An interim New Homes Quality Board has been launched as the industry takes another step towards the creation of a new homes ombudsman.
The new independent body, with MP and new homes quality champion Natalie Elphicke as interim chair, will have responsibility for the quality of new-build homes and consumer redress.
The interim board, which comprises representatives from across the sector, will oversee the composition and appointment of a permanent board as well as complete, consult on and adopt a new industry code of practice that will place more stringent requirements on all parties involved in the construction, inspection, sale and aftercare of new homes.
The board will contain a mix of representatives of consumer bodies, housebuilders, warranty providers, lenders and independents such that it will not be dominated by any one group.
The government has said that it expects the industry to implement comprehensive new measures to ensure further improvements and consistency in the quality of new homes, better customer service and strengthened consumer redress as a matter of urgency. The new board will be seen as another step towards this.
The ambition is that a permanent chair and board will be in place by autumn with a view to the new code and ombudsman service being in place by the start of 2021. There will then be a transition period for builders to sign up to the new arrangements. Government is expected to legislate to improve consumer redress as soon as possible.
Elphicke said: “This is a welcome move, and a much-needed step in the right direction. I am committed to ensuring that the new arrangements will deliver a step-change in the quality of new homes and customer experience. They will be based on the principles of independence, transparency and integrity.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of HBF, said: “This is the next step in what has been a long and strenuous journey involving a broad range of stakeholders. The move demonstrates the commitment of the industry to providing buyers with absolute confidence in their builder and the quality of their new home. The new body will help ensure that the steady improvement in the quality of new-build homes we have seen in recent years continues. Customers will be reassured that in the instances where they do have issues with their new home, they will have recourse to a fast, effective independent dispute resolution service via an ombudsman. The new robust arrangements will provide a huge challenge for builders but the industry fully recognises the need to deliver, and we will.”