Thursday, August 30, 2007

New builds not as brilliant as the sales pitch makes out

Call to protect new homebuyers

People have more rights when they buy a kettle than a new home. Many homebuyers receive poor after-sales care and the average new home has 100 problems which need fixing. No surprise then that around 29% of new-build property developments are now deemed to be of poor quality and only a quarter of buyers would recommend their house builder to a friend.

Posted by su @ 08:24 AM (1320 views)
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16 thoughts on “New builds not as brilliant as the sales pitch makes out

  • fahrenheit451 says:

    I know this is really sad, but …

    If you really need to build an extension to your property, build a new property or anything else like this then …
    GET AN ARCHITECT !!!

    RIBA website -> Find an Architect
    1) If it goes pear shaped, you have a very easy recourse to get it fixed, under Contract (and the Architect is liable for 7 to 15 years under the Law of Taught)
    2) Architects generally know what they are doing, and are quite happy to instruct contractors on exactly how to put anything right, (contractors do not like this, surprise).

    Unfortunately Architects do not come cheap, but you “get what you pay for” in this world.

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  • fahrenheit. That’s really good advice for anyone doing it themselves. It’s really not worth cutting corners on such an expensive project as building or extending a home.

    But it’s a bit different when you’re buying from a building firm. You don’t have the same amount of control or checks. With a self-build you employ the architect who is answerable to you (I assume) but with a building firm the employees or contractors are responsible to the builder (yes?) who may be more concerned with making a decent profit than anything else. I remember watching a TV programme recently about some family who bought a newbuild then were warned by a friend who was “in the know” that the builders hadn’t used enough ties or whatever to attach the brick walls to the structure, thus making it pretty unsafe in a bad storm! Another case highlighted a family whose semi-detached home went up in flames because the builders hadn’t adhered to proper building standards re: fire safely in the ajoining wall. (a fire started next door and spread rapidly!) Scary stuff! (poor stardards are not exclusive to the Chinese, obviously!)

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  • Fahrenheit451 says:

    Some may remember the Parker Morris Report that set out the “minimum” standard for new housing. It included guidance on the size of rooms, number of electrical sockets, cupboards, etc. When it was first published in 1961, it became a derogatory term “Oh its a Parker Morris House!” as an implication of low quality.

    Unfortunately most (all of them really) “Starter Homes” fall well below this standard, is it a surprise that the quality of life is degrading …
    see: Setting New Standards: The Parker Morris Report

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  • fahrenheit451 says:

    Sounds like a dodgy builder, was it a small company doing infill work, it’s easy to setup a small business, buy a large house with garden and either demolish the whole lot and build flats/pair of semi’s or just put a new detached up in the “oversized” garden. It is a problem with the planning system that actually encourages infill like this, sqashing people together to make more money. Many a residential area has been deliberately vandalised by the planners. It’s all about bringing everyone down to the lowest standard of living possible, like GCSE’s. Far be it for anyone to actually want to improve the quality of life or education or anything else. This is why the Parker Morris Report was so disliked and actually watered down by the politicians so that it became a byword for sub-standard “council” housing.

    Anyway back to your comments;
    The redress for faulty building is best persued through the Local Authority at first, because they become very twitchy.
    1) Who drew up the Planning Permission, was it an architect, possibly working as an employee of the construction company?
    2) Who inspected (“supervised” is not going to work here) the construction, the Building Inspector visits occasionally, Architect possibly?
    3) Have any Codes of Practice been breached, the Building Research Station, TRADA, and others may be of help?
    But with all of this you have to know what you are looking for otherwise you can waste a lot of time and get nowhere.

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  • The houses in the TV programme weren’t small plots in someone’s garden. These were large building sites – I think big names, but I can’t remember the details exactly. (young child = sleepless mother = bad memory!)

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  • fahrenheit. re: your comment about GCSE’s. In Scotland we have Stardard Grades and Highers. Everyone I know (including lots of English friends) reckon the education system in Scotland is superior the the English one. Just thought I’d throw that in – seeing as how I’m a proud Scot and all that!

    p.s. I love the English – just in case I get a big reaction back from cross English fans!

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  • fahrenheit451 says:

    Know the feeling well (I’m not competing … but -> 2 babies = overworked mother = high stress levels all round)

    Anyway, best to start with the LA and speak to the Building Inspector, they should be able to start the ball rolling at no cost to the occupiers.

    Houses are just too small today …
    1) Setting New Standards: The Parker Morris Report
    2) Parker Morris Committee “However most public and private sector housing being built today fails to meet the Parker Morris standards for floor and storage space”
    Should we be surprised that the trouble spills out onto the streets …

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  • fahrenheit. 2 babies?! You poor soul! Your poor wife too!

