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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.



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  1. 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

    Comment by Pete — July 19, 2019 @ 8:16 am

  2. – 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.

    Comment by R.couch — July 18, 2019 @ 10:49 pm

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