An independent report was issued by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) recently entitled “More Homes, Fewer Complaints”, which looked into the quality of new build housing in the UK.
The findings of the report, although they have not been enforced by parliament yet, could have a huge impact on the housing industry as a whole especially if you are a builder.
So let’s discuss how the ten recommendations from the report will affect you so you can be prepared.
1. Establish a New Homes Ombudsman
The APPG recommend setting up a New Homes Ombudsman which would be responsible for mediating any disputes that may arise between the buyer and the builder.
Warranty providers would also be required to put in place a dispute resolution process to help quickly resolve any issues. This would be funded by a housebuilders’ levy.
2. Standardise sales contracts for new homes
Currently sales contracts for new homes vary depending on the builder and it can make it difficult for buyers to make a claim through a lack of understanding of the process.
The APPG recommends that sales contracts be standardised and clearly outline the process for resolving disputes. It is understood that the responsibility for resolving disputes would sit with the New Homes Ombudsman.
3. Buyer to be given the right to survey their home prior to completion
Under the proposed recommendations builders would be required to give 10 days’ notice to enable buyers to undertake a full survey of the property.
4. Buyer to be provided with a detailed information pack by builders
The APPG recommends that the pack should include the following:
- Details relating to the design such as plans and specifications.
- Site inspection details from a Building Control and warranty perspective.
- Warranty information to explain what is covered under the policy.
- Building Regulations information highlighting which version of regulations the property adheres to.
- Key contact information for the builder so the buyer can contact them direct to put right any defects.
5. Consumer rights to be reviewed for new home purchases
The current dispute resolution process is viewed to be unfair towards consumers and in some cases is biased towards the builder. The APPG is calling for the law to be changed to protect consumers against financial loss when purchasing a new build home.
6. Warranty products to be reviewed by the DCLG
There are a number of warranty providers and products available to consumers which can make it difficult to understand how they differ in terms of level of cover provided. The APPG believes that some of the warranty products on the market may not actually fit with what customers actually want to buy. Therefore a full review of current warranties has been proposed by the APPG to be undertaken by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
7. Builders to adopt internationally recognised quality standards
The recommendation is for builders to adhere to standards set out by quality management systems such as ISO that are recognised by businesses and consumers across the world.
8. Investment in skills and training programmes across the industry
There is a major skills shortage across the construction industry so it is extremely important for everyone involved to invest time and money into training.
9. Minimum standard for site inspections to be introduced for warranty and building control
The APPG found that competition within the warranty market is driving warranty prices down meaning less inspections are being carried out, which is affecting the quality of homes being built.
This is a critical finding from the report and emphasises the importance of regular inspections to ensure quality throughout a build project. LABC Warranty pride ourselves on our risk management surveying approach which focus on frequency inspections and high risk areas of the build.
You can find out more about how our site inspection process works in our blog Targeting the Risk.
10. Annual customer satisfaction surveys to be more independent
The recommendations by the APPG are for a third party to undertake customer satisfaction surveys on behalf of the builder. The APPG would also like more in depth research to be carried out on the feedback received in the survey/s.
This reports highlights some key recommendations that will help to ensure we are building the quality homes we need here in the UK.
Although change is always viewed with apprehension by people initially without change we can never improve so we say bring on the change and let’s help build the top quality homes people want to buy.
By Anna Symington
Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.