We can’t live in our new, leaking Persimmon home

My Persimmon home is less than two years old, but is uninhabitable. A week after I moved in, in December 2021, I reported moisture gathering on the kitchen ceiling. Persimmon arranged visits and superficial remedial works, but the problem continued until, this summer, the ceiling was near collapse. It was a plumber, hired by me, who discovered a nail in a bathroom pipe, which had flooded the subflooring. Over 20 months, it has saturated the rooms downstairs and the resulting mould has affected insulation and my health. The waterlogged ceiling was only removed in August after I made a formal complaint. I was moved into an Airbnb for a week while a schedule of works was carried out.

The kitchen ceiling was restored after a drying process of less than 48 hours, soaked skirting was painted over, the bath was remounted on sodden supports, on waterlogged floorboards, and a moisture meter I bought showed damp levels throughout the house exceeded “industry limits”. By the end of the week, the kitchen ceiling was still leaking, two more leaks were discovered (although not officially detailed to me), and I’ve since moved between three Airbnbs.

The house is still not fit for habitation, and two industrial dehumidifiers have only now been installed. There’s mould visible in all the bedroom floorboards and the smell is overwhelming. Persimmon refuses to buy the house back and also refused to refund me my final five days in an Airbnb.
BF, Cardiff

This is your first home and Persimmon has turned what should have been a joyous milestone into a hell. The photos of the mould disfiguring the ceilings are appalling and you say you and your partner have suffered asthma and flu symptoms over the past two winters.

In 2019, a review commissioned by Persimmon to restore a battered reputation identified failures to meet building standards and a poor corporate culture.

It initially told me it was a “five-star builder” and remedied any issues as soon as possible. It had, it says – 21 months after you reported the leaks – agreed new works to be completed within a week. It apologised for the “inconvenience and disruption” and informed you that its refusal to reimburse fully your accommodation expenses was a typing error.

It seemed unlikely the house would be dry enough for the latest works to be completed within a week and, indeed, when questioned, it agreed damp levels were too high and admitted the leaks had been “misdiagnosed” by its contractors.

It said: “We have committed to cover all appropriate expenses and will agree necessary compensation once the works programme has been completed.”

You finally moved back this month and are planning to sell. Probably not to Persimmon. It informed you that buy-backs in such circumstances were “not our usual process”. Striking, isn’t it? If it was a TV, instead of a home, you’d be entitled to a refund after months of botched repairs.

If a developer fails to resolve defects in new homes, buyers can complain to the Consumer Code for Homebuilders Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme or the New Homes Ombudsman Service.

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