By Frances Harrison, Chair of Code’s Disciplinary and Sanctions Panel

Although most home buyers are happy with the service they receive when buying a new build home* we recognise that sometimes things do go wrong. If you believe a home builder has breached our Code, you can raise a complaint via our Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme (IDRS).

Our IDRS is free to use and is run by award-winning dispute resolution experts, CEDR Ltd. We have worked with CEDR Ltd to make the application process as straightforward as possible, but there are some things to bear in mind before you raise a dispute through our scheme.

Understand the process

The IDRS exists to help resolve disputes that you cannot resolve directly with your builder. You must first raise any complaints with your builder in accordance with their complaints procedure, which they must give you a copy of when you reserve your home.

If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction by your builder, you can raise a dispute with the IDRS from 56 calendar days after your complaint was first raised with your builder and no later than 12 months after your builder’s final response.

Please note that you must contact your home warranty body first to obtain a reference number and the information needed for the first part of the IDRS form. Without that information, your claim is unlikely to proceed.

The IDRS scheme rules and application form can be downloaded from our resources section or directly from the CEDR website.

Evidence is everything

When it comes to filling in your form, the most important thing to keep in mind is evidence. 

Your complaint will be assessed by a trained Adjudicator with experience in dealing with the types of complaint covered by our scheme and will also possess relevant legal knowledge. But don’t forget that they can only reach their decision based on the documents put in front of them. The more specific you can be about the issues you are raising the better, and where possible, back up what you say with supporting evidence which might include:

  • Correspondence between you and your builder/agent
  • Copies of brochures or plans
  • A copy of your Reservation Agreement
  • Quotes for works needed
  • Photographs to illustrate your concerns

No one sets out to buy a new home with the expectation that they will end up making a complaint so it’s understandable that you may not have a complete audit trail of every conversation with your builder, but the more details you can provide, the better.

Take a look at CEDR’s handy checklist to help you capture the evidence you need to support your application.

Estimates trump guesswork

If your claim relates to work that hasn’t been done that should have been, or additional work that is required, you should provide quotes or estimates. Often people can be tempted to request the maximum amount allowable under the Code, but Adjudicators can only award reasonable costs to rectify the issues raised and a larger, unsubstantiated claim is highly unlikely to be awarded.

Our records show that Adjudicators are much more likely to award the costs sought when the amounts are supported with estimates or quotes from tradespeople showing the expected cost of completing the work required.

Seeking financial compensation

When considering whether to award money for any inconvenience you may have suffered as a result of a breach of the Code, the Adjudicator will take account of:

• How much you have claimed in your application

• The severity and effects of the breach(es) of the Code

• What the Home Builder says about your claim and how they have behaved towards you.

The adjudicator may make a discretionary award for upset and inconvenience, if they feel this is warranted.

While we recognise that complaints can be very emotive and take time to resolve, it’s important to understand the limitations of dispute resolution schemes, including Ombudsman schemes. No alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme or Ombudsman has the power to fine companies or prevent them from trading, and compensation can only be awarded according to each scheme’s financial limits.

Please note:  Some Code requirements and the maximum amount you can claim differ depending on when you reserved your home.  Homes reserved up to and including the 31 December 2023 are covered by the Fourth Edition of the Consumer Code whereas homes reserved from 1 January 2024 will be covered by the Fifth Edition.

Reviewing the draft decision

The adjudicator will prepare a written proposed Decision to the dispute. Both you and your builder will have 10 working days to provide further comment on this proposed decision. The aim of this period is to allow you an opportunity to correct any misunderstandings or fill in any gaps in evidence where possible. It is not the time to introduce new elements to the complaint so please make sure your initial application form includes everything you are complaining about.

You will have six weeks to let CEDR Ltd know, in writing, whether you accept the Adjudicator’s final Decision. If you do not tell CEDR Ltd within six weeks, your builder will not be obliged to take action in line with the decision, so this is an important step in the process. Where you do not agree with the decision, you are still able to pursue the complaint further through the courts should you wish to albeit any subsequent legal action is likely to take account of the adjudication decision.

The builder must act on the decision within 20 working days of the date of the adjudicator’s written notification. The Code’s Management Board will follow this up with the developer directly, as will the adjudicator if the builder fails to implement the decision. Although rare, if a builder refuses to comply with an adjudicator’s ruling, our supporting home warranty bodies may take further action which may be to apply a range of sanctions which can include:

  • requiring the builder’s staff who have contact with buyers to be trained on their obligations under the Code
  • withholding the issuing of certificates of insurance
  • Suspension or removal from the home warranty body’s register which can effectively limit their ability to trade.

However, these actions do not guarantee that a builder will comply with an award. Like any dispute resolution scheme – and even court action – if a builder doesn’t comply, further legal action may need to be considered. Though in our experience this is rare, you would need to seek legal advice should you wish to pursue the matter further.

Find out more:

For full details on how to make a complaint, including frequently asked questions, please download the relevant CEDR’s guide and application form from our resources section.

CEDR guide for homes reserved up to 31 December 2023:

CEDR guide for homes reserved from 1 January 2024.

This blog was originally published in 2020 and has been updated to reflect changes in the Code Scheme and IDRS.

*Home Builders’ Federation: National New Homes Customer Satisfaction Survey 2023 –

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