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New Homes Quality Board case study: Delayed moving in date due to outstanding snagging issues

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This insight reviews the case study published by the New Homes Quality Board on 20 May 2024 in relation to a delayed moving in date due to snagging issues. 

Summary of the complaint

In this case, the customer’s home demonstration and legal completion took place on the same date. At the home demonstration, the customer identified snags with the property, in particular with the flooring. The home builder decided that full replacements of some items and redecoration was necessary.

The customer did not, however, want to live in the property until the remedial works and redecoration were complete and, as such, said that they incurred a loss due to having to continue paying for their rented accommodation, as well as for their new property. The home builder’s position was that the remedial and redecoration works that were due to take place were not major and the customer could have lived in the property during this time.

During the redecoration, the home builder had caused minor paint spots on the customer’s furniture, however, they offered a professional cleaning service to resolve this.

Outcome

The Ombudsman decided that:

  • the home builder was responsive to the issues and full replacement of certain items may not have been necessary, in any event;
  • the home builder’s proposed action to remedy the paint issue was considered proportionate and fair; and
  • upon review of the evidence, the property was liveable at the point of legal completion, and the after-sales service provided met the requirements of the code.

The complaint was therefore not upheld.

Learning points for developers

This case demonstrates the need for home builders to be receptive to complaints and to act efficiently and effectively. It was worthwhile for the home builder to seemingly go beyond what was ‘necessary’ as the Ombudsman found in its favour, however, it is important to check that any remedial works proposed are proportionate to the issue(s) in hand. An issue may arise whereby if, for example, replacement of an item is recommended by the home builder but the customer may infer that the property is unliveable and therefore incur costs through rent they may wish to claim back in the future.

Key takeaways

It is important to be able to:

  • differentiate between minor snagging issues and major defects which may render a property uninhabitable;
  • explain the difference between the two to a customer to ensure that both parties have the same understanding of the effects of any remedial works.

Home builders should ensure that a property is sufficiently prepared before undertaking any remedial works, to minimise any future damage and mitigate future claims from customers.

Co-authored by Fiona Weatherhead

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