New Homes Code and Ombudsman offers greater consumer protection

Buying a new home is an exciting and time-consuming process, so encountering minor quality issues when moving into a new property can be stressful, expensive and a huge annoyance.

Nobody wants to endure the excitement of finding their dream property only to encounter disappointment and additional costs due to potential snagging issues that could have been avoided from the outset.

One of the major challenges often associated with buying a new home is that buyers often feel they only have a few minutes to check the quality of a new build property before committing to a purchase.

This may be due to the fact that that they have been accompanied by a site manager and feel rushed into making a decision or simply because they don’t know what they should be looking for and feel unable to carry out a thorough review of the property.

Following the introduction of a New Homes Quality Code and New Homes Ombudsman giving customers more protection, this looks set to change, as customers will now have the right to commission an independent survey of a new property before committing to a purchase.

The code has been introduced following widespread industry collaboration and forms an essential part of the rights of consumers when buying a new home. It also aims to standardise the snagging process for new-build properties and make it easier for consumers to receive independent advice about the quality of their new home.

Under the code, it will now be compulsory for all registered builders and developers to inform buyers of their rights to commission an independent professional to carry out a snagging inspection on the quality of their new home before they commit to the purchase.

The snagging inspection, also known as a Pre-Completion Inspection, must be conducted to an agreed set of standards by an accredited professional and member of a recognised association representing surveyors.

It must also be carried out within a certain timeframe; between the completion of the construction and the completion of the purchase by the customer.

Following the inspection, the developer is then obliged to correct any snags that may have been identified before the customer moves in to the property. This must be done within 30 days of the request being made.

In cases where the developer fails to properly correct any issues identified, the customer then has the right to refer the matter to the New Homes Ombudsman. Once contacted by the New Homes Ombudsman, the developer must co-operate with any request and provide all relevant information relating to the complaint.

The new code is good news for buyers of new build properties as it will help to provide them with greater reassurance that their new home has been checked by a professional surveyor. It will also help to ensure that all snags can be dealt with and put right before the consumer moves into their new dream home.

The new code will also help all registered builders and developers understand the standards by which the property will be examined, enabling for a smoother purchasing experience.

More information on the New Homes Quality Code can be found on the New Homes Quality Board website, while further information about pre-completion snagging inspections and how they work can be found via the Residential Property Surveyors Association homepage.

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