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Campaign launched for new home builders to comply with snagging retention scheme

Owners of new builds who took part in a new survey have overwhelmingly backed a call to be allowed to hold back funds until all faults are rectified in a bid to improve the quality of new properties.

The research from the Home Owners Alliance found that nine in 10 back its campaign for ‘snagging retention’ where owners can hold back a minimum 2.5% of payment until they’re satisfied with their property.

The poll, carried out by YouGov also found the 76% of the general population also back the process.

While new build home buyers were generally satisfied with some aspects of the sales process, just 54% felt the warranty was clearly explained and only 57% felt their warranty provider resolved disputes with the builder in the first two years of ownership or put right any structural problems, thereafter.

The poll found wide support for mandatory snagging retention with respondents saying it would incentivise builders to build right first time, improve quality standards, hold builders to account when problems arise, and incentivise builders to fix problems.

The Home Owners Alliance has launched a campaign calling for the Government to clamp down on developers of new build homes who leave buyers with an unacceptable litany of ‘snags’ and defects.

The campaign comes after a report by the New Homes Review that found 91% of new homes had snags and defects and a report by the Home Builders Federation that showed the number of people who say they would not buy from the same builder again doubling in the last year.

It also follows a swathe of complaints about developers who have failed to fix faults with new properties from ineffective insulation to ill-fitted doors and dodgy electrics to poor plumbing.

‘House builders should take careful note of the 88% of new build home owners who believe that there should be a snagging retention process otherwise they will alienate their core customers,’ said Kim Vernau, chief executive of BLP Insurance.

‘Given the widespread publicity of new homes being handed over with significant snagging errors, house builders need to urgently address their quality assurance processes. If the average consumer can draw up a list of errors and problems with their new home, why do qualified professionals fail to spot them? The purchase price of a new home is one of the biggest financial outlays that someone will ever make and they need the reassurance that the final finish is of the highest standard,’ she pointed out.

‘Consumers who are buying a new home should check if their developer is a member of the Consumer Code for New Homes as this will provide much needed reassurance that developers and their sales agents adhere to a high standard of professionalism in relation to the construction and sales process,’ she added.

According to Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Home Owners Alliance, more and more buyers of new build homes are being left with an unacceptable litany of ‘snags’ and defects. These can range from poorly secured fixtures and fittings to shoddy tiling to major roof leaks and faulty drainage.

She believes that the snagging retention campaign will incentivise developers to deliver decent, correctly finished homes before buyers move in as well as to come back swiftly and deal with any emerging snags or defects.

‘Sadly, money talks. If we want better quality homes, we must let home owners hold back cash. In the Government’s drive to build more homes quality has been compromised in the quest for quantity. Government must encourage developers to offer all buyers of new homes the right to retain a very minimum of 2.5% of their purchase price for six months to give time for snags and defects to be righted. If this is not done, then they must be compensated financially,’ said Higgins.

The survey results and campaign launch follow the news that Persimmon Homes will be the first to introduce a snagging retention’ of 1.5%. The Home Owners Alliance has asked for more details.

‘Persimmon have taken a step in the right direction but let’s hope it is not a PR exercise. They have only agreed to put right snags identified the day people move in, not emerging snags. Expecting new build home buyers to inspect and produce a snagging list the day they move into their home is setting them up to fail. We would be happy to work with them and all other new build home developers to create a fairer snagging retention,’ Higgins added.

Paul and his pregnant wife who bought a brand new four bedroom semi-detached home in Somerset just before Christmas 2018. Paul told the Home Owners Alliance about the issues, some of which have also affected neighbours.

Within weeks their boiler had packed in, during a cold spell in January and after a faulty valve was fixed, it stopped firing and was not repaired until nine days later. Soon cracking appeared on their kitchen ceiling and, so it could be fixed, his family of five were moved to a city centre apartment on a busy road, without a suitable lock on the front door and where noise from the street kept them awake at night.

When the family eventually moved back to their home they were woken at night by a hammering noise from the pipes, and this went on for several nights before the pipes were fixed. His heavily pregnant wife ended up being signed off work for six weeks because of the stress.