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Nine out of 10 new-build homes in the UK have defects

More than nine out of 10 new-build homes in the UK have defects and almost 40% fail to meet their original deadline, a survey by the New Homes Review (NHR) has found.

However, the research revealed that 65% of new-build homebuyers are satisfied with the condition of the property they purchased.

The independent survey, which was conducted between November 2017 and October 2018, shows that while the sector is in need of improvements, other measures of customer satisfaction are more positive.

The NHR survey’s key findings revealed that:

  • 91% of homebuyers said that they had experienced snags or defects
  • 75% of snags and defects were resolved in a timely manner
  • 58% of people were satisfied with the service provided by their builder throughout the process
  • 63% of the properties were completed on time
  • Location was the most important reason for choosing the property
  • Being close to family and friends, which was ranked third last time, has slipped to fifth
  • 69% of homeowners were satisfied with their new home
  • 65% were satisfied with the overall condition of the property and the quality of the build

Commenting on the findings, Kate Hughes of New Homes Review, said: “House building is such an important part of our society. With an increasing population and house building on course for its lowest levels since the second world war, the country needs more new homes to avert a housing crisis. But now all developers deliver what the homebuyer expects and more needs to be done to improve the sector.”

She said she hopes that the NHR survey – which is now in its second year – will help new home buyers with their purchasing decisions and minimise the stress involved, making it a much more enjoyable process.

The 2017 NHR report revealed defects and snags as the biggest issue for consumers when buying a new-build home, rather than any delays during the build. For 2018, the survey showed that the majority of new-build purchasers were satisfied with their home, with most feeling that the quality of the build and the finish was high.

Hughes continued: “Builders and developers play a huge role in delivering people’s dreams, designing houses that people want to live in. Many of them are also trying to improve the service that they provide to homebuyers.”

“The report shows that there are improvements since 2017, but there is still more to be done, in particular around snags and defects which is still very high at 91%. While the majority are resolved in a timely manner it will be an unbelievably frustrating time for the 25% that are not.”

When new-build homeowners were asked about the service provided after they moved in, 49% were unsatisfied compared with 33% that were completely satisfied. These mixed reviews show that builders and developers need to continue to work on the after-sales service, which is often handled by the developer or builder’s head office rather than the on-site team.

“What is clear from the survey is that home buyers have very high expectations and that better communication on any delays or issues would be better for everyone involved in the process,” Hughes added. “The homebuyer would be better informed and feel more in control and it would be easier for the builder or developer to be open about the issues, many of which can be out of their control.”

The results underline the importance of knowing who to contact and who is responsible for putting things right, especially given the number of snags and defects identified. In fact, 87% of new-build homeowners said the warranty or insurance provided was important, which shows their reliance on the protection it provides.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, added: “It is a great shame that the vast majority of buyers have experienced defects in their new home and delays in completion. Everyone expects some snagging issues and properties settle and dry out but for almost all buyers to identify problems, it is clear action needs to be taken.”

“Our campaign aims to encourage better new builds and we are calling for new-build homebuyers to be able to retain 2.5% of the cost of the house, which would only be paid after six months,” she continued. “We would also like to see homebuyers compensated if their home is not ready on time. This would create a powerful incentive for builders and developers to build high quality homes right, first time.”

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