FAQs

Am I covered by the New Homes Quality Code?

Not yet.  The arrangements are currently being setup and are expected to be live in Autumn 2022.  

Developers are now applying for Registration with NHQB and making preparations to comply with the new Code.  Once a developer is ready to meet the new requirements, they will ‘activate’ their registration and from that date forward, all customers who reserve a new home with them will be covered by the new Code and the New Homes Ombudsman.

The earliest date that developers are expected to activate is October 2022.  Until then, the pre-existing arrangements with other Consumer Code bodies will continue to apply.

I have a complaint with my builder, who should I contact?

In the first instance, please contact your builder’s customer service team to log details of your complaint. Their contact details should have been provided when you moved in and will also be on their website.  

If you remain dissatisfied with how your complaint was handled, there are a number of alternatives:

  • If the issue relates to snagging, defects or build quality and you are within your warranty period, you may be able to contact your Warranty Provider for them to investigate your concerns.
  • If your builder is a Registered Developer with NHQB* then you can choose to escalate your complaint to the New Homes Ombudsman.
  • If your builder is not a Registered Developer with NHQB* then you can raise your complaint with the existing Consumer Code provider and your builder can tell you who this is and provide contact details.

*The NHQB is not yet fully operational and the earliest that builders can be a Registered Developer is expected to be Autumn 2022.  After this date, please check the NHQB Register of Developers to check whether your builder is included.
 

Why is the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) being established?

The establishment of a NHOS was the number one recommendation made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment in its report More homes fewer complaints that focussed on the high-profile issues experienced by customers of new build homes.

In 2017 the Secretary of State announced that the Government wanted to see the introduction of a New Homes Ombudsman (NHOS).

The NHOS will provide customers with access to fair and efficient redress as well as more confidence in new build homes.  It will also provide Governments with the assurance that as they introduce policies to increase housing supply, the industry will be delivering high standards of quality, service and customer satisfaction.

When will consumers be covered by the New Homes Quality Code (NHQC) and New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS)?

Developers have started to register with the NHQB in Q1 of 2022 and all builders are expected to apply for registration by the end of 2022.

Once a developer is ready to meet the new requirements, they will ‘activate’ their registration and from that date forward, all customers who reserve a new home with them will be covered by the new Code and the the New Homes Ombudsman.

The earliest date that developers are expected to activate is October 2022.  Until then, the pre-existing arrangements with other Consumer Code bodies will continue to apply.

Once developers are registered and ‘live’ under the new arrangements, they will be published in the NHQB Register of Developers.

I’m in the process of buying, how will this affect me?

Only when your developer has ‘activated’ their registration will you be covered by the new arrangements. We anticipate the first activations will be in October 2022.

Customers reserving a new home before their developer has activated will be protected by the existing consumer codes in place.  Your builder should inform you of which consumer code you are covered by. These include:

Is the NHQB independent?

Yes. The NHQB is an independent, not for profit, stand-alone legal entity. It has an independent chair and deputy chair and members of the board have a vast range of experience from a range of sectors and backgrounds.

Constitutional safeguards have been put in place to ensure the board has a majority of non-industry representatives on it, which means that builders can’t control it.

Will the code make any difference? How do you know it is adequate?

We firmly believe that the new code and the broader framework including the appointment of a New Homes Ombudsman will deliver a step change in industry behaviours.

The New Homes Quality Code introduces a broad range of additional requirements for developers. These aim to fill the gaps in current protections and ensure that every aspect of a new home purchase, from when a customer walks into a sales office, through to two years after the purchase of the home is covered.  The Code:

  • Protects vulnerable customers; prohibits high pressure selling; and requires deposits to be protected.
  • Requires the developer to provide all information about the home and any potential costs, earlier in the sales process to allow them to make an informed decision.
  • Sets out requirements for a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off period’.
  • Allows customers to have a professional carry out a pre-completion inspection of their new home on their behalf.
  • Specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing builders paying customers to move into a new home early.
  • Crucially, and to address the biggest gap in the existing arrangements, the New Homes Quality Code requires builders to have an effective after care service in place to deal with any issues or ‘snagging’ problems; and a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner. 
  • If a customer is not satisfied with how any complaint has been dealt with, they can refer their complaint to the independent New Homes Ombudsman Service.

How does this relate to the Building Safety Bill?

The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent in April 2022.  This is the piece of legislation which gives Government the powers to introduce a statutory (legally required) ombudsman and consumer code.  There is currently no expected timeframe for when these powers will be used so in the interim, all housebuilders are encouraged to register with the NHQB so we can demonstrate that the New Homes Quality Code is delivering better protections for buyers of new homes.

What is the structure of the new framework?

The NHQB will oversee all the arrangements moving forward, including the ongoing monitoring of the New Homes Ombudsman (NHOS).

Below the NHQB will sit various advisory committees, including consumer and technical panels, a code council and a disciplinary and sanctions committee.

A new industry code of practice – the New Homes Quality Code – sits at the centre of the new arrangements. It builds on the existing consumer codes but puts much more responsibility and requirements on developers. In particular it covers the period post occupation and sets out how developers have to deal with any issues buyers have with their new homes in the first two years.

Who will fund the new arrangements?

The NHOS is free for consumer to use. 

The only source of operational funding for the NHQB is from developers’ registration fees which are charged annually and are dependent on the developers’ size and turnover.  This approach delivers on the commitment required by Government that all the new arrangements must be paid for by the house building industry and not by consumers. 

Where can I find out more information?

We will be releasing more information to consumers about how to access the benefits of the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) when the service goes live in Autumn 2022.