In October 2018, the government announced plans for a New Homes Ombudsman. After progressing through the consultation phase, an important next step happened on February 8th this year. The government launched its New Homes Quality Board which will create an updated industry code of practice. It will also oversee the appointment of the New Homes Ombudsman.
Whether you are a small contractor working on Help to Buy properties or a major developer, this new housing ombudsman will affect how you operate. Here’s everything you need to know about the New Homes Ombudsman and what it means for you.
What is the New Homes Ombudsman?
The New Homes Ombudsman will enforce higher standards in new build homes across the UK. It will also provide home buyers with a means of redress if they discover serious faults with a property. Its powers will likely include:
- Enforcing a code of practice for new residential properties
- Providing a simple way for homeowners to make complaints
- Forcing builders to make improvements
- Barring shoddy contractors from any government schemes such as Help to Buy
While the housing ombudsman will only meditate disputes up to the value of £50,000, this covers the majority of cases.
The New Homes Ombudsman aims to replace the current process when customers discover problems with new build homes. At present, there are four different authorities to which they may need to register a complaint. Alternatively, they might decide to approach the national press. The ombudsman will offer a more straightforward way of raising complaints about new build problems.
Housebuilders will be legally required to register with the New Homes Ombudsman. This will not be a voluntary body.
Challenges and opportunities: More changes on the horizon for UK housebuilders
Addressing new build problems
The vast majority of home builders are competent and reliable – surveys show that two-thirds of buyers are very satisfied with the condition of their new build properties. However, there has been a significant amount of press coverage about problems with new build homes and rogue contractors.
Snags are a perfectly normal part of purchasing a new home, yet some properties contain particularly high numbers of snags (more than half have 10 issues or more). What is more, respondents to a 2017 survey revealed that over a quarter of snags in new builds go unresolved.
Sometimes, home buyers simply can’t ensure that builders solve their problems with the new-build homes they’ve bought. This will affect their warranties and their ability to sell the property later on.
What the New Homes Ombudsman means for builders
If you are a contractor who works in the residential property sector you will almost certainly be affected by the New Homes Ombudsman. While it is not yet clear exactly what the new code of practice will entail, it will push builders to adopt the highest standards. We can also expect it to include rules about energy efficiency and the use of environmentally friendly materials and construction techniques.
This means you will need to:
- Stay up to date with news about the housing ombudsman in the coming months
- Register with the New Homes Ombudsman once it officially launches
- Comply with the new code of practice
The New Homes Ombudsman is mainly designed to support buyers, but it actually has strong support among industry too. One survey by the Chartered Institute of Building shows that 84% of members supported the new body. This is likely because it will make resolving disputes more streamlined. And of course, scrupulous contractors have nothing to fear.
Construction standards: How to maintain the highest quality
How technology helps contractors fix problems with new build homes
PlanRadar is a mobile-based building app that supports quality control in the construction industry. It can help you prepare for the new housing ombudsman rules by increasing vigilance, solving issues faster and fixing snagging issues, either before or after handover.
- Providing evidence
PlanRadar lets contractors record who did what on a build. By using the PlanRadar app, you will have a digital paper trail showing exactly what your company did on a project and what you were responsible for. This also means you will not be forced to fix problems that you didn’t create. If you need to ask a subcontractor to return and fix a snag that they caused, you can also see exactly who you should speak to.
- Defect management and snagging
PlanRadar provides you with a powerful snagging tool that allows you to locate issues on a digital blueprint or BIM model. The site managers can assign tasks to individual labourers and inspect progress in the app. This lets you easily verify who has done what and which issues remain to be fixed.
Using the PlanRadar app, teams can conduct detailed building inspections and record all their findings digitally using their mobile device. The inspector fills in digital forms, communicates with the responsible parties about issues using the app’s chat functions, and also generate reports.
- Building handovers
PlanRadar provides a handover feature that lets you complete inspections and digital handover forms. These flexible forms can be designed to meet the needs of a specific contract or company style. Completing this paperwork thoroughly also gives greater clarity to all parties about who is responsible for what.
Get ready for the New Homes Ombudsman
While we don’t yet know exactly when the New Homes Ombudsman and code of practice will come into effect, it is likely to be launched this year or in 2022 at the latest. And those contractors who are already meeting the standards will have a much smoother time when it comes to implementing the rules.
With its snagging, building inspection and evidence collection features, PlanRadar helps you address new build problems and ensure you’re compliant with the New Homes Ombudsman rules from day one.
Get started with a free trial of PlanRadar today.