Housebuilder Persimmon criticised over lack of construction standards

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An independent review of Persimmon has revealed that the housebuilder fails to adopt a minimum standard for all of its homes and manifests a “poor culture”

On 5 April, the board of Persimmon, led by Roger Devlin (chairman), announced the commissioning of an independent review of Persimmon to assess the effectiveness of measures and processes.

The purpose of the review, led by Stephanie Barwise QC of Atkin Chambers, was to assess the effectiveness of the new measures and to determine whether they went far enough and fast enough for the benefit of both customers and wider stakeholders in the business.

The independent review of Persimmon found that some houses did not have fire-stopping cavity barriers or they had been wrongly installed.

It stated that the problem of missing or improperly fitted cavity barriers was “a systemic nationwide problem”, which it said was “a manifestation of poor culture coupled with the lack of a group build process“.

Roger Devlin, chairman of Persimmon, said: “The review found that Persimmon had focused on policies around inspections immediately before and after the sale of a home, rather than those governing build quality inspections. In my view, this is one of its central findings and I am encouraged that the company is already embracing the review’s recommendations in this area through significant operational investment and procedural change.”

The independent review of Persimmon also revealed that there were no agreed procedures to supervise or inspect its employees or subcontractors’ work and that staff were only given limited training.

It recommended that the firm “should take adequate time to embed a ‘Persimmon Way’ of building”.

It also said that the firm’s corporate culture needed to change.

Moving forward

Devlin added: “Persimmon has already taken positive steps in other important areas, such as being the first housebuilder to introduce a customer retention scheme, investing over £140m to date in additional work in progress and an additional £15m in annual quality and service costs.

“Whilst the continuing improvement in the group’s rating in the latest HBF quarterly update is welcome independent evidence of progress made in terms of customer satisfaction, the review clearly shows that the surest route to improved customer satisfaction is through the delivery of consistent build quality and service and we acknowledge that we still have work to do.

“As we focus hard on the changes that we are making, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise once again to those Persimmon customers who have been affected in the past.

“This review – and the seriousness that we attach to its detailed findings – is an important moment for Persimmon as we continue to build a different business with an increased focus on our customers and wider stakeholders – becoming a business that prioritises purpose as well as profit.”

Following the independent review of Persimmon, the company said it would continue to “monitor progress in many ways”.

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