DEVELOPERS with "absolutely no experience" of fitting fire safety sprinklers are holding up the delivery of affordable homes for Fife Council.

That's according to housing chiefs, and councillors are concerned that giving firms an extra year, without any penalty for failing to hit deadlines, is exacerbating the problem.

Officers conceded the standards for private housing and council homes are often different and some delays are down to the fact some of the companies have never installed fire safety sprinklers before.

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Alice McGarry said: “We had a situation in my own ward where the occupancy of the houses has been delayed more than eight months, probably nine or 10 months, because the developers were not able to meet the council specification.

“That’s fine as far as it goes, but there’s no penalty clauses or any other means by which that nine months can be gotten back in a monetary form.

“When we have particular specifications that are beyond what they are providing for their sellable houses then we need to make sure they’re able to provide that specification.”

Members of the community and housing services sub-committee heard last week that private housebuilders who are also delivering social housing for the council won't face any sanctions if the homes are held up by up to 12 months.

Paul D’Arcy, the project manager for the affordable housing programme, said: “Depending on the private developer, there is a range where they have absolutely no experience of fitting sprinklers and we do our best to give them a leg-up because we’ve been doing this for many years now.

“Some of these companies do have to go through that and we try to help them. But in some cases they learn the hard way and that’s caused delays.

“There is a lot of financial pressure on these companies to deliver the houses and get the cash, so to speak.

“But we’re aware there have been problems and we try and give them a hand.”

He added: “We have target delivery dates and long-stop dates, which tend to be 12 months from the original target delivery date.

"At that point, we can go in and take sanctions with the developer.

“But there is 12 months’ grace that they’ve got in a standard design-and-build contract we have with private developers.”

Head of housing John Mills said the safety-first approach of the council was ahead of the game and added: “Fife is only one of two councils to build sprinklers in new-build housing.

"That’s going to be rolled out by the Scottish Government to every local authority over the next two-to-three years.

“Part of the difficulty here is we have one specification for the council and one specification for private housing developers.

“It will take a bit of time to work that through but there will be a common standard across all housing tenures that people will have to meet.”

The issue came up as councillors backed plans for 76 new homes in Methil, Dysart and Glenrothes, part of the 3,500 new affordable homes the council have committed to delivering by May 2022.