Housebuilder joins Barratt and Persimmon but others including Berkeley, Taylor Wimpey and Bellway still to commit

Vistry has become the latest major UK housebuilder to indicate its intention to sign the government contract drawn up to underpin the £2.5bn cladding pledge to undertake fire safety repairs on historic buildings.

A Vistry spokesperson told Building’s sister title Housing Today it was currently studying the detail of the contract with a view to signing it.

The statement follows similar words from Barratt, the UK’s biggest housebuilder, and Persimmon, the most profitable, both of which set out their intention to sign the contract on Monday after reviewing the detail.

Greg Fitzgerald Vistry

Vistry is led by chief executive Greg Fitzgerald

The contract commits housebuilders to undertake life-critical fire safety repairs on all buildings constructed by them going back 30 years.

The wording of the final contract, published on Monday, has been the subject of intense negotiation. Housebuilders initially refused to sign the version presented by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which they said left them open to a range of much broader liabilities.

However, as revealed by Housing Today on Monday, housing secretary Michael Gove is understood to have compromised on the wording, ensuring that housebuilders will not be liable to pay for general “betterment” of homes and clarifying the liability in joint venture developments.

A spokesperson for Vistry, which completed a £1.1bn takeover of partnerships housebuilder Countryside in November last year, said: “We remain focused on delivering high-quality homes including addressing the shortage of much-needed affordable housing.

“We are currently looking at the detail [of the contract], with a view to signing the contract and will continue to engage with the government.”

Other major housebuilders have remained tight-lipped on the issue, however. Berkeley Group, the biggest builder of high-rise housing among the listed developers, declined to discuss the subject when approached by Housing Today, while Taylor Wimpey and Gleeson have not responded to requests for comment.

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A spokesperson for Bellway did respond to requests to comment, but refused to indicate whether the firm intends to sign the contract. The spokesperson said: “Bellway remains committed to the principle made within the government’s building safety pledge, and has already started remediation at a number of developments.

“Bellway is currently in the process of reviewing the contract shared by DLUHC.”

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) estimates the cost of repairs to be undertaken under the cladding pledge to be in the region of £2.5bn, with 49 developers having signed up.

On Monday the housing secretary Michael Gove gave housebuidlers six weeks to sign the contract or face being driven out of business under a new “responsible actors scheme” to be brought in by the government. This will have the power to stop named firms from receiving building control or planning approvals.

The HBF has repeatedly argued for the government to widen its focus to ensure that other parts of the industry, particularly foreign-owned developers and cladding manufacturers, are also targeted to pay the cost of solving the post-Grenfell fire safety crisis.