The Fat Lady Sings

Over a month in to our new house purchase from Persimmon and I feel relatively safe in now bringing to an end my running commentary on the process of buying (and waiting) for a home from Persimmon. I’d say its been enjoyable but I’d be lying (badly). The house is still standing and the majority of snagging issues we’ve discovered so far have all been resolved. We have working broadband, a turfed back garden and working solar panels. The majority of this has only been made possible by the people on the site who through the dogged determination of their head office to cock everything up still managed to build our home and fix problems we had.

So in summary what have I learnt over the last 12 months?

  • Never, ever, ever (Cannot emphasise this enough) purchase a new build property
  • If you are silly enough to ignore the above point then please make sure you never, ever, ever (Don’t think I’m joking here) purchase a new build property from Persimmon Homes
  • If you ignore both of the above points then prepare yourself for the worst levels of customer service you are ever likely to experience
  • Take anger management classes. These classes will give you some level of preparation with how to deal with idiots when you undoubtedly have to start speaking to Persimmons head office department
  • Take a creative writing course. This will aid you when constructing the many complaint letters you will end up writing to Persimmons head office once polite phone call discussions have gotten you nowhere. Always remember to send two copies as they are guaranteed to ‘mislay’ the first copy
  • If you are concerned at having to do all these extra things then don’t worry. Its not like you’ll be moving into your new home anytime soon…
  • Purchase a good phone package with extra free minutes. This way when you have to start doing Persimmons job for them when it comes to returning promised phone calls you won’t end up with a large phone bill at the end of each month
  • Consider growing a beard. I managed to produce an impressive set of face fuzz over a two week period whilst I waited by the phone for a call back from persimmons head office. This was of great comfort to me when I woke up in the local hospital from malnourishment as I hadn’t ventured to the kitchen for a fortnight whilst I waited for the phone call that never came
  • See the funny side of things. I took pleasure in the simple things in life, like watching a multi million pound company ably manage to cock up basic common sense situations, like placing solar panels on the wrong side of our house, or constructing a loft hatch halfway over a wall and expecting this to be acceptable. You’ll laugh through some of your own experiences with Persimmon, after you’ve gone though the other emotions. Like pain, suffering, stress, depression and grief
  • Ensure you are on good terms with your current landlord or mortgage lender. So when you tell them repeatedly that you are moving out and then ask to extend your contract or mortgage they are understanding of your plight. Better yet tell them you are buying a property from Persimmon. At which point they will give you at least a 12 month extension to your contract just in case.

Serious stuff I’ve learnt…

  • Stuff gets delayed, deal with it, but when stuff gets delayed repeatedly and you end up having to do a company’s job for them, document it, keep a diary and a record of every single call and letter or email you’ve had to send and where you feel it should have been the responsibility of said company
  • Get them to agree in writing. No excuses that way
  • If you feel you’ve suffered a financial loss then the chances are you have, so claim compensation for your lost time and earnings from the company who have made the mistake. A company suddenly becomes very willing to do stuff once you start suggesting invoicing them for your lost time and effort
  • Don’t accept the first offer and don’t take no for an answer
  • Big companies like this behave and act in the way they do because they believe (Rightly in many cases) that customers are too scared to take them on. Don’t be. You have a ridiculous amount of legal rights available to you that companies like Persimmon hope you don’t know about. Visit your local CAB or find a friendly solicitor who offers the first hour free for advice.
  • Use social media. Large companies hate looking a shower of the brown stuff in front of other customers who haven’t made up their minds on whether to spend their money with a company. By making your issues public and ensuring potential customers of said company can see it you are more likely to get the resolution you want and quicker
  • Read the small print in everything you sign from a company
  • Try and see the funny side of the situation, if you can’t, write a blog about it. It’s a cathartic experience doing this

So there you have it. Practically 12 months after reserving and paying a deposit and six months after the completion date we are in our home and settled. I may occasionally revisit this situation if and when the after sales support from Persimmon requires it.

As for the rest of this blog I plan on continuing to write about the good, bad and ugly of customer service and the companies that get it right or badly wrong. Keep reading and commenting


Happy *buffering* New *buffering* Year *buffering*

It’s a new year!!!!!!

