HomeOwners Alliance calls for crackdown on poor new build developers

Michael Lloyd

April 5, 2019

HomeOwners Alliance has launched a campaign calling for government to clamp down on developers of new build homes who leave buyers with an unacceptable litany of ‘snags’ and defects.

A snag is an unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback and snagging means the process of checking a new building for minor faults that need to be rectified.

The campaign comes after a report by the New Homes Review that found 91% of new homes had snags and defects and a report by the Home Builders Federation that showed the number of people who said they would not buy from the same builder again doubled in the last year.

Kim Vernau, chief executive, BLP Insurance, said: “Housebuilders should take careful note of the 88% of new build homeowners who believe that there should be a snagging retention process otherwise they will alienate their core customers.

“Given the widespread publicity of new homes being handed over with significant snagging errors, house builders need to urgently address their quality assurance processes.

“If the average consumer can draw up a list of errors and problems with their new home, why do qualified professionals fail to spot them? The purchase price of a new home is one of the biggest financial outlays that someone will ever make and they need the reassurance that the final finish is of the highest standard.

“Consumers who are buying a new home should check if their developer is a member of the Consumer Code for New Homes as this will provide much needed reassurance that developers and their sales agents adhere to a high standard of professionalism in relation to the construction and sales process.”

Paula Higgins, chief executive, Homeowners Alliance, added: “More and more buyers of new build homes are being left with an unacceptable litany of ‘snags’ and defects. These can range from poorly secured fixtures and fittings to shoddy tiling to major roof leaks and faulty drainage.

“Our HomeOwners Alliance ‘snagging retention’ campaign will incentivise developers to deliver decent, correctly-finished homes before buyers move in as well as to come back swiftly and deal with any emerging snags or defects.

“Sadly, money talks – if we want better quality homes, we must let homeowners hold back cash.

“In the government’s drive to build more homes quality has been compromised in the quest for quantity.

“Government must encourage developers to offer all buyers of new homes the right to retain a very minimum of 2.5% of their purchase price for six months to give time for snags and defects to be righted. If this is not done, then they must be compensated financially.”

It follows complaints about developers who have failed to fix faults with new properties from ineffective insulation to ill-fitted doors and dodgy electrics to poor plumbing.

The HomeOwners Alliance survey published today, found almost nine in 10 (88%) new build homeowners and three-quarters (76%) of adults supported ‘snagging retention’.

Just over half of new build homeowners (54%) said they had their warranty properly explained and less than six in 10 (57%) agreed their warranty provider fulfilled their responsibility to put right any structural problems after the first two years and resolved disputes quickly with the builder in the first two years.

Some two in 10 (20%) new build homeowners felt under pressure during the sales process or that they were given time to consider their decision, in order to put down a deposit on a new build home.

Among new build homeowners, eight in 10 (81%) were satisfied with the mortgage process and more than seven in 10 were satisfied with the sales particulars (73%) and handover (74%), but just six in 10 (60%) were satisfied with the snagging process.

The survey results and campaign launch follow the news that Persimmon Homes will be the first to introduce a ‘snagging retention’ of 1.5%. The HomeOwners Alliance has asked for more details.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “Persimmon have taken a step in the right direction but let’s hope it is not a PR exercise. They have only agreed to put right snags identified the day people move in – not emerging snags.

“Expecting new build homebuyers to inspect and produce a snagging list the day they move into their home is setting them up to fail. We would be happy to work with them and all other new build home developers to create a fairer snagging retention.”

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