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New-build buyers set to benefit from beefed-up protections

A new Code of Practice for builders and an independent Ombudsman for consumers in the new-build sector went live this week.

Customers buying a new build home can now benefit from increased protections in the event of any issues they have with their new home or disputes with their developer.

The Code of Practice puts more requirements on builders in terms of how they treat their customers and deal with any complaints, whilst a new, totally independent Ombudsman service will provide redress for customers in the event of a dispute.


The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) will oversee the new Code that puts consumers at the heart of the new build process.

More than 100 developers are now registered and are working with the NHQB to ready themselves to follow the first builders to go live at the earliest opportunity. 

The scheme will initially cover England, Wales and Scotland, and ultimately the whole of the UK and those that are signed up to the scheme already will display the NHQB and Ombudsman branding.

The new code:
•    Protects customers, prohibits high pressure selling; requires any deposits the customer pays to their builder to be protected.
•    Requires the developers to provide all relevant information about the home during the sales process – including its tenure and any future management or service charges – allowing them to make an informed decision about their purchase.
•    Sets out requirements for a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off’ period; and sales contract requirements.
•    Allows customers to engage a professional to carry out a pre-completion inspection of their home on their behalf.
•    Specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing developers paying customers to move into a new home early.
•    Replaces the large number of previous codes, hence simplifying and boosting consumer confidence

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the New Homes Quality Board, said: “Buying a new-build home is a massive moment in many people’s lives and it ought to be a happy and memorable experience. 

“The vast majority of those buying new build homes are satisfied with their purchase and their builder but in too many instances in the past that has not been the case. This new framework aims to drive up standards of construction and customer service and puts the buyers’ interest at its centre.”

Livermore said consumers can be assured that where they see the NHQB branding that their builder should be working to the new high standards of the or they can take their case to a strong and independent Ombudsman.

The New Homes Ombudsman, Alison MacDougall, added: “The New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) will have a strong role to play in ensuring that consumer complaints about the experience of buying a new home are dealt with independently and effectively.  We aim to contribute to the promotion of best practice within the sector, and to identify issues arising from complaints which may merit further consideration across the industry.”

“Consumers can expect to have their issues investigated efficiently and effectively and a number of redress outcomes are available for cases where the NHOS decides that a developer has not met the requirements of the New Homes Quality Code.  

“We are encouraged by the initial industry response to the new Code and the establishment of an independent ombudsman and look forward to working constructively with participants to improve the experience of consumers in such a key event in their lives.”

“The new Code ensures that every aspect of a new home purchase, from initial visit to the sales office to the end of their two-year warranty is covered. It also requires developers to have an effective after care service in place, one of the biggest gaps in the current arrangements, to deal with any issues as well as a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner and to their satisfaction.”

Builders registered under the code include major brands such as Redrow and Bellway.

  • David Clark

    So what happened to the Consumer Code for Housebuilders? This appeared to be sponsored by all the Warranty providers and Trading Standards.


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