“There are rising concerns that the rush to build new homes is causing housebuilders to cut corners. Many firms have set tough targets to cash in on huge demand.
There are rising concerns that the rush to build new homes is causing housebuilders to cut corners. Many firms have set tough targets to cash in on huge demand — and meet the Government’s pledge to build 200,000 new homes a year.
Thousands of victims of poor workmanship have formed groups on social media websites such as Facebook, including Taylor Wimpey Unhappy Customers, Avoid Persimmon Homes and Bovis Homes Victims Group.
Hundreds have posted on Snagging.org — named after the jargon builders give to the task of finishing a project — citing problems such as creaking floors, scratched windows and stained carpets.
Campaign groups want a new homes ombudsman who can step in when families are let down. Buyers should also be given a chance to inspect their new-build before being handed the keys, they say.
Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, says: ‘You have more consumer protection when you buy a toaster.
‘The industry is tilted too far in favour of developers, and the complaints system is too confusing.’
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment found more than nine in ten buyers report problems to their builder.
Oliver Colvile, chairman of the parliamentary group and Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, says: ‘There have been too many reports of new homes that are quite simply uninhabitable.
‘We need to ensure there is a clear process whereby developers can be held to account and are responsible for correcting any below-par workmanship as soon as possible.’
Britain’s biggest house builders nearly all reported soaring profits last month. Persimmon reported a pre-tax profit of £783 million for 2016 — a 23 per cent increase on 2015.
Barratt Developments saw a 20.7 per cent rise to £682.3 million, Bellway a 36.5 per cent rise to £492 million, Redrow a 35 per cent rise to £140 million and Taylor Wimpey a 21.5 per cent rise to £733.4 million.
Bovis reported a 3 per cent fall in profits but still made £154.7 million.
Bovis has been forced to set aside £7 million to compensate buyers who have complained about the poor quality of its homes.
In January the firm was revealed to have offered up to £3,000 to buyers who moved into their houses by December 23 as it struggled to meet targets.
Sales have been boosted by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which has helped 100,284 first-time buyers onto the property ladder since 2013.
All the firms reported an increase in both the number of homes built and average selling prices. …
… A spokesman for the National House Building Council says: ‘We carry out spot check inspections at key stages during construction… [but] the builder is responsible for ensuring homes conform to building regulations and our standards.’
A Taylor Wimpey spokesman says: ‘We recognise that we do sometimes get things wrong, but we are committed to resolving those issues.’
A Bovis spokesman says: ‘We are putting more resource into customer care and reviewing our processes to ensure a focus on quality.’