Buying a new home? Make sure the developer signs up to the Consumer Code for Homebuilders and that you understand what protection the code offers you.
What is the Consumer Code for Home Builders?
The Consumer Code for Home Builders came into force in April 2010. It's designed to help ensure that buyers of new homes are treated fairly both before and after moving in.
The code of conduct, which was launched and led by the industry, applies to all house builders that are registered with the major new home warranty providers. These include NHBC, Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty.
Under the code, builders must meet 19 different requirements that cover the entire buying process from preliminary discussions and deals before the purchase, to the exchange of contracts and completion.
If you feel that your builder has not met the code’s requirements, an independent dispute resolution service is available. You are entitled to a maximum award of £15,000.
You can refer to the code for complaints lodged within two years from the start date of the home warranty cover.
What are the benefits of the scheme?
Previously, you would have had to take your case to a court if it was not covered by your house builder’s home warranty scheme.
Now, the code provides an independent dispute resolution scheme that can decide your builder’s responsibilities without you having to take potentially expensive legal action.
What does the code cover?
Under the Consumer Code for Home Builders, you must be given all the information necessary to make an informed decision about buying a new home. This includes:
- A written reservation agreement, including reservation fee, what is being sold, the purchase price and how long the price remains valid
- An explanation of the insurance-backed home warranty cover
- A brochure or plan showing the layout, appearance and position of the home, a list of its contents and the standards to which it is being built, if the property is not yet built and ready for occupation
- A description and estimate of the management services the buyer must pay for
Once you have decided which new home to buy, your house builder must give you a clear and fair contract.
Your builder is required to provide reliable and realistic information about when your home will be built, as well as the dates of legal completion and when the home will be handed over to you. If there is an unreasonable delay in completing the property, you have the right to terminate the purchase and get your reservation fee back without any deduction.
Your builder is also required, under the code, to explain how contract deposits are protected and how they will deal with any other pre-payments.
Once you have moved into your new home, your house builder must provide an after-sales service, as well as information explaining what it includes, who to contact, and information on any guarantees and warranties that come with your new home.
Your house builder is also required to advise on any health and safety precautions if you move into a home when building work is still in progress nearby.
What do I do if I have a claim to make?
First of all, you should lodge a complaint with your house builder. If you are not happy with the response, you should contact the home warranty provider. You must do this within three months of the builder’s final response to the original complaint.
The home warranty body will either deal with the complaint under the terms of the warranty or give you an application form so that you can refer it to the independent dispute resolution service. It is called the Consumer Code for Home Builders’ Adjudication Scheme.
During this process, a trained adjudicator will review written submissions from both you and your house builder, and decide an award.