Bodge the builder – can they fix it?
Well probably yes, but they will move heaven and earth to avoid doing so. It is at this time of year that I like to produce a light-hearted article, poking fun at the general house building industry. However the increasing poor quality of new homes and the lack of any discernible after sales service mean that most new home buyers have experiences that are as far from funny as you can get.
Nevertheless, this year I am proud to announce the inaugural winners of the “BODGERS” awards. These are the awards for the very worse in everything housebuilding that I have come across over the last twelve months.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is introducing a national quality mark for new housing that it claims should give home buyers and renters a clear indication of the quality and performance of a new home.
The BRE says it is a “world leading building science centre that generates new knowledge through research. This is used to create products, tools and standards that drive positive change across the built environment.” The BRE claim its ownership structure enables the BRE to be “held as a national asset on behalf of the construction industry and its clients, independent of specific commercial interests.” Allegedly protecting the “impartiality and objectivity of the BRE Group in providing research and guidance.” The BRE Trust is a registered company limited by guarantee and also registered as a charity in England.
A number of stakeholders are currently working with BRE on the development of their Home Quality Mark from its beta testing stage. Of the housebuilders, only Galliford – with its perennial ‘four-star’ HBF-rated Linden subsidiary, ‘minnow’ Cala, and Kier are currently involved at present.
CALA Homes, plan to trial the Mark. Cala Chief Executive Alan Brown said: “Independent benchmarking of new homes is hugely important. For CALA, it provides third party recognition of our commitment to consistently build high quality, sustainable homes. For homeowners, it offers a simple and reliable measure of the energy performance of the property they are buying. We look forward to working with BRE on the new Home Quality Mark.”
The BRE say “the new national quality mark will transform the way consumers choose the homes they buy and rent and will provide house builders with a valuable independent quality mark they can use to highlight the innovative features of their homes and differentiate themselves in the marketplace at a time of rapid growth.”
Whilst it should always be preferable to buy a new home on a site when the site manager has won an NHBC Quality Award, many new homebuyers will be amazed to discover that actual quality of the new homes being built has very little to do with the actual winning of NHBC awards for quality!
The NHBC have said “The judging process does not guarantee that every home built on a site will be without issues and our 10 year Buildmark warranty and insurance cover is there to provide protection to the homeowner should problems arise following completion.”
Perhaps this is why NHBC Quality Award-winning site managers are not necessarily the best site managers
A quality award-winning site manager but his buyers didn’t get a quality new home!
By using the right “recipe”, even the most dim-witted site manager can (and does!) win an NHBC PITJ Quality Award by following the suggestions below!
Work for the right house builder
Every year, certain housebuilders have far more NHBC award-winning site managers than others. So by working for Barratt or Taylor Wimpey, a site manager is around 10 times more likely to win an award than he would be working for Persimmon/Charles Church for example. Differing cultures, priorities and enthusiasm for the awards may explain this.
Get support from managers
It is essential that the site manager receive positive backing from his contracts manager and regional construction director. Without their input and support, even the best site manager will have no chance, whatever the NHBC may say about PITJ on their website; “achieving the highest possible standards and best practice in house building”
New home buyers will come across the same phrases and statements used by house builders’ to market their homes and when dealing with distraught new home buyers. But what are the house builders really telling you?
“Attention to detail”
If we can save a few pennies by not doing something and we can get away with it, we will.
“An exciting development”
We hope to make a lot of money on this site
“All of our staff are trained”
We have told them what they can and cannot tell you
“Our friendly site team”
The site manager is always in the sales office chatting and drinking coffee.
Larger than the usual rabbit-hutch new homes we build“Our sales team are fully trained to offer you expert guidance and practical assistance throughout the buying process”
Our sales staff will try to sell you optional extras and force our choice of solicitor and mortgage broker on you.