Homebuyers quite rightly are the best judges of private housing quality

Homebuilders must interpret and meet buyers’ expectations or go out of business.

Contrary to popular belief, surveys show high satisfaction levels among new homebuyers:

  • A 2008 survey by Cabe found 91% were satisfied with their home (5% dissatisfied).
  • Office of Fair Trading research in 2008 found 80% were likely to buy new again, 70% from the same builder.
  • The Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) 2009 survey of 21,000 new home buyers found 77% were satisfied with the quality of their home (13% dissatisfied) and 76% would buy again from the same builder.

The Building for Life (BfL) scheme, devised by the HBF, the Civic Trust and Cabe, was never intended as a comparative site scoring scheme. It was a set of desirable criteria, some design-related, some not. There is a continuing discussion between HBF, the government and Cabe about the appropriateness of the Building for Life (BfL) criteria to score and compare design quality across housing schemes and as a tool in planning.

The HCA’s objective with Kickstart is to get mothballed sites into production to deliver much-needed homes and to preserve and create jobs. BfL was only one of a range of considerations used by the HCA when it drew up its Kickstart shortlist. Cabe’s desk-based scoring of Kickstart schemes suffered from an added problem that insufficient information about a particular BfL question resulted in a zero score.

Homebuyers will make their own judgments about the quality of homes on Kickstart schemes. But this initiative will lift housing completions and expand industry employment, something I would have thought everybody would welcome.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman, Home Builders Federation