Research suggests that around 4 million homes need to be built to supply the current demand for houses in the UK. We’re currently building around 200,000 houses a year - but according to the annual customer satisfaction survey by industry body the Home Builders Federation, an overwhelming 99% of new homeowners report snags or defects to their builder after first moving in.
Tonight reporter Ranvir Singh asks whether developers are putting quantity before quality, and investigates the impact on the people who are forced to deal with their own new build nightmares.
For some buyers the problems with their new homes are so serious they can dominate their lives from the day they move in. Paul Smith bought his new house on a Morris Homes development in Loughborough in 2017. He has suffered drainage problems which meant that for four months he had to clean his own and neighbours waste from his drains to stop them from getting blocked. Paul said: “It looks like the plans are upside down. I can't confirm that that is what happened, but I can confirm that there are striking similarities with an upside down plan and where my drains have been fitted.” It is now eighteen months since Paul moved into his house, and the drainage issues have still not been fixed.
Morris Homes told Tonight that they accept mistakes were made with the drainage. They say sorting out what they call a complex problem is a priority - but claim there have been issues with access to the property. Mr. Smith disputes that. Solicitors for both sides are now dealing with the matter.
James Oates and Amy Du Quesne moved into their city centre apartment in Manchester in 2016. An independent survey found that the cladding on the building had been incorrectly installed by the developer, and fire barriers were missing. The developer is no longer in business, and as the building is over a decade old, there is no valid warranty. Therefore the two million pound bill to replace the unsafe cladding is falling to the freeholders who own the apartments. James and Amy have received a bill for over twenty one thousand pounds.
Rendall and Rittner, the company that manages the building said work to remove the cladding was now scheduled. But because warranties had run out, the costs were not covered by insurance. They say residents have been kept informed on a regular basis - and have been made aware of what they have to pay as part of their leasehold agreements.
Home Ground, the company who act on behalf of the building's freeholders, told Tonight that safety was their priority and that they’d worked with the fire service, putting in extra measures, to make sure the building was safe. They also say they’re aware of the financial burden for residents - and were working hard to reduce costs - including offering interest free payment plans.
Retired construction manager Phil Waller is campaigning for the government to create a New Homes Ombudsman to protect homebuyers. Phil says: “The one measure that the Government can create to improve the plight of new home buyers is a New Home Ombudsman. Everybody who has got a problem with their builder after a set period of time could refer their complaint to an ombudsman, much the same way as the Financial Ombudsman service works.”
Housing Minister Esther McVey told Tonight: “We know more needs to be done to protect consumers, and we are currently consulting on the design of a New Homes Ombudsman which will protect the rights of homebuyers and hold developers to account.”
You can watch ‘Britain’s New Build Nightmares’ on the ITV Hub now.