Rats in Cranbrook: developer denies drains are source

Owl noticed a big spike in searches for “Bovis Homes Victims Group” Facebook page – mentioned in a link on this blog recently – now it knows why …

However, the group was forced to close as it feared legal risks due to the nature of some of the posts on its site:

https://bovishomesvictimsgroup.co.uk/

A BBC Devon website report says:

“Residents in a new housing development in Devon claim they are “living in hell” following a “rat infestation”.

People living in the homes think the rodents use the drainage system in Cranbrook to enter the properties.

Homeowners have told the BBC it has been “stressful” and it has cost them “thousands of pounds” to deal with the problem.

Many are calling on the developer, Bovis Homes, for compensation.

[Bovis replied]:

“We undertook camera surveys and other works and there was no evidence suggesting that the cause of the rat infestation was the result of the design or construction. A pre-construction ecological survey found no evidence of rats or other vermin being present on the ground prior to the property being occupied. No such issues were raised with them during the two-year customer warranty period, or in the 18 months that followed.”

Bovis Homes

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-45023099

“MP back plan for ombudsman to resolve new homes disputes”

“The government is under pressure to set up an independent ombudsman with the power to order housebuilders to pay out up to £50,000 or even reverse a sale, following reports of new-home buyers lumbered with defective properties.

A group of MPs and peers has called on the government to make it mandatory for housebuilders to belong to the proposed scheme, which would be free for consumers and offer a quick resolution to disputes. The scheme would be funded by a levy on housebuilders, with larger ones such as Berkeley Group, Persimmon, Barratt, Galliford Try, Redrow and Bovis Homes, paying more than small and medium-sized firms.

A report, Better Redress for Home Buyers, by the all-party parliamentary group for excellence in the built environment, highlights the confusing landscape buyers face when trying to resolve building defects, not helped by a plethora of warranties, housebuilding codes and complaints procedures.

It says the proposed ombudsman should be able to order payouts of up to £50,000 so buyers are not left out of pocket. Disputes over larger sums might have to be settled in court, but the report adds: “In certain extreme situations the new homes ombudsman should be able to reverse the sale.”

People have no idea that when they buy a new home directly from the developer, they have no access to redress.

The recommendations come after a scandal over the poor quality of new homes built by Bovis, while other housebuilders have also faced similar complaints.

A recent survey by the Home Builders Federation and the main warranty provider, NHBC, showed that 98% of new-home buyers reported snags or bigger defects to their housebuilder after moving in.

The parliamentarians have proposed a snagging app that would enable buyers to photograph defects and send them to the builder, monitor the progress of complaints and go to the ombudsman if needed.

Dominic Raab, the housing minister, said this week that the “vice-like grip” of the big developers must be broken to boost the building of affordable homes.

Lord Best, vice-chair of the all-party group, says: “Buying a new home is stressful enough, but buying a defective one, as we heard from witnesses, can take a toll on people’s wellbeing as they wrestle with a Kafkaesque system seemingly designed to be unhelpful.”

The proposed scheme would be modelled on the property ombudsman, to which all estate agents must belong. If they are struck off, they can no longer trade.

Katrine Sporle, the property ombudsman, says: “New homes should be covered by an ombudsman. People have no idea that when they buy a new home directly from the developer, they have no access to redress.”

The proposed scheme would cover the first two years following a house purchase when housebuilders are liable for defects, while subsequent problems would be down to the warranty providers.

The report says: “Affected homebuyers are exasperated not so much by the existence of defects but by a builder’s failure or even refusal to put them right. Submissions we received described how buying a new home had been ‘the worst decision of their life’; how it was like ‘going through hell’ as the complaint passed between housebuilders and warranty providers; and how fighting for redress was taking a toll on their health.”

The proposals have been presented to the ministry of housing, communities and local government as part of its consultation on a single housing ombudsman.”

http://flip.it/716e6t

New Facebook page: AvoidPersimmonHomes

A new Facebook page called “AvoidPersimmonHomes” has been overwhelmed with stories and pictures of homes which occupants are finding impossible to live in. At the time of writing it has 269 members.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/316825475386299/about/

This follows on from a similar page for Bovis homes which has 3,113 members
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BovisVictimsGroup/

“Bovis homebuyers offered ‘cash in return for positive feedback’, investigation reveals”

“Homebuilding firm Bovis Homes is at the centre of a new row after an investigation by The Independent found that some customers had allegedly been offered rewards in return for completing positive satisfaction surveys.
Last year the company was awarded a 2-star rating by the House Builders Federation after a well-documented series of failings that left customers living in faulty homes.

