BSRIA provides expert evidence about a New Homes Ombudsman

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BSRIA has been invited to an Inquiry at the House of Commons to discuss its written response to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE)

The subject of the discussion was one of the recommendations in APPGEBE’s 2016 report ‘More homes, fewer complaints’, specifically that there should be a New Homes Ombudsman to safeguard homeowners who face quality issues with their new homes.

An active supporter of improved quality in new homes, BSRIA believes that better quality will benefit both the consumer and the construction sector. The main direction of its response can be summarised as “prevention is better than cure”. Within their written response they proposed measures to lock in quality during the construction process and before the point of purchase. BSRIA also commented on the role of a New Homes Ombudsman within the context of consumer protection, the role of insurance and warranty products, opportunities, legal challenges and potential market impact.

BSRIA was represented at the APPGEBE Committee by Lynne Ceeney, BSRIA Technical Director and Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant – Residential, main author of its response.

Tassos said:

“We are pleased to have been asked to contribute to APPGEBE’s Inquiry into a potential New Homes Ombudsman. Efficient and transparent rectification and redress processes are a key part of consumer protection, however, we see more benefit in reducing consumer risk before the sale and occupation of the home.

“We need to ensure that the right problem prevention measures are in place prior to sale to reduce the number of complaints, as well as ensuring that the right processes/systems are in place to address those complaints efficiently and effectively.

BSRIA made the point that a complicated, consumer-hostile, legal landscape is not helpful to a householder and that any measures introduced should not penalise the whole housebuilding industry, as many housebuilders do a good job. Quality sits alongside efficiency and should be of benefit to housebuilder as well as homeowner.

“Part of the BSRIA response was the proposal for a legally binding New Homes Quality framework, supported by a Competent Person Scheme. This would assist in safeguarding new homes quality prior to purchase. Such an approach would work hand in hand with a New Homes Ombudsman service or similar redress process. We discussed the benefits of such a scheme with the Committee of Inquiry and how it could be set up.

“We found it constructive and productive to discuss our contributions with the Members of the APPGEBE and fellow respondents the Home Builders Federation and the Home Owners Alliance.”

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