Victoria Derbyshire’s recent BBC programme about “uninhabitable” new build properties highlights the quality of construction and corners being cut by house builders in the UK.
Victoria Derbyshire's programme highlighted gas leaks, damp, holes in the floors and cracks in the walls, with issues continuing to appear within the first year after purchasers' moved in.
One lady's home had become infested with insects, which were entering via a two-foot gap under a patio door. Additionally, air bricks buried underground were causing damp issues, a sinking driveway and water leaks. Following numerous complaints, she commissioned an independent survey which uncovered major structural issues. Additionally, movement joints had not been incorporated into the build - these prevent the structure from cracking when thermal movement occurs to the property - hence extensive cracks were appearing.
In this specific case, Bovis, the builder, apologised and is working with the owner to correct the problems. They said it was making “significant” changes to operations and reducing the number of homes it builds, blaming being rushed for the defects that had arisen.
The programme spoke to others who had purchased homes from other house builders. Snags identified included holes in roofing areas, poorly installed doors and windows, cracks, sewage leaks, sloping floors etc.
The Government says we need 300,000 new homes. The Prime Minister has promised to build "more homes, more quickly" to tackle the housing shortage. However forcing developers to build faster is creating concerns that quality will be affected.
New build homes usually come with a two year guarantee from the developer and a ten year warranty by the National House Builders Council (NHBC) which covers defects. The Grenfell Tower inquiry for example, suggests that building regulations are over-complicated. However, it is accepted that regulations governing overall quality and safety require reform.
Local company DMP works with developers in a construction monitoring capacity to ensure that each stage of a build is fully inspected, from foundation to pre-handover. This also allows for better financial planning. Kevin Marling of DMP said "I personally find it very difficult to understand how any of these stages are overlooked. In addition, rushing the inspection along only causes issues for the builder at a later stage so it’s a waste of time and money for everyone involved." DMP can be contacted on 01482 623955 if you have issues relating to a new-build.
The Victoria Derbyshire programme explained that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment is calling for a New Homes Ombudsman to be appointed to offer quick, free, independent mediation, recognising that levels of accountability and means of redress were currently inadequate. This should give a voice to buyers, frustrated with the lack of communication from developers. In the meantime, many of the home-owners featured on the programme are still waiting for defects to be rectified.