The Consumer Code for Home Builders has been providing protection for buyers of new build homes for over a decade. But thanks to recent changes, that protection has now been enhanced, giving you even more confidence in the service you can expect to receive from your builder, and the right to redress if things go wrong.

Let’s take a look at the main enhancements in the latest edition of the Code which applies to homes covered by our Code reserved from 1 January 2024.

·        14 calendar day cooling off period. You now have 14 days to change your mind and receive a full refund of your reservation fee after reserving your home. As has always been the case under the Code, should you change your mind after that time, you can still expect to receive some of your fee back minus reasonable admin expenses which must be explained to you in advance.

·        Extra support. Greater emphasis has been put on the importance of supporting customers who may be vulnerable due to health conditions, personal circumstances or simply a lack of experience in buying homes. If you need extra support don’t be afraid to ask. Your builder should be able to accommodate specific needs and work with you to ensure you have the information and support you need to make informed decisions.

·        Snagging. One of the most common queries about new homes is about resolving minor defects, commonly referred to as ‘snags’. To make this process smoother, under our Code, home buyers now have the right to undertake a pre-completion inspection and identify any snags which should be resolved prior to legal completion. You are free to appoint a professional adviser to help assess fixtures, fittings and services by way of checks comparable with normal daily use and arrange for these to be resolved, ideally prior to completion. However, this is an optional additional expense and our warranty providers already make free checklists available that you can use to help you check for defects. Read more about snagging and access the checklists via our blog.

·        Part-exchange schemes are now covered by the Code to ensure it is fair, transparent, and not used to pressure a sale.

·        Better pre-contract information. In addition to the detailed information we have always required builders to provide, you should now be given the detailed planning consent reference number under which your home is being built as well as details of any future build phases, and the home’s expected energy performance standards prior to contracts being exchanged.

·        Transparent processes. Your builder and their sales agents must not offer you financial incentive to complete on a home if it has not yet met the warranty quality standards. Furthermore, you should be informed if your builder has paid a commission to a supplier (for example a conveyancer they may recommend to you) and how much.

·        Clearer complaints policy. New requirements set out what should be included in your builder’s complaints procedure including timescales by when you can expect to receive a response to a complaint and guidelines as to how your complaint should be dealt with.

·        Additional financial redress. The maximum amount that can be claimed through the Code’s Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme (IDRS) has risen to £50,000 for homes reserved after 1 January 2024. An adjudicator may make a discretionary award for inconvenience up to a maximum of £2,000. The £50,000 maximum award includes any award for inconvenience.

These are just some of the new and enhanced protections offered by the Fifth edition of the Code which applies to homes reserved from 1 January 2024. For more detailed information about all the requirements, download a copy of the Code and take a look at our blogs, videos and other helpful resources for home buyers.

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