Helping UK new home buyers
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The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has been reporting results from new home customer satisfaction surveys since 2006. The surveys were implemented in response to Recommendation 32 of the Barker Review of Housing Supply (March 2004) which stated “the house building industry must demonstrate increased levels of customer satisfaction”
The HBF intended to develop a "strategy to raise customer satisfaction in consultation with house builders." The three key elements being: a national survey of new homebuyers in partnership with NHBC; a Code of Conduct and a Customer Charter.
The HBF state on their website that they are:
"the voice of the home building industry in England and Wales. Our members deliver around 80% of the new homes built each year. We represent member interests on a national and regional level. More than ever before, the HBF is making a difference and delivering real tangible benefits that could be vital to the success of your business."
Be under no illusion, the HBF represent the house builder’s business interests - not those of the UK new home buyer. There is even a senior representative of a national house builder on the HBF board, Crest’s CEO Steve Stone.
In 2007, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) undertook a 'Home Building Consumer Survey' together with a market study of home building in the UK. This was instigated because it was believed that customer satisfaction had not improved substantially since the Barker Review of Housing Supply in March 2004.
The OFT found that homebuyers can experience a number of problems, including:-
The OFT also produced a 'Comparison of Consumer Satisfaction Surveys' in September 2008 which found:
Results of HBF customer satisfaction surveys 2006 - 2008
Who carries out new home customer surveys?
The HBF National New Homes Customer Satisfaction Survey
Since 2007, the HBF survey has been carried out by the NHBC. Purchasers are sent the survey questionnaires by the NHBC, 8 weeks after legal completion. Around 60 house builders completing more than 300 homes per year are automatically included in the 8-week survey. However, the HBF say that the "survey is totally voluntary and there is no mandate to require house builders to take part"
The HBF 2011 survey report stated that 36,687 self-completion questionnaires were sent out by the NHBC. Of those, 20,355 (55%) were returned, these results representing just 21% of the total 97,000 private sector new homes built in the 12-month survey period. It should be noted that only private housing is included in the survey, with 28,000 affordable new homes being excluded in the April 2011 survey results.
The survey year is from 1st October to 30th September with the annual results being made available to the HBF in March. The NHBC have confirmed that “all surveys carry security codes to ensure the integrity of the survey results.”
The NHBC ask house builders to submit address details for any new homes sold without NHBC warranty so they too can be included in the survey. Judging by the number of surveys sent out, around 60,000 (62%) private new home owners do not receive the survey questionnaire.
Previously the HBF National New Homes Survey; it was changed with the introduction of the Consumer Code for Home Builders. Participation in the survey is optional for builders completing less than 300 homes per year. This may explain why just 38% of privately-owned new homes receive the survey.
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