'˜Our new build house had 200 faults' claims frustrated Preston home-owner

Simon and Kims houseSimon and Kims house
Simon and Kims house
A couple have revealed how their £400,000 new-build '˜dream home' turned into a nightmare with 200 different issues.

Their tale comes as a survey reveals that 51 per cent of people who moved in to new-builds in 2017 had ‘major’ issues with the property.

Simon Hutton and his partner Kim Chapman, 35, moved into their brand new home on the upmarket D’Urton Manor plot in Fulwood, Preston, last March.

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The couple say they relocated to the exclusive new development because Kim was then seven months pregnant and they did not want to renovate an older house. However, Simon claims their luxury home was hit by problems from the start – and he went on to raise nearly 200 ‘snags’ with the house within two months of moving in.

He says he and his partner have had to take more than a month’s holiday leave since moving in, to be home when repair work takes place, causing “significant loss” to them both.

The developer says it is working with the couple to resolve any issues – and has advised Simon to contact the National House Building Council (NHBC), the standard-setting body for new builds, if he is still unhappy.

Kim and Simon arrived on March 30 with a full removal van but said they couldn’t move in for two days because of “missing skirting boards and painters and labourers letting themselves in and out of the house to finish off jobs”.

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Simon, 34, said: “The property was filthy with dust and builders’ material having not been given the promised ‘sparkle clean’.

“We owned the house now – we thought, ‘What was going on?’”

The couple’s house is one of 300 on the D’Urton Manor site, built by developers Story Homes after they signed an agreement with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to develop the site between Eastway and D’Urton Lane.

Simon said the number of defects he had raised to Story Homes had grown to 220 and he has taken photos of a number of the issues – from problems with joinery and plug sockets to a water-logged garden after problems with drainage.

He claims he still doesn’t have insulation in the master bedroom, meaning his young baby can’t sleep in there.

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He said: “It’s been absolutely freezing. My partner has been in tears over it all.”

He described the process of getting problems sorted as “frustrating” and added: “It’s exacerbated by the fact that there were also eight workman no-show instances with no apology or explanation as to why they didn’t show up.

“Compensation has been offered for any money lost but that doesn’t bring back lost holidays and lost time for inconvenience. The site management have endeavoured to fix faults but the responsiveness has not been there at all.

“I want people to to know about my experience before making, what for many, is the biggest decision of their life. My message on a new build is to be prepared for issues. Don’t move in on day one. I wouldn’t buy this again.”

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A spokesman for Story Homes said: “Mr Hutton’s house was signed off by an independent National House Building Council (NHBC) inspector in March 2017, who passed the house as meeting

industry standards.

“A new-build home is a man-made product and we expect our customers to experience some form of snagging following moving in, especially as the house settles. We have a dedicated customer journey which starts at reservation and is followed through once our customers have moved in to their home.

“We have thorough processes in place to manage issues, as well as our two-year warranty to support our customers after they have moved in. Mr Hutton has been through this process and we are confident we have exceeded our after-sales service in this instance.”

The spokesman added: “Our experienced site and customer service team have worked closely with him on a number of minor snagging issues, responding to and dealing with all of these in full. We do not wish to go in to specific detail, however, with regards to the insulation in the master bedroom, we can confirm the walls and floors are fully insulated in line with NHBC standards. We are working with Mr Hutton to insulate the cheeks of the dormer windows in this area in the coming weeks.

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“Mr Hutton has the right to raise a claim with the NHBC if he considers his property doesn’t meet standards and we will abide by any independent ruling, however, he has chosen not to proceed down this route.

“Story Homes has achieved the HBF Five Star Builder for five years running which is based on customer feedback collated by an independent researcher. We pride ourselves on the homes we build and more than 90 per cent of customers recommend our homes due to the quality of build and customer service.”

Simon said he did not want to go down the NHBC route that Story Homes suggested. He said: “I would only pursue that avenue if Story Homes were refusing to fix something and they aren’t doing that.

“It’s not about that either; there should not be so many issues in the first place.”

Homeowners with other new-build property problems

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Campaign group the Homeowners’ Alliance have been working to highlight problems with new build homes across the UK. Its chief executive, Paula Higgins, has voiced her concerns over the quality of what is being sold when buyers decide on purchasing a new-build. She blames a national housing shortage for pressures on developers to build homes to tight time-scales.

Ms Higgins said: “Many of the benefits you’d expect from buying a newly built property – such as the idea that repairs should be minimal – don’t actually apply.

“That’s because the quality of many of the new-build homes being built at present leaves a lot to be desired.

“The government knows there is a significant housing shortage and is imploring developers to build quickly, and quality, it seems, has taken a back seat.”

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Research from housing charity Shelter and pollsters YouGov in 2017 found that more than half (51 per cent) of new homeowners have experienced major problems with their properties, including issues with construction, unfinished fittings and faults with utilities.

Shelter’s then interim chief executive, Graeme Brown, called on the Government to “fix the housing crisis” by taking a “bold new approach” to house-building which favoured families’ needs over developer and landowner profits.

In August last year, the Post reported the concerns of homeowners living in Garstang’s Canal View development, who told their experiences of picking up the keys and finding leaks, gaps in the guttering, rain water inside their homes, and driveways and gardens not fit for purpose (pictured).

Sara Miekle, who moved into Primrose Way on the Redrow Homes development in May 2016, said she had spent around £3,000 in external and internal repairs including problem guttering.

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Robin and Louise Watson moved to the Canal View in late 2016 - after having their move in date delayed from October. They found the property had a hole in the driveway to situate a lamp-post.

Redrow spokesman Matt Grayson said at the time that customer satisfaction is very important to the company.

“When snagging issues are raised, our customer service team will put plans in place to address them,” Mr Grayson said.

Another developer, Bovis Homes, agreed on a £7m compensation package in 2017 after protesting customers formed a Facebook group, accusing Bovis of pressuring them to move into incomplete houses in the south of England so it could hit sales targets. Earl Sibley, then Bovis’ interim chief executive, promised a review and repairs.

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Bovis Homes have built projects in Lancashire and are currently creating a £46m housing development off Leyland Road, Penwortham.

NHBC response

An NHBC spokesman said: “We’re sorry that Mr Sutton has experienced problems with his new home, which is covered by NHBC’s 10-year Buildmark warranty and insurance policy.

“Once the home is completed, the warranty works in two-parts, during the first two years of the policy, the builder is responsible for putting right any defects which do not comply with NHBC’s Technical Standards.

“If there is a dispute between the homeowner and the builder about work to be done, then NHBC can offer its free Resolution Service to assist in resolving the disputed items relating to the NHBC Standards. During years three to 10, NHBC provides direct insurance cover for damage caused by defects in specific areas of the home.

“We have been in touch with Mr Sutton and have explained how we can assist under the NHBC resolution service.”