New home buyers will be pleased to know that a new independent body in the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) launches today (8th February). Yes, the NHQB will aim to champion quality new homes and improve outcomes for customers. Here’s more…
Who’s on the board?
The board is made up of permanently appointed members who represent a cross-section of sectors, including housebuilders, consumer bodies, warranty providers, financial representatives, and independents. There will be a constitution in place to ensure fairness and that no one individual or sector dominates.
Chairing the body is Dover MP Natalie Elphicke, who was appointed as the independent ‘new homes quality champion’ back in the summer of 2019. Following her appointment, an interim board was set up in May last year, leading to the official constitution of the NHQB in January of this year. In her role as Chair of the board, Elphicke will oversee the introduction of a new industry code of practice – The New Homes Code. Once this has been consulted on, it promises to place “considerably more responsibility” on housing developers to deliver quality homes.
New Homes code
So, how will the New Homes Code work? Ultimately, it will require housing developers to have an effective procedure for complaints in place. As well as this, developers will have to work to specified timelines within which they address any issues arising with a new home in the course of its development. These issues must be dealt with to the consumer’s satisfaction or they will face being passed to the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) for review.
There is currently a consultation process on the New Homes Code being undertaken, so more information will no doubt come from that.
New Homes Ombudsman Service
In line with the New Homes Code as we detailed above; a New Homes Ombudsman Service will be there to support buyers in the event of a dispute. In fact, the NHQB is currently working closely with the Ombudsman Association to appoint a NHOS. The Ombudsman Association is an independent body which validates ombudsman schemes. It is expected that along with the New Homes Code, a New Homes Ombudsman Service will also be established in the next few months.
Why create the NHQB?
It has taken four years for the NHQB to be formed. Its creation came about following the publication of
a couple of reports looking at complaints around new homes, and how homebuyer complaints are dealt with. In both instances, the reports had at the top of their list of recommendations, the setting up of a NHOS.
With new homes being without doubt the biggest, most important purchase buyers will ever make, it’s important they can have confidence in what they are buying, and the support throughout the process.
In terms of how it will be funded, the NHQB will be paid for by housebuilders via an annual registration fee and levy based on volumes. There will also be an additional fee for certain referrals to the NHOS.
Opinion from the leaders
The Chair of the NHQB Natalie Elphicke explains, “The new arrangements will lead to a step change in how new homes are built and sold and how customers are treated. The board is committed to driving new build quality and strengthening protections for buyers.”
Meanwhile, the executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation, Stewart Baseley gives his thoughts on the NHQB. He says, “Recent years have seen significant improvements made in build quality and customer service and we are determined to go further. Today’s announcement is the next step in a process HBF started some years ago involving a broad range of stakeholders. The proposed arrangements will present the industry with some challenges but will, I believe, ultimately prove of considerable benefit to builders and customers alike.”
All in all, the introduction of the NHQB is a positive step which will hopefully lead to significant benefits for both consumers and developers alike.
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