Without question the single greatest difference between the new homes sector and just about any other industry you can think of is, the product isn’t always finished at the point you hand over your money. Cars, phones, computers, furniture, audio, kitchen ware … the list is endless. In none of these scenarios would you expect the manufacturer to say “we’ve just got to put the wheels on, shouldn’t take more than a month” …. or, “we’ve just noticed that the cushions are missing from the sofa, we’ll get onto that over the next week or so” …. or, “the computer is missing it’s keyboard and mouse, not to worry, we’ll be looking into it very soon”.
It just wouldn’t happen without a tremendous backlash from the consumer. Yet, in this sector it is widely understood by most purchasers that ‘snags’ may exist that need resolving shortly after legal completion. And in fairness, there is a degree of acceptance in this regard. But the reasonable limits of this acceptance have been abused by some developers, giving the industry a poor reputation – one that many do not deserve, but has prompted an overhaul of what is, and is not reasonable. And the findings of this have been embodied in the new Quality Code.
We have measured the shift over the last 20 years of reportable snags and have to say that the average has risen from 2-3 to 15-20 per plot. That is quite a shocking statistic, and here is the pattern of what often occurs:
1. The developer believes that their plots are a better quality than the average and that there will be few if any problems.
2. They fail to check the finished quality at practical completion.
3. They hand the property over to the new owner who finds at day 1 that there are many unacceptable issues.
So, what is happening here? In many cases the developer believes that the quality of the finished plot will be great because their contractor(s) has told them so! Their build plan has been condensed due to unforeseen problems, so they have less time in which to complete construction and for this reason are happy to accept what they have been told because they don’t really have enough time anyway to investigate.
More and more the consumer has been expected to accept a higher number of problems and to wait longer (in some cases far too long) for them to be rectified.
The Quality Code makes clear that there should be very few snags at legal completion – minor decorative issues at worst. Secondly it makes clear that any snags (and defects for that matter) should be remedied within 30 days (unless there is an outstandingly good reason to not e.g., product or parts on a long order).
To help reinforce the importance of this they state that the developer should conduct a Quality Assurance Inspection. It all makes sense – perfectly reasonable sense at that!
Here’s the way we believe it should work:
1. The construction team reach the end of the build and conduct their own thorough ‘build snag’ survey – rectifying whatever they find.
2. The construction team informs the developer that they have achieved practical completion.
3. Before accepting this the developer then conducts their own Quality Assurance Inspection.
4. Whatever this highlights, is fed back to construction to remedy.
5. In a perfect world the developer would then conduct a de-snag – to make sure that the construction team have picked up everything and corrected it.
6. When satisfied that the plot is ‘snag-free’ legal completion can take place.
7. There is an extra step now inserted by the Quality Code, which is that the developer must offer the purchaser the right to conduct their own Pre-Completion Inspection prior to legal completion. This should take place around 5 days post the developer’s ‘legal completion notice’ to the purchaser (which should be around 14 days prior to legal completion). The purchaser must use the template checklist provided to the developer in the NHQB registration pack.
8. In theory, those conducting a Pre-Completion Inspection should find virtually nothing, however if anything was overlooked, this will be when it is found and that is when the developer must agree with the purchaser when these items will be addressed.
This activity sets out a defined timeline for the latter stages of build and we have an infographic that details this for those who are interested.
After Build offer a fixed-price Quality Assurance Inspection that ticks all these boxes. Want to know more – speak to Mark Fawcitt (Director of Customer Development) on 07342 037810 (firstname.lastname@example.org).