It’s the same old style of service from Persimmon

Who’d have guessed it?

We have been in our new Persimmon home for about three weeks now. We’ve had plenty of time to get used to it and plenty of time to find a few snagging problems that now need resolving. Persimmon’s construction team have been offsite for most of Christmas and this week has been their first week back so I’m going easy on pestering those guys too much. However its good to see that first day back on site they are arranging for someone to come and check the outstanding items that need to be resolved.

In the meantime I’ve had the continued pleasure* of trying to deal with Persimmon’s ‘head office’.

Now Persimmons head office has got a pretty dire reputation with me anyway. The sort of reputation that means it has to arrange for paid likes on its social media pages (Read my previous post on Persimmons dodgy social media strategy for the full breakdown). As with most large companies a head office department is just a means of having an address somewhere to send all the complaints they generate about the crap service they provide. In this case my current gripe with the head office is their inability to pick up those things that sit on your desk and ring or alternatively pick one up, use the dialler on it and call our broadband supplier to tell them you’ve done the work you were supposed to have done back in November…

Yes dear reader its your weekly update on The Pastures Broadband debacle.

If you read the title of this blog again you’ll notice my wonderfully witty use of buffering throughout. Which is all I’ve been able to see when having to rely on my mobile phone signal since we moved in on the 19th December in order to connect to the outside world. Its amazing how much we depend on the internet now to carry out our daily lives. For one thing the kids have had to interact with each other (Which is never a good idea) and me and Kate have had to watch terrestrial television for three weeks (Enough to drive any sane person potty). On top of this I do actually have a day job as an IT Consultant (I don’t just write angry blogs you see) which requires a very decent broadband connection both at home and in the office. Regular readers will know we had to jump through a few hoops generated by Persimmon in order to ensure we’d move in with working broadband on our exchange date. So we did all the stuff, signed the contract, paid our installation fee and then?

Waited, and waited.

An engineer got sent up from London and left dejected and disappointed (A typical response from someone visiting a Persimmon site I’m guessing). A bunch of the work the engineer needed to have been done by Persimmon wasn’t done (No surprises there) so he wasn’t able to connect us. Persimmon gave us a magical date of Christmas Eve to have broadband working (A date later confirmed by the broadband supplier as being based on nothing other than a date Persimmon just decided to pluck from thin air) and since then the broadband supplier has said that they won’t waste anymore of their engineers time in sending them up to connect us and others on the estate without Persimmon contacting them and telling them they’ve done the work. At which point the broadband supplier will then send a project manager to actually check the work has been done before they then get their engineers to come and connect us. There are a few failings with this process

  • Wouldn’t it annoy you if one of your suppliers distrusted your work so much that they ensured they sent their own people to check your work before they did their part of the deal? What sort of company would have such a bad reputation for keeping its promises that it required someone to fact check them first….
  • In order for the broadband supplier to kick start their side of the work, they are dependent on Persimmon using the ringing thing on their desks in ‘head office’ to call the broadband supplier. The chances of which are as high as Danny Dyer’s chances of being awarded an Oscar for best actor (This is what watching terrestrial TV has done to me…lasting damage)
  • Persimmon giving out made up dates means potentially there are a bunch of customers on our estate sitting in their homes assuming their broadband will be connected soon. If you know any of these people, best point them in the direction of this blog. If you are a fellow neighbour on the estate and are reading this. Hate to let you down, but you won’t be getting broadband anytime soon. On the plus side ITV have a great show about dodgy builders on this Wednesday – we might see our houses on there!

Anyway I jest a little. The point I’m making is that there are many difficult things that need to be done when building a house. Checking its clear of power lines before building up is one. Giving customers realistic estimates is evidently another one. Getting the logistics right so you don’t run out of bricks is also tough. Paying your builders on site for the hours they did in the run up to Christmas BEFORE Christmas because of your senior managements incompetence in giving out silly dates for completion to staff is clearly another.

But picking up the telephone to ring one of your suppliers to tell them you’ve done the work that you should have done months ago so they can connect customers you’ve buggered about and lied to about dates is obviously beyond the abilities of head office.

