Snagging and home build expert Ian Lively discusses the current problem with new build home quality in the UK and how it can be fixed.

Housebuilding figures in the UK are at an all-time high with more and more UK residents opting to buy a new build home. The government figures released for New Built homes completed in 2018 was 164.390 new homes and this number rose even further in 2019 with over 241,130 homes completed – representing a 30 year high in new home building.

Given the amount of media exposure that new build houses are receiving it is easy to understand why purchasers are hesitant, frustrated and confused when buying a new home. Many major housebuilders have received public reviews from customers expressing how dissatisfied they are at both the way they have been treated by the companies and with the poor quality of their homes.
So why do new build homes seem to be constructed to such poor-quality standards? Even the UK Government has branded the housing market as ‘broken’, with the publication of a 2017 white paper entitled “Fixing our broken housing market.”

Even the UK Government has branded the housing market as ‘broken’

There is no simple answer to this question but there are some major factors: The industry is suffering from a severe lack of professionally qualified site managers to supervise and deliver the quality of new homes that are required. Most new homes come with a catalogue of issues that leave new home buyers distressed – sometimes to the point that they wished they had never bought a new build house. The industry needs to improve. An independent New Homes Ombudsman totally separate from the industry to champion homebuyers also needs to be put in place as has been discussed in Parliament.
The housing industry itself needs to put purchasers before profit and improve both the quality of homes and the quality of customer service that they deliver. Improving the time it takes to build a new house, educating site managers on how to improve quality, increasing inspections by the warranty provider and employing better-qualified trades would be a start to this solution. This is far easier said than done but a start does need to be made in rectifying this situation.

The housing industry  needs to put purchasers before profit and improve both the quality of homes and the quality of customer service that they deliver

The House of Commons Briefing Paper Number 07665 1st August 2019 New- Build Housing construction defects-issues and solutions summarise six headings:

  1. Customer Satisfaction with new build homes
  2. Regulating building standards
  3. Post-completion defects
  4. Problems and potential solutions
  5. The Government & industry response on consumer redress
  6. Construction industry: skills, innovation and capacity

These headings highlight that there is political attention being given to the concerns about the housing industry and the quality of homes being built.

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Whilst all housebuilders provide a warranty for each new home (From the NHBC, Premier Guarantee or LABC), the defect liability period that is provided by the builder usually only lasts for the first two years after completion. After this period the homeowner will then have to rely on their warranty provider for the remaining eight years. These insurance policies allow the homeowner to claim against the policy for certain defects arising within the notification period.

The defects claim that warranty providers have to deal with costs the industry millions every year. By improving on build quality, a better inspection regime and improving the quality of materials and subcontractors that are used, the number of defects and claims being made will reduce.
It is important that the housing industry also regulates itself in improving the quality and customer service that it delivers to new homeowners, ensuring they are purchasing a property that is fit for purpose and of a quality that gives peace of mind and enjoyment to the consumer.

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