Dear Mr Boles,
You recently said that you regard house builders as the “unacceptable face of capitalism” after seeing first hand the shoddy workmanship of two house builders in your own constituency, adding housebuilders “need to design beautiful places that respect the local environment, and they need to build houses to a high quality which will stand the test of time. If they don’t, I cannot and will not defend them.”
I have been campaigning for 8 years via my website www.brand-newhomes.co.uk and my blog www.new-home.blog.co.uk to make the public more aware of the poor quality and design of new homes and housebuilders’ poor and often non-existent after sales service.
Your government has done more for the house building industry than any other government and continues to be the “gift that keeps on giving”. Only this week, stamp duty was reformed. Whilst this is good news for the majority UK house buyers and very welcome, it is also particularly good news for housebuilders, now able to increase their prices even more now that stamp duty threshold ‘chokes’ have been removed. This follows the 20% discount on new homes for first-time buyers under 40, in addition to: NewBuy, FirstBuy and the biggest taxpayer subsidy of all: “Help to Buy” which has ‘helped’ house builders to record profit rises by increasing average selling prices by 20%. Furthermore, your government has relaxed planning rules, requirements to build affordable housing, Section 106 obligations, Community Infrastructure Levy and the zero-carbon homes policy. There has never been a better time to be a major British home builder. Ask, and ye shall receive!
If it was not for the dogged determination of Kirsty Burton and her neighbours, perhaps you would never have witnessed first hand the dire quality standards at a Persimmon estate in your constituency. You personally also discovered the complete contempt housebuilders have for anyone calling them to task over the quality of their homes and their indifference to dealing with defects in their customer’s homes. Quite frankly, if a government minister is unable to get a satisfactory response from Persimmon CEO Jeff Fairburn, what chance have the buyers of this company’s new homes?
But please do not make the mistake that this is a new phenomenon, restricted to just one or two housebuilders on a handful of developments. It is a national epidemic!
Posted in Help To Buy, New Homes, Persimmon, Snagging and Quality
Tagged barratt, bellway, customer care, help to buy, house builders, new homes ombudsman, persimmon, quality, snagging, standards, taylor wimpey
The NHBC 2014 ‘Pride in the Job’ Quality Awards have recently been announced and it is clear that most of the major house builders have not improved the quality of the homes they build. See the house builder league tables here for awards in 2014 and previous years.
Last year Barratt made history with 102 of their site managers winning awards for quality. This year, despite building more homes on more sites, Barratt won 13 fewer awards – 89 in total, followed by Taylor Wimpey with 70 – just two more than last year!
The remainder of the largest house builders won just a handful of quality awards, much as they did last year – Linden 5, Bellway 29, Redrow 13, Crest 12, Bovis 4 and Berkeley 12. The biggest shock was again Persimmon, the largest house builder by market value, winning a pitiful 8, even less than the meagre 13 their site managers won in 2013! Clearly this company has problems and appears to be indifferent to the quality of the homes it builds.
It is becoming an increasing concern that the NHBC hand out awards to certain builder’s site managers regardless of their personal management ability or the quality of homes built on their site. Last year, the NHBC gave Taylor Wimpey’s Richard Crawford a Quality Award for his site at The Chariots in Andover. Since then, many unlucky homebuyers have discovered their homes were not only poor quality, but in some cases also potentially dangerous, with various electrical faults despite passing an “inspection” and incorrectly wired boilers. One buyer (full story here) has taken over 35 days off work to allow various trades access to his home to fix and repair the defective workmanship. So far (8 months on) CEO Peter Redfern has failed to get personally involved and has not even replied to the owner’s many detailed letters. Yet this site manager won an NHBC Award for “Quality” for this site!
This week five national plc house builder’s reported record profit rises as they cash in on the state sponsored Help to Buy feeding frenzy. According to recent figures from the DCLG , 89% of the Help to Buy loans have gone to first-time buyers since the scheme began in April 2013. With an apparently never ending stream of undiscerning, naive first timers flocking to builder’s sales offices, buying whatever is available, what incentive do house builders have to improve quality of the homes they build?
You also have to question why the government is currently advertising it’s Help to Buy scheme on national television, when the figures released by these major national builders during this week demonstrate that this advertising is totally unnecessary.
Greed is good and greed is back, as both builder CEOs and their shareholders receive payouts from the excessive profits generated from the government’s Help to Buy subsidy. New Home Blog saw this coming!
Builder’s report record profit increases – but not improving quality!
Here we go again: “Profitability, Cash generation, Completions, Average selling prices, Earnings per share, Land banking, Trading outlook” yada-yada! The only house builder to make any meaningful statement regarding a commitment to improving quality and customer service was Barratt, with reference to their consistent HBF “customer satisfaction” 5-Star rating and their record 102 NHBC quality awards in 2013.
Unsurprisingly, Mark Clare is a big fan of Help to Buy. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday he said: “The ability to buy homes with a 5% deposit is creating confidence in the housing market after years of uncertainty going back to the financial crisis in 2008. We are seeing queues outside our showhomes”
Clare 56, believes the market was already picking up, even before Help to Buy with demand being boosted by signs of a general economic recovery. Barratt recorded a record 73.7% rise in underlying pre tax profit to £192.3 million in the year to the end June 2013. The average price for a Barratt (privately-sold) home also increased to £213,900. In their Interim Statement last week, Barratt confirmed sales are up by 47%.
Mark Clare, a graduate from Portsmouth Polytechnic, has a background in accountancy. After 12 years at British Gas he joined Barratt as CEO in October 2006. In April 2007 he oversaw the £2.7bn acquisition of Wilson Bowden, which included the David Wilson Homes brand – just a year ahead of the global financial meltdown and the total collapse of the housing market created by the ‘credit crunch’. The company’s share price collapsed from 954p in August 2007 to just 39.5 in less than a year. A Rights Issue was required to raise additional funds from shareholders to keep the company afloat. Not a great start in a new job was it?