Developer inspections begin after compartmentation issues

4 February 2019

Persimmon Homes has admitted that it is inspecting a ‘wider area’ of properties to see if they are missing ‘vital’ fire safety barriers.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a resident in a block of flats built by Persimmon in Exeter had claimed his pet python’s escape and discovery ‘exposed fire safety breaches’ in ‘missing’ fire safety compartmentation. The property at Hill Barton Vale development is one of six in the south west named by a whistleblower as having failed health and safety inspections, after there was a fire at a similar development in April 2018.
 
The snake’s escape and capture last August led to an inspection of the six flat building by social housing provider LiveWest, with the resident claiming compartmentation barriers were missing between his and all other flats in the building. Another Exeter resident Paul Frost launched an investigation in a separate block after he found his home was also missing fire safety barriers.
 
Persimmon is said to have ‘persistently refused’ to answer questions about how many homes have failed inspections, and how many other developments locally and nationwide have failed. It had ‘initially denied’ a problem with the properties after Mr Frost had notified them of concerns at his own property, with Persimmon then sending letters to residents asking them to inspect their own homes ‘due to roof space cavity problems’ in what was believed to be Mr Frost’s home.
 
Each of the company’s properties is supposed to go through a three part check, by sub contractors, site managers and either building control officers or the National House Building Council (NHBC). In turn, periodic ‘spot’ checks are supposed to be made by the contracts manager and construction director, though these are not recorded.
 
Now, Devon Live has reported that Persimmon has admitted it is now inspecting a ‘wider area’ of properties in order to see if they too are missing compartmentation barriers. In a letter to residents, it likened the checks to a ‘car recall’, with the April 2018 fire seeing flames spread into roof spaces of two adjoining properties. As before, the company will not confirm what homes are within the ‘wider area’ being inspected.
 
The letter to tenants and residents read: ‘We are conducting a check on roof space and cavity closures and would like to check your property. Despite a three level sign off installation check, we have experienced instances where the barrier is either partially or not installed. Therefore, like a car recall, we would like to undertake a check. If you could contact the number provided then a convenient appointment can be made for our local team to carry out the inspection and complete any required remedial works.’
 
A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said: ‘Under the inspection regime for the wider area, including Hill Barton Vale, we have carried out a full check of every property under construction that is either complete, or that has the roof and brickwork constructed, and checks are ongoing at existing properties, where customers have been contacted by letter. However, while investigations are live we are not in a position to advise of the results.
 
‘Persimmon Homes has a dedicated team in place to deal with any remedial works that are required, and customers on any of our developments can make contact at any time.’
 
Our experts can conduct comprehensive, non-destructive fire compartmentation surveys and deliver detailed reports on the condition of walls and floors, roof voids, wall voids, risers and shafts, floor voids and basements. For more information, please contact our team on 01608 812 505.
Developer inspections begin after  compartmentation issues