New-build housing complaints soaring

Soaring levels of complaints about shoddy workmanship and appalling customer service by people buying new-build homes are to be investigated by consumer watchdogs.

An increasing number of homebuyers are opting for new-build houses and flats, but they are experiencing what the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC) describes as a “wealth” of problems, including rocky staircases, exposed wires and leaky showers, in homes that are supposed to be completed.

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Mr Waters February 12, 2015 at 11:16 am

We bought a home from Southcott Homes Fareham Hants in May 2011. Initially I was impressed with the design and finish of the house but it soon became apparent that cheap materials and shoddy workmanship was all too evident.

We raised an initial issue that they hadn’t really finished down one side of the house where there was heavily overgrown shrubbery and worst of all no side gate for security reasons, basically an intruder could just walk into our back garden. They refused to do anything about this so we left it and built a gate ourselves. Later on I ended up hiring a digger and getting rid of the troublesome hedging and replacing with a wall. This was an expensive exercise and I did finish it to a good standard but at least a gate would have been good from the start.

When we moved in quite quickly we noticed there were lots of cracks in the paintwork and the stair case wasn’t overly secure, the bottom two steps were swinging when you stepped on them and all the stairs were creaking loudly when you walked up them. We had our first bath, came downstairs and noticed a wet patch all over the living room ceiling. We also noticed that 1 bedroom door didn’t shut and 2 of the built in wardrobe doors didn’t align. We called them and seemingly reluctantly they sent someone by a few days later. They sorted the bath drain and fixed the problems with the doors. I asked them about the cracks and the wet patch on the ceiling. I was told “don’t worry, what we do is let everything settle down for 6 months then we come back and go round and give everything the once over that needs sorting”. At this point I thought great I can afford not to worry about it. Big mistake! this was never their intention.

Over the course of the next twelve months, we called and sent them emails chasing and chasing for them to come and sort problems where by the front door wouldn’t lock and was bowing, all the doors in the house had the laminate peeling off, a couple of handles had fallen off, the bi-fold door latch had come off, the solar panels were not producing hot water as an error kept coming up (we later found out it had been plumbed incorrectly), the water pressure was really low meaning you could not have 2 hot water taps running at the same time in the house (4 bedroom with en suite and only installed a combi boiler).

The fence in the back garden was wobbly and the gate would not shut as it was out of line with the post, the toilet seat in the main bathroom had fallen off, all the wood work door frames had yellow notches showing through and blow holes in the plaster in the ceiling in every room they had placed a screw. Over the course of a few months of nagging they did send someone out to sort the solar panels (although I am still not convinced they are working) and they replaced the front door lock (after 3 visits) they also sent someone (actually no they gave us a number and we had to chase) to sort the fence but they may as well not have bothered as they guy could not be bothered, did a quick fix and it was broken again shortly after. They also eventually came back and replaced a couple of doors but they were of the exact same quality and they are now peeling also.

We were continually fobbed off so we sort of gave up in the end. We had begun to make some home improvements so shoddy decorating etc. was being covered up at our expense. About 2 years in to our new home I noticed the kitchen side was dropping and had broken the seal as the showers had both done the same thing I just put it down to settlement and cleaned out the old silicone and resealed. A little while later the seal broke again so I investigated further. I took off the plinth under the cupboard and found the floor had cracked along with 3 tiles and all the units had dropped by 5mm to 7mm. I contacted Southcott again and they had delight in telling me they were no longer responsible for the house it was solely down to NHBC. I sent pictures etc. into NHBC and they said it didn’t warrant any action to be taken so I will get this corrected when we next decorate unless it deteriorates dramatically.

My point to these comments are to do some serious research into the company building your new home, ask lots of questions about the fixtures and fittings, if something is a concern don’t just take their word for it get them to put it in writing and sign it and also give you a deadline at which they will address it. If it all seems a bit to hurried just to get you to exchange contracts I would suggest to pull out and let them try to pass their shoddy workmanship onto the next mug.

You need to be aware that all they are interested in is getting paid, they will do the bare minimum after that and tie you up in knots and frustration until you give up. This is obviously a strategy that works and best of all they have often got at least 2 or 3 companies they can pass the blame around from one to the next.

Go over everything with a fine tooth comb, be a pain in the backside as I am sure they wouldn’t want to be lumbered with the problems you will be facing. I will never buy a home from this company again and would warn others to be very wary indeed.


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