Author Topic: Gavin Barwell Brush Off - New Homebuyers Deserve Better!  (Read 1321 times)

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Gavin Barwell Brush Off - New Homebuyers Deserve Better!
« on: April 17, 2017, 08:37:26 am »
Buyers deserve a better response than this from Government ministers

As part of my campaign to drive change to improve the quality of new homes and the dire service buyers receive from miscreant plc house builders, I often suggest those having serious problems write to their Member of Parliament and to the current housing minister Gavin Barwell gavin.barwell@communities.gsi.gov.uk and his boss Sajid Javid, secretary of state at the Department of Communities and Local Government [DCLG].

Sadly neither, rarely if at all, answer in person. Such letters are replied to on their behalf, quite often by Sandra Simoni using a DCLG standard response template reply (in bold below.).
 
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"Thank you for your email of 9 March 2017 to Gavin Barwell, about the problems with the new build home you purchased with your partner on 10 August 2016. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

I am very sorry to hear of the problems you have had over the work needed to your property. I should first explain that the primary responsibility for ensuring the work complies with the Building Regulations is with the person carrying out the work i.e. the builder/developer. Building work is subject to supervision by either the local authority or an approved inspector who must take all reasonable steps to ascertain if the building work complies with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.
However, building control can only ever be a spot-checking process and in no way removes the primary responsibility for ensuring the work complies with the Regulations from the person carrying out the work.
You have followed the procedures for putting things right if a new home does not comply with Building Regulations such as complaining to the builder and contacting the new home warranty if a warranty is in place. If a satisfactory outcome is not reached the homeowner may be able to make a claim against the builder in the civil courts. However, I would strongly advise that anyone considering this course of action seeks their own legal advice before pursuing this course of action. I note that you have sought advice from a litigator."

Making a claim in the civil courts is not an answer or a solution. It is the systemic failure of the Building Control process (the clue is in the name "control") that frequently results in defective new homes being signed-off as complying with Building Regulations when the inspector has clearly been negligent in his duties. How else can it be explained that a home is signed off despite having incomplete or no roof insulation which can be easily checked by the inspector.

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"If a homeowner has any concerns about the building control body carrying out their building control function, a complaint can be raised about local authorities with the Local Government Ombudsman (http://www.lgo.org.uk/) and about approved inspectors with CICAIR Limited" (http://cic.org.uk/services/approved-inspectors.php).

The complaint should be made to the local authority in the first instance in the hope they will intervene and force the builder to carry out all works required to comply with Building Regulations. Only when the local authority has failed in its legal responsibilities, will the LOA be appropriate.

On New Homes Warranties
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[i]"The majority of new home warranties consist of two parts. For the first two years from completion of building work it remains the responsibility of the builder to put right any damage or defects. Where a defect covered by the scheme is discovered within the first two years of the warranty and the builder refuses to carry out remedial work, a free dispute resolution service is offered to try and resolve the matter. I note that you have contacted NHBC. If you wish to raise a complaint about the way NHBC have dealt with your case, details of NHBC’s complaints procedures can be found at:
http://www.nhbc.co.uk/…/Claimsand…/filedownload,23962,en.pdf" [/i]


Well no, they cannot as it is an Error 404 -Page not Found! In any event complaints about the warranty providers are usually a matter for the Financial Ombudsman Service as the warranty is an insurance (financial) product. But this is neither simple nor straightforward.

On Consumer Code for Home Builders
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[i]"You may also wish to be aware of the Consumer Code for Homebuilders (the Code) which is an industry led scheme which gives protection and rights to purchasers of new homes, ensuring that new homebuyers are treated fairly and are fully informed about their purchase. The Code applies to all homebuyers who reserve to buy a new or newly converted home, on or after 1 April 2010, built by a home builder registered with one of the supporting warranty bodies, such as NHBC.
If a home builder fails to meet the requirements of the Code, the home buyer can make a complaint to the Code’s independent Dispute Resolution Scheme. Disputes are resolved using an adjudication process during which a trained adjudicator reviews written submissions from both parties and issues an award based on their conclusions. This Dispute Resolution Scheme is independent of the home warranty bodies. Further information about the Code can be found at:
http://www.consumercodeforhomebuilders.com/"[/i]