So there you have it readers. As a nation we can help other countries land a spaceship on a comet, discover and map the human DNA strand, deliver 4G to cities across the UK, build a new aircraft carrier, open up the Shard, fill the Tower of London with poppies and throw the best fireworks party at New Year, but when it comes to picking up the phone and dialling a few numbers to tell one of your suppliers they can come and do some work?

Persimmon failed…


PS – I’m going to start a petition to give Persimmons ‘head office’ a lobotomy. My hope is that this will increase the IQ of this department significantly, and lower the blood pressure of its many annoyed customers greatly, thereby saving the NHS millions of pounds a year.

*change pleasure for teeth pulling pain and you get the picture

Post Moving Day Reflections – 10 days in

Its been just over a week now since we moved into our Persimmon home at the Pastures in Brundall. With the mix of Christmas and family things as well as the unending task of emptying packing boxes (And the continued lack of broadband) its been difficult to get some time to write up the progress we’ve made since moving day. This morning is the first chance I’ve really had to reflect on where we are from two weeks ago. So coffee in hand below is a bit of a brain dump of everything that’s occurred since moving day and the bits that are left to resolve.

Regular readers will know that we were hit and miss as to whether we’d actually get in the house by December. With our rental agreement running out and Christmas literally round the corner it was looking likely that we’d be spending December and the New Year living with family rather than living in our new home. In the end we managed to exchange just in time. We were the lucky ones, there were plenty of people (Including a few friends) who have now seen their completion dates shift out to late January and February next year (I’ve been there so I understand how annoying that is!)

On 19th December we exchanged and on the 20th we actually moved in. Me and my Father laid a floor in the new lounge on the 19th so needed the day to do it (It did indeed take an entire day and I’m still waiting for the feeling to come back to my knees)

We’ve continued to find issues since moving day, none of which I’d say are showstopper problems that really stop us living here but there are a few where what Persimmon have said, and what the resulting action taken has been are continued evidence that whilst the guys on the ground here will try and work wonders, they continue to be let down by their head office that literally doesn’t seem to know what its hands are doing…

  1. Broadband Install – remember a few blogs ago I mentioned how we were told we absolutely must place our broadband order by the first week of December in order to guarantee installation before Christmas. Remember how I said I was doubtful we’d get it? Remember how the broadband company sent an engineer all the way up from London to connect us? And remember how he left empty handed when he found Persimmon hadn’t completed all the ducting to the property? I remember, because 10 days in we are still without broadband. Which is a massive pain in the arse for me working in IT and having the ability to work from home taken away from me. We seem to be trapped in a bit of a loop with the whole broadband situation at the moment. The provider (Seethelight) have been let down so many times by Persimmon and having their engineers unable to install customers homes that they are now refusing to send any further engineers until their own project manager has reviewed the work Persimmon have done. Only then will they call an engineer to connect homes. In order for their project manager to do this check they need Persimmon to call them to say the works done. Once again I’m having to join the dots for Persimmon to call the broadband supplier to get them to check Persimmons work before they send an engineer to finish the install.

On an additional footnote when I said how important having a broadband connection was to my own work I was told expressly by one of the Persimmon senior guys that if they couldn’t connect by Christmas Eve that they would give us a dongle to use until broadband was installed. At the time I expressed doubts about this. Which seems to have been right as when I popped into the office on site to enquire was told that we’d have to go and buy one out of our own pocket (These dongles normally require 12 month contracts – like Mobile phones as it’s a cellular network you are using) and then claim the expense back from Persimmon. Which is completely different to what I was initially told by the senior guy. Considering we had to wait 6 months beyond our original completion date for our home to be built I’m not confident I’d be seeing my cash this side of Summer 2015, so I’ve not bothered. In the meantime we still sit without broadband or a home phone line because basic communication between Persimmon and one of its suppliers is broken and relies on customers doing the legwork for them.

