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NHBC's Response to Watchdog 23 September

BBC1's Watchdog programme on 23 September 2010 highlighted three cases in which NHBC customers were dissatisfied with the service they had received from us. The following is our response to the concerns raised in the programme.

If you are concerned about the issues raised in the programme, more advice is available here.

NHBC Watchdog statement

We sincerely apologise to the families featured in tonight's programme for mistakes that were made and delays during the handling of their claims.

NHBC's overriding purpose is to provide consumer protection for new home buyers, and we work extremely hard to ensure that homeowners are happy with the way their claims are handled.  Our warranty currently covers 1.6 million homes in the UK and we resolve claims from around 15,000 new homeowners each year on homes up to 10 years old.  We also help to resolve around 5,000 disputes each year between homeowners and their builder.

These three cases illustrate how complex construction issues can be and show that expert opinion may differ, both in respect to the cause of problems and the appropriate way to resolve them.

We will ensure that these cases are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Visits to Mrs Dearden and Ms Burnell's homes have already been arranged and we are fully committed to dealing swiftly with any ongoing problems they are experiencing.

NHBC takes quality of service issues extremely seriously and a key priority for us is to continually improve.  We review cases on a regular basis so that lessons gained from them will feed into any necessary changes to our processes and further staff training.  

Miss Burnell

Following discussions with Miss Burnell in May this year, we agreed to continue to monitor her home for a further period of six months for any signs of continued movement.  This monitoring will be complete next month and a meeting has been scheduled for 12 October when a decision will be made between Miss Burnell, her surveyor and NHBC as to what remedial work needs to be done. Since the monitoring began, we have been providing Miss Burnell and her surveyor with monitoring reports every month.  NHBC agreed to pay for the cost of Miss Burnell's surveyor.

Mrs Dearden

When we first investigated Mrs Dearden's home in 2008, the evidence we saw was consistent with condensation build up and we therefore gave advice to her on how to address the problems and instructed the builders to check that the extractor fans in her home were working efficiently.

After this we heard nothing from Mrs Dearden until August this year, when we learnt that regrettably these measures had not resolved the problem and that in the two years since she first contacted us, the problem has got considerably worse.  We would urge any one in a similar position to get straight back in touch with us should their problems persist.

Once Mrs Dearden contacted us again, we immediately agreed to re-investigate. This visit will take place on 29 September, and we plan to undertake an investigation of the points raised by Watchdog's surveyor.

We have also contacted the builders who will attend this re-investigation and have given a firm commitment to undertake any necessary repairs to ensure that the issues affecting Mrs Dearden's home are resolved once and for all.

Mr and Mrs Myers

While Mr and Mrs Myers' claim has been unusually complex, we recognise and have apologised to them for the mistakes we made in handling their claim, and the delays they have suffered as a result.
 
Although a range of extensive investigations and surveys were carried out, the precise cause of the problem was never clearly established.  Ultimately we decided on an extensive remedial solution which involved replacing and up-grading the entire ground floor of the home.  This work has now been completed and the family have now moved back into their home.

The overall cost of this claim to date has been £194,000, incorporating ex-gratia payments of more than £23,000 for costs they have incurred (including replacement of carpets, contribution towards contents damage and increased heating bills, re-decoration of the upstairs, garden work and other miscellaneous items).  It was made clear that once the repair work was complete, we would make a further good will payment to recognise the inconvenience and distress they have suffered as a result of the delays.  We have written to Mr and Mrs Myers with our additional offer.

How is NHBC funded?

NHBC is an independent, not-for-profit company.  We have no shareholders to pay dividends to, which ensures that any surplus is reinvested in raising standards in new house building.
 
Approximately 50% of our funding is from investment income.  The remainder comprises fees for Buildmark insurance, Building Control services, and ancillary services. 


 

News Date: 23/09/10