Housing: “Problems that are building up”

Linden Homes (see flying freehold problems post below) – again:

In the race to build as many new homes as cheaply as possible, developers have been accused of slipping standards. A survey this year by housing charity Shelter found that 51% of respondents discovered major faults after legal requirements for construction work to be checked at various stages were relaxed.

Currently, residents have little recourse when things go wrong. The Property Ombudsman has no remit over new-build. Instead, residents who discover faults within the first two years are left to haggle with the developer; after that, liability passes to the warranty provider chosen by the developer and only covers major structural work.

Although there is a dispute resolution scheme, CCHBAS, for homes insured by the three main warranty providers, it costs £120 to lodge a complaint and its decisions are not legally binding. A parliamentary enquiry last year found that it did not offer adequate redress.

As well as a boundary fiasco, Clare Reeve suffered leaks when roof tiles began slipping. She discovered battens had not been fixed properly to the dormer windows in her row of houses. “Because I’d bought over two years ago, Linden Homes washed its hands of it and referred me to NHBC [one of the UK’s largest warranty providers],” says Reeve, whose house is also affected by the boundary dispute [see post below]. “NHBC said it could only cover repairs over £1,500. Luckily, with scaffolding factored in, it came to more than that.”

Phil Waller, a former construction manager, set up campaign and advice website


in response to declining standards. He is calling for a government-appointed ombudsman to investigate complaints. “We need as much pressure as we can generate to force government to wake up to the many scandals in this unregulated industry that is – quite frankly, in my opinion – defrauding its own customers.”