Tag Archives: customer care

HBF Survey Housebuilder Star Rating 2015

Barratt HBF Star rating

Highest Quality Housebuilder? Not exactly!

Before 2011, the star rating of  housebuilder’s was also based on the question: “Taking everything into account, overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the quality of your home?”  over the last three years the star rating awarded to housebuilders is derived from the responses to just one Yes or No survey question:“Would you recommend your builder to a friend?”

Of the bigger housebuilders only Barratt, Redrow, McCarthy and Stone and Miller maintained their 5 star rating from last year.  Taylor Wimpey, Bellway, Bloor, Crest, and Churchill Retirement Living, all lost their five star rating. Persimmon, Bovis and Avant also lost a star and are now the only housebuilders rated just 3 stars in the latest HBF National New Home Customer Satisfaction Survey.  Just how bad are their new homes?

So why are standards getting worse and who is to blame?
Guilty Housebuilder CEOsThese men are all guilty – guilty of building and handing over new homes late, not fully completed, with defects and failing to provide the required level of customer care to ensure that all their buyer’s problems are rectified quickly and effectively. Britain’s least wanted! – Lacking in star quality?  They may have stars in their eyes but now have fewer on their site flags!

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The top 20 mistakes made by UK new home buyers

Buying a brand new home built to exacting standards, the latest energy-efficient designs with a ten-year warranty, where could naive, trusting new homebuyers possible go wrong?  Read on to discover the twenty most common mistakes made by Britain’s new home buyers and make sure you don’t become yet another victim of the UK housebuilding industry.

cropped-Bovis-Sales-Office.jpg1) Buying a new home because they can not because they should Various government schemes such as Help to Buy schemes make it easier and often the only financially possible way to get on the housing ladder. Being able to buy is not alone a good enough reason to buy a new home.

2) Using the housebuilder’s recommended, suggested or nominated firm of solicitors
The number one mistake made by new homebuyers. Despite it being illegal for housebuilders to insist that buyers use a certain solicitor, it still occurs. One major plc housebuilder even pre-filled in reservation forms with their preferred solicitor! By using the housebuilder’s solicitor buyers are not only relinquishing control of the process to the housebuilder, they are actually putting themselves at a legal disadvantage by not having their interests represented. Issues include; buyers legally completing on unfinished houses, a buyer of a flat later discovered specifications had been changed and the length of lease reduced and being told that completion certificates and warranty documents had been received when they had not even been issued, due to unresolved compliance and warranty problems with the home.

3)  Not having their new home independently professionally snagged and inspected
Snagging inspectorThe second biggest mistake new homebuyers make is not having their new home professionally snagged and inspected before they legally complete. It is a sad fact that around 96% of all new homes buyers will have defects and problems with their new homes after they have moved in. Many, if not all of these could have been prevented if the property had been properly inspected at each construction stage by both the housebuilder’s site management and warranty provider. It is therefore essential that new homebuyers use an independent professional to thoroughly snag and inspect their new home before they legally complete. This not only ensures it is, at the very least, fully completed before they pay for it, it also highlights all visible defects, snags and breaches of regulations and warranty standards. Unfortunately both the housebuilders and warranty providers cannot be relied upon to properly carry out the inspections and oversee remedial works to correct defects.

4. Not doing any research regarding housebuilders or new homes before buying
Websites such as our sister site www.brand-newhomes.co.uk and various forums have a wealth of information available for the new homebuyer. This enables them to make a fully informed choice, aware of what can and does go wrong and what steps they can take to reduce disappointment and feelings of regret and resentment after moving in.

5. Paying too much – not getting a discount
All house builders have a price list but only a fool actually pays the full price. Site sales staff nearly always have “negotiables” they can offer buyers with discounts amounting to 5-10% off the full advertised price on certain plots at certain times of the year. In addition, many new homebuyers buy at or near the top of the market paying too much only to later watch as the resale value of their home plummets just as interest rates rise and the housing market crashes.

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A personal plea to Construction Minister Nick Boles

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!

