By Noel Hunter OBE, Chairman of Consumer Code for Home Builders
Most new-build homes are covered by a consumer code which is designed to ensure you receive a good service and to protect your rights as a home buyer. The Consumer Code for Home Builders covers 95% of new homes in the UK so it’s likely your new home will be covered by our code.
Unlike buying a second-hand home, new builds already come with some guarantees. Virtually all new homes have a ten-year warranty which helps to ensure your home is built to a high standard in the first place and protects against structural faults or quality issues that may arise after you have moved in. So why is there a need for a separate code and what help does it give?
There are lots of aspects of buying a home, starting from the moment you first look at a brochure or visit the site where new homes are being built. Buying a home is one of the biggest and most complex purchases any of us will make – but it’s not something we’re likely to do regularly. That’s why it’s important home buyers receive clear, accurate and timely information and are properly supported throughout the sale process.
That’s where the Code comes in. While your warranty deals with the quality of your home, the Code focuses on the service you receive from your builder and your sales agent. We set requirements that builders and their agents must meet so that you receive good customer service, feel well informed before making a purchase, and that your home meets the specification you expect when you move in. For example, if you pay a reservation fee to reserve a property and subsequently change your mind, the Code requires builders to return your fee minus any reasonable costs your builder has genuinely incurred in processing and holding the Reservation, which must be stated upfront. Similarly, the Code requires builders to have suitable deposit protection in place so that if your builder were to go out of business before completing your property, your investment would be covered.
It comes as a surprise to many people that purchasing a home is not covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. While builders must comply with a number of building and trading standards, the Code fills an important gap in cover for home buyers when it comes to purchasing rights.
If you feel your builder or sales agent has breached the requirements of our Code, you can access our free and fully independent Dispute Resolution Scheme. Independent adjudicators will review your claim and, if successful, may make a financial award – sometimes including a time and trouble payment – as well as requiring builders to take action to rectify the issue. The process is reasonably straightforward and usually completed within eight weeks.
The first step is to speak to your warranty provider – even if you haven’t got beyond the reservation agreement stage. This is the easiest way to make sure that the site in question is definitely covered by our Code and that your enquiry relates to the Code rather than to issues covered by the home’s warranty.
If you’re unsure whether the Code applies to your situation, you can also speak to our enquiry team on 0345 608 9797 or firstname.lastname@example.org