In the rush to build more homes – concern that new homes standards are slipping

  • Twice as many people desire an old home over new
  • Lower energy and maintenance costs for new homes
  • New homes seen by some as best way to get onto the housing ladder

The British public are shunning new build homes because they are seen by some as being poorly built, characterless and with too small rooms, according to the 2015 Homeowner Survey by HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance.

The survey’s findings throw down the gauntlet to both the house building industry and the new government as it looks at how it will meet their promise of building 200,000 new homes.

New homes have such a poor reputation that according to the survey conducted by YouGov, twice as many people would prefer to buy an old home than a new home. Only one in five (21 percent) would prefer to buy a newly built home, whereas nearly a half (47 percent) would prefer an old home (built ten or more years ago). New homes may be less popular because they are seen to be poorly built, with 38 percent citing low build quality as a disadvantage of new homes.

New homes are expected to have lower ongoing maintenance and energy costs (51 percent see this as an advantage of new homes). These are high on the wish list of potential buyers as 72 percent of UK adults say they would be interested in having information at the point of sale about the estimated annual cost of their energy bills and more than half would be interested in having the estimated annual cost of maintaining the property (56 percent).

New homes are thought by some to offer the best chance of getting on the housing ladder as schemes like Help to Buy are seen to be more widely available on new homes.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, said:

“We need more new homes, but they have to be homes that people want to live in, not homes that are quick, easy and cheap for house builders to throw up. What we need to solve the housing crisis are quality homes of character and space, and challenge the housing industry to deliver. After the war, they built homes fit for heroes. All we want is homes fit for homeowners. Homes shouldn’t be built just for a quick profit, but to last for generations to come.”

Kim Vernau, Chief Executive Officer, BLP insurance said:

“With house prices in the UK on the rise, consumers are becoming much more aware as to the type of home they want to invest their hard earned cash in. New built homes must be high quality builds with the requisite space and light desired along with low maintenance costs and energy efficiency requirements.”

“With activity in the construction industry on the increase as local authorities and developers attempt to meet the housing shortfall, there is a real risk that building standards will slip. Consumers want peace of mind and reassurance that the home they are purchasing is fit for purpose and built to last rather than simply chasing a house-building statistic. Purchasing a home with warranty insurance protection in place reassures the buyer that their new home has been built to the highest of standards and designed to stand the test of time.”

Participants who would prefer to buy an older home said the following about new homes:

“…Most have small rooms, low ceilings, small gardens and zero charm”

“New houses are rabbit hutches thrown up….with small rooms, small gardens, thin walls, dubious build quality”

While participants who would prefer to buy newer homes said:

“A new built home should mean there will be no hidden problems like old pipes or wiring needing replacing and energy ratings should be up to date which will help save money.”

“Easier to get help with a mortgage, e.g. Help to Buy, on a new property”

“It’s the easiest way to get on the property ladder.”

“Potentially still have a builder warranty in case of problems.”

“Having 10 years peace of mind on repairs.”

Key Findings from the survey conducted by YouGov:

  • Older homes are preferred to new builds — one in five (21 percent) would prefer to buy a new home; while nearly one in two (47 percent) would prefer to buy an older home built ten or more years ago.
  • Younger and older buyers are more likely to prefer a new home. (26 percent of under 35’s, 18 percent of 35-54’s and 22 percent of those age fifty-five or older)
  • Regionally, those in Wales like new homes more than anyone else (32 percent vs 21 percent nationally).

What people don’t like about new homes

  • Quality of build is more likely to be seen as a disadvantage of new homes (38 percent overall see build quality of new homes as a disadvantage, with only 30 percent seeing it as an advantage)
  • Size of rooms (45 percent disadvantage), character/ distinctive features (40 percent disadvantage) and amount of green space (40 percent disadvantage) are seen to be the main draw backs of new homes

What people like about new homes

  • New homes are expected to require less maintenance and to be more energy efficient with one in two (51 percent) perceiving ongoing maintenance and utility bills to be an advantage of new homes.
  • Lower maintenance and running costs appeal to some for retirement “I would like to buy a well-built, highly insulated property with low running costs specifically for retirement.”
  • Some feel there are more schemes (such as Help to Buy) available on new homes that make getting on the housing ladder more accessible “The Help to Buy scheme along with builders’ offers on deposits etc. mean it’s probably the only way to afford it” “It’s the easiest way to get on the property ladder”.
  • Housing warranties/ insurance reassure some to buy new. “…potentially still have a builder warranty in case of problems.” “Having 10 years peace of mind on repairs”
  • The ability to tailor or customise your home is a relative strength of new homes (33 percent think the ability to customise is an advantage of new homes vs 10 percent who think it is a disadvantage of new homes).