After decades of practice, developers are still looking for consistency in delivering quality new housing. Bob Stembridge, Structural Warranty Consultant at Build-Zone, asks what can be done to the benefit of buyers and developers alike…
The recent All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry into the Quality of New Housing in England has highlighted the shortcomings in the new homes being delivered across England (and quite possibly in the whole of the UK but their remit did not go that far). What is significant is that in 2004, the Barker Review highlighted the issues with selling homes which were either incomplete or did not have an effective aftercare service. The industry has since improved but not by as much as would have been hoped. As the report states, build quality reacts according to the level of activity in the market – less activity and the greater the quality of output but the opposite also applied, which was exactly the reason for the Barker Review.
Quite often reports into housing quality compare the final product to buying a motor car. While the construction and delivery methods may differ, the buyer’s expectations are in many respects similar. They expect the product to be fit for purpose at the time of taking ownership and for years afterwards. However, buying a new home just increases the stakes when things do not go to plan. Then the costs and extra effort needed to put things right can be astronomical. Thus an effective system that acts to prevent delays and misunderstandings can only benefit all parties.
As a warranty provider, our role is to audit the developer’s work during construction of the new home and to provide a line of recourse for the owner up to 10-years after completion. Also, other stakeholders such as the lenders depend on our independence and the insurer’s financial strength to stand behind our 10-year warranty. Thus we have a vested interest to ensure the developer produces a product fit for purpose, and the homeowner has the knowledge to look after it.
The APPG have made ten recommendations which they hope will mean more homeowners are happy with the buying and owning process. Some are already in place and need tweaking while others will require a break from current ‘conventions’. Here’s a brief overview of some of those recommendations: