Tag Archives: HBF

Why a New Homes Ombudsman is now essential

The idea for a New Homes Ombudsman is not new. I have been campaigning for nearly two years, see this blog, my website forum, the “Unhappy New Home Buyers” Facebook Group and lobbying on Twitter. More recently I attended the APPG Inquiry into the “Quality of New Build Housing in England” and proposed the introduction of a fully independent New Homes Ombudsman as one of a series of measures that would force house builders to improve both quality of the homes they build and the service they give their customers after they discover the inevitable defects and problems.

My proposal for a New Homes Ombudsman was met with widespread acceptance at the APPG Inquiry (2nd meeting) and during the question and answer session;  Lord Richard Best said “I chair the property ombudsman which looks after estate agents and things like that and it works well, so at some stage I’d like to explore the Ombudsman concept as a way of trying to handle some of these disputes…..”

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New National Space Standards For New Homes Not Compulsory

Thanks to successful lobbying by the HBF, it is a case of Carry On Regardless as housebuilders dodge yet another bullet, this time it is building larger ‘fit for purpose’ new homes.New Home Blog

As with most things that effect housebuilders, the new National Space Standards for new homes have been watered-down to such an extent that it is doubtful that any of the major housebuilders will ever be required (or forced) to design new homes that adhere to the new space standards. Not that this matters as the space standards have been set so low, that the size of the average new homes currently being built all but comply anyway!

The average family home shrinks two square metres in ten years.

Britain’s incredible shrinking new homes

Britain’s tiny ‘rabbit-hutch’ new homes are bad for your health

Unlike other aspects of the Housing Standards Review, the space standard has not been incorporated into the Building Regulations. Establishing compliance and any enforcement action will rest with the local planning authority.

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HBF National New Home Customer Satisfaction Survey 2015

The quality of UK new homes is getting worse

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) National new home customer satisfaction survey results and house builder star ratings for 2014 were released last month with a claim by the HBF that “Homeowner satisfaction with new homes remains high” Compared to what?

The HBF fail to highlight that, even by the methods used for the industry’s own in-house satisfaction survey, the latest results show even fewer new homebuyers would “recommend their builder to a friend” – down 4%. The number of buyers “satisfied” with the quality of their new home is also down 4%. The survey results indicate that the quality of UK new homes and the standard of service offered by housebuilders is getting even worse, not better. The number of new homebuyers who “experience problems” with their new homes is a staggering 93% – up 1% on last year. In other words, buy a new home and you are virtually certain to have problems with it

Defect barratt-lovely-edge-on-skirting-board

In the survey results for 2013, 46% of buyers found more problems with their new home than they had expected. The results for last year would appear to indicate that people buying a new home expected more problems – with 47% stating that the “number of problems were in line with their expectations.” – a 20% increase. The housebuilding industry has succeeded in managing customers expectations so well that the existence of defective workmanship, snags and faults, such as leaking pipes, creaking floors, garden flooding and more in their new homes has become normal, expected and is perceived by both industry and customer as unavoidable. Clearly this is as wrong as it is unacceptable.

As in previous years, the HBF try to promote the myth that levels of customer satisfaction have improved year on year and that UK new homes are better than ever.Taylor Wimpey 9 months small size

It would be better to inspect and prevent defects rather than carry out remedial works after buyers move in. The works above were finally being done by Taylor Wimpey – 9 months after the buyers first moved in!

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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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Number of new homes built in 2014 up just 8 per cent to 118,760

The latest figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government report the 137,000 new homes were started in 2014 – a 10% increase on the previous 12 months. The total of just 118,760 new homes completed in the 12 months to 31 December 2014 was up by 8% on 2013.

House prices Table

If ever there was proof that house builders are hoarding land and restricting supply this is it. Nearly every major plc house builder now has around five or six years’ supply of building land. Despite this their lobbyists the Home Builders Federation (HBF) are still bleating on about the planning system.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the Home Builders Federation claimed that more than 100,000 extra people were now employed in house-building, providing a boost to the economy. Yet the HBF is demanding further incentives to encourage more development.
He said, “We are still way short of building the number of new homes the country needs, and that despite the government’s Help to Buy scheme, it was still too difficult for developers to get planning permission.”

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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?

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House Builder Star Ratings: Can you trust them?

Don’t believe the spin that house builders tell you regarding their customer survey feedback.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s nearly that time of year again, when the Home Builders Federation (HBF) publish the 2014 results of their annual New Homes Customer  Satisfaction  Survey for the year to 30 September 2013.  Released just in time to get those new 2014 – ‘5-Star’ flags flying on builders’ developments in time for Easter Bank holiday sales weekend.  No doubt, as was the case last year, nearly all the house builders that “take part” will be rated five stars again this year, so a big pat on the back to the house building industry…….- you’ve all done very well!………Or have they?

Young Mr Grace

“you’ve all done very well!”

The HBF say: “Star Ratings are based on results of the National New Homes Customer Satisfaction Survey, an independent industry survey. The survey operated by NHBC, is entirely independent of any builder or builder group and is independently validated by Reading University.”

Really?    The HBF survey is sent out by the NHBC. Far from being independent, these two organisations are inter-linked, with six representatives from the HBF sitting on the NHBC Council and Stewart Baseley,  the HBF’s Executive Chairman, also being an NHBC Board member along with Greg Fitzgerald  CEO of Linden Homes. 

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