  • Back Garden – our back garden looks a bit of a tip at the minute. Because there has been a fair bit of rain the ground is completely bog like. As a result the landscaper we have booked to do our back garden can’t complete his prep work until Persimmon rotarvate the back garden. I’m confident this will get done once the construction team get back on site, but its not helped by point 3 below…
  •  The garage gutter downpipe – at the moment our downpipe from the garage gutter is about 30cm’s away from the actual downpipe drain connection. This means every time it rains all of the water from the garage roof drains down the pipe right out into the garden, and because the garden has a slope we now have the beginnings of what looks to be an impressive DIY swimming pool at the foot of the garden. This would be brilliant if:-
    1. We had planned for 30% of the garden to be a swimming pool
    2. The neighbours didn’t mind the escaping water/swimming pool flooding their back garden as well

As it stands point 3 is making point 2 in our list a drawn out affair to get done.

  • In our utility room we have a waste pipe under one of the cupboards which I’m assuming was put there if we had paid for (From the expensive extras catalogue) a utility room sink. As we preferred the additional space we didn’t pay for an extra sink and now have an open waste pipe in the utility room cupboard that gives off a wonderful smell of sewage.
  • The Solar Panels – regular readers will know the farce we had with the solar panels where the contractors placed them on the wrong side of the roof. It took me contacting Persimmon for them to be moved. Because the entire estate was only connected to the national grid on 19th December there hasn’t been an attempt to connect the solar panels in any of the properties on the estate yet. We were told this would be done on the 23rd So far we are still waiting and missing out on plenty of surprisingly good sunlight for December.
  • Front and back door locks – extremely stiff, to the point of only me being able to do the locks on them. Which makes it difficult when both me and my partner need to go to work at different times.
  • The front door privacy viewing glass is full of condensation and loose in the door. On top of this there are some pretty large gaps in the front door that let in quite the draft in the wind. Also, first thing in the morning the front door is literally dripping with condensation. I’m collecting some impressive pools of water at the bottom of the front door at the minute and I’m pretty sure point 6 and 7 are linked.
  • A few other annoying little things like the downstairs toilet lock not working, the downstairs light switch to turn on the upstairs landing light doesn’t work, the en-suite shower panels are loose at the bottom of the shower cubicle and things like screw covers in the kitchen are missing which makes it look a bit shabby.

In all its not a huge list of problems for a new house but as I said some of them are common sense things that could be done very quickly whilst some of the others are annoyingly requiring me to get involved to make any progress (Like the broadband). I’m not surprised, not really disappointed even. Just wearily accepting of the fact that we still have more email and face to face conversations we need to have with Persimmon to get stuff done.

The only other thing I can think to mention is that whilst the home is very well insulated, (We’ve barely had the heating on above 15 degrees so far – even with outside temperatures below freezing) one downside of having cavity walls is the internal walls are terrible. Literally plasterboard from what I can deduce so far. Attempting to put up pictures and some light shelving has been a proper baptism by fire. My attempts so far have resulted in industrial strength rawl plugs, filler and liberal use of swear words. As a result I’m taking a trip to B&Q this evening to buy proper plasterboard rawl plugs that expand once they are inserted.

So there you have it, I’ll continue to keep you all updated on the progress we make – I’m hopeful next week should be more promising once we get the actual construction team back on site and don’t need to deal with the head office again.

Fingers crossed

Post Moving Day

I’m writing this on a hastily assembled table of packing boxes from my mobile phone (No internet yet). Its been 3 days since we moved into the property and for the most part its been fairly smooth going. The build team on the site have been fantastic and on moving day when we still had a few things outstanding we literally had a packed house of builders and plumbers rushing round fixing bits and pieces. In summary its fair to say the guys on the site here have done a top job and I’ve found very little so far that I’ve had to list for them to resolve in the new year, mostly typical new home things (Which I’ve listed below)

The difference in dealing with a head office and the actual guys on the site doing the work is markedly different. Head office (Prior to us moving in) didn’t have any firm idea on dates, plans or even the good sense to pick up the phone. The guys on the actual site have regularly knocked on the door to check if things are okay and in particular the site manager has continued to check in on us to make sure things are being resolved as promised. It honestly feels like dealing with a completely different company.

