In late 2018 it was reported that cavity fire barriers were missing or ineffective on Persimmon’s newly built timber frame homes.
Cavity fire barriers protect the building from fire and smoke spreading and protect the occupier from the catastrophic effects of fire. Cavity barriers should exist at eaves, windows, doors and in party walls of terraced properties. Their absence is a major health and safety failure and a breach of building regulations, designed to ensure our homes are safe.
In 2019 it was revealed that issue with fire cavity barriers were a nationwide issue and also affected Bellway Homes: “New-build homes not fire safe” (BBC, 1 May 2019). Following the Worcester Park Fire, developers Berkeley Group were served with enforcement notices by the London Fire Brigade to improve cavity fire stops: Enforcement Notice issued after Timber Frame Blaze (Sutton & Croydon Guardian, 9 December 2019)
Persimmon, faced with a torrent of bad press commissioned a Report. It has now been published and I quote:
“The problem Persimmon has encountered with missing/improperly fitted cavity barriers is a systemic nationwide problem”
“The cavity barrier problem is a manifestation of a lack of supervision and inspection of the way in which building work is carried out both by Persimmon’s own labour and Persimmon’s subcontractors.”
So there we have it – a systemic, nationwide problem with build quality due to lack of supervision and inspection. On this occasion that poor construction revealed itself in missing cavity fire barriers. On another it may be a key structural failure leading to collapse.
Many house builders have been in the press for badly built new homes. The work I do advising buyers of badly built new homes makes me suspect that failure of supervision and monitoring is at the root of this. It is hard to believe that it does not affect most of the major house builders.
I have been aware for a number of years of major problems facing buyers of newly built homes due to poor quality construction. This report will come as no surprise to many home buyers who have lived with the consequences of bad construction.
This review should be read by each volume house builder with care.