A leading charity has called for contractors to face penalties for poor housing construction after research showed half of new-build homebuyers faced major problems with their properties.
A YouGov poll of more than 4,000 people, commissioned by housing charity Shelter, found that 51 per cent of buyers had issues such as poor construction, unfinished fittings and faults with utilities.
In a report released alongside the research, Shelter argued the current housebuilding system was “failing” families by producing high-priced, poor-quality homes.
It added: “Construction contracts for homes on new civic housebuilding schemes can be highly detailed, specifying the materials and construction techniques to be used, if that is what the plan requires.
“Alternatively, as is often the case for custom-build schemes, contracts can give the builder discretion as to how the homes are designed and built – within the overall constraints of the masterplan.
“In either case, the emphasis of the contract must be on the build quality – with penalties for contractors that do not deliver.”
Bovis Homes last week said it had agreed to pay £7m in compensation to customers over the quality of its homes.
Bovis chief executive Earl Sibley said he wanted subcontractors to work on sites “for months, if not years” to help improve the quality of the homes the firm was delivering.
The Shelter report – New Civic Housebuilding – criticised the model of “speculative housebuilding”.
The charity called for a revival of civic housebuilding models led by public, private and voluntary organisations, which it said “prioritised the public good over speculative gain”.
It said these models led to garden cities such as Letchworth and Welwyn as well as new towns such as Milton Keynes.
Shelter interim chief executive Graeme Brown said: “The only way to fix our ever-growing housing crisis is for the government to champion a bold new approach that responds to communities to build the genuinely affordable, beautiful homes they want – as we have done as a country in the past.”
However, a spokesman for the Home Builders Federation told Construction News: “The only way to make housing more affordable in the long term is to increase supply over a sustained period.
“Help to Buy has now helped over 100,000 people, mostly first-time buyers, get onto the property ladder and builders are increasing the supply of all types of housing, but more needs to be done.”
The spokesman questioned the dissatisfaction among buyers of new-build homes revealed by Shelter.
“Our own survey has shown the overwhelming number of people are happy with their new-build, as 90 per cent would buy new-build again.
“That’s not to say that we don’t see some issues, but it’s how you deal with that.”