In this episode, we look at why your developer’s customer care department doesn’t seem to care when it comes to dealing with your snags.
New build issues
Let me start by saying that not all customer care departments don’t care. There are certainly some good ones out there.
As new build home buyers, you would assume that the advantage of buying a newly built property is that it has never been lived in before and that there should be little or no issues with it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, some new build homeowners have experienced major problems with their new homes after moving in. This can be a huge disappointment when you have made such a large investment in your new property.
In this day and age, having a mediocre standard of customer service is no longer acceptable. So, why do some of our major housebuilders continually deliver poor-quality homes and customer service?
Poor customer care
It is incredible how some, but not all, of our national house builders, find it acceptable to treat their customers poorly once they have taken possession of their new home, especially when it comes to fixing their snagging issues.
The number of times we see the same issues during our inspections, surely the site manager can see them as well, if you take a look at our YouTube channel you will see exactly what I mean. So why don’t they fix them before handing the keys to their customers, it would make the whole customer experience better.
Some developers also take a long time to fix snags and we hear some of our customers who have to fight to get their snags fixed, this can have a huge effect on new home buyers and can spoil the excitement they had and totally ruin the experience of owning a brand-new home.
One of the problems is some developer’s customer care departments, are often filled with people who either don’t care, have little or no knowledge of how a newly built home is constructed or the standards they should be built to and at times are totally unable to empathise with their customers.
Yet, these companies tell you when buying one of their homes how great their product is and how their customer service is second to none.
Trust me it’s not. If they can save money without fixing your snags they will. Don’t forget that it’s a commercial business and if they can save money they will!
How fantastic would it be if all customer care teams could put themselves in their customer’s place, and experience how they are treated, sometimes ignored, fobbed off, bullied, and generally not listened to? All of this ends in new homebuyers feeling disillusioned, frustrated, angry, neglected, and unappreciated.
Homebuyers should not have to fight to get their defects rectified, or worse, not knowing if any defects are likely to be rectified at all by their builder. No wonder this leaves them feeling disillusioned and wishing they had never bought a newly built home.
One area that could be improved upon is communication, this is sometimes missing in some customer care departments, along with sufficient resources to manage customer care promptly without causing undue stress.
What any homebuyer wants above anything else, is to know that their snags will be rectified. It is also important that they won’t be needing to be fixed yet again, following the first poor attempt.
Another area which could be greatly improved is to organise a time to suit all parties for these snags done, without it taking weeks or months trying to get snags fixed, we constantly hear from our customers how they are being drip-fed trades, instead of all the relevant trades, arriving on the same day. How good would that be!
Housebuilders need to appreciate their customers who have spent a huge amount of money buying their new home from them.
Those customers that do complain but are not dealt with to their satisfaction are then only too happy to voice their dissatisfaction to anyone that will listen and give the developer a bad survey. Developers who are chasing 5-star status do not like receiving bad reviews as one bad review takes ten good ones to cancel out.
At the start of and through the buying process is the time for developers to manage the expectations of their customers. Once a customer has moved into their new home and becomes unhappy, it is very difficult to then make that customer happy.
For this to happen, the culture within the industry will have to change because the on-site quality controls some developers currently have, are not working.
They are aware of this, and some developers are still happy to produce new homes that are of poor quality because they know, new home buyers have no real comeback against them to rectify their defects.
It is a sad situation when you have more rights buying a pair of jeans than you do spending hundreds of thousands on a new home – at least you can take the jeans back if you are not satisfied with them, you can’t do that with a new home.
Hopefully, this is about to change with the New Homes Quality Board and New Homes Ombudsman who are now in place. However, time will tell if they are going to make a difference.
Until then, newly built home buyers are going to have to fight for their rights and insist their defects are rectified.
Unfortunately, the only leverage newly built homeowners have is the HBF and NHBC surveys they will receive 6-8 weeks after legal completion.
My advice is to not sign the survey until you are 100% happy all your snags have been fixed to your satisfaction.
What should you do?
After you have moved into your new home, if you discover any snags, you should report them to your builder as soon as possible. Under your warranty agreement, your developer is obliged to rectify any defects reported to them within the first two years.
These are covered under the terms of the ten-year warranty which you should have received with your new home. It should also be covered in your homeowner’s pack which you might have received from your builder or warranty provider.
I would always advise sending any snagging list to your developer’s customer care department first, even if you are going to give the list to your site manager. It’s not uncommon for snagging lists to be misplaced or for the site manager to change.
That way you and the customer care department have copies of any snagging lists and you also have an audit trail if you ever need to make a claim under your warranty agreement.
After your builder’s initial 2-year warranty period has finished, any further defects should be made to your warranty provider.
In some instances, homebuyers can find themselves in a situation where they cannot agree with the developer on the works necessary to rectify their snags.
Other times a developer might simply refuse to do them, then it may be possible to refer them to your warranty provider to intervene using their free dispute resolution service. You can also use this service if your building company is dissolved or no longer exists when you find a snag.
One thing to bear in mind regardless of your warranty is that your developer will only deal with issues caused to your house because of the failure to build it to the warranty provider’s requirements, and it does not cover cosmetic issues such as decoration. It is therefore important that you fully understand what is and is not covered under your warranty.
Because of the level of coverage provided under your warranty, it may not always be possible to seek solutions for the problems you have. If that fails, you could also refer your complaint to the New Homes Quality Board or New Homes Ombudsman.
Dealing with snags in a newly built home can sometimes be difficult and extremely stressful. Especially if your developer is unresponsive or your warranty provider is unable or unwilling to help.
If that happens and you’ve exhausted all your options, then your only course of action might be to seek legal advice.
Check out some of the snags we have found on our YouTube channel.