The establishment of a New Homes Ombudsman scheme was the subject of public consultation process last year. As the first step of creating the ombudsman, the members of the interim New Homes Quality Board have now been appointed and had their first meeting.
The New Homes Quality Board will have responsibility for the quality of new build homes and consumer redress.
The interim board is tasked with overseeing the composition and appointment of a permanent board.
It must also set up a code of practice that places greater requirements on all parties involved in the construction, inspection, sale and aftercare of new homes. The code will include a requirement for builders to deal with all snagging issues within two years of occupation.
The third task of the interim board is to agree a process for appointing a New Homes Ombudsman service to adjudicate against the new code.
It is anticipated that under the main board will sit consumer, warranty and builder committees and a code board with responsibility for reviewing and updating the code, at the direction of the main board.
It will be funded by the house-building industry.
Interim chair of the new board is Natalie Elphicke, chief executive of the Housing & Finance Institute, a housing think-tank; she is also Conservative MP for Dover, having replaced her husband in that job last year.
The full interm board is:
- Natalie Elphicke MP (chair)
- Jennie Daly – Taylor Wimpey operations director
- Katy Jordan – Storey Homes managing director
- Joanne Casey – Mactaggart & Mickel managing director
- Jackie Bennett – UK Finance director of mortgages
- Douglas Cochrane – head of housing development at Lloyds Banking Group (independent)
- Gillian Cooper – Citizens Advice head of energy policy
- Barry Cummins – Homes England development director
- Paul Smee – Conveyancers Association chair
- Nicholas Boys-Smith – Create Streets (planning consultant) founding director
- Steve Wood – National House-Building Council (warranty provider) chief executive.
The ambition is that a permanent chair and board will be in place by autumn 2020 and 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. It is anticipated that government will ultimately legislate to enforce improved rights to consumer redress.
Natalie 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 in the principles of independence, transparency and integrity, values I know this government, and the industry, are determined to instil. I look forward to working with all parties to finalise and implement these changes as quickly as possible.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, 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.”
Katy Jordan, managing director of Story Homes said: “I am delighted to be involved in working to establish a New Homes Quality Board and ultimately a New Homes Ombudsman. I am particularly pleased to be asked to represent SMEs in the important work being undertaken and I am looking forward to playing an integral role in improving build quality and customer service across the house building industry.”
Mactaggart & Mickel managing director Joanne Casey said: “As a family-owned company with a history of housebuilding dating back to 1925, ensuring customers are happy with our homes is at the heart of what we do. The industry’s reputation for quality has never been more important than it is today. We welcome the national commitment to this and look forward to supporting the shadow board’s drive to champion customer satisfaction.”
Jennie Daly, group operations director at Taylor Wimpey said: “I am delighted to have joined the Interim New Homes Quality Board as it works to ensure that quality, exceptional customer service and building beautiful homes remain a priority for housebuilders across the sector. These goals are aligned with Taylor Wimpey’s customer-focused strategy and I look forward to extending this commitment in my new role. Establishing the governance and appointment of the permanent board, alongside the appointment of the New Homes Ombudsman, will be an important milestone for the industry and I am confident that the leadership team will draw upon its extensive expertise to rise to this challenge.”