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…..”
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.
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.
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.
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.”