News and Events

VertDivider

NHBC's Response to Watchdog 18 November

BBC1's Watchdog programme on 18 November 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.

General comment

NHBC's purpose is to raise house-building standards and provide consumer protection for new home buyers. 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.

For homes up to two years old, the NHBC 10-year Buildmark cover requires the builder puts right any defect reported to them at no cost to the homeowner. After the first two years, NHBC provides direct insurance for a further 8 years.

This part of the cover insures against damage which has resulted from construction defects in the structure of the home. It also covers additional non-structural elements such as double glazing and roof coverings, which normally wouldn't require maintenance during the first 10 years. Further details of the Buildmark cover can be found here.

NHBC is committed to providing a high level of service to all homeowners covered by our Buildmark cover, and external research consistently shows that the vast majority of homeowners rate our customer service as excellent or very good. Regrettably, there are occasions where we fall below the level of service we expect and homeowners deserve. These are isolated cases, but nevertheless we understand how distressing and inconvenient it can be when things go wrong. With consumer protection at the heart of what we do, we work extremely hard to ensure that homeowners are happy with the way their claims are handled and we sincerely apologise to homeowners whose experience of our service has not been up to our usual high standards.

Mr Gromadzki

We consider that the problems experienced by Mr Gromadzki were caused by flooding in extreme weather conditions in July 2007. Any issues associated with flood protection, water table levels and river systems fall outside our remit and the Building Regulations. Flood protection is a planning consideration and is normally addressed under the planning process.

In Mr Gromadzki's case, our role as the warranty provider was to assess whether his home was performing as required by NHBC Technical Standards, which incorporate the Building Regulations. Our investigator assessed that this was the case. Although Watchdog cites flooding at the property on previous occasions, the first instance was during construction before any drainage had been installed, and following subsequent flooding in 2004 additional extensive drainage works was carried out by the builder.

Mrs Horrocks

Our Claims investigators make judgements on whether a claim is valid based on their experience and their knowledge of construction, our Technical Standards and our Buildmark policy.

In this case, our investigator concluded that there was no evidence of a defect. However, given Mrs Horrocks' continuing anxiety, we recognise that we should have been more understanding of her concerns and undertaken a further investigation to address them. We sincerely apologise for this and are now making arrangements directly with Mrs Horrocks to carry out a further investigation of her stairs.

Update

We have now re-visited Mrs Horrocks home and opened up her staircase and have found a fault in its construction. We have taken immediate steps to secure them. We have sincerely apologised to Mrs Horrocks for not agreeing to re-visit earlier and will carry out a full repair in the next few days.

We urge the homeowners on the development to contact us if they have experienced similar problems to those encountered by Mrs Horrocks.

Mr and Mrs Cameron

Finally, in the case of Mr and Mrs Cameron's property, we are glad that the roof has been fixed and the situation resolved. We do have a minimum claim value, which is similar to the excess that viewers will be familiar with from household and motor insurance policies. The difference with our minimum claim value is that we will cover the whole cost of any repairs that come in above this level, whereas other insurers will only pay the difference between the excess and the claim value. As with any insurance policy there are exclusions, financial limits, terms and conditions.

When calculating the cost of repairs we follow an agreed formula, using Hutchins price guide, a pricing mechanism widely recognised in the construction industry. We use reputable and vetted remedial works contractors to ensure work is undertaken in a timely fashion and to a high standard. We therefore stand by our quoted price as a fair and accurate assessment of the required work.

We cannot comment as to why the other quotes received by the Cameron's were so much higher and have ourselves only been provided with a copy of one quote.

News Date: 18/11/10