HBF 2014 Customer Satisfaction survey results published.

The Home Builders Federation has recently released the results of the National New Home Customer Satisfaction Survey 2014. The first page of the “results” has been used by the HBF as an opportunity for a public relations promotion of new homes.   Crikey, they must be good!   Who would have known?

“High level of Homeowner satisfaction”   “Customer satisfaction levels for new homes have consistently been extremely high”

Barratt NHBF Star ratingQuite a claim considering that the results are from just 32,137 new home owners out of a total of the 109,370 new homes completed during 2013 – that’s just 29.4%!  Only 55% of the surveys sent out were returned – or used to compile the results!

We have the old chestnuts that new homes are “fresh, bright and clean” – another surprise given that new homes are normally dark due to fewer and smaller windows and small cramped rooms.  As for clean, many new homes are handed over in a terrible state after an ineffective builder’s clean.       “Blank canvas”  “better for the environment” – it’s all there,   it’s all good,  what’s not to like?

 “High build Quality”  “The survey shows continued high levels of homeowner satisfaction with the quality of new homes and the service they receive before, during and after moving in”       Who writes this stuff?

The reality is that thousands of new home buyers actually hate their house builders and are disgusted with both the poor quality of their defect-ridden new homes and the indifference of their builders when it comes to “service” and putting things right!  The HBF quality claims are also not borne out by this year’s star ratings, with more builders being rated 4 stars and Bovis and Avant (previously Gladedale) losing a star from last year!   Persimmon, rated just 4 stars for the third year in a row, built 11,500 new homes in the period, 10.5% of the total new homes built in 2013!  Persimmon have never been rated a “5 star builder”   New to the ‘five star club’ is Bloor Homes who achieved their five stars with just 142 returned surveys – representing around just 5% of the 2,000 plus homes they built last year.   Hardly a fair representation is it?

A comparison of the 2013 results, with the same questions in the 2014 survey results, in every question, the level of satisfaction is lower in 2014 than in 2013. Not the ongoing improvement the house building industry would have you believe.

The way the questions have been asked this year has also changed with 11 of the 14 questions this year beginning with the phrase “taking everything into account, overall.” Last year only question 2, the crucial star-rating satisfaction question, began with “taking everything into account, overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the quality of your new home?”   Obviously this has been found to solicit a potentially more positive and favourable response!

The HBF has added somewhat pointless questions relating to satisfaction with internal and external design, storage and information provided. You would think that having viewed the show home and brochures and made the decision to buy, customers would be satisfied.  Amazingly, the average response showed just 82% were “satisfied” with the design!    Could it also be that with minimum space standards now set to be introduced, the builders and the HBF are using this year’s survey as an opportunity in an attempt to acquire some high satisfaction scores for internal design and storage to lobby against, or limit any proposals for increasing the size of UK new homes?

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