Grenfell report author says housebuilders have a “moral responsibility” to deliver safe homes

Dame Judith Hackitt, tasked with investigating building regulations and fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell fire, has said she would be shocked if Persimmon was the only firm with major safety failings in its buildings.

Last month, an independent review of housebuilder Persimmon revealed the firm had routinely failed to properly install correct cavity barriers and firestopping on its timber-frame properties.


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The independent report, conducted by Grenfell QC Stephanie Barwise, found the failure to install correct cavity barriers was a “systemic nationwide problem” and called for the firm’s board to reassess the builder’s whole “purpose and ambition”.

Hackitt, the author of the the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, told Housing Today’s sister title Building that she would “be very surprised” if the problem was confined just to Persimmon.

The housebuilder has appointed Arup as a consultant to assess whether it has done enough to address the fire-safety issues identified in its new homes.

Hackitt said: “I think the action they took was sensible, I think it should be a wake-up call to others to do the same.

“The time is right, and indeed I would say overdue, for every big organisation to be doing that and getting themselves ready for what in all honesty they should already have been doing, but now they know they are going to be made to do by regulation.

She said housebuilders should not be waiting for regulatory change as they had a “moral responsibility” to deliver safe homes.

Hackitt said: “No one manufactures cars without guaranteeing that they will be safe and roadworthy, why should houses be any different?”

Hackitt, who was asked to review improving building safety in the industry in the wake of the Grenfell fire in June 2017 that claimed 72 lives, also said that while she was happy with the changes industry and government have been making to improve building safety standards, they were not happening quickly enough.

She said: “We need to speed up, that’s clear, and I’m going to be putting in a lot of effort into making sure that happens over the next year.”

The next phase of the public inquiry into the Grenfell fire is due to start on 27 January and will focus on the refurbishment and management of the tower before the blaze started.