Helping UK new home buyers


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Survey results - National new homes customer satisfaction

Apart from one question, the results of the survey are Industry Results and these are 'weighted'. The HBF say, weighting, ensures the overall results reflect the number of homes the company builds. So if a particular builder builds 10% of NHBC registrations, its responses are weighted as 10% when calculating the industry results.”

The total number of new homes built is based on volumes known by the NHBC. The HBF then split house builders into size categories, based on the number of new homes the builders completed in the year.

The HBF explain the 'weighting' as follows:-

“A large builder category score is calculated by weighting it on the surveys sent. The other size categories have homes selected via a random sample of NHBC registered properties and these are simply added up to get a score for each size category.

The overall weighted score uses the population of known policies by category (above) to get to a total of 79,995 homes. The weightings used are on the volume of homes registered with NHBC in the very small, small and medium categories.

The weighting used for the large category being the number of surveys sent as this allows for any non-NHBC policies to be included.

Taking Taylor Wimpey as an example:

Taylor Wimpey built 8759 homes which represent 21.8% (8,759/45,062) of the Large Builder Category. The Large Category itself represents 56.3% (45,062/79,955) of the total homes, So the Taylor Wimpey scores account for 12.3% of the Industry Survey (56.3% x 21.8%) of the weighted scores.”

Not exactly transparent or easy to understand is it?

The HBF have told us that:

“the methodology was devised in consultation with Mori and the University of Reading, to ensure it is the most balanced and fair way of producing it.”

But it would be safe to interpret that the larger house builders building the majority of new homes and returning the largest number of survey results would dominate the Industry Results. Of the survey results 62% were returned from four main builders: Barratt, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Bellway.

Why is the Industry results survey weighted?

As Mark Twain once said, "There are Lies, damned lies, and statistics" A phrase describing the use of statistics to bolster weakened arguments. If you torture statistics enough, they will tell you anything you want. If you have your head in the oven and your feet in the fridge, statistically your average temperature is fine, but you are dead.

The use of "weighting" could be used to enhance more positive scores. Indeed the sample size for each question is lower than the total number of surveys returned – unlikely, because if you had taken the time to compete the survey, presumably you would answer every question in it.

Why are the results of the individual builder scores for every question not made public by the HBF?

A spokesman for the HBF told us that "publishing more detailed company results would not have had any more impact on raising customer satisfaction among new home buyers. But it would most certainly have provided food for those who are prejudiced against the industry and simply seek to criticise."

This statement would appear to concur that such results may be sensitive or detrimental to particular house builders.

Has the new homes survey improved customer satisfaction levels?

The HBF maintain that the survey objective of raising customer satisfaction levels has been achieved. It should be noted that results for the last two years show that 91% had experienced problems with their new home. In 2011, 30% had more problems than they expected with an average of just 46% being 'Very Satisfied' with the service they received from their house builder. The HBF report the total Satisfied or Good by adding the Very and Fairly scores together. However, 'Fairly Good' is not Good. It may also signify Not that Bad. Likewise 'Fairly Satisfied' is not Satisfied.  You cannot be fairly hungry!

Why the first survey is issued only eight weeks after moving in

Customers could still be in the euphoria and excitement of new home ownership and may not have noticed defects. Indeed many treat the builder’s sales staff as friends after they have moved in. It should also be noted that some defects may not be evident for example excessive cracking, or an intermittent plumbing leak.

Only a small percentage of surveys are sent out

In relation to the total number of new homes built each year, only 36,687 - 38% of total private new homes built in 2010 received the 2011 survey and fewer than 17% of the overall total of new homes built in 2010 completing the 8-week survey. With affordable and rented new homes being excluded, and the survey being optional for builders building less than 300 homes a year, the survey results may not be fully representative of UK new home satisfaction.

The NHBC  9-month Survey

The NHBC is independant and sends out the surveysThe NHBC satisfaction survey aimed at owner-occupiers is sent out nine months after legal completion. The questionnaires are posted by the NHBC to all those NHBC Buildmark policyholders that have completed the cover Acceptance Form. Tenants or owners not living at the address are excluded.

The NHBC say they sent out a total of 80,000 surveys in 2010/11 with the 9-month survey covering around 60% of all new homes built each year. This would indicate that a little over 43,300 were 9-month surveys, with 36,687 being 8-week surveys.

After 9 months, the memories of problems with a new home could have faded.

Why are the 9-month results not made public at all?

The NHBC say “the results are shared with the appropriate builder and not published externally, or shared with organisations such as HBF. This survey shows broadly similar results.” This website believes in the interests of transparency these results should be made public.

House builder's surveys

House builders encourage happy customers to complete and return the builder’s own in-house survey forms. They often have weekly prize draws for M&S vouchers to encourage participation. Where the surveys are hand-delivered by the builder’s site sales staff, unhappy customers are often “missed” and do not receive a survey.


Be aware of statistics and the way they can be interpreted and reported. The HBF Star rating scheme should be viewed as a guide only. It should not be given as much significance as the HBF and 5-star awarded house builders give it.

House builders have claimed that surveys could be negatively biased. Buyers being thought more likely to complete a survey if they are unhappy than if they are satisfied. The results as published would indicate this not to be the case, if the results were indeed, an accurate reflection of new home customer satisfaction.

Word of mouth is by far the best way or researching a house builder. Before you buy your new home, ask the house builder’s existing buyers what the quality and service is really like on the particular development.

We would like to acknowledge and thank both the HBF and the NHBC for their co-operation, help and assistance whilst researching this section of the website.

For more information:-

HBF House builder Star Ratings

Can House Builder Surveys be trusted?

OFT Comparison of various survey results

Customer satisfaction and snagging in the UK house building industry

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HBF  New Customer Satisfaction Survey Results