Carol Brady

Customer service at new housing sites across the West Midlands and South West is to be independently assessed over the coming weeks to test compliance with the Consumer Code for Home Builders’ requirements.

Independent auditors, Quincetree Ltd, will be conducting a series of compliance checks across the two regions to give builders and their agents an independent view of their current strengths, and identify any gaps in customer service and Code compliance at the point of sale.

Compliance audits have already been completed in other parts of the UK and are a key part of the Code’s ongoing efforts to maintain and improve service quality across the home building industry. All audited sites receive feedback from the CCHB, including any actions required to improve compliance where appropriate.

Audit findings to date

Having conducted audits in Derbyshire, East Anglia and Yorkshire, Quincetree Ltd has identified evidence of good practice in many areas, including:

  • Availability of the Code for potential customers to read and/or take away with them
  • Visibility of the Code logo on sales brochures and in site offices
  • Utilisation of Code on-line training
  • Good working knowledge of the principles regarding responsibilities of the builder and the home warranty company
  • Regular staff meetings to ensure staff are aware of any issues/changes
  • Sites complying with the Code’s health and safety requirements
  • Familiarisation meetings with home buyers before completion to identify and resolve snagging issues

However, there were also a number of areas that require improvement at some sites. These include:

  • Code visibility, particularly with Estate Agents acting on behalf of a builder
  • An indication of the management fee, including stating in what circumstances and on what terms the charges and fees may alter
  • Training on the Code, particularly for Estate agents, many of whom were unaware of the free on-line Code training

Although not a specific requirement within the Code, the auditors have suggested that the details of the Code and the protection it affords home buyers could be displayed on home builders’ websites. Consumers often look at these websites for details of new developments, providing an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the Code and ensure potential home buyers know what to expect from the sales process.

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