New Builds, Poor Standards!

Shilpa Mathuradas

Table of Contents

This week’s Dispatches programme looked at allegations of shoddy standards, poor customer care and excessive profits being made by one of Britain’s biggest builders.

It is no secret that new build homes are fast gaining a reputation of being poorly built resulting in significant stress to those buyers who buy these homes with the risk that many of them will not recover the sum they actually paid for those homes.

With the introduction of the Help to Buy scheme the Government offers those with small deposits an opportunity to buy their own home. The equity loan scheme is available to first-time buyers who want to buy a “new build” house. The purchase price must be no more than £600,000 and under the scheme, you can borrow 20% of the purchase price interest-free for the first five years as long as you have at least a 5% deposit. If you live in London you can borrow up to 40% of the purchase price. The scheme has been extended to 2023 for first-time buyers.

This scheme has resulted in new build homes becoming very popular amongst first-time buyers namely, those that have the least experience in buying a property. As a result, large developers have been doing very well out of the scheme. Buyers have however complained about the quality of these new builds, the fact that they have been forced to complete when the property was not even ready and threatened with financial penalties and court action if they refused to complete.

In many cases, the buyers were not permitted to obtain their own surveys before purchasing the property and the developers very much controlled the whole process. After completion properties were found not to meet basic standards. In one case the property was found not to have the required fire barriers.

With the government facing a 4 million housing shortfall and the extension of the help-to-buy scheme, it is inevitable that this will be an ongoing debate. However, with the introduction of the New Homes Ombudsman, it is clearly recognised by the government that this is a significant problem.

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