Hundreds of disgruntled customers plan protest outside housebuilder’s HQ
UK housebuilder Bovis Homes has received complaints from hundreds of buyers over the quality of its new homes, increasing pressure on the company whose chief executive resigned on Monday.
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The outcry follows production problems that forced Bovis to issue a profit warning in late December, saying that completions of about 180 homes would be delayed until 2017. That was followed by the departure of chief executive David Ritchie on Monday.
Marc Holden, a spokesman for the group, claimed that his £490,000 home in Milton Keynes had about 100 flaws when he moved in March last year, including an en suite shower room that was unfinished and seven separate faults in the gas supply installation.
“This is happening across the country, and as a group we’re saying we are not going to stand for it,” he said. Other members of the group complained of faults, including flooding and faulty electrical installations, as well as slow customer service in addressing defects.
Building standards are a long-running issue for the industry. A 2013 survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects found widespread dissatisfaction among buyers of new homes, while MPs last year called for a series of changes, including giving buyers the right to carry out a full survey before completion.The FTSE 250 company said: “Bovis Homes is fully aware of the customer group and their complaints, and we take these issues very seriously. We recognise that in some of these cases we have not provided our best standard of customer service and have taken too long to rectify customer issues, for which we apologise.”
Dave Howard, founder of the Facebook group for Bovis customers and the owner of a £400,000 home in Oxfordshire, said that he had had an “extremely acrimonious” relationship with the company since he attempted to address building flaws in 2014.
Bovis said that it had met and apologised to Mr Holden and was in the process of addressing his problems. In Bovis’s profit warning last month, which echoed a similar one a year earlier, it blamed “slower than expected build production across the group’s sites” for the delay to some completions. It said it would finish 3,950 to 4,000 homes by the end of the year.
The company said a “limited number of customers” had been offered financial incentives “in line with industry practice”. “
All homes were habitable with the requisite CML industry certification, with a timetable for outstanding finishing works to be carried out in the new year,” it added.
Bovis said it had set up a dedicated team in November to respond to the ongoing complaints, while “taking actions across all of our sites to put in place robust procedures and practices to prevent issues such as these from occurring again”.
In an annual survey of customer satisfaction by the Home Builders Federation, an industry group, Bovis scored three out of five stars in 2014-15, but among the 35 builders surveyed it was one of just four that failed to score four or five stars. Buyers of new homes normally have a two-year warranty period in which to report flaws.
Charlie Campbell, analyst at Liberum, said: “If we went back in time 10 or 20 years, it was fairly commonplace to see a rush to get everything done late in the financial year. But, over the past decade, most companies have been fairly good at moving away from that.
“It’s probably in part because of social media and people being able to grumble about bad experiences more than they did back in the day.” He said that Bovis “has a good land bank but historically the problem has been building that out quickly enough”. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.