Report sets out 10-point plan to improve quality of customers’ experience of newbuild housing

Report sets out 10-point plan to improve quality of customers’ experience of newbuild housingA new housing ombudsman should be appointed, and buyers should be allowed to inspect newbuilds before completions, according to a report into the quality of new homes.

These are just two of the recommendations in the report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, ‘More Homes, Fewer Complaints’, based upon its inquiry into the quality and workmanship of new housing in England.

“The Government is committed to building 200,000 new homes a year during this Parliament. This means that over one million new homes are expected to be built by 2020. Whilst this is a welcome step to combat the chronic shortage of housing in the UK, the Government must ensure that these newly built homes are of good quality and of a high standard,” said Oliver Colvile MP, chairman of the APPG.

“The UK housebuilding industry needs to raise supply. In tandem, it also needs to ensure that the quality of new build housing is good enough for people to live in. Although large numbers of homebuyers are happy with the quality of their new homes, there have been too many reports of new homes that are quite simply uninhabitable.”

The report presents 10 recommendations to improve the quality of new housing and the experience of consumers when dealing with newbuild properties. The report has been generally well received by those representing homeowners.

“We welcome the All Party Parliament Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) report into the quality of new-build homes and strongly support its recommendations. It provides strong evidence that people purchasing new build homes need more rights and access to adequate redress when things go wrong,” said Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance.

“We are constantly approached by new build homeowners in need of help because they have issues with the quality of their new build home but feel ignored. There is a huge gap between what buyers want and expect and what the industry is offering.

“Giving buyers a mandatory right to inspect and carry out a full survey of the property prior to completion will give much-needed power back to the consumer.

“Sales contracts are weighted unfairly in favour of the housebuilder with clauses limiting liability for defects. Buyers are forced to sign these contracts with no power to negotiate. For example, developers can force the handover of the property when the buyer does not believe it is ready. If the buyers do spot problems once they move in, they have no financial leverage on the housebuilder to make them correct the defects.

“There is a serious lack of consumer protection for people buying new build homes which must be addressed urgently. The government must take a lead role to make sure house builders deliver a quality product and service - and not just focus on the numbers being built.

“The housebuilding industry must also take action now and implement the recommendations rather than wait for new legislation. There is no reason why individual housebuilders cannot offer pre-completion inspections right away.”

Gwyn Roberts, Home Quality Mark (HQM) project leader and BRE homes and communities team leader, said: “We need to ensure the Government adopts a guiding role in assuring this proposed quality and workmanship in new homes and with HQM named in the report as ‘a promising development for driving up standards in housebuilding’, this is an encouraging start. We now urge housebuilders nationwide to adopt this standard to differentiate and protect future projects.

“In direct response, we are committing to implementing recommendations from the report into the framework for the Home Quality Mark including the right for buyers and rental clients to inspect properties before completion and investigating how HQM can further reward homes built where defects are minimised or rectified in a timely and convenient manner.

Newly established as a consumer-focused Mark of distinction for new houses based on their quality, cost efficiency and environmental impact, the HQM is the perfect way for home-dwellers to gauge the efficacy and technological maturity of their properties.”

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