As I mentioned above there are a few issues outstanding. The most problematic one isn’t even to do with the structure of the house. Our broadband (Which I expected to have issues with before we moved in) now looks like it won’t be installed until at least the new year. Which is pretty annoying as we were made to jump through a bunch of hoops before moving in date to get it all set up. After we did we found the ducting for the broadband hadn’t been installed and the engineer sent up from London had a wasted trip. On calling the supplier after we moved in I found that Persimmon had given us a random date based on absolutely nothing of substance. The broadband supplier is so concerned with wasting their engineers time that they now won’t conduct any further work on the estate until their own project manager has visited to check all outstanding work is completed. So it does leave us in a state of not having a clue when the broadband will actually be installed. Not great, but also, not surprising! The promise of a dongle for us to use if the broadband wasn’t installed by moving in date was also a misnomer as it appears the expectation is on us to buy the dongle (You normally have to sign up to a 12 month contract for these) and then claim it back from persimmon. Call me a cynic but as it took them 6 months beyond completion date to finish the house I’m not confident I’d be seeing my cash anytime before June next year if I did this. It also doesn’t explain who pays for the monthly cost of the Dongle…

Other bits and pieces are very minor:-

  •  The front and back doors are very difficult to lock, likely to just be a bit of loosening of the doors needed to fix it
  • The garage guttering down pipe currently misses the pipe going into the ground by a good 5 inches which means when it rains the back garden gets flooded with water
  • The back garden hasn’t been prepared (Mainly due to the wet weather we’ve had recently) which means we can’t lay turf yet
  • There are a few minor touch ups on walls that need doing

But in summary its not a bad piece of work they have done to the property to get it into a liveable state. None of the above are showstoppers to us living here and we’ve been promised that they will all be resolved within the next few days, which I’m inclined to believe as its come from the site manager rather than the head office team.

Our little close is quiet at the moment as our next door neighbors don’t move in until the new year and all of the properties opposite are still being finished.

So this post brings to an end my blogging for 2014. What started as an outlet for my frustration at the level of incompetence of one company has transformed into a useful exchange for like minded individuals who have also been severely let down by Persimmon. Its been extremely helpful to me to know we have not been alone this year in our experience but also extremely concerning that one company can continually let down so many customers with one of the most important processes they will go through in their lives. Buying a house is a massive commitment that requires long term investment. This process is not helped by a house builder who cannot deliver to dates and provides shocking levels of customer service on repeated occasions. As I said in a previous post, tread very carefully when dealing with Persimmon. Although our property appears to be sound and the service we’ve received from the people on site has been top notch its taken a hell of a lot of complaining and stress to get to this point.

I hope all of the readers of this blog find a solution to their issues over the next few weeks and months and wherever you are living during Christmas I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable time.

I’ll be back in the new year to continue my blog.


The House Inspection

Today we finally managed to see our (almost) completely built house purchase from Persimmon. My initial expectations for the property visit were that we’d find lots of outstanding problems we’d be putting up with once we sign the legal exchange in two days time. Surprisingly enough the visit was actually without too much issue.

I won’t name names here but the guy who took us round the house is probably one of the first genuinely apologetic and honest people we have dealt with at Persimmon. He apologised repeatedly and actually gave me a much better understanding of the issues he and his guys on the ground have had to deal with. Needless to say that it’s the mismanagement at the senior levels that has resulted in about 25 families on the estate missing their original completion dates.

Along with the above the fact Persimmon have taken on far too much work than they knew they were capable of means many families who had planned to be in their homes for Christmas are now being given dates of January and February next year.

There were a few minor issues but nothing of the catastrophic level I was anticipating before we checked the house. The good thing for me was the fact that the guy showing us round committed to all of them being resolved by Friday, which is something we’ve not had from our many previous dealings with the head office team.

Needless to say we now go into the legal completion on Friday with far more confidence than we’ve had for the last 6 months of the build.

I’d also like to say that I’m very quick on this blog to point out failures and stupidity. I’d like to take some time out on this blog now to thank a few people from Persimmon who have continued to try and get resolutions for us. Again I’m not going to name names here because like any large organisation these head office departments don’t like their staff to be following anything other than the corporate line. Hopefully you’ll know who you are if you are reading this (My site stats show at least a few Persimmon IP addresses are indeed following this blog)

To the lady in the sales office who has continued to try and chase things down for us and been a friendly voice at the end of a telephone line for us repeatedly over the last 6 months, thank you. Its never been an issue dealing with you and your patience has been impressive in fielding what must have been hundreds of phone calls weekly from all the families impacted by these delays.

