The ability for a consumer to complain is important and, to date this has been a largely dysfunctional aspect of how the new home industry has performed. Why? Because when we have something to complain about, we need to feel confident that we will be taken seriously, and that the outcome will reflect that need – even if it disagrees with our point. For that to happen there should be a structured process that ensures a fair hearing. Universally, there is not.
So, it is important that there is a mechanism that is fit for purpose and applies evenly across the sector. The NHO has specified how the Complaints Process shall operate and it is very clear about what must happen at each stage. No doubt the NHO will act as all ombudsmen act – they would much prefer that you’re able to resolve your differences with the housebuilder directly – they consider that as ombudsman, they are literally the last resort.
There are five key stages:
Written acknowledgement of a complaint within 5 days.
Path to resolution letter – this must be sent no later than 10 days from receipt of complaint.
Complaint assessment and response letter – within 30 days from receipt of complaint you must provide a detailed response to each complaint (separately if there is more than one).
Eight week letter – this deals, again in detail, with the progress of all outstanding complaints.
Closure letter – this can be sent at any time and confirms the basis upon which the complaint(s) is now closed.
Letters 3) and 4) are the two most complex because you are required to fully disclose all aspects of the issues in question, with an explanation of what is holding things up, what the final solution will involve, and what the timeline to resolution looks like. Few companies will have such a well structured and detailed process in place – most will be accustomed (at best) to sending a single letter to explain a problem. The NHO Complaint Process addresses this in full and there will be nowhere to hide when it comes to future complaint handling.
It makes little sense pulling this together if you have never done it before. There must be an order of who handles complaints and a commitment to ensuring full follow through. To make life easier, After Build has a ready-made template with letters at all stages and, for existing/future after care clients, is happy to provide this at no cost.
If you’re not a client (and don’t imagine that you’re likely to become one) we are more than happy to sell you the package at a one-off cost.