New homes must be of high quality, says minister
Making sure new build homes are of a high quality - including the provision of good insulation - is something that must be a priority for the housebuilding industry, communities secretary Sajid Javid has said.
Addressing the National House Building Council, Mr Javid began by welcoming news that housebuilding has reached its highest level since the financial crisis, with the rate of new homes being completed in England now up to 217,000 a year.
However, he added, building more homes is not a goal that should be achieved at the expense of quality, noting that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that sometimes new build homes fall short of the standards to which they are meant to be constructed.
Mr Javid observed that "too many new build homes are simply not good enough".
Citing examples he had become aware of, the minister added: "Roofs that leak, front doors that don’t properly close, insulation that has been promised but never fitted. Bare wires in showers, extractor fans that blow air in rather than sucking it out, patios that flood at the first sign of rain. Brickwork that’s damaged, paintwork that’s been rushed…"
Mr Javid said that although the construction industry claims 80 per cent of new build homeowners are satisfied with their property, that would mean around 40,000 of the 217,000 new households having reason for complaint.
Criticising the shortcomings of the current mechanisms for redress, he pledged to consult on whether a new housing ombudsman could provide the solution to the issue.
Such a measure may help ensure new homes are always built up to standard, as failure would mean firms find it harder to evade legal consequences.
The issue of housing quality was listed in this year's Conservative election manifesto, which noted many new homes and developments are "substandard". It added: "For a country boasting the finest architects and planners in the world, this is unacceptable."
Mr Javid's proposal to introduce a housing ombudsman was not in the manifesto.