Troubled Bovis Homes insists ‘We have made clear progress’

Gary Jefferies

KENT housebuilder Bovis Homes said it has made ‘clear progress’ in dealing with customer complaints over the poor quality of its houses.


The company, based in New Ash Green, has faced up to 200 ‘snagging’ issues about its new homes, some of which were sold without being finished.


But at the Annual General Meeting of the group, held at the Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells on May 2, shareholders were told: “We have made clear progress in addressing the issues faced during 2016 and in particular have re-established a ‘customer first’ culture across the business.”


In February Bovis committed £7million to cover compensation of its disgruntled customers and carry out repair work, especially on electrical and plumbing issues.


It has also pledged to recruit extra staff to deal with the complaints, set up a dedicated homebuyers’ panel and provide a better quality assurance procedure.


The recently appointed Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald, who is leading a strategic review of the business, said: “The clear focus for 2017 is on improving our production processes and efficiency, thereby ensuring we deliver quality homes to our customers.”


A Facebook group called Bovis Homes Victims Group has gained more than two thousand members since it was launched in September last year.


It planned to carry out a demonstration at the AGM in the town, but this was allegedly called off by administrators of the online pressure group.


One ‘victim’ is Helen Batt, a partner in the Tunbridge Wells law firm Buss Murton.

She bought a four-bedroom Bovis home on the Orchard Fields development in Maidstone for £390,000 before Christmas.


Two days before the completion date, the house had not been carpeted, the lounge had not been plastered or painted, the kitchen had the wrong units installed and the garden was not turfed.


And when the power was cut off, she discovered that the electricity was not connected to the mains, but still running off a generator at the Bovis estate.


Mrs Batt had 198 ‘snagging’ issues and said: “A buyer is not permitted to delay completion for these items or they will be in breach of contract. Therefore, I had to complete on an unfinished, albeit liveable – just – dwelling.”


The company was accused of putting pressure on buyers to move into incomplete houses before Christmas by offering them incentives – including cash offers of £2,000 to £3,000 – if they completed on their house purchases before December 23.


Bovis Homes issued a profit warning at the start of the year, and admitted that it had completed around 180 fewer houses that it had anticipated in 2016. Then its Chief Executive, David Ritchie, resigned on January 11.


The firm, which made an annual pre-tax profit of £154.7million up to December 31, has also seen potential mergers fall through with Redrow Homes and Galliford Try in March and April.

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