New Homes Quality Board launched to help protect buyers

A step towards the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman service to protect buyers from shoddy work has been taken with the launch of an interim body.

The interim New Homes Quality Board will have responsibility for new-build home standards and consumer redress.

Chaired by Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, it will contain representatives from across the housing sector and consumer groups.

It will agree a process to set up a New Homes Ombudsman service.

Natalie Elphicke wants to help the quality of new homes and people’s experiences in buying them (PA)

The interim board will also oversee the adoption of a “new comprehensive and robust industry code of practice” that will place more stringent requirements on those involved in the construction, inspection, sale and aftercare of new homes in Britain.

The Government has previously said a New Homes Ombudsman will step in to help homebuyers with issues from sloppy brickwork to faulty wiring – and will have powers to award compensation, ban rogue developers from building, and order developers to fix poor building work.

The aim is a permanent chairman and board will be in place by autumn with a view to the new code and ombudsman service being in place by the start of 2021.

There will then be a transition period for builders to sign up to the new arrangements.

The new arrangements will be paid for by the industry and once established, the New Homes Ombudsman service will be free to consumers.

Ms Elphicke said: “I am committed to ensuring that the new arrangements will deliver a step change in the quality of new homes and customer experience.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the Home Builders Federation, said: “The move demonstrates the commitment of the industry to providing buyers with absolute confidence in their builder and the quality of their new home.

“The new body will help ensure that the steady improvement in the quality of new build homes we have seen in recent years continues.

“Customers will be reassured that in the instances where they do have issues with their new home, they will have recourse to a fast, effective independent dispute resolution service via an ombudsman.

“The new robust arrangements will provide a huge challenge for builders but the industry fully recognises the need to deliver, and we will.”

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see this progression, which reinforces our determination to ensure a high-quality home for each and every purchaser.”

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