Three star Persimmon homes get off lightly on BBC Watchdog 21 May 2015

“Why choose Persimmon?”  it says their website. Why indeed.
It remains a complete mystery to me why anyone in his or her right mind would actually choose to buy a new home from Persimmon. Especially when they can choose to buy from any five-star rated housebuilder with a history of winning NHBC awards for quality. Or at least avoid the worst of the housebuilders – those featured on national television programmes and in newspaper columns for both the poor standard of the homes they build and the lack of any resemblance of customer care when homebuyers discover the inevitable snags and defects, missed by the so called professionals employed by housebuilders such as Persimmon.

I am amazed that year after year, naïve young homebuyers get taken in by Persimmon’s marketing spin, some ending up in tears on national television with their fully preventable tales of woe. Preventable, because their homes could have been built with greater care. Preventable, because they could be built more slowly and all stages thoroughly checked and inspected by Persimmon site management, the warranty provider and building control inspectors. Preventable, because the government could and should introduce new legislation to protect all new homebuyers and provide an independent means of dispute resolution in the form of an Ombudsman for New Homes, rather than rely on a Consumer Code for Home Builders, set up and managed by housebuilders and other interested parties.

Talk is cheap.

All housebuilders make exaggerated claims about the homes they build and the “service” they offer to customers. Only in housebuilding could 93% of buyers experience a problem. Only in housebuilding would 47% of buyers be expecting the number of defects and problems they get. Yet they still buy new homes, year after year. Maybe they get taken in and assured by statements like these:

“Persimmon Pledge:
From the moment our customers reserve one of our new homes, we pledge to make the experience enjoyable and informative each step of the way.


We aim to take care of our customers, not just when they are buying but also when they have moved into their new home. All of our staff are trained to provide a high level of customer service and to deliver our comprehensive pre-move and after sales pledge to our customers.” 


“Quality Assured
“On completion of your new home we will provide you with a quality assured certificate for you to keep within your Masterfile.”

Pity their homes are not 100% complete when some of their buyers are told they are! Persimmon also state on their website that:

 “In 2014 six Persimmon site managers won Pride in the Job Quality Awards continuing Persimmon’s strong showing in the NHBC Awards.”

Strong showing? – more like a miracle! Add the two Charles Church winning managers and that’s a total of just 8 awards for a company that built over 13,500 new homes in Britain last year. In contrast, Barratt site managers won a total 89 NHBC Quality awards that year.

“Dedicated customer care helpline
During our normal office opening hours and during your occupation you may use our dedicated customer care helpline. Our teams are fully trained to offer you an efficient, fair and prompt service.”

BBC Watchdog reported it took two months before Persimmon came to look at a leaking shower and even then it was not properly fixed. Hardly “prompt” Persimmon!

It is amazing that given the apparent endemic neglect and a complete indifference to their customers after they have moved in, that statements such as these are even permitted, as they have the potential to mislead new home buyers into a false sense of security.

Yet despite this, the team at BBC Watchdog took the easy route with a dumbed-down report, seemingly aimed at viewers of low intelligence. Perhaps this was deliberate attempt to engage with the very kind of people that may still buy a Persimmon new home regardless! The opportunity to report on what is a very serious problem for thousands of new homebuyers every year – the dire quality of UK new homes – was sadly missed. The BBC Watchdog team only reported  on one Charles Church “stunning new development” at The Mulberries in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. “Houses and apartments with a reputation for design and quality.” Well judging from the brief report by somewhat lazy journalists and researchers, perhaps this “reputation” is for poor design and quality?  Watchdog could also have featured Persimmon development at Hunters Gate in Grantham, Lincolnshire and several others. Persimmon issued a statement to Watchdog saying that they “work to the highest possible standards, were let down by their subcontractors and disputed that homes were rushed.”  

BBC Watchdog’s Anne Robinson described Persimmon as “collectively Britain’s biggest housebuilder”. Quite why I don’t know. Perhaps the BBC takes as little care with their research as Persimmon appears to do building their homes! Barratt built 1,329 more new homes  than Persimmon last year. Barratt also have a higher market capitalisation and higher sales turnover than Persimmon.

Jeff Fairburn If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well! That applies to BBC TV reporting as much as it does to building new homes or anything else for that matter. Persimmon CEO Jeff Fairburn and his fellow directors must be laughing all the way to their boardroom this morning.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Comments are closed.