Now, nine homebuyers have said that Bovis representatives offered them rewards if they agreed to fill in the HBF customer satisfaction form, the results of which are used to inform the annual ratings.

Five customers say the incentives were offered in return for positive feedback, something Bovis adamantly denies.

The homebuyers spoken to by The Independent bought their properties at different Bovis developments between 2016 and 2018.

Charlotte and Michael Kenton, who purchased their home in Bedfordshire in June 2016, claimed their site manager offered them high street vouchers in return for positive feedback.

“He said it was directly linked to his bonus so if we were happy with the sales process we should give him 5 stars and he could ‘make it worth our while,” they said.

Another couple claimed a Bovis employee offered free turf and John Lewis vouchers in December 2017 if they gave good feedback on the HBF survey or if they let the Bovis sales representatives fill in the form themselves.

In a further example, a homebuyer who bought her property in Oxfordshire in January 2017, said she was offered vouchers if she gave a positive response to the question of whether she would recommend Bovis to a friend.

She said: “We filled out the [HBF/NHBC] survey, gave 1 star at most, but we were told we would be given £500 worth of vouchers if we recommended Bovis to a friend.”

Another homebuyer, who wished to remain anonymous, said her site manager told her in February 2017 he would extend her patio for her if she gave him a good review.

She told The Independent: “I was advised by the site manager that the feedback form was very important and if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours… he intimated that he would contribute towards turning a side garden into an extra parking spot if we looked after each other…”

In another instance, in February this year, a Bovis site manager sent a customer an email – seen by The Independent – confirming that the company would pay a month’s worth of household bills but appeared to require her to complete the HBF survey before sending copies of her bills.

The buyer was sent a cheque for more than £1,000 after she completed the survey.

The Independent understands that Bovis had advised the customer that the payment was compensation for inconvenience after the homebuyer’s kitchen was damaged (and not related to the survey).

Four other homebuyers, who have spoken to The Independent on condition of anonymity, were allegedly offered bottles of champagne, chocolates or contributions towards remedial work if they agreed to complete the survey.

Bovis stated that up until May 2016, it ran a programme offering customers incentives to complete feedback forms – irrespective of whether the response was positive or negative – but said the practice had been stopped.

Five of the nine homebuyers spoken to by The Independent claim they were offered incentives after Bovis told its representatives to change the policy.

HBF’s national survey of housebuilders was launched in 2005 in response to recommendations in the Barker Review of Housing in 2004 and results determine a house builder’s annual rating. Since 2013, ratings are based on just the one question: ‘Would you recommend your builder to a friend?’

In a statement, Bovis said it had made significant changes to its build quality and customer service, which had transformed the company. It added that it had a strict policy with regards to the HBF customer survey.

A spokesman said: “Currently more than 87 per cent of our customers across the country would recommend us to friends and family, representing a 30 percentage point improvement on where we were at the same time last year.

“There are strict rules around the management of the HBF customer survey and we are absolutely committed to adhering to those.

“In the current survey year, which started on 1 October 2017, we have so far received more than 740 surveys, and around 87 per cent of those returned would recommend us to family or friends.

“If there is any evidence that any one of those hundreds of positive responses – or any from previous years – were not returned according to the rules, then we would wish to see that evidence and we would investigate it thoroughly.”

In relation to the case in which £1,000 of a homebuyer’s bills had been paid, Bovis said it was investigating the claim that payment had been conditional on the customer completing her feedback form.

A spokesman said: “On this point, we are currently investigating one claim made by a customer to The Independent, where it appears that our processes and procedures have not been followed and the colleague involved has been removed from site while we make further enquiries.”

When new CEO Greg Fitzgerald took charge of Bovis – after the resignation of David Ritchie in January 2017 – he promised to ensure that the house builder was no longer “handing over crap or incomplete houses to customers”.

