Scope of the Code

What type of protection does the Code provide?

Our Code covers the home buyer for aspects relating to the purchase of a new home that are not already covered by the builder or home warranty body. This includes setting standards for customer service and complaints handling, ensuring contract deposits are protected and that sales literature is clear and informative.

Structural issues are covered by the builder (within the first two years) and/or home warranty body. Where problems cannot be satisfactorily resolved, further support can be accessed through the home warranty body’s dispute resolution scheme and/or through the builder’s complaints process. If a builder fails to provide or adhere to their complaints policy, this may be considered a breach of the Code and could be brought as a claim through our IDRS.

Does the Code offer any more rights than existing legislation?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 does not cover purchases of new homes. The Code gives buyers of new homes protection if they change their mind or find sales literature misleading or inaccurate.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 offers some protection. However, it requires Trading Standards to take enforcement action or consumers to bring their own legal action, which can be complex and costly.

Where issues are identified under the Code, home buyers can use the Code’s IDRS rather than take lengthy and costly legal action through the courts.

Does the Code apply to all new Homes?

The Code applies to homes built under the insurance protection of one of the supporting home warranty bodies, NHBC, Premier Guarantee, LABC Warranty and Checkmate, unless the builder has activated registration with the New Homes Quality Board.

What support are builders expected to provide for customers who may be vulnerable?

Home builders must ensure that all new home buyers are treated fairly, particularly those who may be vulnerable. A customer is potentially vulnerable if their personal circumstances make them especially susceptible to detriment. This could include those facing challenging personal situations and those less able to make decisions in their own best interest due to health conditions or other factors such as bereavement or divorce.

Vulnerability can also be caused by market conditions. Many people will have limited experience of the home buying process, and first time buyers may be particularly at risk of detriment.

Home buyers will not necessarily identify as being in a vulnerable position so the onus is on home builders and their sales agents to recognise those buyers who may need extra support and adapt their approach accordingly. Tips and useful links to help builders get it right are covered in our factsheet ‘Supporting vulnerable consumers’.

Does the Code cover snagging?

Following an independent review of the Code, from 1 January 2024 our Code will require builders to give buyers (or their professional advisers) the opportunity to visit and carry out a pre-completion inspection and include in their after-sales service details of how snags will be dealt with during the two years after legal completion. The Code will require builders to resolve snags or defective, faulty or incomplete works covered by the after-sales service as soon as possible and within a mutually agreed timescale. If they fail to do so, then a complaint may be brought through the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme. Builders must also provide an explanation of how snags and defective, faulty or incomplete works and service calls will be managed, including timescales, how they should be reported and the names and contact information of the builder’s staff to whom such issues should be addressed.

Does the Code apply to developments in areas such as Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man?

If the home is covered by one of the participating home warranty bodies, then the Code does apply unless the home builder has chosen to operate under a different code. 

How do you monitor whether agents and developers are complying with the Code?

We encourage compliance through effective communication, training and assessments, as well as following up any Code breaches to ensure lessons are learned. In addition, experienced independent auditors from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute visit sites across the UK to monitor compliance with the Code and provide recommendations where needed to plug any gaps. Read our Compliance Auditing Guide for details.

Does the Code cover corporate bodies and partnerships if they only buy one property?

No, the Code is intended to cover private buyers only.

What’s New in the Revised Code Fifth Edition

Supporting consumers

Will the Consumer Code be available to us in different formats if required (i.e. Braille, other languages?) 

We provide different versions for digital viewing, local (in-house) printing and a hi-res print version for external print (with crop marks etc). We are currently finalising a large print format which will be added to this resources folder shortly. If other formats or language versions are required, builders are responsible for sourcing these.

What other types of vulnerable purchasers are there?

Anyone can be vulnerable at any time, dependent upon their circumstances, and it can be difficult for home builders to identify this. First time buyers who have not been through the home purchase process before are considered vulnerable to detriment due to lack of experience in buying a home, as are those experiencing health or life issues such as divorce, bereavement, or illness.  Individuals facing financial constraints or those struggling with sight issues or reading comprehension may also be more vulnerable to detriment.  

