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Buyers must get stronger consumer rights to ensure better quality new build houses

The HomeOwners Alliance calls on house builders to commit to reforms that will help give buyers peace of mind when buying a new build home.

new build homes

The HomeOwners Alliance is making further calls for reform after the government’s announcement in last week’s budget that it wants to build 300,000 new homes a year. With the government more dependent than ever on the big house builders to deliver numbers, the HomeOwners Alliance want changes to the industry to ensure quality and protection for consumers improves.

According to the building industry’s own figures, 49 out of 50 new home buyers now report defects to their builder, with one in 4 reporting more than 16 problems. The HOA’s own research shows that the bad reputation of poor quality of new homes is now one of the main reasons why twice as many buyers prefer old homes to new ones.

To help homebuyers, we are calling on the government and industry to:

  • give homebuyers the right to retain 2.5% of the cost of the property for 6 months, to give the builder an incentive to repair faults that emerge, or to cover the cost of the repairs if the builder doesn’t do them. Such snagging retentions are common practice with extensions, but are rarely available to new home buyers, who invariably have to pay the whole amount upfront
  • give homebuyers the right to carry out a without prejudice inspection of their newly built home before moving in. Often builders selling their properties “off plan” refuse to let buyers actually see the property after it is completed but before buying it – this practice should be stopped.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance said: “It’s great the government is committed to more housebuilding. But we don’t just need more houses, we need better quality homes. Too often, new houses are built to low standards, with small rooms, paper thin walls, inadequate heating and poor quality workmanship, with other problems that emerge only after moving in. Consumer protection is limited, with people having more rights if they buy a toaster than if they buy a house. Our proposals will go a long way to give new home buyers peace of mind.”

The HOA is calling for a range of other reforms for new build, such as standard contracts and an ombudsman service. The full range of needed reforms are listed on our campaign page for Better New Builds

Alongside this, we have been working with Kings College London to produce a guide explaining consumer’s legal rights when buying a new build home.

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