To the guy who took us around the house yesterday and was probably the most honest and apologetic person we’ve dealt with at Persimmon, thank you. You gave us some straight answers and couldn’t do enough for us to put right some of the few teething issues we have remaining.

To all the workers who have pulled weekend shifts and late nights to try and get the estate into a liveable place for families in the run up to Christmas, thanks. The incompetence of the senior management at Persimmon shouldn’t hide the fact that you appear to have done a top job in getting these houses into a habitable state.

I’ll continue to update this blog after moving day with any post move observations. Keep reading and commenting!

You want to see your house? What a ridiculous request to make!

3 days out from legal completion and my concern that Persimmon seem to be desperately rushing to finish/hide any problems in our property seems to be pretty close to the truth. The reason I say this is that we were supposed to be able to inspect the house on Monday (Prior to legal completion on Friday) in order to check the outstanding issues/any other issues have been resolved.

The annoying thing about all of this is just how broken the communication seems to be between the site manager and the senior management of Persimmon. Each time we’ve had an issue with the build we’ve tried to resolve it with the guys on the ground at the build site as it only seems fair to give them an opportunity to put it right. Each time they’ve failed in a spectacular way to do this. This results in us having to speak to their bosses to get stuff resolved. Making them look incompetent and probably driving a further wedge between their guys on the ground and their senior management. I know from my own job that if I had a customer continually going above me to my boss that it would piss me off. Initially I’d be annoyed at the customer for not trusting my judgement, but then I’d question why the customer feels they need to do this. Am I not doing my job right? Don’t they trust what I’m telling them? Maybe a period of reflection is needed for Persimmons staff at the site??

So for the last week we’ve been told by the site manager that the earliest we can view the property would be Thursday (That’s less than 24 hours before completion) and all week I’ve been telling them that this isn’t acceptable because there is no way that gives any of us contingency to resolve anything that we find wrong (Because I know we will find things wrong). This has gone back and forth like this for a while. I asked what the reasons for this were and was told that they were arranging access to the front of the property. This in itself seems completely contradictory as access to the front of the property wouldn’t stop us, you know, using the backdoor to get into the house would it? That and the fact I’ve popped round a few times to show the kids the front of the house and it really didn’t look like the lack of paving stones would have stopped me in a pair of grubby boots from getting to the front door.

So yesterday I went to the site managers boss to ask if we could have access before Thursday. Unsurprisingly he said after viewing the property for himself he could see no reason why we couldn’t go and see the house before Thursday…

Its this sort of miscommunication and stepping on each others toes that we’ve had to deal with the entire 12 months we’ve been dealing with Persimmon. One person says something, another one contradicts them and the customer stuck in the middle of all of it wonders what the hell the builder is doing and why they can’t just front up on what the actual issues are.

So today we get to view the house. I’ll report back here tomorrow on the state of it.

On a side note I went to see my eldest sons school play yesterday and afterwards was talking to the secretary of the school. We got onto houses for some reason and when I mentioned we were moving she asked whether it was Persimmon homes building it. When I said yes she gave the typical response of a Persimmon customer ‘oh no, you need to be careful with them, we have a Persimmon home and had countless problems with it after moving in’…

I rest my case

House Building 101?

A few years ago me and a group of 9 other friends did a charity house build in Romania (Cluj to be precise). Via our employer we (And 8 other teams) had to raise £7800 in 8 weeks to buy materials to fly out to Romania to build 4 houses for people who were living in poverty housing. Our team managed to pull this off and so went out to Romania to put together a new set of homes for these families.

It was a thought provoking experience. However much we complain in this country (Including me) about how bad we have it we really don’t need to look too far across the pond in Europe to see others who have it so much worse. As a team we managed to knock up 4, 2 bedroom flats built into a modular detached building (With 2 floors) in five days. Better yet because we were so quick we managed to knock up two extra semi detached 2 floor homes. All were made with wood framework, concrete base and foundations and sloping tiled roof. All rooms were plastered, electrics installed, full plumbing and a bunch of us clubbed together to contribute to some furnishings and gifts. On the day we handed over the keys to the four families there wasn’t a dry set of eyes on the building site.