Buying a new home involves a lot of information for people to digest and understand so reasonable allowances should be made to accommodate specific needs. For example, providing information in a large print format, in hard copy instead of electronic or simply taking some extra time to go through the information with them to aid understanding.  For more information see our Right First Time factsheet on Consumer Vulnerability. Consider the information you are giving to your buyers, give them time and ask if there is anything you can do to help them better understand the information.

Further guidance is available from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute who have a section on Consumer Vulnerability on their Business Companion site

Should buyers seek legal advice if they need clarity on the information pack?

Yes absolutely. One of the Code requirements is that you should tell your buyers that they need to have legal representation through the purchase process. It is the responsibility of the buyer’s solicitor to explain and clarify any matters the buyer is unsure of.  However, it is also a requirement that the information provided to home buyers is clear and truthful and does not contravene Consumer Protection Regulations.

For example, in the case of a large development built in phases over a number of years, things might change so it is incumbent on home builders and agents to inform buyers of any such changes, particularly if they are significant matters that might affect the buyer’s decision-making process.

Complaints handling

Do the Code’s complaint resolution timescales supersede a company’s own complaints procedure and timescales?

You should mirror (or better) the timescales for response set out in the Code in your own procedures, which means acknowledging a complaint within five working days, and providing a fuller response within 20 working days from the complaint being made. It may be that your response at 20 days is to request additional time to investigate and deal with the issue, but the key point is to engage with your buyer and continue to communicate with them throughout the process. Should the complaint escalate to a dispute, you should be able to demonstrate that you have followed procedure and are doing all you can to resolve the matter.

Bear in mind that if the complaint has not been resolved to the home buyer’s satisfaction within 56 working days, the buyer can automatically bring their complaint to the Code’s IDRS.  This doesn’t mean you have 56 days to deal with the dispute and should aim to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Further help and guidance is available on our website:

Right First Time factsheet on providing an Accessible After-sales Service

A guide to effective complaint handling

Do we have to give customers our complaints procedure twice – pre-contract and at legal completion? Does this have to be hard copy? 

You must provide the complaints procedure at pre-contract stage and it is good practice to provided it a second time, on completion, given the length of time that there often is between these two stages. Using the compliance checklist is a good way of ensuring the necessary information is given at the right time.

The Code requirement is that you provide a written statement of the process for making a formal complaint and for resolving disputes and if you’re going to provide this digitally, you will need to evidence that the buyer(s) has received it.

Code clarifications

Please can you confirm what the code defines as an ‘advanced stage of construction’? This is in relation to the contractual long stop dates specifically where the contract is exchanged. 

It is difficult to be prescriptive in defining “advanced stage of construction” (which is the same in the current edition of our Code as it was in the previous fourth edition). It is for the home builder to decide how their contracts are worded to comply with the Code. The previous section of the Code talks about timing of construction and what information should be provided to the home buyer and when as a guide. However, for clarity you may want to set out what you define as “advanced stage of construction” so it is clear to the home buyer. For example, “when referring to an ‘advanced stage of construction’ that is after the roof is on and the building is weatherproof”. 

The key is that the information provided to the home buyer is clear and that they are kept informed throughout the buying process.

Which training is most suitable for new home selling agents?

The Code’s free online e-learning course takes around an hour and is suitable for sales agents as well as builders and conveyancers.

All customer-facing staff should be aware of the Code and complete this training to know what they need to do to comply.  It’s also a requirement that staff should refresh their training annually. You can evidence this by displaying the certificate which is generated on completion of your training.

Details are available on our website here:

We also offer a Train the Trainer Pack is for those who run in-house training and are tasked with delivering Code training throughout their organisation.

Do builders need to provide warranty documents on legal completion directly to the buyer rather than via conveyancers and warranty providers?

Warranty bodies have processes in place which are designed to ensure warranty documents are provided to the buyer via their conveyancer. Although the builder doesn’t physically hand this information over to the buyer, the builder is effectively ‘giving’ the buyer, via their conveyancing solicitor, the policy documentation – thereby complying with 4.1.1 of the revised Code. However, builders should ensure that these documents have been successfully shared with the conveyancer using the process required by their warranty provider.