As we know the Consumer Code for Home Builders (CCHB) offers ZERO protection to consumers. Indeed on the Code's new website, the term "protection" has been removed. The CCHB is non-mandatory, and as stated, industry led. It has also recently been revised to make a successful claim from new homebuyers even more difficult and unlikely. It offers no recourse for anything regarding quality, defects or any warranty matters. The APPG Inquiry (mentioned below) found it was “limited in its scope” and "does not appear to us objectively to offer consumers a wholly satisfactory form of redress" So why is the DCLG promoting it?

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"Also, you may be interested to know that the recent report of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, More homes, fewer complaints, has recommended that a minimum standard should be set for compliance inspections by building control and the establishment of a new homes ombudsman. The full report is available to download from the Construction Industry Council’s website at: http://cic.org.uk/services/reports.php. The Government will be considering all of the recommendations in the report in developing future policy on new homes in England." [/i]

The APPG Report was published on 13 July 2016 and as yet NONE of the ten recommendations have been implemented or any undertaking given by anyone in government of when or if they will be.

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"You also raise concerns about the disparity between consumer law relating to most regular purchases, such as buying a pair of shoes, and that of purchasing a new built house. In law, contracts for the sale of houses and flats do not fall within the scope of the Sale of Goods Act and most similar consumer protection legislation. This reflects the very significant differences in practice between buying land on the one hand and goods on the other – not least, the fundamental point that land is immovable. Also, in land transactions, consumers are more likely to be supported by independent advice from lawyers and others, and the terms of contract are more likely to be negotiated."

Supported by lawyers? Often the very same firms the housebuilders suggest or recommend persuade buyers to use with incentives and cash payments. It is very rare, if not unheard of, that any solicitor, particularly those that housebuilders prefer, would be able to challenge or negotiate the housebuilders standard contract terms and conditions.

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That does not of course mean that a home buyer who considers that the seller has not performed their obligations under the contract has no redress – they can take action through the courts for monetary compensation or to have the contract performed properly. Consumer protection is the responsibility of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). If you would like further information on this matter you may wish to contact BEIS direct at: 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET or email: enquiries@beis.gsi.gov.uk.

So the solution is, yet again, for the new homebuyer to go through the courts and batting away responsibility to another government department. Why cannot government see the solution is a badly needed, New Homes Ombudsman set up and appointed by the government as recognised by the independent APPG government inquiry and its number one and "key recommendation".

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"I hope this helps to explain the situation."

Well it may have explained why government is so dismissive of problems new homebuyers experience with their and poor quality, defect ridden new homes, but it is of no help!

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Yours sincerely,


Sandra Simoni
New Home Blog - New Home Expert is committed to providing help and advice for people having issues with their new homes and difficulties with house builders as well as helping potential buyers reduce the risk of possible problems if they do buy.


New Home Expert

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Re: Gavin Barwell Brush Off - New Homebuyers Deserve Better!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 01:13:43 pm »
Gavin Barwell, the MP for Croydon Central took up the post of housing minister in July 2016.
He is the fifth incumbent since 2010.
He follows Brandon Lewis, who was in the post for two years; Kris Hopkins, who was in the hot seat for only ten months; Mark Prisk, who lasted just over a year; and Grant Shapps, who stayed for two years and four months.

None of these were of the calibre or actually changed anything.
None were brave enough to stand up to the housebuilders.
If, and it is an if, the Conservateives win the election, perhaps Theresa may will choose a housing minister that really does:
Step up.
Stand up for the weak, stand up to the strong.
Challenge vested interests
Right Wrongs
Take big decisions
Do what we believe to be right
and get the job done!

All to improve the quality of new homes not just increase quantity at any cost, encouraging housebuilders to build even more of their defect-ridden homes.
New Home Blog - New Home Expert is committed to providing help and advice for people having issues with their new homes and difficulties with house builders as well as helping potential buyers reduce the risk of possible problems if they do buy.