I use this example firstly to show that my own situation whilst pants isn’t anywhere near as bad as plenty of others. But I also use it to show that with a motivated and dedicated team you can deliver something to time and budget without needing to let down the customer.

So I have a genuine question for Persimmon Homes.

How long does it take to build a home?

If you’ll have seen my previous blog you’ll understand that I mentioned I’m not particularly great at DIY. Which was something of a white lie. See I can plaster, can knock together a framework using wood pretty well, can do some basic plumbing and I’m a pretty dab hand at mixing cement. Skills I picked up over 5 days in Romania from qualified builders. I’m not for one minute saying I could go and knock together a block of flats tomorrow. But I am saying I have a small understanding of time elapsed to put together something resembling a home.

The first thing is to be very clear on three things:-

Budget, Materials and Resources

There is absolutely no point in starting a build of any of the above are missing. Only fools would start a major construction project without the right materials, money or people to do the work required. I mean no one would be this silly would they? Eh Persimmon? You wouldn’t get halfway through a site build and then find you’ve run out of bricks would you Persimmon? Or admit to customers that the reason for your delays this month are due to not having enough qualified builders of acceptable quality would you?

Anyway I digress.

You also need a decent project manager. Someone who understands the relationship between different bits of construction and how to work logistics into the plan. Which means making sure that when he has a construction team on site that they have materials to do something with, and also that these materials continue to flow into the estate as the build progresses.

One of the key skills of a project manager is being able to provide reliable and realistic estimates to their stakeholders and customers. Having done a bit of this myself I know there is nothing that pisses off people more than over promising and under delivering on dates. Which is why its always best to err on the side of caution and assume worst case. Again no decent project manager would keep releasing dates to customers for completion that are so ridiculously inaccurate as to be completely worthless. That just wouldn’t be good business, or a good customer experience for the home buyer. No one would do that, would they Persimmon?…

So now you have the budget, materials, staff and a decent project manager.

You need to prepare the ground. Ideally you’d do this by referencing existing plans for the site to ensure you don’t cut through a power cable and knock out power to the entire village (Again – no one would be this silly, would they Persimmon?, I mean you’d have to fork out some form of compensation to people for loss of power and potential damage to their homes, like food wasted in freezers?). You’d also do what I like to call ‘the common sense check’ of the site. i.e. if there are any structures, trees, hedges or cows on the site you’d ideally want to move them before spades go in the ground so that halfway through a build you don’t suddenly realise that you’ve got to move a power cable supplying the entire village from the existing above ground power cables to an underground set of cables.

Once you’ve done these basic things you can then start the actual build work. Its at this point your estimates start to firm up into realistic dates. Slippages do happen, suppliers will let the supply chain down, people will report in sick, accidents may well happen. One or two days delay at the start can translate into one or two weeks later once the full impact is realised. I know this, because I’ve had it happen on my own projects. Which is why any decent project manager will build in contingency to their plans. If you estimate a job will take 2 months then you probably want to add on 1-2 weeks contingency for delays or unexpected events. This is just good business practice.

I’ll leave you to work out how Persimmon seem to go about project management of their building sites. You don’t need to look very far on the internet to see how this impacts their customers…

A crucial part of a build is ensuring that plans are followed to the letter. The risks of not doing this are that you end up building something incorrectly, which may not be signed off as completed or could lead to costly repairs later. Your customer may decide that the build quality is so poor that they refuse to exchange, causing further delays and additional unexpected costs. What you really don’t need at this point is someone deciding for example to install a loft hatch in a bathroom (Over a bath and partway over an internal wall) instead of in a landing hall, like the house plan states… Again I’ll leave you to work out how Persimmon seem to approach build plans and quality workmanship…

Some readers may think I’m doing this to be glib. Part of me probably is, but a large part of me is doing this to show that simply expecting a customer to hand over a massive deposit and go away until you’ve build something isn’t and never has been acceptable. One last time I’ll let you work out what sort of approach Persimmon takes to customer experience…