What is the Code’s policy regarding changing the tenure of a development part way through. For example, changing from an open market site with 20% affordable homes, to a larger or majority proportion of the development becoming affordable and sold to a housing association, with a handful of already sold open market reservations?

The Code doesn’t specifically cover this type of eventuality, but what it does require is for all sales and advertising material and activity to be clear and truthful and further for Home Buyers to be given enough pre-purchase information to help them make suitably informed purchasing decisions.  If the nature of the development changes and which may impact someone’s purchasing decision, you will need to inform buyers, including those that have already committed.

You will need to make sure you don’t breach any of the Consumer Protection Regulations enforced by Trading Standards by omitting to provide information, either to existing or potential customers in relation to the type of housing being sold.

About the Consumer Code for Home Builders

Do we pay a subscription to be part of the Code?

If you are registered with one of our supporting home warranty bodies then there are no membership fees/subscription fees payable to our Code as you are required to comply with its requirements as part of their Rules of Registration. However, this will be different if you have chosen to register and ‘activate’ with the New Homes Quality Board which does charge membership fees. 

How have changes to the Code been communicated?

The revised Code (5th edition) has been heavily promoted since it was first available in September 2023 including in all our newsletters, on our website, across social media, and via our supporting home warranty bodies. We also ask the trade bodies who sit on our Advisory Forum (Home Builders Federation, Federation of Master Builders, House Builders Association, Retirement Housing Group and Homes for Scotland) to also share with their members.

To stay up to date, please sign up for our quarterly newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter).

How long will the Consumer Code for Home Builders and the New Homes Quality Board co-exist?

All codes in the marketplace are voluntary at the moment and although the Government had indicated that they were working towards a statutory code and statutory ombudsman scheme this hasn’t happened yet and all Codes still remain voluntary.

It’s important to remember that all those who have activated with the NHQB still have a two-year liability under our Code for new homes reserved whilst covered by our Code.

Unless or until Government decides to enact legislation to appoint a statutory Code and ombudsman, we will continue to operate as we do currently, protecting consumers and supporting the industry.

Useful resources

Visit our resources page and select the tab at the top to show resources for home builders, agents, conveyancers and home buyers.

These include:

Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme (IDRS)

Can buyers raise a complaint via the Code’s IDRS?

Yes – provided their home is covered by the Consumer Code for Home Builders and subject to them having first raised their complaint with the home builder. 

What support is available to help home buyers make a complaint?

Our aim is to make the complaints process as accessible as possible. To enable complaints to be dealt with quickly, where possible buyers should state clearly which requirements of the Code they feel have been breached, and how.

In addition to providing as much detail as possible, it is very important that home buyers back up any claims with evidence. For example, complaints relating to financial loss should be supported with quotes demonstrating the cost of carrying out or rectifying works. 

Visit our complaints summary page for an overview of the process.

Is there a limit to how much buyers can claim?

The financial limit for claims via the IDRS will rise from £15,000 to £50,000 for homes registered from 1 January 2024. The increase follows the recommendations made in a Government All Party Parliamentary Group that looked at new homes purchases. To date, very few claims have been awarded the pre-2024 maximum limit and awards can only be made where the buyer can evidence financial loss or to cover the costs of rectifying problems (which must be supported with quotes).

As part of the recent review of the Code, our Board considered raising the limit to match other new homes codes but felt that cases over £50,000 would be more appropriate to be handled via the courts with appropriate legal support for home buyers. Although there is no evidence to suggest that a higher sum is required and/or home buyers have been inhibited from bringing a claim, our Board has resolved to keep this under review.

Is there a limit to the number of claims a home buyer can make?

No. There is no limit to the number of individual claims a home buyer can make however, the maximum award for all claims on the same property shall not exceed the maximum financial limit for awards which is £15,000 for properties reserved up to 31 Dec 2023 and £50,000 for properties reserved from 1 January 2024. 

Matters in dispute must not be the subject of any current or previous adjudication involving the same buyer and the same property.

Are the findings of the independent adjudicator legally binding?

