Private Individuals – New Build Defects Disputes
In 2016 the oddly titled “All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in Built Environment” published a report called “More Homes fewer Complaints.” The purpose of the inquiry was to investigate and report into the quality and standard of workmanship on new housing.
The report is against a backdrop of a chronic shortage of new homes being built. The government has been committed to building 1 million new homes by 2020 and this translates into 200,000 new homes a year.
New home building is now dominated by just a few extremely large firms with a lot of SME building firms going bust during the last recession.
Complaints about building defects by new home purchasers are extremely well documented and the problem has become acute.
The National House Building Council which manages most of the 10 year warranties that cover new homes paid out £90m to homeowners in 2015-16 a sum which has trebled over the past 10 years.
Part of the problem for new home purchasers is that with an “off-plan” purchase one is often required to complete and pay the full purchase price without having had the opportunity to inspect it.
As press reports on the worldwide web demonstrate when homeowners are faced with defective new homes to get the builder/developer to remedy any defects can be the start of both an extremely long and tortuous battle.
Homeowners may have a number of different remedies which they need to pursue.
The starting point is to try and resolve any problems with the developer directly. Failing that statutory remedies may, in certain circumstances, be found from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or the Defective Premises Act 1972.
An alternative remedy for new home buyers may be found in a warranty which most developers tend to offer nowadays. The most commonly known warranty is the NHBC. Even so, a warranty may not provide a remedy or, at least a complete remedy. So for example, whilst a warranty may cover structural defects up to a financial cap, it may not cover things like snagging items. There are often other standard terms and exclusions which will limit the homeowner from recovering all their losses.