A developer criticised for shoddy workmanship has promised new home buyers they can hold back some payment until problems with their properties are fixed.
In a significant victory for customers, FTSE 100 builder Persimmon said buyers would keep 1.5 per cent of their home’s value – or £3,600 on average – until they were satisfied with it.
It is thought to be the first major housing company to offer such protection and comes after the Mail highlighted the plight of customers stranded in homes with numerous defects.
Disaster zone: Developer Persimmon has been criticised for shoddy workmanship and poor quality homes
These including leaks, exposed nails, doors that did not close properly and even toilets that flushed boiling water.
New Persimmon customers will now be able to withhold full payment until faults are dealt with.
It is understood that the scheme is the brainchild of new chairman Roger Devlin, who said: ‘This move, and the urgency with which we will introduce it, is a clear and unambiguous signal of cultural and operational change at Persimmon, putting customer care at the very centre of the business.’
The 61-year-old added: ‘This is a first among the UK’s large housebuilders.’
Persimmon chief executive Dave Jenkinson, who took over following the departure of Jeff Fairburn in a row over fat cat pay, said: ‘We hear the message that we need to raise our game in customer care. Moving into a new home should be a positive experience. We are determined that the experience is not overshadowed by teething problems.’
Persimmon sold around 16,500 homes last year – meaning the initiative could cost in the region of £60million a year after it is introduced at the end of June.
Anthony Codling, industry expert and chief executive of search portal Rummage 4 Property, said: ‘The Mail has raised questions about customer service and the quality of Persimmon’s homes and this looks like a response to that. They have been building homes for years and years and never did this before.’
It is the latest move by Persimmon to improve its image after a barrage of criticism over fat cat pay and shoddy workmanship.
Fairburn was paid nearly £85million over the past two years, with current chief Jenkinson, 51, receiving £45million in that period.
Anger at the builder – which made £1billion in profits last year – was compounded by its reliance on the taxpayer-funded Help to Buy scheme for nearly half of its sales.
The Government has now threatened to strip Persimmon of the right to use the scheme.
Persimmon hopes the efforts will help it win back its four-star rating in the Home Builders Federation’s annual survey of customers buying new builds. It was downgraded to three stars out of five in 2015.