Published: 16:18, 23 August 2019
| Updated: 17:45, 23 August 2019
Urgent safety checks are being carried out on new-build homes at an estate after part of a house fell down in the middle of the night.
Persimmon Homes, which built the 28-home development in Limes Place in Upper Harbledown, Canterbury, has put scaffolding up on seven at-risk properties, including the damaged home.
First-time buyers Charlie Moss and Hayley Butcher, who bought the house in December 2017 for £380,000, were fast asleep on Wednesday night when they were woken by a loud crash, caused by part of the front coming down.
First-time buyers Charlie Moss and Hayley Butcher were fast asleep on Wednesday night when they were woken by a loud crash
When they investigated, they saw a huge hole above their front door, with concrete and tiles shattered on the ground beneath.
"It sounded like a bomb had gone off, " said Miss Butcher, who manages a jewellery shop in Whitstable.
"We thought the ceiling had fallen in.
"We were quite disorientated because we'd been woken up and we couldn't really see anything because it was dark.
"When it got lighter we could see the the centre part of our house between our en-suite and bedroom had come down.
"We don't know how it happened. It's concerning - it wasn't windy, there wasn't a storm.
"Is it actually safe for us to be in our house?"
Miss Butcher says if anyone had been stood beneath it when it fell, they would have been killed.
The devastated couple contacted Persimmon Homes and after more checks it has emerged other parts of the frontage of their house are also loose.
"It's heartbreaking," said Miss Butcher.
"We spent £380,000 on our first home and we were lucky enough to be able to do this in the first place, and then this happens.
"But it's not the first thing. We've had about 40 things go wrong with it.
"We've had to have our flooring re-done three times, we're still waiting for the carpet to be re-done because it wasn't fitted properly, we've had to have a new bathroom, we're waiting on new kitchen cupboards and we have drainage issues.
"It's horrible. The house is tainted."
Mr Moss, 27, says they are still waiting to find out exactly what caused the front of the house to fall.
A neighbour, who bought a property there with her partner in December, says when the firm checked her house they said it was at risk.
"Persimmon came round and said my house was the worst, bar the one that fell down," she said.
"It's disgusting, it's shoddy workmanship and I now feel like the house is going to fall down.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg. They never do anything - we pay £350 in maintenance charges but for what? Although they magically appeared this morning to do the grass.
"They've said it's going to take three weeks to fix my house. It's not good enough."
"Our priority is to resolve the situation safely and as quickly as possible..." Persimmon Homes
Maria Oliphant also has scaffolding on her property.
"It's mildly worrying but Persimmon came out straight away and I have confidence it's going to be sorted out quickly," she said.
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes South East said: “We can confirm that after being made aware of an incident yesterday morning on the development, we took immediate steps to begin full rectification of the issue.
"We can confirm that these rectification works have commenced today.
“While investigations into the cause continue, we have taken precautionary temporary works on adjacent plots to provide reassurances to our customers.
"Our priority is to resolve the situation safely and as quickly as possible while ensuring that any inconvenience to our customers is kept to an absolute minimum.”
This week it was revealed that sales and profits at Persimmon Homes have slipped as it attempts to repair its damaged reputation following a raft of criticism about shoddy workmanship and an over-reliance on the government’s help-to-buy scheme
The firm has had to increase spending on customer service by bringing in more staff to deal with customer calls and site visits.
Earlier this year, the company was also criticised after houses built in Deal and Aylesham were found to be missing vital fire safety barriers, designed to stop the spread of fire.
More by this authorMarijke Hall