Under the rules of registration, the home warranty bodies require each registered builder to honour any award made against them under the IDRS if it has been unconditionally accepted by the home buyer.  If a home builder fails to honour any award, the home warranty bodies can apply sanctions including financial penalties, re-training or suspension from the new home warranty bodies’ registers.

Home builders have in the past been removed from the home warranty bodies register for failure to comply with the Adjudicator’s award, and details are published on our website and in our Annual Report when this happens.

Our independent Disciplinary and Sanctions Panel, chaired by Citizens’ Advice, reviews all decisions and takes further action where a serious breach or repeated complaints have been registered.

A home builder remains liable for an award, even if they are removed from a home warranty body’s register.

Leasehold cover

Can new build homes be sold as leasehold under the Code?

Currently yes. However, under The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 which came into force on 30 June 2022, landlords are banned from charging ground rent. This came into force for retirement properties on 1 April 2023. It puts an end to ground rents for new, qualifying long residential leasehold properties in England and Wales. 

Home buyers covered by our Code must be informed prior to purchase about any management services and organisations to which they will be committed, and an estimate of their cost. Furthermore, solicitors should, as a matter of course, ensure their client is aware of any additional costs associated with a property.

Can home buyers make a complaint via the Code about the cost of leasehold fees?

If the complaint relates to a period within two years of occupancy (the time period covered by the Code) and the home builder did not provide adequate information about management services and charges, the buyer may be able to claim a breach of the Code. Outside of the two-year period, they may be able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman if they feel their solicitor did not alert them to fees and charges associated with the property.

Why doesn’t the Code prevent builders offering incentives to use their recommended solicitors?

Home buyers are not obliged to use advisers recommended by the builder or agent.

The Code makes clear that consumers should be advised to seek professional advice prior to purchase. In some cases, using a recommended solicitor can be advantageous to both the buyer and the seller if that solicitor knows the site and associated paperwork as it can speed up the process for all parties. However, a solicitor must always act in the best interests of its client (the home buyer in the case of a house purchase). 

Even where the wider firm may also work for the builder, there are strict rules that law firms follow to prevent conflicts of interest. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Principles and Code of Conduct state that a solicitor must not allow their independence to be compromised. 

New-build homes codes of practice

Are all new build homes covered by a single code?

No, but the Consumer Code for Home Builders covers most new build homes constructed across the UK which are covered by one of the four main warranty bodies – NHBC, LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee and Checkmate, except those that at the time of reservation by the first buyer are covered by the New Homes Quality Code.

Is the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) part of the Consumer Code for Home Builders?

No. Like the Consumer Code for Home Builders, the NHQB is a not-for-profit company which set itself up in 2020 and operates its own code. It has commissioned a newly-created New Homes Ombudsman to provide its alternative dispute resolution service. However, neither the New Homes Quality Code nor the Ombudsman are statutory bodies and developers remain free to choose which code they comply with, subject to restrictions set out by their warranty provider.

Will the Consumer Code for Home Builders be replaced by the NHQB?

There are no plans to replace the Consumer Code for Home Builders. The Building Safety Act 2022 makes provision for a statutory new Homes Ombudsman and a single code, although both require secondary legislation. In the current political climate, it is likely this won’t happen for some time, and it is unclear how it will be achieved.

Would consumers be better protected by an Ombudsman?

No. The Code resolves disputes through its IDRS which is provided by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution Ltd (CEDR). CEDR is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute as the ‘competent authority’ acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for dealing with disputes that are raised with the builder from the Reservation date until two years after the date of Legal Completion. In line with the government’s alternative dispute regulations, the time to deal with complaints under our scheme usually takes no longer than 8 weeks.

The level of financial settlements is based on evidence provided to determine the actual financial loss. This would be judged in the same way through an Ombudsman. The main difference is in the maximum financial limit, although the Code’s limit has increased for homes reserved from 1 January 2024.

However, the downside of an Ombudsman is that it does not regulate and only deals with complaints which is a weakness in Ombudsman schemes. Through the supporting home warranty bodies, we take action against home builders to improve standards. This can and has involved excluding them from the home warranty scheme, fundamentally affecting their ability to trade.

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