In a year when so much has happened it is great to see the house building industry focus its attention on the quality of new-build homes.
The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) was established in May to help house builders improve customer service levels and the quality of new homes. The NHQB is an independent body consisting of representatives from across the sector, and is funded by the house building industry.
The board will have responsibility for overseeing arrangements, during the first two years of a newly-built home, with regards to the quality, the customer service provided by housebuilders, and the consumer redress available to buyers.
It will do this through the implementation of a new industry code of practice, the New Homes Code and the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman.
The NHQB was set up in response to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment report ‘More homes, few complaints’ published in 2016. The report was commissioned when a rapid increase in the number of new homes being built to meet housing targets resulted in a drop in the quality of some of those new homes.
The report attracted negative press about the house building sector which escalated on social media and led to the topic of new home quality being debated in parliament the following year.
The industry reacted swiftly and implemented improvements which soon increased customer satisfaction. The latest HBF industry Customer Satisfaction Survey has seen satisfaction levels amongst new home buyers improve for a third successive year. 91% of new home buyers who responded said they would buy a new build home again.
However, the reputation of house builders has not recovered as quickly. We must all hope that the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman and the New Homes Code will restore the public’s confidence in the industry.
The new code will take elements from existing consumer codes which mainly cover the sale process and add on requirements for builders during the first two years of new home occupation.
Additional requirements for builders will include having an effective complaints process in place and resolving any issues buyers have after moving in, within a set time frame.
If issues remain unresolved, the New Homes Ombudsman will provide an avenue of redress for the new home owner.
These new measures have been well received by house builders. The vast majority of new homes in the UK are built to an excellent standard and we hope these new initiatives will ensure this level of quality is extended to all new homes and restore customer confidence in the market.