Business

'Our new-build home has 354 defects'

Craig and his partner Tracey by their house
Image caption Craig and his partner Tracey by their house

Two years after buying their £325,000 house from developers Bovis, Craig Wakeman and partner Tracey Bickford are still waiting to move in after discovering their dream home was riddled with 354 defects, many of them structural.

The couple told BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates buying the house was "one of the worst decisions we've ever made".

Nine out of 10 new home buyers surveyed by the New Homes Review found defects in their houses.

Bovis apologised that the family's "customer journey with us has been so disappointing over the last two years," and said it was "completely focused on putting right what has gone wrong".

Craig and Tracey bought their brand new three-bedroom detached house in Worcester in November 2016 for themselves and their two young daughters.

After delays in the building of the house, they finally moved in October 2017.

But they soon discovered a host of issues.

In November 2017, the family hired independent inspection company HomeSnag to do a report - and they identified nearly 150 problems. Shortly afterwards, problems with some of Bovis's homes prompted a profit warning from the company.

Image copyright Bovis/ submitted picture
Image caption The house as it appears in the Bovis brochure - and how it looks now

But the HomeSnag report was just the beginning of the family's problems.

"That's when the nightmare really began... the list of issues just started to grow and grow and grow," Craig said.

In February 2018, Bovis themselves inspected the property, and identified 156 issues with the build - many of them structural.

'Ridiculous'

The family agreed with Bovis they needed to move out of the property so that repairs could be carried out.

They moved out in July, and have since been accommodated by Bovis in a neighbouring property.

"We were having to move, yet again, to temporary accommodation, so that Bovis could put this right," Craig said. "It's just ridiculous."

He said yet more snags have been discovered, taking the total to 354.

"There is no kitchen, no heating, it all had to be ripped out. It's ridden with faults, it should never have been signed off."

Craig's partner Tracey said: "I feel sorry for the neighbours that have to live next to this. It's probably one of the worst decisions we've ever made, and in hindsight we wouldn't have done it."

Craig added: "It's just not acceptable. It consumes your life. You spend every waking hour worrying about the house and then when you're at home at night you're having to deal with the continual problems that seem to be identified.

"There just seems to be no end to it."

Image caption The house, covered in scaffolding

The 5 Live Investigates programme has had exclusive access to the New Homes Review, an independent survey of 687 people who've bought new homes within the past 12 months, which shows nine out of 10 new buyers said there were defects when they moved in.

A quarter say issues weren't dealt with promptly, while more than a third of homebuyers reported delays which meant their house wasn't built on time.

Last month, the government announced plans to introduce a New Homes Ombudsman, to help buyers having problems with their newly built property.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler told 5 Live Investigates: "Where people have problems with their new-build home, builders and warranty providers have a legal and moral obligation to put it right.

"While we develop these plans, we expect the industry to continue to improve the current redress arrangements and ensure properties are consistently of a good standard."

Meanwhile, Craig said it could be May next year before the family get to move into their home.

"We're in a position where we own a house that we can't live in, that we can't sell, that's got that many faults in it you're always going to question whether or not the house is going to be right."

"We've asked Bovis Homes to take the keys back and take the home off us but they've refused to do that."

Bovis told 5 Live Investigates: "We are committed to getting this right and are in regular communication with Mr Wakeman as the remedial work progresses."

BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates is on from 11:00 on Sunday 25 November on BBC Radio 5 Live.

More on this story