Father-of-two forces developer Persimmon to rebuild new family home after he found 'hundreds' of problems

Ross McGuinness
·4-min read
Andrew Higgs outside his rebuilt home in Cardiff. (Reach)
Andrew Higgs outside his rebuilt home in Cardiff. (Reach)

A father-of-two has forced a housing developer to rebuild his new home after he found “hundreds” of issues with it.

Andrew Higgs, 41, bought the newly built five-bedroom property in Old St Mellons, Cardiff, in June 2019, and says he found problems from the first day he moved in with his wife and two children, aged two and five.

After months of negotiations, developer Persimmon eventually agreed to tear down the outside walls and rebuild them from scratch, moving his family into temporary accommodation while it replaced every single external brick.

Last January, it was reported that Persimmon’s sales had slumped after “poor workmanship” on new builds, although it bounced back later in the year.

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When he first moved in and found numerous issues, Higgs contacted Charles Church, a housebuilding company owned by Persimmon.

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“There was a long list of snags from day one and each week we would notice additional issues of poor workmanship,” he told Wales Online.

He said it took more than a year of discussions before Charles Church agreed to knock the walls down and rebuild them brick by brick.

The walls of the home in Wales were ripped down and rebuilt. (Reach)
The walls of the home in Wales were ripped down and rebuilt. (Reach)

“Our main concern was the external brickwork which we felt was of a very poor standard aesthetically,” said Higgs.

Problems included inconsistent mortar joints, chipped and damaged bricks and wonky mortar beds.

He claimed the full list of issues ran into the hundreds, including visible plasterboard joints, cracks appearing in the walls and ceilings, damaged roof joists and drainage issues to the front garden.

It was only after contacting one of the company directors directly that Higgs said he was able to get any response.

Charles Church commissioned an independent survey of the property but Higgs said it “downplayed” many of the issues.

He said: “They did accept all the issues and looked to get them addressed but the brickwork I felt was so poor I insisted it all be replaced in line with building codes of practice.

“Eventually they agreed to replace all four external walls or potentially compensate.”

But even after this verbal agreement, Charles Church insisted on another survey, this time from the National House Building Council.

Its report, carried out in May last year, advised repairs but stopped short of instructing a complete rebuild, but Higgs insisted that Charles Church hold up its earlier agreement.

“I kept on and would not back down on the agreement that was previously made: replace the walls and rebuild as per the codes of practice,” he said.

“A number of internal rework snags they had already done were of a poor quality and we were extremely reluctant to allow partial patch repairs to the external walls, especially when they already agreed previously.”

Eventually, Charles Church backed down and agreed to replace all four external walls in October 2020.

There were a number of issues with the walls of the property. (Reach)
There were a number of issues with the walls of the property. (Reach)

In a letter sent to Higgs, it said that despite his “unreasonable” request, they would rebuild all four walls and elevations as a “gesture of goodwill”.

After the family spent two months in temporary accommodation, they returned to the property to find more problems – Higgs claims the construction work led to damage throughout his property, including his carpets, his CCTV cameras, the alarm system and the large family fridge-freezer.

Persimmon reimbursed the family for the alleged damage.

Higgs insists some issues with the house remain “outstanding” to this day.

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“Having returned, we’ve noticed most cracking issues have reappeared and are now suspicious there may be movement occurring with the timber frames,” he said.

He said: “I own two local businesses. If I treated my customers the way Persimmon do I would be out of business within a week.

“If you purchase a new product you expect it to be of an acceptable standard. We were expecting our new build Charles Church house to be of a high standard but it has taken 18 months to get it to an acceptable standard.”

A spokesman for Charles Church East Wales said: "We have at all times endeavoured to ensure Mr Higgs was happy with his home.

"We therefore agreed with him that we would go beyond the specific actions identified by the independent assessment of the property to resolve the situation.”

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