    Your comment about houses not meeting standards for floor & storage space. I had a look round a new-build showroom recently (not that I could afford it, but I like dreaming!) I noticed that airing cupboards are non-existent (I guess they’re considered old-fashioned, but they’re great for storing bedding, towels & nappies), other cupboards in short supply and limited space downstairs because of the garage. No way would I pay the price they were asking!

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  • I bought a new house over 10years ago ( we sold in 2005) – never again. There is no recourse between the builder and the NHBC (?) they just have you going round in circles. We even had the divisional director come who vowed to sort out the problems and didn’t. They included a gutter and a roof that didn’t meet, none of the kitchen sockets for DW etc were earthed, incorrect fuses in the main fuse box, the fuse box labeled upstairs downstairs and vice versa, two way gang switches throughout the house wired incorrectly, roof tiles coming off, exterior wooden doors cracking, extractor fans just going into the roof space and so on. The local authority were no help either because they signed all the planning control over to builders. In fact when we needed to find out about the drainage running thorugh the estate, they had no idea at all, again we were just told to go back to the builder. When Redrow put a sign up at the end of our road saying house builder of the year I had to be physically stopped from shinning up the pipes to deface it 🙂

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  • fahrenheit451 says:

    su … its drying space that we really need, this wet weather doesn’t help. We run the washing machine 3 to 4 times a day, 1 load nappies, 1 load bedding & kids clothes, etc. Used to use the boiler room with poles across the ceiling in the old flat, but this house has the boiler in the kitchen, useless.

    sara … yes both the NHBC and the LA should get involved, NHBC is pretty useless from our experience, but if the Building Inspector is forced to get involved, then they get the NHBC to start to do their stuff. But they will suggest that the original builder comes back to fix it, for electrical problems better if you have a friend who is NICEIE approved or if it’s serious everywhere try IEEE but they cover a wide range of electrical engineering, form power stations to micro’s.

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  • Sara

    You have my sympathy. My brother brought a new house in Binfield which had been built on a dry-streambed. After 18 months, he had cracks in his walls large enough to put his hands in. The company refused to deal with him and, in our experience, the NHBC exists just to protect the builder. He ended up getting solicitors in and discovered that he had to make complaints within 2 years or the builder could walk away. He was lucky and he just made it – his neighbours were less lucky but they didn’t face the same problem to the same degree.

    Only when his plight made the centre page of the Daily Mail did the builder sit up and do something. Strange that.

    I’ve recently wondered why Town Planners are not brought in more often? Isn’t checking an area for water courses part of their remit?

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  • fahrenheit451 says:

    talking rot … “dry streambed” ??? what happens when it rains. Was there a new gravel extraction works, sink hole or similar, nearby that changed the watercourse. It could come back at any time, hope he has a canoe ready !!! The Building Inspector really should have known about this, hope he sells it quick … back to the dodgy builder.

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  • That does it! I’m right off new houses now!!!! Anyway, I think I prefer older styles.

    Fahrenheit. You talking about drying space reminded me of an old house I visited when I was very young. There was a pulley thingy in the kitchen for hanging clothes on. It was over the kitchen table and the cord was wrapped round a hook on the wall, which you unwound when you wanted to lower it. The old fashioned houses were much more practical than modern ones, or am I the only one who thinks so? Maybe I was born too late and should have been born a generation earlier! Architects, are you listening? Bring back boiler rooms, pulleys and airing cupboards!

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  • Sara. You’ve had it really rough! I hope you didn’t have we’ans at the time – that would have been a real nightmare! I’m interested in knowing how you found living in a newbuild – apart from all the faults I mean. Was it spacious enough? I think it was Redrow who were criticised for having such narrow stairways in their townhouses that folk couldn’t get their furniture upstairs.

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  • fahrenheit451 says:

    Su. Totally agree, if it’s stood up for 100 yrs and looks ok, then it will probably be ok for another 100 yrs. But the Planners will probably have listed it Grade II at least so you won’t be able to even paint the front door. Build an extension, or convert the loft, forget it. Planners seem to have forgotten why old buildings look nice, its not because they were always square boxes, its because they’ve had bits added to them, knocked down and variously aquired “history”.

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  • Fahrenheit, It is so encouraging to know other folk think the same way. But how do we get this message through to those that can do something about it? I sometimes mention things like airing cupboards to whoever is minding the showhouse, but I’m not sure the message get passed on.

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