Mr Fitzgerald, who made the statement after Bovis was found to have been paying homebuyers as much as £3,000 to move into unfinished homes in a failed attempt to reach an ambitious target of completing 4,131 houses by the end of the financial year, served six years as a company director for the National House Builders Council, the UK’s main home construction warranty provider, prior to his appointment.

However, The Independent has been told by several homebuyers that problems with quality remain.

Allison Briggs, 49, said that her hi-spec washing machine was broken on the day she moved into her property on a development in April 2017.

When Bovis later replaced it, she claimed the whole house vibrated when was the washing machine was on.

She told The Independent: “I am living in a Bovis nightmare. I wish I could walk away.”

Another, who bought their property in January 2017, said they had experienced problems immediately. But when they approached Bovis, the house builder allegedly told them the house being situated on a corner caused the issues.

They told The Independent: “We raised the issue again with Bovis and yet again we were told every excuse possible.”

In a statement, Bovis said: “We are committed to continuing to drive through these improvements in our business and to deal with any customer issues by our home warranty.

In those rare instances where items might be disputed, then we welcome the involvement of external agencies, such as the NHBC, to objectively assess the issues, and we are committed to meeting all of our obligations in these instances.”

“We apologise to any customer who did not move into the home they deserved in the past, but we are concerned that using isolated historic case studies as a reflection of our current performance misrepresents the business and will have a negative impact for those thousands of satisfied Bovis Homes customers who are not being contacted by the media for their experiences of buying a new-build home.”

Buyers across the UK claim the house builder sells properties that are “not fit for purpose”, with some residents reporting issues relating to insulation, flooding, structural issues and rendering.

A Facebook group called Bovis Homes Victim Group has grown to more than 3,000 members and common complaints among them are a lack of sound insulation, incorrect appliances, dented doors, flooding and thermal issues.

A number of disgruntled homeowners have reached settlements with Bovis, the terms of which are sometimes protected by non-disclosure agreements.

Bovis said: “We want open and honest feedback – positive and negative – from all of our customers so that we can build on the major improvements we have driven through the business and further enhance the experience of buying a Bovis Home.”

Dave Howard, a founder of the group, which operates the domain http://www.bovishomesvictimsgroup.co.uk and the owner of a £400,000 home in Oxfordshire, said he continues to work closely with the firm.

“We continue to attempt to work constructively with Bovis Homes as members of its Homebuyers Panel but have yet to detect any noticeable improvement in either build quality or customer service.

Obviously, from both our perspective and that of our members, this is extremely disappointing.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bovis-homebuyers-cash-property-newbuilds-housing-developers-a8330766.html

“Buyers in despair at badly built new homes” [particularly Bovis]

“One of the country’s biggest housebuilders is misleading buyers and “deliberately” delaying essential repairs to poorly built homes, according to an investigation by the Times. Bovis Homes, which builds about 3,500 properties a year, is also the only national builder to have been awarded a two-star rating out of five in the Home Builders Federation’s annual customer satisfaction survey for the year ending September 2017, meaning that between 30-40 per cent of customers would not recommend the company to a friend.”

Source:
Times p1, Sun p29

Bovis pays out £10.5 m to repair sub-standard homes

“Profits at Bovis slumped last year after the housebuilder was forced to spend millions of pounds repairing poorly-built homes and fending off takeover attempts by rivals Galliford Try and Redrow.

The company was criticised after rushing the construction of some properties and offering customers cash to move into unfinished houses, some of which had plumbing and electrical problems.

The scandal has so far forced it to spend £10.5m on repairs, including £3.5m in 2017. Other one-off costs last year included £4m for restructuring and £2.8m on advisory fees as it tried to see off the takeover bids.

The charges dragged down Bovis’s annual pre-tax profits, which fell 26pc to £114m. Revenues dipped 3pc to around £1bn, despite a 7pc hike in its average selling price to £272,000.

The housebuilder’s previous chief executive David Ritchie resigned last January, just days before the quality scandal came to light, after Bovis was forced to issue a profit warning because it had struggled to build as many homes as expected in 2016. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/01/bovis-profits-slump-35m-payout-botched-homes/