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New Build Rights Alliance

Report of Research Conducted by New Build Rights Alliance (NBRA) Ltd

Whilst being aware of the current trend in the reporting and media coverage of major cases where new build home owners feel aggrieved at the issues they have had to overcome the NBRA felt it was important to conduct our own survey and view the real time results.

In order to have a comparison to work with we used the Home Building Federations (HBF) questions as home owners are asked to complete this survey following moving in to their new property and which we understand the National House Building Council (NHBC) collate and use to improve their warranty policies.  We are not keen on the surveys being handed out to new build owners and reply’s sought within such a short period of time as we feel this doesn’t reflect their true experiences as it could be said that after having moved into a home that the owners are still within a ‘Honeymoon Period’ and have yet to experience any major issues or notice abnormalities, being unresolved snagging or defects or quality issues.

The NBRA appreciate that this research whilst small scale it does offer a comparison to the story being told by other results and we feel it is important to have an appreciation of consumers who have experienced the whole process and those who have had a poor experience for a product which is undoubtedly the largest purchase that many people make in their lives. We would recommend that consumers are revisited and asked to complete a second survey at the end of the Developers liability period and results kept on each Developer to not only improve customer service but the New Homes Ombudsman to monitor quality issues and consumer feeling. In the interest of transparency, we shared our results with the HBF and NHBC.

We hope you enjoy our report and we are always happy to discuss this further if you are able in the first instance to email the NBRA via team@newbuildrights.com

Susan Poulton

Director 

 

New Build Rights Alliance (NBRA) Ltd – July 2020

 

When consumers are investigating whether to purchase a new house the overall finish is paramount therefore when walking through the show home or their property upon completion, finishes may appear to be acceptable however when owners have moved in and begun to reflect on their home issues do come to light which affect their satisfaction.

When consumers are sold the property there is a disparity between what the Sales staff are able to inform consumers and what in reality is the time required to construct a new property.  Construction is fraught with many delays surrounding procurement of materials, procurement of contractors, site staff resources, and finally and most important the weather.  Having spoken to affected consumers honesty and a realistic schedule is required as this impacts on other commitments and notices required to be given before moving in. Delays are unavoidable however is it not better to communicate accurate information throughout the process rather than letting consumers down?

From reviewing social media and speaking to new owners the external layout plans shown by the Sales staff can be very confusing as the majority of consumers are not able to understand a layout plan and accept in many cases the artists impressions as the final view without understanding that factors such as site layout and the citing of communal facilities such as bin stores have a part to play. 

Moving in day is always a hectic one and consumers can be more invested in the moving in process and the unpacking than receipt of the vital information such as where the stop cock is, or how to use the heating etc. however understanding the pitfalls it is felt that the new owners would benefit from having this information before moving in day to help them on the actual day.  This would not only allow them time to read the information but also allow them time to refer back to the Developer’s staff if they have a question during normal working hours.

From the results we logged in our independent research it clearly shows that no new build owners asked were at all satisfied with the service received from the builder during the purchase process.  This could be due to delays on completion to inflexibility of the choices given as promised by the Sales staff regarding fittings and fixtures along with expectations the consumer may have regarding parking spaces or having a turfed garden. 

This question could be answered in much the same way as external areas in the fact that consumers are not able to link the plans to actual lifestyle and the internal layout plans shown by the Sales staff can be very confusing as the majority of consumers are not able to understand a layout plan and accept in many cases the artists impressions as the final view without appreciating that factors such as cupboard and storage space has a large part to play.  

Generally when consumers purchase a old property there is an understanding that due to previous residents and a difference we all have in standards of cleanliness that some time will need to be allowed in cleaning the house however the perception is that when you buy a new build house the property is painted, fresh and clean not dirty and the results indicate that it is not as the consumer expects. .  We are aware that a ‘Sparkle Clean’ should be undertaken by the Developers staff however this is not always the case. 

We asked the below question to draw out conclusions based on the quality of fittings and fixtures installed as whilst we understand a general specification is followed monies can be saved on purchasing a product of a poorer quality.  Many owners have advised to the NBRA items such as taps, light fittings and sockets have had to be changed due to them having broken or being unrepairable.  Consideration has to be given for the fact that once a consumer has paid such a large amount of money for a property these alterations are not expected and can cause frustration

It is with regret that there have been many discussions over the years about the lack of quality trade staff available within the industry and many governments have tried to improve this by offering apprenticeships and work placements however in reality it relates to far more than this.  Money is the bottom line and where contractors who submit tenders they feel under increased [pressure that if theirs is not slightly cheaper than the next companies they will lose contracts.  The Government could assist an effective change in this insuring that legislation states that a minimum cost against specification should be agreed to ensure it allows companies the opportunity of not only paying their staff a fair salary but have the opportunity to offer training which in turn will impact staff retention and a quality job being completed.

The results from this question could be akin to the Information received on the day consumers move in.  Moving is one of the most stressful things we are ever likely to undertake in our lifetimes and consumers may expect to be treated with a little more care and compassion especially after a large sum of money has parted hands or there are delays caused by the conveyance process.

The provision of storage is a very hot topic as living in a consumer led environment we are all guilty of having many possessions however it is the perception of the consumer left from potentially the Sales teams patter and the immaculately presented Sales homes that there is adequate space however this is not the case leaving the consumer disappointed that further furniture and storage solutions need to be made. This can be easily resolved by transparent guidance and honest advice being given before committing to the purchase. 

After the consumer has moved in to the property they are signposted to the after-Sales care team.  The HBF don’t ask this question however the NBRA were keen to see consumer feedback on the experience of new build owners have had when trying to communicate with this cohort of staff and the results clearly indicate this needs to improve.  

Apart from the issues that were evidenced with our question as to the After-Care Sales service the question regarding number of issues reported also seemed to demonstrate a large difference from what is being published by the HBF.  When looking to purchase a property many consumers will undertake research and issues such as problems otherwise seen as Snagging or Defects is a large factor as to the decision-making process. 

Expectation is always going to be a difficult beast to manage and whilst the HBF reported issues the highest difference accounted for nearly 30% more than was therefore this can be seen to tie in with factors such as quality of fittings and workmanship adding to this issue.   Better quality and workmanship equal less problems being reported.

Recommendation is vital to ensuring future sales of any product and the Developers are no different wishing to continue to sell new homes and with Social media platforms they are very quick to come down on anyone who may damage their reputation.  Our research indicated that 96% of consumers would not recommend the builder of their new home

This question truly highlights the fact that for under 75% of consumers have not bought a new house before evidencing that schemes such as Help to Buy and Shared Ownership have opened up the market to all consumers from young to old encompassing all walks of life.

When reviewing this question, the NBRA is aware that the cohort completing our survey may have fallen victim to some very upsetting times which will have impacted their answer however it has to be appreciated that the answers our research captured are very different from those published.  

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