that ‘serious breaches have gone undetected during construction’, while a 48 apartment Coventry building was evacuated after defects were found. It was then revealed that nearly 50 new builds in Kent were to be inspected due to ‘concerns’ over whether ‘adequate’ fire safety measures have been installed correctly in roofs, and in September 2019 homes in Barry, Wales had the same issues.
In December 2019, the company was found by an independent review it commissioned to have experienced a ‘systemic nationwide failure’ to install firestopping in homes. Persimmon was leaving customers exposed to an ‘intolerable risk’ of fire, and had experienced a ‘systemic nationwide failure’ in terms of installing cavity barriers. It also noted that the failure to meet minimum building standards was a ‘manifestation of poor culture’ at the company.
It urged company directors to ‘reconsider Persimmon’s purpose and ambition’, as it has a ‘nationwide problem of missing and/or incorrectly installed cavity barriers in its timber-frame properties’. Despite having ‘reacted quickly’ to the issue, Persimmon only inspected the eaves of properties, ‘and not assessed whether the same problem was occurring in party walls and around windows and doors’.
The company has undertaken over 16,000 inspections, and said it would take ‘all reasonable action to identify and remediate every house’ affected. Despite this, the report established a ‘culture of non-observance’ to safety checks, with staff having treated them as a ‘mere box-ticking exercise […] stemming from a belief that any single stage is not important, as another check or inspection will follow later’.
Most recently, another development in Cornwall was set to be inspected, while Dame Judith Hackitt stated that she would be ‘very surprised’ if the homebuilder’s issue with fire safety was just affecting Persimmon. Building has now reported that the company is inspecting around 500 timber framed homes per week via third party contractors as well as its own site based staff.
The company has refused to say how many homes are failing inspections, but the news outlet said it understood that ‘this applies to more than half of homes under scrutiny’, and that Persimmon has ‘already taken measures’ in 2020 to ‘introduce a customer retention scheme’, becoming the first housebuilder to do so.
A company spokesperson stated: ‘We will follow the evidence – if these inspections indicate that we need to inspect every timber frame property, then we will do so. Persimmon will continue to carry out inspections until they no longer find any houses with a failure.’