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This morning an influential group of MPs made some key recommendation to improve the quality and workmanship in new homes.  The group calls upon the Government to ensure that newly built homes are of good quality and of high standard, they also welcome the launch of BRE’s Home Quality Mark (HQM) calling it a “promising development for driving up standards in housebuilding”.  A copy of the report can be found here .

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The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment, completed an inquiry into the quality of new build homes. These four inquiry sessions took evidence from housebuilders, consumer groups, insurance companies and homebuyers.  They heard reports of where homes had defects such as;

  • Mould on both the inside and outside of their new properties after just a few weeks;
  • Doorframes contracting so that doors don’t fit;
  • Water cascading through the rooves;
  • Upward pressure on floors, creating uneven surfaces.

The report has 10 key recommendation, with a key recommendation to create a “New Homes Ombudsman” The role would include mediating disputes between consumers and their builders or warranty providers to offer a quick resolution procedure paid for by a housebuilders’ levy.

The Home Quality Mark has already been developed to address many of the problems highlighted in the report.  It is a voluntary scheme that enables developers to differentiate their homes and also provides consumers with the tools to be able to make the smart choice when buying or renting their home.  The Home Quality Mark provides a rating on the overall level of quality (this includes the quality of design, materials and control of workmanship) and also provides a indicators on the overall running costs of the home, the Health and Wellbeing impact and the Environmental foot print of the home.  In order to do this successfully many of the recommendations from the Zero Carbon Hub and others have been implemented as criteria in the Mark.  This includes robust energy efficiency and ventilation standards to reduce the likelihood of mould, focus on materials and their durability and overall workmanship issues.

Higher quality homes, with robust independent verification that the Home Quality Mark offers is not only good for communities and home occupiers, but it also provides robust information to the financial sector to make lending, investment and insurance decisions on.

Today BRE is committing to implement recommendations from the More Homes, Fewer Complaints report in our voluntary standard the Home Quality Mark, which any housebuilder can use to differentiate their product from minimum regulatory requirements these include;

  • Require the right for buyers (and also rental clients) to inspect the properties before completion (Recommendation 3)
  • Amend the Home Information criteria in HQM to include the information listed in Recommendation 4
  • Continue with the recognition, in HQM, of qualifications that help to ensure a quality outcome and through training courses at the BRE Academy (Recommendation 8)
  • Investigate how HQM can reward further for homes built where defects are minimised and where they do occur, these are rectified in a timely and convenient manner. (Recommendation 9)
  • Continue to promote Post Occupancy Evaluation in HQM and develop further ways in which consumers can feedback more greatly on their home, in line with recommendation 10.

Working with others in the housebuilding sector (including the warranty providers), these will not only help consumers get better homes, but also help protect developers from future complaints and improving the image of the house building sector.

 

Gwyn Roberts
About the Author
Homes and Communities Leader, at BRE Global. I lead the team who works on Home Quaility Mark, BREEAM Communities, BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment and the Code for Sustainable Homes. Ex DCLG civil servant consultant and independent traveller; crossing Africa in a Solar powered Landcruiser in 2009/10. @homeqm and @overlandsun

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