It is now five months since the Consumer Code came into force on the 1st April. In this issue, Noel Hunter OBE, the new chairman of the Consumer Code body, assesses the impacts of the Code since its instigation and the challenges for future compliance. “Purchasing a house is generally regarded as the single most important investment a person makes in their lifetime, so it is vital home buyers are treated to a
high level of customer service at all stages of the purchasing process.
“The Consumer Code was implemented by the CML and warranty providers NHBC and Premier Guarantee & LABC New Home Warranties to ensure all customers are treated fairly and their interests are protected. It contains 19 requirements that all house builders should comply with.
“Since the Code has become operational, I have spoken to many house builders throughout the UK to assess its impact on their practice and the implications this has had for consumers. “The results have been overwhelmingly positive, with many builders exhibiting a detailed knowledge of the Code and a number of firms already embedding its requirements into the work they do and the way they interact with home buyers.
“The success of the Code is premised on house builders understanding its significance and being able to communicate this information so consumers know their rights. Our research shows that more than 200 building firms have already embarked on training schemes on the Code offered by organisations like the NHBC, indicating that firms are putting all the necessary measures in place to comply. “Despite this positive response to the Code, until every firm complies, there will be work to be done. Licensing bodies like NHBC and Premier take breach
of the Code very seriously, with builders who do not comply taking the risk of being struck off their books – so there is no room for complacency.
“In order to accelerate compliance with the Code and guarantee clarity and assurance for homebuyers, house builders and their firms should follow our step by step guide to living up to requirements”.
Key Guidance for Code Compliance
1. Training – Ensure your staff are aware of the Code and its requirements by offering formal or informal training. Your warranty provider may be able to provide in-company training.
2. Visibility – Make copies of the Code available to prospective homebuyers. You can do this through your website, by having copies available in sales offices, by using posters or including the Code in sales materials. A copy of the Code must be given to all homebuyers
who reserve a home. If you are using agents to sell your homes, they must also be aware of and follow the Code’s requirements.
3. Protection – Remember to provide homebuyers with a summary of the warranty cover before they reserve a new home – your warranty provider may be able to help you with this.
4. Clarification – Make sure your Reservation Agreement includes the information required by the Code. It is good practice to provide a copy of the agreement to all prospective buyers who ask for one. A signed copy must be provided to all homeowners who reserve a home.
5. Information – Access free on-line training, and fully details of the Code, at www.consumercodeforhomebuilders.com