HUNDREDS of new homes constructed by Persimmon and Bellway Homes have been built with “potentially dangerous fire safety issues”, an investigation by BBC Watchdog Live has found.
The Persimmon properties were sold with missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers, designed to prevent the spread of fire, according to a new episode airing on BBC One tonight.
Getty – Contributor Hundreds of Persimmon properties were found with missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers
Missing or poorly installed fire barriers in a home is “like driving a car without an airbag”, industry expert Andrew Mellor told the programme.
In April 2018 at the Persimmon Homes Greenacres development in Exeter, a fire started by a cigarette dropped at ground level spread up to the roof of a house, and then to the neighbouring properties.
An internal investigation found that 37 per cent of the homes on the estate had no fire barriers, and 650 homes across the UK were then found with missing or incorrectly installed fire barriers, according to the series.
Yet some of these issues have still not yet been fixed – and some homes haven’t been inspected, it added.
What does the law say?HOUSE builders are required to make sure the houses they sell meet fire standard requirements.
Building Regulations require that by law new homes are built with fire protection measures to delay the spread of fire and allow crucial time for escape.
In many new builds, particularly timber-framed buildings, fire barriers are a vital part of this fire protection.
The barriers are used to form a complete seal between different areas of a home, and without them, experts say, fire and smoke can spread five to ten times faster, according to the BBC Watchdog.
The responsibility to meet the regulations ultimately lies with the house builder.
Meanwhile, outside the South West in Coventry, some 48 Persimmon Homes apartments were evacuated in 2018 when a number of defects included missing fire barriers were discovered.
Some residents are still living in temporary accommodation while new fittings and other works are carried out, said the investigation.
The BBC Watchdog also found “fire safety issues” in developments in Kent and West Lothian built by Bellway Homes.
In 2015, a fire took hold in a block of Bellway Homes apartments in Canterbury, Kent, and spread through dozens of properties, destroying or damaging 45 of them.
An inspection highlighted concerns over fire stopping in the walls, leading the residents to be moved out while “improvement works” were carried out.
Meanwhile, after concerns were raised by one resident at a Bellway Homes delveopment in West Lothian, Scotland, the BBC Watchdog Live also sent out its own surveyor Greig Adams to the property.
Alamy Homes built by Bellway Homes also came with fire breach issues, according to an expert
He says he found poorly fitted fire barriers at all four properties, with voids and gaps around them that would prevent them stopping fire from spreading.
He said: “What we’ve unfortunately found is that there are fire breach issues in every house we’ve looked at. It’s a legal requirement that the cavity barriers are to be there.
“It’s not optional- and with good reason: it saves lives.”
A spokesperson for Bellway Homes told BBC Watchdog Live: “Bellway takes our customer’s safety extremely seriously and we will investigate and address any raised concerns immediately, where there is perceived to be an imminent danger to persons or property.
And a spokesperson for Persimmon said: “We are taking this very seriously and have taken extensive action since the issue was discovered.”
“This should not have happened and we would like to apologise to all affected homeowners and assure them that we are doing everything we can to rectify the issue swiftly.”
The house builder has also established a national helpline number – 0800 915 0980 – which any concerned homeowner can call for more information and to arrange an inspection of their property.
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Last month, Persimmon was named Britain’s worst builder again after criticism over “shoddy workmanship” and fat cat pay.
Around a year ago, an angry first-time buyer hanged large sign on “shoddy” £220k Persimmon home warning others not to buy there.
Meanwhile, MPs have accused Britain’s biggest housebuilders of fuelling the housing crisis by delaying constructions.
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