Housebuilders will have to offer effective aftercare service on new homes to iron out snagging problems in a new draft code on quality out for consultation this month.

The code requires builders to offer greater consumer protection to new home buyers from when they walk into a sales office through to two years after occupation.

New homes quality board, NHQB, chair Natalie Elphicke MP said: “This is a major milestone in our work to introduce a new and comprehensive framework of protections for home buyers. I believe that the new code fills the gaps in existing protections and will drive up build quality standards and consumer protections.”

Builders who fail to treat customers fairly and respond to their concerns in a timely fashion will be referred to an independent new homes ombudsman.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said smaller developers backed moves to hold the larger housebuilders to account and that this was something property development finance lenders were also keen to see.

Customers to be kept in the picture

The new code prohibits high-pressure selling and requires any deposits customers pay to be protected.

The builder must provide all relevant facts about the home during the sales process including tenure and future management or service charges.

It sets out a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off’ period and sales contract requirement. Customers are allowed to organize a professional pre-completion inspection of their new home. The code specifies that a home must be ‘complete’ to prevent builders from paying customers to move in early.

“All homeowners should have the confidence that they will be well protected and any issues they encounter will be independently dealt with, which is why the launch of the consultation represents a great step forward for the industry and the home-owning public,” said Ms Elphicke.

The code is out for consultation until the 8th of July and it’s hoped a final draft will be agreed upon before the end of the summer.

The NHQB will engage with the industry to ensure housebuilders train staff and make the necessary changes within their businesses. It’s expected the new homes ombudsman service will be in place by the final quarter of this year.

An open procurement process for the new homes’ ombudsman was launched late last month with the target of the service being up and running by the final quarter of this year. Then there will be a transition period for builders to register with the NHQB and comply with the new arrangements.

Members of the new homes board include Taylor Wimpey, Storey Homes, the National House Building Council and the trade body for banks UK Finance.

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