A Conversation with the New Homes Quality Board
The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) is one of the biggest talking points in the property industry, as it sets to raise the standards of new homes and improve the customer service provided by developers.
As one of the companies to be accredited by the New Homes Quality Board, we thought we’d sit down and discuss what the New Homes Quality Code means for developers and homebuyers. Andrew Preece, Industry Engagement Manager, agreed to answer some of our questions.
What was the main catalyst for the creation of the NHQB?
The original catalyst was an All-Party Parliamentary Group, looking at the housebuilding sector. The group published two reports with a number of concerns in the new build industry, such as poor build quality, inconsistent standards, and a general lack of customer service. It was felt that the frameworks that were designed to deal with these issues did not go far enough.
Therefore, the NHQB was set up in response to this; to fill these gaps in the existing arrangements with a new framework in the form of a Code and an Ombudsman to provide effective redress for customers when their developer fails to meet the requirements.
So, leading on from that, how important is it to have a set of industry standards such as the New Homes Quality Code to regulate housebuilders?
It's paramount that we have a strong set of industry standards so that both customers and developers are clear on what is required.
Considering the pivotal changes that have occurred over the last few decades in ministers, planning rules, and levelling up agendas, it's more important than ever to have an independent, resilient, and quality framework for housebuilders to align with, despite changes in the socio-political environment.
And it is equally important to have a strong set of industry standards from the customer’s standpoint. As the Code was introduced to oversee reforms in the build quality and customer service provided by developers, it will promote trust back into the sector and ensure developers have the appropriate procedures in place to fix any issues if they occur.
As well as providing a strong framework for developers, do you think that home buyers are now paying more attention than they were before to a housebuilder’s customer care credentials?
Home buyers are absolutely paying more attention than ever to housebuilders’ reputations. Particularly with the growth of sites such as Trustpilot, and industry publications that rank developers, it’s becoming increasingly clear that home buyers are using these to assess their quality and customer credentials before they buy.
As I imagine we all know, moving homes is no walk in the park, especially when a new home will often be the biggest purchase of someone's life. So, it can be expected that some house buyers will hold developers under a microscope.
As their home means everything to them, a meaningful relationship built on trust needs to be established between the developer and their customers. Hence, why as a key principle of our Code, we highlight the need for complete transparency within selling new homes.
What has the general response been like from the industry?
The general response has been very welcoming.
It's been just over a year since we launched the new Code and we're proud to say that we already have over 180 developers who have applied for registration with us. Over 90% of all large and medium developers, as well as over 100 smaller organisations, have taken the initiative to join us and introduce our fairness-based framework to their operations.
When all of these developers activate their registration, this will cover between 70-80% of all the new homes built annually in England, Scotland and Wales. Customers and developers are equally keen to have a new framework that gives both parties a handbook to ensure expectations are met.
We are very proud to be working so closely with the NHQB. What was the reasoning behind NHQB’s decision to accredit Classic Folios?
Classic Folios was accredited by the NHQB as they were deemed to support developers in meeting the key requirements of the Code. As small to medium enterprises (SMEs) may not have the systems or processes required by the Code in place, Accredited Suppliers will be able to provide services that the NHQB cannot, and present developers with an opportunity to onboard something that is immediately NHQC-compliant.
With all our Accredited Suppliers, they must go through a full credit check, provide five customer references, and undertake an NHQC assessment measuring how they support the aims of our Code. Classic Folios successfully passed all these checks.
How do you feel Classic Folios can help developers satisfy the requirements of the Code?
All our Accredited Suppliers can offer relevant services to developers who are on the journey to complying with our Code and eventually activating with us.
Classic Folios will help developers improve their sales and marketing service, especially as a personalised customer experience and the provision of good quality information are paramount to increasing customer satisfaction.
Using Classic Folios products can help ensure developers provide an excellent service that meets the requirements of the Code.
Looking forward, what are the NHQB’s plans for 2023?
Our plans for 2023 are focused on continuing to welcome developers and help them each step of the way to becoming Code-compliant. We want to make it as easy as possible for developers of every shape and size to integrate our Code into their operations.
We are expecting there will be a great deal of interest in the first complaints that go to the New Homes Ombudsman Service, therefore we'll be publishing case studies to help the industry learn and understand how the decision-making process will work.
We also expect to extend the Code to Northern Ireland during 2023.
So, in short, we plan to continue our work and look for more adaptive ways to improve the housebuilding sector for everyone.
To summarise, what are the main benefits of registering with the NHQB?
There are several key benefits to registering with the NHQB.
Firstly, we operate the only Code that provides access to the New Homes Ombudsman for customer redress, which is the gold standard in dispute resolution.
Secondly, we work directly with developers themselves, rather than via the warranty provider, and we provide developers with a stronger, more rigorous Code that fills gaps in the existing arrangements.
And finally, the framework is expected to be made statutory at some point in the future. So the industry getting behind the Code and the Ombudsman right now demonstrates their commitment to quality and preparation for the future.
Thank you for your time, Andrew. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you and the discussion has been very insightful. We look forward to continuing to build the relationship between Classic Folios and the NHQB, and together helping to raise the standards of the home-buying experience.