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BSRIA responds to the APPGEBE New Homes Ombudsman InquiryJanuary 2018

BSRIA has prepared its response to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) announcement of a sixth inquiry, looking into the potential and detail for a New Homes Ombudsman which BSRIA welcomes as a redress process to safeguard the consumer by protecting their interests.

But we advise caution. BSRIA’s concerns can be summarised in the phrase “prevention is better than a cure”.

The inquiry follows the main recommendation of the 2016 report, More homes, fewer complaints’ Recommendation 1: DCLG should initiate steps to set up a New Homes Ombudsman. As highlighted in the report, evidence suggests that there are issues around the quality of new homes which lead to consumer complaints. Most complaints refer to finishes and defects not covered by most insurance products and do not violate compliance with Building Regulations.

Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant – Residential, at BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said:

“A home is where people spend the majority of their time in. It provides shelter and the right environment for people to flourish. It is better to prevent a condition than try to cure it.

We need to understand what are the reasons and the type of complaints a New Homes Ombudsman might be required to address, as well as its potential jurisdiction.

A New Homes Ombudsman will be required to take quick action and address issues urgently to prevent impact on a person’s or family’s life in their new home. This can range from distress during going through the complaints process to prolonged resolution delays.

Remedial works may also require damaging existing well fitted systems and construction elements, which could impact the overall aesthetics and/or performance of the property.

Our effort should always focus on improving the quality of the new homes and addressing the home buyer needs. We do not want the benefits of new homes to be over-shadowed by minor and preventable issues.”

BSRIA has also suggested that a New Homes Ombudsman service could be supported by a New Homes Quality Competent Person Scheme which will improve new homes completion quality and create new commercial businesses opportunities. The scheme will need to be independent, have no commercial relationship with any of the new home insurance companies, house builder associations and market shareholders.

The National new home customer satisfaction survey from HBF (Home Builders Federation) found that 79 per cent of new home buyers said that they were satisfied with the service provided during the buying process; 82 per cent said they were happy with the handover process with 82 per cent satisfied with the information provide by their builder on the day they moved in. In terms of the design of their new home, 92 per cent of buyers were happy with the internal design of their new home and 86 per cent were happy with the external design. 98 per cent of the buyer reported defects and “snags” to their House Builder after the moved in the property.

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