After it was found that new build Devon homes were missing basic safety requirements after a fire broke out at the Persimmon Homes Greenacre development, another homeowner, Paul Frost inspected the fire safety barriers of his own property which failed like many more throughout the estate he lives on.

The initial fire in Exeter triggered a huge inspection programme of thousands of homes across the South West, where it was found that more than 650 homes were found to have missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers.

At the beginning of May, Watchdog Live on BBC One reported how the issue of Persimmon Homes missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers. Paul made his comments when speaking with Devon and Cornwall Live:

“I have had meetings with Persimmon, one being with Dave Jenkinson, the new CEO of the group, and I made sure he was aware of my concerns. His opinion was he felt inspections of around 50 homes on a development should be enough to allow Persimmon to either investigate that development more or believe there was no reason to investigate more.

“I was astonished at this and told him this was not acceptable because what if the 51st home was missing barriers? We eventually agreed that Persimmon would write to all homeowners and advise them the need for the inspections.

“Since then there has been no sign of the letters, despite asking for proof of them myself, but I am aware that they have now issued an email address and a phone number for people to contact them.

“My new advice to everyone in a Persimmon home, as well as every other developer is this – contact your developer, no matter who they are, demand an inspection and, once completed and any required remedial works are done, get a letter of compliance from them to say your home meets all required building regulations with respect to fire barriers, and keep this safe with your insurance documents.

“In addition, I suggest everyone now instructs their developer to ensure intrusive inspections take place to establish barriers are in place around doors and windows to the exterior, proper fire doors are in place, if the building requires them, the roof and any roof or ceiling compartments are fully insulated and fire protected as required to building regulations, and finally, that the developer provides visual evidence to the homeowner for the reinforcement of trust for the homeowner.”

Persimmon Homes have made their comments as well as an issuing an apology. A spokesperson for them said:

“We are taking this very seriously and have taken extensive action since the issue was discovered. To date, we have written to c. 3,200 homeowners in the South West region to inform them of the issue and to arrange inspection of their property. A dedicated team has been established to carry out the inspections and to deal with any remedial work, which is normally carried out immediately and typically takes less than an hour. We have performed over 2,700 inspections to date. The process of notifying homeowners and arranging inspections is ongoing.

“We are focusing on the South West where the majority of our timber frame properties are built. But to be confident that we know the extent of the issue we are carrying out sample inspections in the 10 other Persimmon operating businesses which utilise timber frame construction. Incidence of the issue so far has been limited to a couple of sites, but the inspection programme is continuing. We are following the evidence – if these inspections indicate that we need to inspect every timber frame property, then we will do so”.

Ensuring a property has the correct safety requirements is an essential aspect when the property is being designed. As a person purchasing a new build property, this shouldn’t be something you should have to worry about, but you can always do your own checks yourself if you have any concerns.

The attraction of buying a new build is often that no work will need to be done to it whatsoever, but sometimes they can suffer from underlying issues and this can incredibly frustrating. This is why the role of a structural engineer is an essential part of the process during new build projects. A structural engineer will have the knowledge and expertise to ensure that their designs have the right criteria for the safety and structural performance of the project in hand. They will prepare detailed drawings, specifications and calculations for the development.

Here at Martin Perry Associates, we are experienced structural engineers in Cornwall who cover Devon and most of the South West. We offer a number of services, such as administration and design. This often will include writing schedules of works and detailed specifications, analysing tender returns, preparation and issuing tender packages, and overseeing the works once a contractor has been appointed.

With this, we usually make regular visits to the site and deal with any issues that may arise to ensure that your project is completed within the allotted time frame and within your budget. If you have any questions about the services we offer, then please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01579 345777.