Nearly 300 families a week are being forced to move into shoddy newly-built homes that have not been finished as builders cut corners to meet targets, it has been claimed.
Buyers are picking up keys to new homes to find leaks, mould, water-logged gardens, missing windows, badly fitted doors, broken toilets and gaps in the guttering.
In some cases, new-build buyers are discovering more than 170 faults in their homes and having to wait months for a builder to fix them.
Some 93 per cent of buyers report problems to their builders, according to a report by the all-party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment.
Of these, one in three are discovering around 11 faults, and one in five have more than 16 problems, according to the data collected as part of a new home customer satisfaction survey by the National House Building Council and the Home Builders Federation.
The same survey shows satisfaction levels among new-build buyers has fallen from 90 per cent to 86 per cent.
The report estimates that this means around 15,500 buyers a year – or 298 a week – are ‘dissatisfied’ with their property.
Having previously lived in a ‘perfect’ new-build house from CALA Homes, Andrea Fisher and her partner Steve Antonio were looking forward to a hassle-free move to another of the company’s developments.
But seven months on, work to correct a ‘snagging list’ running to 12 pages has not been finished. The couple say their £390,000 house in Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire, was rushed to the point that much of the interior has needed replacing, including plasterwork and all the internal doors. There were problems with the lead guttering, causing water to pool on the roof, and a pipe could not be accessed.
Although completion was supposed to be last May or June, Miss Fisher, 41, and Mr Antonio, 38, were unable to move in until August. Miss Fisher said: ‘We’ve been left to live in a house that isn’t fit for purpose and should not have been sold to us in the state it is in.’ CALA Homes said it has apologised to Miss Fisher and her partner and is working to put right the defects.
The trade bodies that conducted the survey dispute this figure, arguing that the number is nearer 4,000 as some respondents were neither happy nor unhappy. In January Bovis Homes was revealed to have paid buyers to move into unfinished homes to hit its sales targets by signing off properties as complete ahead of its financial deadline at the end of 2016. Some buyers said they had been offered £3,000.
Now families are complaining of similar problems at nearly all of the biggest developers, which are raking in huge profits from the drive to build more homes – and are under pressure to hit targets.
The Government wants 200,000 new homes built every year of this Parliament, but it appears the pressure is causing builders to cut corners. MPs have been lobbying the Government to intervene, fearing a further fall in standards. Last night Melanie Onn, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, said: ‘It’s not fair that people save up to buy their dream family home only to have it lie in ruins because of poor workmanship. The industry should be better focused on quality of finish otherwise they risk bringing all builders into disrepute.’ The Home Builders Federation said: ‘The overwhelming majority of new home buyers are happy with their purchase. In the small percentage of instances where there are issues builders will look to address them in a timely manner to the satisfaction of the customer.’