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Ask the Expert – Housebuilders need to do more to improve consumer confidence

CIOB’s top tips for consumers

Purchasing a new home is arguably the most important financial decision someone will make and when expectations don’t match up to reality this can generate frustrations.

In December 2023, a report published through the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) highlighted some of the persistent negative perceptions that the general public have about the quality of new-build homes. Through a consumer survey of 2,000 UK adults, the report showed around 55% of respondents believed older homes are better quality than new-builds. It also suggested people do not trust housebuilders to deliver a quality, consistent product with 45% of respondents indicating they had low or no level of trust that housing developers would deliver to a high standard.

However, the reality is the quality of new-build homes has improved.

Data from the most recent National New Home Customer Survey (2023) from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) and Home Builders Federation (HBF) demonstrated that 90% of the 60,000 respondents who purchased a home in the 12 months from October 2021 said they would buy a new-build home again. Alongside this, 88% indicated they were either very or fairly satisfied with the quality of their new home.

So why do people have these perceptions and what can be done to ensure you are getting the most for your money?

This perception could stem from a number of different areas. Planning and construction have become a highly contentious and politicised issue in recent years with the spotlight firmly planted on instances of failures in quality and safety such as Grenfell and cases of new homes being demolished shortly after construction. Alongside this, the reality is that construction quality can be inconsistent. The same NHBC and HBF survey mentioned above highlighted that 95% of respondents reported problems with their home to their builder since moving in, while 32% reported 16 or more problems. In the UK, the number of homes we build per year fluctuates depending on market conditions as well as the general health of the economy. For example, between 2022 and 2023 around 540 new homes were delivered in the Liverpool area.

The quality of a new home depends on a number of factors including the speed in which they are required to be completed, the skills and competence of the site team as well as the price of materials and labour.

While the lack of trust in housebuilders and the number of issues being identified in new-build homes is concerning, there are new avenues for recourse for consumers to hold their housebuilder to account. These bodies, the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) and New Homes Ombudsman (NHO) now sit within the industry to regulate the quality of new-build homes during the pre-sale and post-sale experiences. The foundation and formation of these organisations represents a great step forward in placing quality as the founding principle of construction. It also fixes a long-standing issue of accountability as previously consumers had little recourse to remediation outside of a housebuilder’s formal complaint process.

To aid consumers and ensure they are getting the most for their money we have produced a short digestible consumer advice guide. The advice guide contains CIOB’s top tips for ensuring that what you are purchasing is of the highest quality. Some of these include:

  • Checking if the housebuilder is registered with the NHQB, and if they are they are committed to a well-defined set of standards called the New Homes Quality Code (NHQC).
  • Employing a reputable snagging company to visit the property before move-in or within the first few weeks of moving in, to check for defects.

We highly recommend that anyone going through the process of purchasing a new-build home check out the full consumer advice guide including all of our top tips as well as frequently asked questions about snagging as well as the NHQB and NHO can be found here. The full report can be accessed at