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Half of new-build homes 'have major issues'

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.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Yet another biased survey knocking the state of our construction industry. Yes there are the odd snags but the quality of our housing is very high. They also seem to be blaming the issues on D and B contracts . Talk about missing the point! Yes Bovis have had issues but that's not the norm in my experience and I have known clients to demolish nearly completed home because of concerns over build quality and after sales. I hope the bodies that represent house builders completely rebuff this and tell this charity to concentrate on the excellant core work they do.

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  • New build houses in the UK are small, dark, densely packed and over priced. The builders use all sorts of techniques fool buyers perception of scale to think they are getting something that they are not. We need a return to somthing like the Parker Morris standard of house design.
    The UK is building the smallest houses in the developed world. Compared to France, Germany, Canada, what we are building is a disgrace. Don't say that 'it's because we're on a crowded island' - Holland is more densly packed and has much higher new build standards than the UK. Since the 70's, rapacious developers have left this country with a generation's worth of houses that are not fit for living in. 'Family' houses that don't give the kids enough space to do their homework in. Nowhere to store coats, towels, spare bedding, the hoover etc. This is market failure on a massive scale. In Quebec, local authorities put in the roads and services to a new neighbourhood and allow people tou put a house of their own choosing on the plot. That way people get the houses they want and need, at a fair price, because house builders actually compete for custom and have no choice but to offer value for money. To look overseas and see the art of the possible is depressing when it's so hard in this country to get a decent place to call home.
    I applaud Shelter highlighting this issue and encourage them to continue the campaign.

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