New Homes Ombudsman Set To Raise The Bar

There are many good reasons for investing in a new-build property but a new announcement from the Government could prove to be a game changer.

The Government announced this week that it will create the post of New Homes Ombudsman (NHO) for buyers of new-build homes, thereby calling time on “shoddy house builders“.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick released a statement saying that the new independent watchdog will be established as soon as possible and will be given powers to intervene and help buyers of new-build property in dispute with contractors over the quality of the building work.

It will be compulsory for all house builders to register with the New Homes Ombudsman once it is up and running and rogue builders will be required to compensate buyers for substandard work.

If developers wish to make new homes available under Help to Buy, they will have to show that they “put quality first” in order to participate in the scheme.

Support from the new watchdog, including advice and subsequent action, will be free to the consumer and should ensure that issues are dealt with promptly and with fewer complications than is currently the case for buyers of new homes.

Once the service is operational, buyers of a new-build house should be made aware of the scheme’s existence along with a clear course of action to take if they experience problems with the workmanship of their home.

Raising industry standards

Commenting on the proposals, Jenrick said that it is totally unacceptable that so many buyers struggle to obtain recourse in the event of a dispute. Accordingly, the Ombudsman will prevent contractors getting away with shoddy work and raise the bar of house builders across the industry.

Home buyers, he added, will be able to gain help as and when, so disputes are able to be resolved more quickly and buyers can receive the compensation they deserve.

The new watchdog will have the power to ban rogue contractors and developers, thereby helping to raise standards across the sector. In addition, it will be able to enforce the payment of compensation to the buyer, require developers to improve their service, give advice on resolving disputes and seek apologies and explanations from contractors.

The quality of new homes has become a major issue across the sector in recent years, with safety standards brought to the fore following the Grenfell disaster, for example, and an increasing number of complaints from new-build home owners.

Levels of house building in the UK are rising currently which will result in more people than ever living in new homes. But it is important that quality remains the priority as well as quantity, which is why the Government has taken this course of action.

Benefits of buying a new-build home

Generally speaking, standards of house building in the UK are high and there are distinct advantages to buying a new-build as opposed to an existing house. This applies both to investors focusing on rental properties and home owners seeking to step onto or trade up the housing ladder. Benefits include:

  • No chain or risk of being gazumped
  • Discounts occasionally offered, especially when buying off-plan
  • NHBC or similar 10-year warranty, comprising a two-year building warranty followed by an eight-year insurance agreement against damage caused by construction errors
  • Smart technology often installed with the latest energy-efficient heating and ventilation systems
  • New-builds are cheaper to run and greener; more than 80% have an A or B energy performance rating (EPR) as opposed to 2.2% of older homes
  • Opportunity to choose appliances, layout and decor when buying off-plan
  • Help to Buy scheme available only on new-builds
  • Tenants prefer new homes which require less maintenance and are cheaper to run
  • Property investors have less maintenance to carry out on new homes
  • A conversion or newly redeveloped building can offer the best of both worlds; more character than a new-build plus a new interior, better insulation and higher EPR rating.

The New Homes Ombudsman will raise standards in the construction industry, safeguard the buyer by creating a direct route to raise concerns over building issues, and provide a further incentive to invest in a new-build home.

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