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Over Half of New Homes in England Have Serious Faults

A survey by housing charity Shelter has revealed that 51% of  homeowners in England have encountered serious new build problems with their homes, including construction issues, faulty utilities and unfinished fittings.

Shelter published the survey of over 4,000 UK residents alongside a report finding that the country’s housebuilding sector is structured to favour land traders and big developers instead of families seeking homes.

The report, titled New Civic Housebuilding, stated that the current housebuilding system is too speculative, and failing families by producing expensive yet low quality homes. These findings come in the wake of a recent government housing white paper that described the market as ‘broken’.

Shelter representatives said that eight in 10 working families who are currently renting privately cannot afford a new-build home even with assistance from the Help to Buy scheme. The worst region is apparently the West Midlands, where 93% of families lack the means to buy a new home.

The charity called for a return to building affordable quality homes like the model villages built at Bournville for Cadbury employees or the attractive brick developments of the Peabody estate.

The YouGov poll that Shelter ran showed that 41% of homeowners did not prefer new homes to older ones. They also disagreed with the statement that new homes were built to a higher standard than older ones.

These revelations appear amid growing complaints about poor building standards in new homes. Critics declare that the National House Building Council, which is responsible for detecting defects and issuing 10-year warranties for new homes in the UK, is failing to protect consumers.

Earl Sibley, interim boss at Bovis Homes, reserved £7m to compensate customers and correct the defects found in the company’s new homes.

Shelter called for the housebuilding sector to be shaken up, with a larger role for development corporations that can provide planning permission and acquire land at affordable prices.

Other recent examples of Shelter-cited ‘civic’ building include the Newquay housing developments by the Duchy of Cornwall and the East Cambridgeshire community-driven developments in Wilburton and Streatham.

Shelter wants the government to ensure that these examples become more widespread, to top up the properties produced by the big developers, who presently only build half of the 250,000 new homes needed in the UK each year.

Report co-author Toby Lloyd said that the government needs to prioritise land availability and affordability by giving more power to local authorities, setting up development corporations, and using public land to deliver affordable homes and produce revenue for the public sector.

Shelter also proposed bringing down the price of land via an equity partnership model, which would call for landowners to put their land as equity into a business partnership. Such as scheme would see them benefit from rising land values instead of settling for a one-off payment.

The report stated that for speculative developers, the biggest risk is how much to pay for land. This consideration is fundamental to a speculative housebuilding arrangement, as land is the biggest cost in producing more homes.



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