A consultation into the draft New Homes Quality Code has been published with a consultation period for the industry ending on July 7.
The code, from the New Homes Quality Board a new body set up to drive up standards in the sector - aims to address the gaps in existing protections for new build customers for which the house building industry has been so heavily criticised in recent years.
In addition to the new code, the board will shortly appoint a New Homes Ombudsman Service to provide independent redress for customers not satisfied with their builder or new home.
The code is described as introducing a broad range of additional requirements for builders to ensure that every aspect of a new home purchase, from when a customer walks into a sales office, through to two years after occupation of the home is covered.
In particular, it requires builders to have an effective after-care service in place to deal with any issues or ‘snagging’ problems customers have with their new home; and a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner and to their satisfaction, keeping them informed at set times throughout.
If a customer is not satisfied with how any complaint they have made has been dealt with, they can refer themselves to the independent New Homes Ombudsman Service.
The new code also claims to protect vulnerable customers, prohibits high pressure selling; requires any deposits the customer pays to their builder to be protected.
It also requires the builder to provide all relevant information about the home during the sales process – including its tenure and any future management or service charges – that allows them to make an informed decision about their purchase.
There are also details of what the board calls “a fair reservation agreement” including a ‘cooling off’ period; and sales contract requirements, and it allows customer to have a professional carry out a pre-completion inspection of their home on their behalf.
It also specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing builders paying customers to move into a new home early.
NHQB chair Natalie Elphicke says: “The launch of the consultation on the New Homes Quality Code is a major milestone in our work to introduce a new and comprehensive framework of protections for home buyers.
“I believe that the New Homes Quality Code fills the gaps in existing protections and will drive up build quality standards and consumer protections. It requires builders to treat their customers fairly, respond quickly to any issues they have, or be subject to referral to the independent New Homes Ombudsman we will put in place. I would encourage as many people as possible to complete the consultation and let us have any suggestions they have for how we can improve the draft code.”