For some new housebuilders, After Care has been more of a concept than a practical reality. Lacking a universally established specification, After Care has taken many guises, from a trained and equipped resource with a bespoke system and clear process structure, to a part-time employee answering the telephone if it happened to ring when they were in the vicinity. This may sound overly critical, if not an exaggeration of what some housebuilders do, but it truly isn’t.
The vast majority understand the need for After Care, they just don’t understand what After Care entails for it to be effective. One of the golden rules of good After Care is NOT to leave it in the hands of the site team. Their agenda is to build and be productive to what is almost always a highly challenging timeline. When the timeline slips, the first thing to give (to find time) is After Care.
After Care will never be viewed by a construction crew to be as important as it is when viewed by the customer. Their standards will be different, they are certainly the least suitable of employees to put in front of a buyer. Yes, I know, we can hear you saying, ‘how much customers like your site foreman Jim’, or how ‘the site manager is adored by new homeowners because he calls on them all to make certain everything is OK’.
Yes, that happens, of course it does, and some of these people really are appreciated by purchasers, but this is not a major component of what they do, and it will always suffer when the pressure is on.
Under the terms of the NHO, After Care has been very clearly defined and there can be no confusion over what a housebuilder is expected to provide.
For this to work for all parties (new home purchaser, housebuilder, construction crew) there must be a dedicated resource providing After Care – it cannot be a job share, or part-time. You cannot know when your next call will be received and what it will be about, so there must be someone available 5 days a week, 9-5 to receive calls and …
First make certain that what is being reported is a legitimate build defect (as defined by the warranty provider) – so they need training to ask the right questions to form a diagnosis
Then to organise the correct contractor to attend and make good the issue
And to do this within a reasonable timeframe (30 days)
And keep detailed records of this – should there be a later recurrence
And do this for 24 months from the date of legal completion (regardless of what your warranty requires you to do)
And do not underestimate the level of service expected by today’s consumer who will let you know when they’re not happy with your response (or lack of one). Social media has become the complainant’s tool of choice. It is very effective, and they are not afraid to use it.
Additionally, you must also provide an emergency response service, including out of hours! This means every evening, every weekend, and every bank holiday. That is a tall order but an essential part of the After Care mix. Responses to legitimate calls need to be within 4 hours.
Not providing After Care to this standard will mean [many] new homes purchasers will pursue their complaint through the office of the NHO. That really is a scenario to be avoided as the consequences could easily make the cost of providing a dedicated After Care resource look like good value!
For the larger (top 25) developers, not much of this will be a problem as they are already resourced. But for the remainder of the sector (by numbers of companies, the vast majority), creating a suitable, dedicated resource will be a challenge – both financially and in terms of the potential distraction to the thrust of the business. When all said, After Care does not build profit – it is a cost centre. But arguably one of the most important aspects of a business – get it wrong and suffer the consequences of reputational damage. One unhappy homeowner will make far more noise than fifty happy ones. It’s the unfair reality of commerce. Any business that has so far applied the FBTSOYP approach to after Care (Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants) should now re-assess their situation. To continue this way WILL end in costly tears.
After Build is a ‘turnkey’ solution to fully satisfy the NHO After Care requirements. We provide the trained resource, the bespoke system, all the reporting and management of the original (and alternate) contractors. The service provides 24 months (or part thereof) cover, including out of hours emergency, and we charge a single, fixed fee per plot (irrespective of how many calls or snags/defects).
Your homeowner/customer contacts us when they have a new defect to report. We provide them access to our Occupant Portal with a FREE App, so they have the convenience of doing this at any time of day or night. It really doesn’t get any easier.
Why would you try and do it any other way? This is After Care right out of the box, and we can have you set up and ready to go in a couple of weeks. Following set-up you can even pay monthly over the full term of the service (helps your cash flow).