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Persimmon fail to fix defect in new home for 9 months

Buyer Cara Waligura reported a nasty smell emanating from the bathroom of her new Persimmon home soon after she moved into her new home on the South Shore estate opposite Blyth beach. But Persimmon failed to resolve the drainage problem until recently – nine months after it was first reported!

She told “Mr Justice” of the Evening Chronicle how Persimmon’s contractors left a “gaping hole” in the bathroom whilst trying to identify the source of the stench. She said: “Our new home stinks and so does Persimmon!”

Durgo

Defective “Durgo” was the cause

“Since moving into our newly-built home in January we have had to endure a horrible drainage smell in the bathroom. We are now nine months into complaining but we are getting no joy. After many calls and tears we still have a hole in the bathroom wall and an awful stink in all of the upstairs.”

Apparently even the NHBC issued three warnings to Persimmon to carry out work that is required under their Buildmark warranty.

John Eynon, deputy managing director for Persimmon Homes North East, told the Evening Chronicle: “This issue has been on-going for some time but time-scales have been agreed for it to be resolved.   I would stress that the design complied with building regulations and NHBC technical guidance at the time of occupation and was accepted by the NHBC.   Subsequent investigations and works to try and remove the smell have been ongoing and the final solution was agreed with the NHBC to vent the soil pipe to the atmosphere, in lieu of the durgo valve that had been fitted.  Unfortunately, there was a delay in completing the works due to organising suitable sub-contractors to minimise disruption.   We apologise that the problem was not quickly identifiable but the solution should resolve the matter now.   I have personally made several attempts to contact the customer whilst my customer care team have been dealing with the issue.”

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Why new home buyers need a New Homes Ombudsman.

TW Snag Light SwitchThe quality of new homes is getting worse as housebuilders show contempt for their customers by refusing to tackle the issues in their poor quality, defect-ridden new homes.

This government has bent over backwards to help the house building industry, with taxpayer-funded subsidies such as the controversial Help to Buy equity scheme (£791million loaned for 19,394 new homes to 31 March 2014) and the ongoing relaxation of planning rules. So why are Britain’s housebuilders not doing anything to improve the dire quality of the new homes they are building?

The quality of new homes is getting worse as this recent article in the Daily Mail demonstrates; caused by a combination of a lack of skilled tradesmen, insufficient construction time, poor site management and the builder’s CEOs  only caring about profit and numbers (and their bonuses!) – quality doesn’t come first (if it ever did), in fact it doesn’t even come fourth!  To add insult to injury, housebuilders are even routinely refusing to take any action to fix defects that unlucky buyers discover in their new homes once the initial excitement wears off, coming up with “it’s within tolerance” and other excuses in an attempt to justify not fixing defects in their new homes.

Taylor Wimpey 9 months small size

Extensive remedial works still being done in a Taylor Wimpey new home nine months after moving in.

The sad fact is that the quality of new homes and many housebuilder’s reputations are now so bad, an increasing number of new home buyers are employing professional snagging inspectors to independently check for defects in their new homes before they move in. But yet again, housebuilders often refuse point blank to allow access to the new home for buyer’s inspectors until after legal completion, as a matter of “company policy”. This means that any issues identified cannot be fixed prior to occupation and even if the builder does attend to them later, (a big if!) it causes maximum inconvenience for the consumer taking time off work, moving furniture, mess etc.

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What do the house builders really mean?

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?

show home blog

On marketing:

“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.

“Spacious interiors”
Larger than the usual rabbit-hutch new homes we buildMirrors in show home“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.

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Persimmon Homes profits are up but not the quality of their homes

Persimmon HomesPersimmon Homes buyers Mr and Mrs D Barlow of Harleston in Norfolk moved into their new home in November 2012 and began to notice problems “within hours.” Having written a letter to the Daily Mail to warn others they said:

“Persimmon has reported record profits, might some of this have been achieved by reducing the quality of their buildings”   “The clean-up after construction left a lot to be desired. The paintwork had been damaged, the front door didn’t fit and an upstairs window had a gap so large you get your fingers in it.”

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