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Channel 4 Dispatches: New Build Scandal

This week, we appeared on the Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into the new homes scandal.


The investigative programme which aired this week sent an independent snagging expert to assess a brand new house and found 295 faults. Most shockingly around 70% of what was identified on that list was in the inspectors view below the building regulations standard.

Snags included a fire door that did not close, leaking sinks, showers that were not sealed and faulty waste connections, according to the Dispatches investigation.

Help to Buy & Persimmon in the spotlight

The programme was highly critical of the Help to Buy scheme which lets people get their own place with a small deposit because the government stumps up an interest free loan to make getting on the property ladder more affordable.

The developer Persimmon builds 1 in 7 houses for the Help to Buy scheme and on average makes a 30% return for every house it sells. But in this year’s Home Builders Federation report into customer satisfaction, Persimmon was one of the developers awarded the lowest rating of just 3 stars.

In 2018 the CEO took home a £75 million bonus. At the same time the programme identified some customers who say – and could show – that their houses had numerous issues.

Responding to the Dispatches investigation, Persimmon said: “We fully accept that on too many occasions in the past we have fallen short.

“We apologise without reservation to the customers featured in this programme.”

Buying blind

A key issue flagged up in the programme, and one which we have campaigned against for some time, is that in most cases you can’t have the house surveyed before you buy. Most house builder actually block it. You can only get an independent inspection of your house after you have purchased it.

We are campaigning for the mandatory right to inspect the home you are buying before completion. In the meantime, if you have problems with your new build home but are not being listened to? Read our guide on snagging surveys and how they can help.

Hold back cash

We have also been campaigning for the introduction of a snagging retention policy for new build developers. This would involve the home buying holding back a percentage of the final payment for their new home until they are happy with the quality. This would give homeowners time for an independent inspection and give the builder an incentive to fix problems quickly or – ideally – get the build right first time.

Persimmon announced it would introduce a snagging retention, allowing buyers to hold 1.5% amount of the value of their home until defects the owner identified were fixed. We are asking for all builders to do the same, but increase the amount to at least 2.5 – 5%.

We know many people move into a new build home and are happy from day one. But there are too many horror stories. If you would like to tell us your experience please do in the comments below. If you would like dedicated advice, you might want to consider becoming a member.



Leave a comment (11)* Required

  1. SelloSello

    We did not do a whole house inspection before buying. After occupation, the garage had no ceiling.

  2. Antony Jefferies areyAntony Jefferies arey

    You should be allowed to inspect before purchase.. must be devastating to move into your brand new house full of defects.

  3. john gaskelljohn gaskell

    I had the misfortune of buying a new build property. Although I was allowed to have an initial snagging survey, other non easily identifiable defects have manifested. The nub of the problem is twofold: developers use exclusion clauses in their contract for sale that removed them from liability for defects and bad workmanship other than wat is covered in the 10 year NHBC or similar policies that limits any claims; the polices only provide limited cover and are full of exclusions and policy excesses. The consequence is that buyers of new build have less rights than anyone that buys a £500 PC and less rights than if they asked a builder to complete work on an old property. It is a massive racket and injustice that is rooted in law that is not fit for purpose and needs exposing and changing. Your excellent programme covered some of this but did not get to the bottom of these root issues. I have a personal case in play that can be uses to expose this and I would deeply welcome the opportunity to hold the culprits to account and further expose the scandal. My situation is a good one to use as it involves a high profile housing society in the Cambridge area that trades on its ethical brand and their subcontract builder who does work for the Cambridge Colleges. The District Council has some connection in this mess. 150 defects with estimated remediation costs of £50k. Please can we speak. I would like Channel 4 to challenge the CEO to an interview with me

  4. swapan kumar guhaswapan kumar guha

    Pls send the news letter for free

  5. AndyAndy

    Please look into NBHC they are a scam. My 3 year old home has windows that are falling out as they are not attached properly. NBHC say they only cover windows if they get condensation and poor fitting is not their responsibility. It’s been 7 months of trying to get this sorted and they just give generic answers. Look on trustpilot I’m not the only one with the issue. People buy new homes based on promises of quality and that a 10 year warranty sounds amazing but I haven’t found anyone yet who’s actually had anything sorted through them

  6. Jonathan HuntJonathan Hunt

    Very interesting read/watch.

    Potentially buying a house with my partner in the future, now I’ll know what to look out for visually and legally.

  7. Martin HaynesMartin Haynes

    I have more than snagging issues, these are showing with images and video what the structure is like behind the cavity walls and roof using a very small inspection camera. I think you could make another programme to show the public what they are buying
    The wreckless work I have found is totally embarrassing like martor washed out of a gable wall during a rainfall and covered up while pointing whilst leaving a total mess hidden in the cavity wall. Also the roof structure where this is not nailed securely and not square.
    If you can, please help.

    Martin Haynes

  8. Zafar IqbalZafar Iqbal

    A nice professional approach to facilitate the development process for humanity.

  9. AaronAaron

    My partner purchased a new build from Bellway in June 2019 as part of the government help to buy scheme. We have had several break-ins to communal areas, including bike stores totalling thousands of pounds, in large part due to to the poor quality materials, design and build. The communal and bike stores have been broken into more than 6 times (that we know of) in as many months and Bellway have resisted enacting any improvements to secure the property and safety of its residents. This is now known as a ‘soft touch’ to local thieves and they have physically/verbally threatened residents when break-in attempts have been thwarted. Any guidance on how to deal with Bellway would be very much appreciated. We have tried several avenues and they simply have no regard for the belongings or safety of its residents.

  10. PetePete

    Sadly Bovis Homes are one of the worst possible builders. They use NHBC for building control, who in turn back the builders, when Bovis fail to admit that the problems exist. The whole system is corrupt down to the core. NHBC do not even follow their own guide lines! Instead they insist that you take legal action against the builder if you are not happy, NOT them! We have evidence that NHBC have carried out work on an identical house to ours, with the same massive faults, yet they deny that the faults exist in our house. Totally corrupt set up, NHBC are not fit for purpose

  11. R.couchR.couch

    – buying off plan Is fraught with uncertainty and, designed to generate ‘ fear’ of losing the house you want to someone else.(as well as your deposit!).
    – unaccompanied spot checks not allowed during build: H&S given as reason.
    – show house may be to a higher finish spec than the one you actually buy.
    – snagging ‘fixes’ usually rushed as, commonly, the work is contracted out at a fixed price.
    – weather can also affect the external finish quality and, can be, skimped.
    – it is probable that where external paint manufacturer recommends three coats the contractor will apply only one; to save both time and money: the show house will, however, have at least two. Q. How can you check?
    – faults can take time to develop and developers claim it’s down to “fair wear and tear” when in fact it’s down to poor workmanship or materials or both.

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