Bovis Homes: some buyers say their problems continue

Poor quality prompted owners to list issues from leaks to creaking floors. For some the saga goes on

Nearly two years after a scandal over poorly-built houses tarnished Bovis Homes’ reputation and prompted a profit warning, the housebuilder says it has turned the corner – but some buyers say they are still battling to have their homes put right.

Almost 4,000 people joined a Facebook group last year which listed problems from leaks and drainage issues to bent walls and creaking floors. That group subsequently shut down, but a new one now has more than 400 members.

The company said this week it is fully sold for this year and its new homes are on track for a record year of profits. When it reported a 41% rise in first-half profits to £60m in September, chief executive Greg Fitzgerald, who was parachuted in last year, said the firm was “back in the game”. He said there had been a “step change in the quality of the homes we are building and level of service we are providing our customers”. Customers typically had six to 15 defects, all minor, he said, but “remedial work is very much under control”.

But some homeowners say they are still battling with serious “snags” that emerged after they moved in.

Complaints include bouncing floors and what owners describe as “micro-cracking” – a sharp, loud cracking noise heard in the room below when someone walks on the floor above. They claim this is due to the floor joists being spaced 600mm apart, rather than the 400mm to 450mm in other new-build homes.

“You can feel the floor flexing as you walk and furniture often moves,” says one owner.

Some report Bovis tries to fix this with a glue-bond, which means owners do not have to move out during the work.

James Hunkin and his wife bought a five-bedroom home at Heyford Park near Bicester for £550,000 in 2016, during the time when Bovis admits it experienced quality issues that it says have been resolved.

Gap under a door frame in James Hunkin’s Bovis home,
Gap under a door frame in James Hunkin’s Bovis home, Photograph: James Hunkin

Hunkin lists more than 50 snags and while he says some have been resolved, he is angry at continuing delays. “We have had micro-cracking and also loud creaking noises caused by the movement pulling on the walls underneath,” but adds that “each fix seems to cause noises somewhere else. It’s taken over two years to get to the bottom of our snagging list and some works are done so badly they’re needing re-doing already.”

Bovis says: “We have been – and remain – in regular contact. As we have always said, we will meet all our obligations to our customers.”

In a statement it says: “The huge turnaround in our business is shown by our strong ongoing customer satisfaction scores, which we are confident will lead to us being announced as a solid four-star builder when the Home Builders Federation releases its overall annual survey results next March.

“New homes are exposed to the elements while constructed … with our strengthened customer care teams we maintain a focus on the thousands of people covered by the two-year warranty service, and we will continue to meet all our obligations to resolve any items.”

NHBC, the standard-setting body and main warranty provider for new builds in the UK, says: “We are aware of some homeowners reporting cracking or creaking sounds from timber ceilings and although it is not a structural issue, we have looked at a small number of cases in the past.

“NHBC has supported industry research into this, including work by the University of Salford … but there is yet to be a definitive conclusion about the causes. Providing they are designed appropriately … it is perfectly acceptable, and indeed standard practice, for floor joists to be spaced at 600mm.”


Julia Kollewe

The GuardianTramp

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